Tough, versatile and stylish. Tweed is a fabric that can adapt to many different settings. So it’s no surprise that tweed jackets and suits regularly appear on film and television. We take a look at ten characters who are famed for wearing this multi-faceted material.
It’s clear to see: Tweed has star quality.
1- Dr. Who
When Matt Smith debuted the 11th doctor’s outfit, within hours the Doctor Who website had received 2,000 positive comments from fans. They wanted to know where they could buy his 1960s vintage Mackenzie “two by two” dogtooth tweed jacket with elbow pads.
Tweed’s timeless appeal makes it the perfect choice for a time traveller and the fabric is robust enough to withstand any planetary conditions. It’s naturally insulating, water repellent and hard wearing.
Writing on cult TV review site Cultbox, Rob Smedley says:
Matt Smith’s Time Lord accomplished something even more impossible than rebooting the universe single-handedly; he revitalised the dying tweed industry and made bow ties cool.
But in later episodes it came to light that the 11th Doctor was wearing a reproduction tweed jacket made in China. Well Dressed Dad’s Nick: wasn’t impressed:
Shame on the BBC though for cashing in by selling a part-acrylic, Chinese made replica. Retailing at just under 400 pounds, it’s not even a cheap replica. Controversial!
Indeed, a genuine Harris Tweed jacket can be bought for a mere £250.00.
2 – Indiana Jones
Indiana’s classic professorial look in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade revolves around a heavy 3 piece tweed suit and pair of scholarly glasses. This is soon replaced by his trademark leather jacket and fedora. But when Henry Jones senior arrives on the scene, tweed makes another appearance.
Sean Connery’s costume designer apparently based the adventurer’s style on his own grandfather. But there was a problem. Connery found his Harris Tweed suit too hot for comfort. When he heard that the film crew were heading to smoking hot Petra, he refused to wear it and the designers had to photograph a length of the tweed and screen print it onto a thin cotton voile. Pricey!
3- Sherlock Holmes
In 2015, the Museum of London collaborated with Christy’s hats and Lovat Mill to create a brand new tweed based on the cape in the original Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The tweed was grey, with blue and yellow accents.
Holmes’s cape, known as an Inverness cape, is really a sleeveless tweed overcoat. It’s smart but practical, and protects the iconic detective from the elements while he’s out and about solving mysteries. Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Sherlock sparked a resurgence in cape sales, with specialists selling hundreds to niche markets around the world.
If you fancy one, it’ll set you back a whopping £600.
4- Dirty Harry
Clint Eastwood brings out the tough side of tweed as San Francisco cop Henry Callahan, otherwise known as Dirty Harry. Only a hard-wearing fabric like tweed can cope with the demands of this streetwise cop’s hunt for rooftop sniper Scorpio.
Harry’s grey herringbone tweed jacket features three buttons to the front and two on each cuff. A single vent in the back guarantees ease of movement.
A pair of Ray Bans saves him from resembling a geography teacher, but let’s face it, who would argue with a cop who has a 44 magnum revolver under his jumper?
5 – Luther
Moody detective Luther is brilliant but flawed. He’s not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to pursuing violent criminals against the backdrop of a gritty London landscape.
Luther’s signature is a heavy herringbone tweed trench coat. Stylish but robust, Harris Tweed suits Luther’s personality, as well as the gravity of the situations he finds himself in. This man has no fear of making a sartorial statement with his choice of coat.
6 – Alan Turing
The Imitation Game, the biopic about code-cracking mathematician Alan Turing sees Cumberbatch looking rather dapper in a tweed jacket. But look more closely and you’ll see that the character often wears shirts and ties that clash. According to costume designer, Sammy Sheldon Differ, Turing was often disheveled and dressed in mismatched patterns. One scene in the movie sees him wearing a shirt with a Prince of Wales Check and a tie featuring a different check.
We can forgive Turing for his dress sense. He had more important things to think about. Cumberbatch’s tweed coat is an original vintage jacket from the late 1930s which was tailored to fit the actor. Only one jacket was used throughout filming, as well as one red tie which Differ found in the bin of a rented house.
7 – Thomas Shelby (Peaky Blinders)
John Lewis reported soaring sales of tweed flat caps when the third series of Peaky Blinders began. This sudden enthusiasm was inspired by lead character Thomas Shelby, who wears a grey Donegal Tweed baker boy cap. His apocryphal practice of sewing razor blades into the peak inspired the series title.
Set in hedonistic 1920s Birmingham, this gangland drama stars Shelby as the head of the Peaky Blinders, a violent gang known for their dapper outfits. Shelby exudes confidence and authority by dressing sharply in tweed three-piece suits. Tweed’s rugged practicality and warmth makes it ideal for lurking around the damp, chilly streets of Birmingham’s criminal underworld.
Shelby wears a grey herringbone tweed suit with a striped grandad shirt and a separate collar, held in place with a brass collar stud. The waistcoat and jacket both have notched lapels and tweed buttons and he also sports a gold pocket watch.
8 – The Krays
The charismatic Kray twins are the subject of Brian Helgeland’s 2015 film Legend. The criminals were known for their dapper dressing, so costume designer Caroline Harris turned to the northern English mills for authentic heavyweight fabrics.
Tweed’s rugged texture fit the bill perfectly. A loose cut allowed the brothers to move with confident swagger while looking elegant and smart. Important, as they spent much of their time in nightclubs which required formal dress.
9 – Bond. James Bond
A day in the country turns into an adventure in the alps for super spy Bond as he pursues villain Goldfinger. No problem, as Connery is wearing his warm tweed hacking jacket, a sports coat originally cut for casual horse riding. It features a long rear vent for ease of movement, which comes in handy for this man of action.
Luckily, Bond’s tweed is still stylish enough to look good with his new Aston Martin DB5 coupe. Especially when combined with classic twill trousers and derby shoes.
10 – Mr.Bean
As a boy, Rowan Atkinson was obsessed with James Bond. Maybe Sean Connery’s choice of attire influenced Atkinson’s decision to dress Mr Bean in a two-button tweed jacket and skinny red tie.
The inspired simplicity of this outfit helps the audience focus on Atkinson’s body language and facial dexterity. A flashy costume would only distract.
Mr Bean’s outfit makes him recognisable across the globe. He even has fans in Iran and Lebanon. Some say it’s his rubber face that stands him out from the crowd. We wonder if it’s the tweed and tie.
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