Is there a more versatile fabric than tweed? Forget shooting parties and stuffy geography teachers sporting elbow patches, today’s tweed jackets are a staple for the style conscious. With the potential to be one of the most transformative pieces in your wardrobe, if you invest in one now, it’ll still be paying dividends in a decade. Here’s why we think a tweed blazer should be your next must-have purchase…
The Need For Tweed – Why It’s Your Must-Have Jacket This Winter.
What is Tweed?
Derived from the word ‘tweel’, a Scottish variant for twill (the type of weave commonly used to make the cloth), tweed dates back to the 18th century, when weavers created the dense fabric to protect locals against the harsh weather conditions in the Scottish Highlands.
Harris tweed is the superior choice ̶ a world-famous classic cloth that is handwoven only by the islanders of the Outer Hebrides from 100% pure new wool. The wool is dyed before it’s spun so that a multitude of colours can be blended into the yarn. It is the world’s only cloth with a protected provenance, governed by an Act of Parliament, with each garment certificated with the Harris Tweed Orb stamp. The result is a fabric that is soft, tactile, warm, colourful, sustainable and adaptable.
Unlike the original heavy cloth, Harris tweed is now available in three different weights: superfine, featherweight and mediumweight, providing a versatility to suit all tastes and styles. It remains water-resistant and hardwearing, making it the ideal choice for a winter jacket and guaranteeing a longevity to rival most other fabrics. The Sherry Tweed Collection, from our favourite suppliers Holland & Sherry, is packed with a variety of styles, from classic country-style tweeds to bright, contemporary options. Says King & Allen co-owner Jake Allen: “I have one that I’ve worn for about 10 years and it’s still going strong. It goes with whatever I’m wearing, and if you have a nice thick tweed, then it substitutes for an overcoat and looks great with a scarf.”
How to choose your tweed
When it comes to selecting a tweed, the possibilities are endless, with a plethora of designs, from checks and herringbones to more unusual weave structures ̶ indeed, there are more than 4,000 combinations in the Harris tweed pattern books. To keep it simple, here’s a break-down of the four classic tweed colours with tips on how to wear them:
One of the more traditional colours in the range, brown tweed can still look fresh and modern. Pair it with jeans or slim-fit chinos for a smart-casual look. It can be matched with both light and dark toned clothing to change up your image, making it easily adapted to a more formal occasion.
A country classic and probably the most recognisable shade, green tweed is ideal for those who want a subtle splash of colour in their blazer. For a preppy look that’s light, comfortable and warm enough for spring and autumn days, pair with jeans and a light-tone sweater.
Arguably the most formal choice, yet grey tweed can still be versatile. Team your jacket with jeans and a crisp white shirt for a youthful look that’s understated and easy to wear.
Make a statement with a bold check incorporating contrasting colours. Pair with tailored trousers for formal attire or dress down with jeans. Boxy, Chanel-style jackets lend tweed a more feminine look, particularly in the fancy, colourful designs of Holland & Sherry’s Tweed Ladieswear Collection. They’re perfectly suited to a pencil skirt for the office but equally at home with a pair of well-fitted jeans.
Why We Love a Tweed Jacket, in a Nutshell
It’s a timeless investment piece:
You get all the sartorial style of the fabric without stretching to the cost of a complete suit. Our blazers start at £450, but they’re an investment you won’t regret, says Jake: “Divide the cost over 10 years and you’re not really spending that much. Divide that by wear and it becomes even better value because you’ll find you’re wearing it all time.”
It’s extremely robust and holds its shape:
Thanks to the quality of the fabric, a tweed jacket won’t ever look tired, even after many years’ wear. “It’s quite heavy so it tends to hold its shape,” says Jake. “You don’t need to look after it much, it doesn’t require cleaning or pressing ̶ you just wear it.”
It’s a go-to for almost any occasion:
It can be dressed up with tailored trousers or skirts, or down with jeans and a simple sweater. Shoes can also help to set the tone of your outfit, with brogues and stiletto boots for that formal feel and canvas pumps to keep it casual. A tweed jacket doesn’t have to match the rest of your outfit, as long as it complements it. Jake advises: “You don’t have to go for a typically bold hunting check. If you want a very versatile piece to wear with everything, go for something plain, a solid colour, or a cloth with a subtle fleck of colour in it, that way you can really match it with so many different things in your wardrobe.”