Knowing how to wear a tweed waistcoat is an invaluable skill for the fashion-forward gent. This simple garment is the secret weapon of many wardrobes. With roots in rural Scotland and Ireland, tweed’s coarse, thick fabric gives rugged, rustic vibes. It also has a long tradition within the English gentry. You’d don your tweed if you were shooting, fishing or strolling around the estate.
So, what is a tweed waistcoat? Is it the sophisticated centrepiece of a wedding suit? Or the hard-wearing essential of the rural adventurer? Our verdict: if you know how to style a tweed waistcoat, it’s both.
What to wear with a tweed waistcoat
Thanks to its paradoxical nature, many outfits can be paired with the tweed waistcoat.
Matching 3-piece tweed suit – The most obvious strategy is to go full tweed, with matching jacket and trousers. This is great for formal occasions like weddings. Any doubts about ‘formality’ will be silenced once you’re in a sharp suit.
Mixed suit – A tweed waistcoat in the middle of another fabric can look the business. It’s a little quirkier and less formal than the typical three-piece, but it’s more distinctive, and great for playing with colours and textures.
Suit, no jacket – Let your tweed waistcoat do the heavy-lifting by abandoning the jacket. This is a fantastic option if the dress code is a little ambiguous, or for the summer months.
With jeans or chinos – Your tweed waistcoat is the ultimate way to use a traditional garment in a more contemporary look. But be warned – not all jeans or trousers are suitable.
How do you wear a tweed waistcoat with jeans?
Whilst a waistcoat can elevate a standard jeans-and-shirt look, your rougher, ripped or faded jeans can easily drag your tweed waistcoat down.
As an already heavily textured, often subtly colourful fabric, tweed is complemented by solid, dark colours. It also demands proper co-ordination. Look carefully at the colours within your tweed, and find a good pair of jeans to match.
That said, tweed does still have its adventurous side. Your waistcoat will be well-matched with a pair of boots.
How to wear a tweed waistcoat
The rules of how to wear a tweed waistcoat are much the same as any other waistcoat. It’s essential to ensure it sits comfortably on your shoulders. It should allow you a good range of movement, whilst not ‘riding up’ with your arms. This is where an ill-fitting waistcoat will be most obvious.
How do you wear a tweed vest?
A tweed vest is much the same as a tweed waistcoat. The word ‘vest’ tends to be more of an Americanism, whilst the British prefer the more formal ‘waistcoat’.
As such, a tweed vest is worn and styled much the same way as a tweed waistcoat!
How to style a tweed waistcoat
Your tweed waistcoat is a versatile piece, with lots of different styling options.
Should you do up all the buttons on a waistcoat?
The killer question, and one that puzzles many. It’s true what you’ve heard – never button the bottom button of your waistcoat. You won’t be perceived as lazy or informal – it was a style set by King Edward VII, after all.
What shirt should you wear with a tweed waistcoat?
It’s tempting to complement your distinctive tweed waistcoat with an equally eye-catching shirt. Our advice? Don’t. Tweed benefits from being paired with something antithetical. If your tweed is patterned or colourful, a plain, solid shirt will do just fine. It can be an Oxford or even a grandad shirt, as a nod to the past. If your tweed is a little plainer, jazz it up with a printed shirt. Just keep an eye on those colours.
Should you wear a tie with a tweed waistcoat?
A tie is entirely optional and whether to wear one depends on the circumstances. If you’re dressing to impress, though, a strong tie can always help. Co-ordination is key; a tie is supposed to contrast without looking too garish. Patterns tend to flatter the generallymuted colours of tweed. Classic English country patterns – bold paisleysand regimental stripes – work well. Skinny ties are less traditional, but may add the youthful edge you’re looking for.
Whichever way you style it, a tweed waistcoat is a versatile piece that rewards experimentation. The most important rules are that yours is comfortable and well-fitting. With a good eye, yours can give your outfit some edge, and pay tribute to tradition. Check out our full range here.