Tweed is a curious fabric, defined by its countrified connotations, but which easily straddles the formal and the casual. It emerged in Scotland, Wales and Ireland as hardy outerwear worn by farmers and gamekeepers. The close, woollen weave made it warm and comfortable in harsh weather.
Those same features quickly made it desirable for the outdoorsy upper classes, however. Shooting and hunting would be made all the more comfortable in a tweed jacket. The style percolated down to the middle classes in the early 1900s, just in time for their own pursuits to become popular. Tweed seamlessly became synonymous with golfing, horse riding, motoring, hill walking and cycling.
Tweed had revivals in the 1960s and 1980s, the decade of the Sloane Ranger. It was still clearly a fabric with rural undertones. Indeed, the word “tweedy” describes a faintly upper-class, or upper-class adjacent, land-owning type. It’s a convivial and relaxed description, though, never derogatory.
Today, there’s still a casual smartness to the fabric, and although it still emits countryside vibes in certain circumstances, it’s probably more likely to remind the modern fashion-lover of Peaky Blinders or Coco Chanel.
Styles of tweed
Tweed encompasses a number of weaves. The most famous, which is most associated with the name, is probably Harris Tweed, which originates from the Outer Hebrides. It’s a trademarked design, associated directly with the islands, so can’t be produced elsewhere, just like Scotch whisky, Champagne and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
However, Harris is just one style. With years of culture and artisanship behind it, there’s a whole range of designs that fall under the category. Glen plaid is a well known design. From a distance, it looks like a kind of chequerboard pattern, but on closer inspection, the squares reveal themselves to be made of separate weaves, such as houndstooth or striped. There can also be wider patterns of large and small squares or rectangles.
Herringbone is another common type, comprising small contrasting lines arranged in a repeating V-shaped pattern. Houndstooth is a two-colour pattern, often black and white, with interlocking jagged shapes. This pattern can be very closely woven, or can be made so the interlocking pattern is large and easily discernible.
How to wear tweed
Ideal for both formal and informal occasions, a tweed jacket can be endlessly versatile. We’ll walk you through how you can style your tweed jacket with different shirts, trousers and accessories to create looks that balance tradition with modernity.
The formal ensemble: dapper and refined
The speckled richness of tweed pairs impeccably well with crisp, tailored pieces for formal wear. It’s perfect for business meetings, especially those destined to end up in the city or a country pub. You’re guaranteed to be the one who fits in wherever you start and end up.
- Shirt – A crisp white button-down remains a tried-and-true companion for a formal tweed look. Alternatively, don a pastel-coloured shirt for a subtle splash of colour. Striped or subtly patterned shirts in classic colours can also lend your ensemble touches of detail without tipping it over to the casual side.
- Trousers – For business affairs or dressy events, team your tweed jacket with a pair of tapered dark jeans or tailored trousers. Classic navy, charcoal and black work seamlessly with all kinds of tweed. Of course, the option is always open to go the whole hog and wear a tweed suit. But that’s a whole article in itself, and we’re happy to oblige.
- Accessories – Traditional accessories like a silk necktie or bowtie, pocket square and leather brogues can add final flourishes of formality to your tweed look. Don’t hesitate to experiment with patterned ties or vibrant pocket squares that complement the colours in the tweed.
The casual ensemble: relaxed and stylish
Even outside the formal sphere, a tweed jacket has earned a place in your casual wardrobe. Wear it to summer parties, race days or just when you’re heading off for a drive to somewhere fun with friends or family.
- Shirts – Layer your tweed jacket over a casual chambray shirt or even a slim-fit turtleneck for a relaxed, trendy vibe. If you're game for a more laid-back look, a simple crew neck tee also works.
- Trousers – For your bottom half, opt for relaxed-fit jeans or chinos in earthy tones or go bold with corduroy trousers for a play on texture.
- Accessories – Skipping the tie or bowtie gives your tweed look a casual spin. Opt instead for a lightweight scarf, a flat cap or even a pair of statement sunglasses. Finish off with loafers, trainers or even a pair of well-worn boots.
Whether showcased in sophisticated settings or worn as part of your everyday wardrobe, a well-styled tweed jacket is testament to your sartorial prowess. Remember, the key to acing the tweed game lies in balance – coordinate your textures, hues and accessories, and you’re all set to stride forth in style, turning heads with your classically contemporary tweed ensemble.
Timeless tweed always fits the bill
In the dynamic world of men’s fashion, some things remain unequivocally timeless, and a tweed jacket is undoubtedly one of those rare items. A symbol of both sophistication and ruggedness, this trusty staple continues to redefine fashion boundaries, marrying classic charm with contemporary style.
We think you’re ready to unleash your inner country gent – have a look through our distinguished collection of tweed jackets and blazers.