17 December 2010

Wall Street Journal on Tweed

The Wall Street Journal (Asia Edition)--that well-known authority on style and tradition--decided to weigh-in on the Tweed controversy in a unique Q&A session. Have a look:

How to Wear Tweed and Stay Cool
December 17, 2010, 6:45 AM HKT

Q: Ah, tweed, the fabric of aristocratic fox hunts and stuffy professors. And now, suddenly as fashionable in Asia’s urban jungles as it is on Europe’s country estates. But how can you incorporate the fabric into a modern male wardrobe?

A: Along with plaid, that other traditional outdoor fabric associated with cooler weather, tweed has made a strong appearence this season in both jackets and pants. Still, you’re cautious, even trepidatious, of wearing it out of fear of becoming, well, tweedy?

Nonsense. First of all, know that today’s tweed is not the dour fabric of years gone by. Slightly softer and thinner, the modern take on tweed isn’t the itchy fabric that our ancestors used to wear. Even the tweediest of tweed makers — Harris Tweed Scotland Ltd., one of the three mills whose Harris Tweed is certified by the U.K. government — launched a lightweight tweed in September. Within the first two weeks, the company’s run of 5,000 jackets in the new fabric were completely sold out.

The Scottish tweed maker is surprised that its staple is now the height of fashion. “We see now, walking down the high street, so many people in tweed,” said Lydia Walton, director of public relations at Harris Tweed Scotland. “It was snowballing for a couple of years, but this year, it’s been huge. I don’t really know why.”

The tip is to match the tweed to the occasion. If you’re going to the country or spending time outdoors, choose tweed in earthy tones, such as the Hamish design in green and brown checks. Dress it with a white shirt, jeans and a pair of brown brogues or boots. For urban settings, you are better off with darker colors, such as a black and white herringbone check. This style in a jacket goes well with grey flannel trousers and a dark-colored shirt.

Of course, these are merely guidlines. Tweed fashion, like all fashion, differs in various parts of the world. “In Italy, they’ll wear the Hamish design with pencil trousers and pointy shoes — not what we see here in the U.K.,” said Ms. Walton.

If there’s one rule to adhere to, it would be this: Never pair your tweed jacket with tweed pants, especially if they match. A tweed suit? Not even for the driest of academic conferences. “Once you wear a tweed suit, you look slightly mad,” she said. We tend to agree.


© Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


Reggie Darling said...

While I am pleased that the "fashion" for tweed is keeping the mills humming, and thus profitable (one hopes), Reggie is mixed in his feelings that tweed is popular again. Being a fellow-old-fogey, he started wearing tweed as a wee laddie (I have a photo of the young Reggie, aged 4 or 5, wearing a Harris tweed jacket) and he never stopped wearing it in his ensuing half century of sartorial purgatory on this planet. I think I'll wear (one of) my J. Press tweed sport coats today. And I have my eye on the one I bought there 20 years ago and have happily (and defiantly) worn ever since. Grrrrrr...

Richard said...

Interesting article, but I don't agree with their thoughts on wearing tweed suits.

Matching tweeds are not like matching madras fabrics. Matching madras is brutal to look at while matching tweed is a glorious sight.

A.E.F. said...

Richard, I agree - tweed suits, preferably three-piece, are fabulous! But of course the cut has be exact; elegant and slender as if for a guards officer. If Savile Row is impractical, Cordings of Piccadilly make a good off the peg version.

Will said...

The Harris Tweed representative who made that statement about tweed suits should now be seeking other employment.

Of course, Harris makes terrible trousers so it might be an opinion specific to Harris Tweed marketers.

Hestor said...

Mr. Darling - tweed is popular but only in some circles - the fact that a pedestrian brand like Jack Wills makes tweed hacking jackets for both men and women is one example. It's versatility is one factor why some of the "trendy" persuasion, as well as the conservative, will make use of it.

I just purchased a Gieves & Hawkes houndstooth tweed sport coat recently, which will last me a good 40 years or so.

Anonymous said...

Really good post!