Most of my favorite suits and jackets are too informal to be worn in office settings, probably because they remind me that I won't be chained to a desk while I'm wearing them. I like linen in warm weather and in cool weather, tweed.
Tweed is a moisture-resistant and very durable woollen cloth used for suitings, odd jackets and overcoats. Developed in Scotland and Ireland, it was originally woven from Cheviot sheep whose wool produces a relatively rough twill that may have a check or herringbone pattern, or a plain ground comprised of a mixture of different colored yarns, often with an overcheck. Later, the term was expanded to include smoother cloth from Saxony or merino wool that is often woven as a Glenurquahart design (also known as a glen check). Tweed weights range from heavy estate tweeds at 22 ounces per yard down to relatively refined suitings at 11 or 12 ounces.
The wide variety of tweed patterns that we enjoy today were developed beginning in the 19th century to identify the family members and staff of individual estates in Scotland. These cloths were made for heavy duty outdoors and had to stand up to the harsh climate as well as disappear into the local countryside when worn for hunting.
Tweed clothing is as useful as ever for Fall and Winter wear in the country, on the weekend, for travel and in less formal situations such as university settings. Jacket stylings can include sporting details such as slanted and patch pockets, bellows backs and half belts. The rough texture pairs well with wool and casual neckties and silk paisley pocket squares.
The photo at the beginning of this post illustrates five tweed suits and jackets, including
- a 15 ounce brown and gray twill suit with blue and white threads
- a 15 ounce green suit with orange, blue and red checks
- a 15 ounce black and white glen check
- a 22 ounce odd jacket in yellow with blue and white ovechecks
- a 22 ounce odd jacket black and brown check on a tan ground, with red and blue overchecks
The brown and the black and white suits can be worn for casual Fridays in the city. The others are better suited for a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities on a brisk winter's day. Scotland's principal contribution to classic men's clothing will keep you warm, dry and well dressed.