How Much ‘Tweed’ Do I Need?

The problem I have with nice things is that having one of them is never enough.

As soon as one has purchased something of fancy, and the feeling of a zero-sum victory has subsided, the search begins again. I have spent most of my young adult life believing my own nonsense; buying into self-promises, setting conservative targets. “Once I have that, then I have all my City suits…”; “…all I need is that pair of brown shoes, then my collection is complete.” It’s not that I am incapable of keeping promises. It’s just that I see no advantage in honouring them, particularly when confronted with temptations of sartorial splendour.

I have a tweed jacket bought at Ede & Ravenscroft in the sale about four years ago. Attracted to the light green colour and the sky blue overcheck, I told myself that my tweed journey was at an end; “I’ve got my tweed jacket” I said, like an addict clutching his stash “I have all the tweed I need.”

When scouring a Gieves & Hawkes sample sale a couple of years ago, I was surprised at my own disappointment that there was no tweed in my size. Why was I still pursuing blasted tweed? I didn’t live in the country. I wasn’t a regular fixture on the shooting circuit. One tweed jacket was plenty for a man who spends less than a month outside central London. However, the desire for ‘full tweed’ – the three-piece tweed suit – persisted. Seeing the cycling ‘Tweed runners’ flash past me on Piccadilly didn’t help as most of them were decked out from head to foot in the stuff, teasing my own tweedy deficiencies.

I know that I will eventually purchase a full tweed suit. The question is, how far will I go; how ‘tweed’ (read: loud, traffic-stopping, snigger-inducing) will it be?

The thing is, it can’t be one of those mundane tweeds, the sort of thing that you see in the window at Roderick Charles; plain and uninspiring. Nor do I want it to be like one of those OTT Dashing Tweeds fabrics that look more like cheap curtain fabric from a 70s motel room.

The charm of tweed is that it is not a serious fabric, but it is so easy to get it wrong. Even for those with the aesthetic ability of an elder Agnelli, some fabrics are just too clown-like to ever be worn as an entire suit.

For me, tweed is always strongest with an overcheck, and I am quite taken with multi-coloured overchecks on plain backgrounds. What is important to remember is that such a great expanse of tweed requires this balance. The tweed pictured above is, for me, the ideal combination of colour and pattern and would look acceptable in a three-piece format; interesting without being distracting, subtle without being boring.