Cult item: tweed jacket
By Matt Glazebrook, 8 October 2014
Jackets don't come much more British than the tweed blazer. It's been worn by some of the country's most famous exports, from James Bond to Doctor Who and the Prince of Wales to Lord David of Beckham. Its cultural legacy stretches from the most north-westerly tip of rural Scotland to the heart of swinging London. It's centuries old but still relevant – albeit in a quirky, faintly eccentric way – just like the land that spawned it.
Appropriately, for a rough woven fabric with flecks of colour, tweed has a mixed-up sort of history. Beginning life as workwear for remote Scottish islanders, it became the leisure clothing of choice for the English aristocracy. Since then, the classic tweed jacket has adorned the shoulders of Hollywood leading men, bookish intellectuals and moustachioed hipsters alike. Even the name has a confused heritage, apparently stemming from a misreading of 'tweel' (the Scottish word for twill).
Tweed's association with the sporting pursuits of the upper classes ensured its early popularity – going overboard with the fabric (or perhaps incorporating plus-fours into your outfit) will leave you looking more kitted out for a grouse hunt than a stroll about town. Douglas Booth (above) neatly sidesteps this pitfall by pairing his three-piece with a modern skinny tie and a pair of dressy patent leather shoes.
The islands of Lewis and Harris, off the west coast of Scotland, spawned the most famous tweed style back in the 18th century. Nowadays, the Harris Tweed empire has expanded across the Outer Hebrides and it's only in this remote corner of the British Isles that authentic, certified Harris Tweed can be made. But it was a city boy, Edinburgh's own Sean Connery (above), who contributed one of the most iconic Harris-clad looks to the menswear canon – chasing Goldfinger through the Swiss Alps in his spy/casual tweedy ensemble.
While traditionalists may want to keep their tweed jacket in an autumnal shade of brown, there's nothing to stop you updating the country gent vibe with a more modern pallette. Tinie Tempah's bold, flecked blue suit, paired with a simple white tee and his trademark thick-frame glasses, brings the tweedy vibe crashing into the 21st century.