The quintessential British country squire wears tweed and the classic image of a stuffy old professor generally includes a tweed coat, but tweed is, in my opinion, cool! Originally woven by small crofters for their personal use, tweed is one of the original working man’s fabrics. In the early 19th century, the surplus of these crofters made its way into the London shops with ‘tweel’ (the pattern in which it is woven) being misread as tweed (a famous Scottish river). Under this name, it was advertised and after the death of the 6th Earl of Dunmore in 1843, his widow commissioned a pair of sisters, known as the Paisley Sisters, to weave fabric in the family tartan. This fabric was then made into uniforms for the staff of the Dunmore estate. Being hardwearing, water-resistant, and warm, it was ideal for the gamewardens and the Countess quickly realized that it was ideal for a range of other outdoor pursuits. By the late 1840s, with the Countess’s constant promotion, Harris Tweed was the fabric of choice for the landed gentry and the aristocracy.
Today, you can still get traditional Harris Tweed made in the Outer Hebrides, but a whole variety of other tweeds can be found! Purveyors like The Harris Tweed Shop specialize in only the genuine product cut into a variety of made-to-measure custom garments, and more modern companies, like Bookster, aka Tweed-Jacket.com, use the widest range of tweeds and similar quality British fabrics to create a huge array of custom garments at fabulous prices!
I can’t wait till have a very good reason to buy a couple of suits … one of these may grace my closet then!