No fabric is more at home in the fall than tweed. Although tweed comes in many forms, we are going to focus on Shetland tweed for the purposes of this post. Shetland tweed is called such because the wool yarn comes from the sheep of the Shetland Isles. Relative to other tweeds I find Shetland tweed to be wiry, yet soft at the same time. It is usually, if not always, woven in a heavy twill weave. Sometimes with patterns, like checks and windowpanes woven in. Both of the fabrics in this post are from Oliver Wicks’ winter tweed collection from last year. Unfortunately, they do not offer either fabric this year, but they do have some similar ones (this year’s collection is very strong so I’d recommend a browse).
Shetland tweeds come in a variety of colors and patterns but are always a twill weave. Unlike Donegals, they are not characterized by a certain design aspect like the intermittent flecks of color woven into the textile. Like all tweeds, Shetlands wear pretty warm and have a matte appearance. They are also on the less formal end of the spectrum. However, within that, they come in more and less formal variants. And partly as a result can be easily dressed up, but mostly dressed down. This helps raise the question this post aims to answer: how to wear a Shetland tweed suit?
We will explore this topic using the grey and blue suits from Oliver Wicks. The grey is a solid medium grey fabric (similar fabric for this year) and the other is a medium blue with light blue and darker blue windowpanes (similar fabric for this year). The former being a notably more formal fabric than the latter.
When designing the suits I wanted to make the grey suit into a more formal style. So I opted for a double-breasted jacket with straight pockets and then added a ticket pocket, which seems comfortably at home on a tweed jacket.
In one look I dressed up the suit with a white collared and cuffed gingham shirt, grey wool knit tie and black oxfords. Although the look is a bit much for most workplaces, the red shirt and knit tie could easily be swapped out for a white or blue shirt and a navy or burgundy tie. This would serve to keep the look very formal, but much more conservative.
In a second look I took the formality down by ditching the tie and wearing the shirt open collared and changed out the oxfords for a pair of burgundy wingtip boots.
I must be honest, as much as I like the grey tweed, I love the blue tweed. I generally prefer to wear blue over grey. It better compliments my skin, eye and hair color and I feel more comfortable in blue. For the blue tweed suit, I had some fun mixing the relatively casual nature of the fabric with some more formal details like peak lapels and and a lapeled vest. The suit is rounded out with hacking pockets, a ticket pocket and double vents. The trousers are flat fronts and without cuffs.
The full three piece suit can, in own right, be dressed up or down, I wanted to go formal with it. I was also dressing for a Picasso’s Blue Period themed party so I stuck with a blue color palette. A solid blue french cuff shirt and blue wool tie mate perfectly with the suit and suede wholecuts provide a nice foundation for the entire ensemble.
Less aggressive pairings for a coat and scarf could’ve been chosen, but that would not have been as much fun. Thus we have a white cashmere top coat and an olive rabbit fur scarf. The tote to carry anything you need to get you through the day.
The easiest way to dress down a suit like this is to take out the vest and switch the trousers our for something less formal. In this case I started by going with some lavender corduroys. That was followed with some caramel tie loafers, white button up shirt and a club cable knit scarf.
The resulting look is admittedly not for everyone; but it is one of my favorite looks that I’ve put together for the blog. It will definitely be recreated this season. If you are looking to tone it down a bit you could swap out the lavender cords for some brown ones and go for a darker brown shoe.
Shetland tweed is a versatile fall and winter fabric. We’ve seen it dressed up a bit and dressed down a bit. It is probably more comfortable in the dressed down state, but it can hold its own when it needs to go formal. Regardless of your station in life, you would not do wrong by having at least a tweed jacket in your closet, if not a full suit. They are very versatile and provide an enlightened and stylish look whilst still being classic and appropriate in a vast array of situations. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Shetland tweed and the looks above. If you care to share or have any questions, please sound off in the comments.
Photo credit to Lexy Pierce.
Note: this post was produced with support from Oliver Wicks. Additionally, the suits pictured in this post were provided by Oliver Wicks.