What is Herringbone Tweed? A Gentleman's Guide
Herringbone tweed is a fashion staple in menswear. Read on to find out everything you need to know about this timeless fabric.
From Fishy Origins
What do houndstooth, barleycorn, herringbone, twill, Donegal, and Harris all have in common? They’re all a part of the historic Tweed family. Bonded by a flexible water-resistant texture and hard-wearing woollen fabric, the tweed family is one of the most iconic in British fashion. But as with any family, each type of tweed is decisively unique. Crafted in accordance to a strict set of conditions and complete with their own subtle designs, knowing one tweed from another can be difficult. So, let’s break it down. How can you identify a Herringbone tweed from other kinds of tweed? It’s all in the pattern.
All Herringbone tweeds have the same geometric pattern, also sometimes referred to as ‘broken twill weave’. Constructed from thin stripes that zigzag across the width of the fabric, they form an alternating column of ‘V’ shapes across the fabric. Supposedly, the name emerged from it’s visual similarity to herring’s bones when they’re stacked up. While, unfortunately, we can’t verify that — we can’t say that we often seen fish bones stacked on top each other — what we can say with utter certainty is that Herringbone is one of the most classic and versatile types of tweed out there.
A Brief Sartorial History
What images come to mind when you think of classic Herringbone tweed? A Roman road pattern? Egyptian jewellery? Probably not, right? But this timeless V pattern can actually be traced back to both of those ancient origins. Now that’s what we call classic fashion!
What’s more likely is that your mind conjures images of 18th century Scotland or the Victorian English gentry. And, you’d be right, Herringbone tweed burst onto Scotland’s fashion scene right around the 18th century. Borne from the need of farmers who worked the land, tweed brought hard-wearing, well-insulated tailoring to outdoorsmen.
Over time, Herringbone tweed’s popularity blossomed. No longer reserved for those who worked in the hardy Scottish climate, Herringbone tweed became the go-to fabric for any discerning gentleman’s sporting wardrobe. From hunting to fishing, golfing to cycling, Herringbone tweed was both a practical and stylish choice, one that the English gentry couldn’t get enough of. You’ve probably seen images of Old Tom Morris, the famous early golfer who donned his perfect tweed plus fours on the golf course. Perhaps it was the earthy colour palette, sturdy tailoring and shapely form that separated herringbone tweed from the popular fashion trends of the city — but what is certain is that it was the perfect compliment to the pursuit of leisure.
A Contemporary Twist on an Old Classic
Hitting that sartorial sweet spot between classic and contemporary menswear, Herringbone tweed is still a fashion essential. From Steve McQueen to Drake, every dapper gentleman with an eye for style has donned Herringbone tweed for a contemporary throwback to the old classic.
Today, the Herringbone tweed suit is revamped and better than ever. Thanks to innovations in fibre composition, tweed is no longer reserved for the winter wardrobe. When matched with light cotton and linen, your Herringbone tweed suit can see you through even the most scorching months of the year.
How to Wear Herringbone Tweed?
Combining rugged masculinity with an elegant charm, a Herringbone tweed suit is never a bad choice if you’re looking for a sharp, tailored look. But, how can you pull it off?
Herringbone tweed is incredibly versatile and can be worn for almost any occasion. Check out our top three ways to mix it up:
1. The three-piece: Make a statement with a quintessentially classic 3 piece suit such as this Blue Estate Herringbone Tweed 3 Piece. Pair it with a crisp white shirt and you have the perfect look for work and play — all while paying homage to British fashion heritage.
2. Modern country gentleman: For a more relaxed country look, pair this Country Estate Herringbone Tweed jacket with jeans or chinos and a simple shirt.
3. Cool and casual: Give your Sunday morning brunch an elegant twist by pairing this Dark Brown Herringbone Jacket with a simple white t-shirt and jeans. Its versatility makes it perfect for the colder months too — just pair it with a roll neck or classic jumper.
Herringbone tweed makes a bold yet classic fashion statement. Feel free to get creative — just remember to keep your shirts simple. Wearing multiple designs and patterns can complicate and clutter your look — and your Herringbone tweed should be the highlight of the show!
Top It All off… With a Hat
Herringbone tweed is not just a great fabric for suits, you know. For a modern and fun take on a timeless classic, try this Green Herringbone Newsboy Hat. Enjoying somewhat of a renaissance thanks to the popularity of Peaky Blinders, the newsboy is a perfect addition to any outfit.
Herringbone tweed is one of the most democratic and versatile materials out there. So, what are you waiting for? Check out Empire Outlet’s wide range of Herringbone tweed suits today and make a statement.