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What should I look for in a vintage tweed jacket?

adambparker

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I've been looking around Ebay for a vintage tweed jacket and am befuddled by the wealth of options out there.

So I turn to you for thoughts about what I should be looking for in a vintage tweed odd jacket.

90% of the vintage stuff on Ebay is by brands with which I am unfamiliar. Are there any particular names out there that might signify quality in a 30-40+ year old jacket?

What is important to know about the fabric? I have seen many jackets with fabric tags from the "Harris Tweed Assocation Ltd" -- is Harris tweed similar to Sea Island cotton, i.e. a mark that is exclusive and indicative of quality?

What expectations should I have of such a jacket in terms of canvassing and other construction details?

Any stylistic details that go beyond mere personal preference? Obviously lapel size, gorge and button stance are all subject to the whims of various periods and are something I will pay attention to in terms of my own preferences. What about 2 v. 3 buttons? # of cuff buttons? Vents?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated, as would reference to other threads that I have overlooked in my searching.

Thanks!
 

PandArts

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yachtie

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Harris can be rather loose woven and get saggy. Tweeds from Harrisons or Porter and Harding (cloth mills) have more meat. As to RTW can't say.
 

Biggskip

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Originally Posted by PandArts
Look for Harris Tweeds. They are exclusively hand woven in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and are very high quality. They will carry a specific label inside identifying them as such.

Check out these sites for more detailed info...

http://www.harristweed.com/

http://www.harristweedscotland.com/


And if I had the cash right now I'd go for this one:

Vintage-3-Btn-Harris-Tweed-Herringbone-Blazer

+1 Harris Tweed is an excellent place to start. You may find some manufacturers that you've either never heard of or would never consider buying from, but if it's Harris tweed, chances are it'll work out. Case in point, I found a Harris tweed jacket made by Haggar, of all companies. The price was cheap and it had patch pockets, so I decided to take a chance.

A few other things to consider:

- Try to avoid solids. Tweed is a great fabric to get a fabulous looking plaid if you can find it. Birdseye and herringbone make for other great tweed patterns.

- Don't be afraid if the jacket isn't fully lined. You may oftern find that in tweed jackets the coat is only 3/8's lined.

- Tweed is a less formal fabric and therefore an opportunity to have features that don't appeal to more formal suits or coats. If available, look for jackets that have leather coated buttons, or patch pockets.

- Avoid elbow patches. I do, at least, but maybe it's your bag.
 

texas_jack

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Honestly it's pretty hard to know. The fabric from Harris will all be good but the actual construction of the jacket varies so much that you can't really know what you're getting until you have it in your hands. I'd actually recomend you try out thrift shops. I've found many great Harris jackets and coats but I've also seen some really stiff fused junk ones made from Harris tweed.
 

adambparker

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Thanks guys, this is exactly the advice I was looking for. Much appreciated.
 

j

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Originally Posted by texas_jack
Honestly it's pretty hard to know. The fabric from Harris will all be good but the actual construction of the jacket varies so much that you can't really know what you're getting until you have it in your hands. I'd actually recomend you try out thrift shops. I've found many great Harris jackets and coats but I've also seen some really stiff fused junk ones made from Harris tweed.
+1 on this... a lot of tweed jackets look fine but when you put them on they're like cardboard. I have a couple that I really like and IIRC neither are Harris. The main difference between the ones I like and the ones I don't is that the former have soft shoulders and much less structure. 90% of the tweed jackets I see out there have shoulders that are like armor and it doesn't really fit the character of the fabric IMO. This reminds me I was just thinking I need to get a couple of slim OCBDs to wear with those tweeds now that summer is truly dead.
 

mack11211

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It's a crapshoot mostly.

Many of the tweeds will have labels of long-dead men's stores.

What you can't tell is how stiff the chestpiece is. Many old fused jobs will be like armor.

Coats from the fifties with 3 button coat fronts and narrow lapels are less likely to be fused.
 

unpainted huffheinz

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The average no name eBay Harris will be an awful garment that resembles glued together upholstery samples. Southwick, Brooks Brothers and Polo all make decent to very good tweeds, the no name stuff is to be avoided.
 

DocHolliday

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Originally Posted by mack11211
It's a crapshoot mostly.

Many of the tweeds will have labels of long-dead men's stores.

What you can't tell is how stiff the chestpiece is. Many old fused jobs will be like armor.

Coats from the fifties with 3 button coat fronts and narrow lapels are less likely to be fused.


This is my experience. I've given up on older eBay tweeds, save for the ones that are incredibly striking or go so cheap that I don't mind carting them to Goodwill. I've received a couple in beautiful cloths that were just unwearable.

Maybe 1 out of 50 tweeds in thrift shops are decent, so you have to figure the eBay odds aren't too good.
 

texas_jack

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Originally Posted by mack11211
It's a crapshoot mostly.

Many of the tweeds will have labels of long-dead men's stores.

What you can't tell is how stiff the chestpiece is. Many old fused jobs will be like armor.

Coats from the fifties with 3 button coat fronts and narrow lapels are less likely to be fused.


I have a skinny lapel (early 60s) Harris tweed jacket from Sears of all places and it's beautifully constructed. It has the most fuzzy tweed I've ever seen. I don't know if they still make that particular weave but it's amazing and it's like wearing a brown afro.
 

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