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Whither The Country Suit?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by pejsek, Sep 29, 2006.

  1. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    The country suit is one of my favorite articles of clothing. Nothing seems more dashing than a well-cut tweed and a pair of brown brogues on a crisp fall day. But I wonder if the tweed suit has passed the point of no return on its way up the stairs to the attic of sartorial anachronisms (no doubt elbowing its way past the bowler and spats to find a suitable resting space). Am I getting carried away? Anyway, Lucky Strike had a some very nice pictures of himself wearing a country suit a couple of weeks ago that started me thinking about this again. Is it even possible to buy a rtw tweed suit these days? If anybody does wear them, I'd be curious to know how and where they do it. I love tweeds or anything with a little itch and texture--and yet somehow always feel more comfortable and at ease in a suit. For example, the other night when going out to dinner I instinctively reached for a flannel chalk stripe suit in alternative to both some odd jacket and a suit with more refined cloth. So a nice tweed suit is close to a perfect thing for me. Could such a suit do duty in a corporate casual environment? Or is it now the sole province of eccentrics?
     
  2. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Could such a suit do duty in a corporate casual environment?
    I think so. Also, there are "worsted tweeds" like Allsport and Porter & Harding "Glorious Twelfth" that are meant to be city suits. Perhaps not the thing for the BIG PRESENTATION, but fine on an average fall/winter work day.
     
  3. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    Or is it now the sole province of eccentrics?

    Sounds perfect for me. [​IMG]

    I need to get one, actually, as I do not operate in a corporate environment, and as long as I'm wearing a tie and jacket I'm okay. I love tweed.
     
  4. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    Ralph Lauren sells RTW country suits. I've seen some RL country suits on Ebay, new and used, for very low prices (like $600 for an RLPL suit) -- they're unusual enough that there doesn't seem to be much of a market for them, I guess.
     
  5. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    Well, here are two tweed suits that I've picked up in the last year or so. First up is a suit by Davies & Son tailored back in 1974. A classic example of the genre, the suit has a medium-sized center vent and three buttons (the top of which is strictly decorative and hides under the lapel). Cloth mavens may be able to describe this precisely, but I would call this a green herringbone tweed with an orange and red windowpane/overcheck. It's a really beautiful pattern:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next is a really interesting suit by the long-defunct Donaldson, Williams, & G. Ward of Burlington Arcade, also from the early 1970s. I've never been able to track down much information about this tailor, but I did once get a response from a poster on AAAC who had actually been in the shop; he described the work as very nice and the prices as among the highest in London at the time. This is a long one-button jacket with deepish side vents and slanted pockets. The single button has another longer shank sewn on in the inside of the jacket on which is attached another button, allowing the jacket to be fastened showing the two buttons side by side. This device has a name, though I can't seem to recall it. You may also be able to make out that the seam on the pants is lapped, which I think means that the fabric along the seam is sort of folded over to conceal the true seam rather than just being simply joined out in the open.
    This suit seems much harder to wear. The first one is in that country-friendly green and has a sort of rough and ready appeal. The cut on this one is much more severe and formal. And the cloth, a grey-flecked tweed, doesn't do much to suggest a romp in the woods. Seems like perfect wear for a grand house in the country, but how many of us have an occasion for that?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The closure you refer to is called a "link front." It's an odd thing to do on a tweed suit, as it was traditionally a formal detail, found on morning coats, strollers and shawl collar DJs.

    The second cloth looks like a worsted Donegal.
     
  7. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    Thanks, Manton. I'll bet you're right on both counts!
     
  8. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    The closure you refer to is called a "link front." It's an odd thing to do on a tweed suit, as it was traditionally a formal detail, found on morning coats, strollers and shawl collar DJs.

    The second cloth looks like a worsted Donegal.


    Yes, it is kind of odd. This suit came together with 4-5 others and was the only tweed in the bunch. They all have this link front (which, btw, is optional; the jacket buttons just fine in the conventional way as well). It certainly contributes to the impression of a city suit tricked out for the country.
     
  9. whoopee

    whoopee Senior member

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    I love the cloth on tthat first one. Many men are afraid to branch out of dark grays and blues (and blacks) but I think it's just the right thing for a casual environment. One of my bosses wore tweed whenever he could, even to most meetings, in a hot city. The nice thing is if you end up feeling out of place on weekdays in tweed, you can break them out for weekends and feel perfectly appropriate. For some refinement but with a more rustic pattern, though meant for cities, there's a H&S book of worsted "cheviots". They look somewhat odd in swatches but might be worth an experiment.
     
  10. oscarthewild

    oscarthewild Senior member

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    The closure you refer to is called a "link front." It's an odd thing to do on a tweed suit, as it was traditionally a formal detail, found on morning coats, strollers and shawl collar DJs.

    The second cloth looks like a worsted Donegal.


    I acutally have similar or slightly rougher donegal in queue for my tailor.
    Prob ready by next fall.

    -
     
  11. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The second suit does touch on an issue of matching fabric, style, cut, and purpose. I commissioned a similar garment, and now rather wish I hadn't. It is a worsted navy blue donegal sport coat, from the Glorious Twelfth bunch. Kilgour/Shanghai did the honors, as the price was right and I knew it would come out accurately. Basically, I wanted a blue jacket to wear around the office when a sweater was just too informal, or I were going to lunch where real people eat. It's not too bad, but the severity of the cut and the crispness of the cloth sort of defeat the purpose, which was to have something that looks OK without a tie.

    BTW, I do remember Donaldson, Williams, and Ward with some regret. When I was a student in 1985 (think 1 GBP = $1.20), I wandered around Savile Row wondering how I should make a first commission. Price sort of mattered, but more for psychological reasons in those flush times. Style was an issue. Some tailors made really British-looking stuff that I knew wouldn't travel back to the States. Then there was my lifestyle, which didn't require suits much if at all. I eventually bought some tweed on Regent Street and took it to a shop on Cork Street to have a jacket made. I do remember the mannequins in DW&W looking better than any others on the Row. I was tempted, but some barrier kept me from such a distinguished and expensive-looking place. Oh, well. A black tie rig from them might have been a good investment. Or just biting the bullet on the jacket and letting them suggest something from W. Bill.
     
  12. oscarthewild

    oscarthewild Senior member

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    I acutally have similar or slightly rougher donegal in queue for my tailor.
    Prob ready by next fall.

    -


    The country suit and its fans are not dead yet!
    I posted this on LondonLounge:
     
  13. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Senior member

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  14. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Senior member

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    The country suit is one of my favorite articles of clothing. Nothing seems more dashing than a well-cut tweed and a pair of brown brogues on a crisp fall day. But I wonder if the tweed suit has passed the point of no return on its way up the stairs to the attic of sartorial anachronisms (no doubt elbowing its way past the bowler and spats to find a suitable resting space). Am I getting carried away? Anyway, Lucky Strike had a some very nice pictures of himself wearing a country suit a couple of weeks ago that started me thinking about this again. Is it even possible to buy a rtw tweed suit these days? If anybody does wear them, I'd be curious to know how and where they do it. I love tweeds or anything with a little itch and texture--and yet somehow always feel more comfortable and at ease in a suit. For example, the other night when going out to dinner I instinctively reached for a flannel chalk stripe suit in alternative to both some odd jacket and a suit with more refined cloth. So a nice tweed suit is close to a perfect thing for me. Could such a suit do duty in a corporate casual environment? Or is it now the sole province of eccentrics?


    Unfortunately, the casual cancer has placed the tweed suit in the USA on the endangered species list.

    As a result of the cancer, most men prefer either a baggy and shapeless set of jeans or chinos with a sweater even when going to a fashionable place.

    However, there are a few islands of civilization left in RTW.

    Brooks has some RTW tweed suits. J. Press and Paul Stuart have some too. At Peter Elliot Men this season they made-up a tweed suit by Hickey Freeman, and it has been the store's best seller.

    However, generally, the tweed suit getting rarer and rarer in RTW since most men would consider it a luxury.

    I would add that in certain circumstances a tweed suit can be worn for business. You just have to assess whether your business environment will tolerate it. E.g., at a bank branch the manager and his assistants must wear a conservative "city" suit. In comparison, a gallery owner could wear a tweed suit with impunity.
     
  15. oscarthewild

    oscarthewild Senior member

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  16. saint

    saint Senior member

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    About a month ago I bought a Polo country suit (hacking jacket with ticket pockets, storm tab, long center vent, etc) off of ebay made from a very heavy grey herringbone tweed (probably Harris, but no Harris label); the suit must weigh 7 lbs. It cost me $36 + shipping, I think the bidding was low because it was so unusual. It is in very good condition, though unless I am attending an outdoor function in a blizzard, I'll probably just wear either the jacket or the pants. But at least in Ralph Lauren land, the Country Suit lives!
     
  17. passingtime

    passingtime Senior member

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    About a month ago I bought a Polo country suit (hacking jacket with ticket pockets, storm tab, long center vent, etc) off of ebay made from a very heavy grey herringbone tweed (probably Harris, but no Harris label); the suit must weigh 7 lbs.

    It is very unlikely to be Harris tweed if there is no Harris label.
     
  18. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Senior member

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    In particular, I am searching for this or similar fabric. Would anyone know where to find something like this? [​IMG] or spmething like this [​IMG]
    Here's a budget candidate: [​IMG] http://www.pakeman.co.uk/products.asp?cat=93 .
     
  19. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red Senior member

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    The very first suit I ever owned was a steel-blue tweed three-piece nearly identical in quality to the Donegal pictured earlier. I also had a Harris tweed sport jacket that was a very rich grey with tinges of blue and gold. I remember both as having the texture of a rather refined bale of hay.

    After graduating prep school, I never had occasion to wear them again and at the time I was wearing them regularly, was too young to adequately appreciate them. They were probably subsequently donated to Goodwill by some family member who assumed, perhaps rightly, that I'd outgrown them.

    This thread has taken my breath away more than any other in recent memory. Perhaps its all those vintage pictures or perhaps it's nostalgia tugging at my heartstrings. The country suit, then, may not be dead, but, like chivalry, merely sleeping.
     
  20. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    15 oz. tweed suit with patch pockets. Vest has lapels.

    [​IMG]

    Another tweed suit, 3 button roll 2, vest with lapels.

    [​IMG]

    I'll wear the brown one on Fridays but most of the wear is on weekends.
     

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