This is a question I’ve been getting from a few people at work.
They come in wanting a tweed jacket because they love the look.
It is a great look, after all.
However, there’s often a concern that Australia would have too hot a climate for tweed to be wearable.
Resulting in clients often asking whether they’ll really get that much use out of a garment constructed in a tweed.
The short answer is yes, with my recent article 25 Ways I’ve Worn My Harris Tweed serving as testament to just how much use I’ve gotten out of my tweeds this winter.
Given that our winters can still get quite brisk, we do have opportunity to wear tweed for at least some of the year, where a climate with year-round humidity like Hong Kong may not offer this opportunity.
However, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the issue, for my fellow Australians to understand just how such a quintessentially cold-winter-only fabric can be worn aplenty in our traditionally hot weathered nation.
Weight, Weave and Lining
What it comes down to is largely a combination of the three above elements.
At face value, it’s easy to think that a heavy fabric automatically is a warm fabric, as many are.
However, it’s not always the case, as seen in vintage summer suits where the cloth is heavy but it breathes incredibly well.
This brings us to weave and breathability, which play just as important a part.
Many tweeds, using the coarse fibres normally used in constructing them, breathe fairly well.
You won’t be wearing them in an Australian summer, but they won’t make you sweat in cooler climates.
Breathability is affected by choice of lining, as well.
A garment fully lined in an unbreathable polyester will make you sweat, even if it’s made from linen.
However, something half or quarter lined is going to give you more breathability.
Especially if the lining is a silk or Bemberg silk.
Let’s use some examples from actual fabric types to illustrate the kind of tweeds that are right at home in countries like Australia.
Holland & Sherry’s Sherry Tweed bunch is comprised of tweeds that are quite lightweight at 340g.
For context, a middleweight suiting fabric would average between 300 and 320g, with 340g being a weight more often associated with lighter weight woollen flannels that you might find used in an overshirt or safari/field jacket.
What this means, of course, is that the Sherry Tweed is lightweight enough to be worn easily in Australia, and with tweed’s traditionally looser weave I actually think most fabrics from this book aren’t going to provide much warmth in Australian winters.
They’ll work for the 15-22 degree days of autumn and spring, however.
If made up unstructured with a half lining or a quarter lining, a tweed at this weight would be even cooler to wear.
Harris, Shetland and other Tweeds
Most modern Harris Tweeds weigh in somewhere between 470g and 500g, which I find to be quite capable of providing warmth in our Australian winters, without running hot.
I’ve gotten an incredible amount of wear from tweed jackets at this weight; they’re versatile between 10-20 degrees Celsius, and layer happily under a coat for anything colder (or rainier).
I prefer tweeds around these weights, as they drape better than the lighter fabrics, while remaining comfortable to wear.
I find very heavy fabrics to be taxing to wear, and I like to be able to wear my jackets all day.
I have two
Heavy Gamekeeper Tweeds
These are the kinds of tweeds that many people seem to assume are the standard weights for tweed fabrics.
What I refer to here is tweeds of a weight 800g and above, ranging up to and beyond 1000g.
I often hear of these being called gamekeeper tweeds, in reference to U.K. hunters and gamekeepers, living in a place where it’s cold and damp enough to warrant the wearing of a tweed this heavy.
I certainly wouldn’t be recommending something like this for a winter jacket in Australia.
Unless you’re in, or going to, a region where it’s cold enough to snow.
You’d get use from a tweed of such heavy weight in a region like that.
Make it up into an overcoat, and you’ll be toasty warm.
What tweeds do I wear?
I have two Harris tweeds and one Pendleton woollen tweed.
All are around a similar weight, 500g or under.
The Harris ones are both vintage, while the Pendleton is of more recent manufacture.
I’ve had so much use from tweeds this cool season, I’ll surely be wearing them more next year.
They pair perfectly with textured pants like denim and corduroy, making them an easy combination for a smart casual look.
Tweed is also great with flannel trousers for a smarter look.
Flannel pants are an area of my wardrobe that lacks severely.
Given that the warm season is showing, it’s an issue I won’t rectify until next year.