How To Wear A Donegal Tweed Suit

How To Wear A Donegal Tweed Suit

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oliver wicks blue tweed suit with boots

Donegal tweed is a fabric, as with most tweeds, typically reserved for the cooler months.  Its distinguishing characteristic is the colored flecks, often in random or bright colors, that litter the surface of the fabric.  Most commonly, Donegal tweeds are found in grays and blues, sometimes in brown.  Oliver Wicks has great versions of the fabric in blue and brown for this season, which you will find on display in this post.

brown donegal tweed suit with silk knit tieFirst let’s cover the road less traveled, the brown Donegal (this one from Oliver Wicks, on sale at $499 it is a steal).  Being brown, it is a more casual suit and less suited for a business setting and the most formal of social settings.  However, it is ideal for a more casual affair or dressing up a dressed down office (ie ‘business casual’).

The details of the jacket are: notch lapels, 2 button, side vents and flapped straight pockets  For the pants: no pleats, no belt loops, suspender buttons and cuffs.  For the vest: 5 button, no lapels.

oliver wicks brown donegal tweed suitThe suit is from Oliver Wicks, as previously noted.  It is paired with a green gingham shirt from MyTailor and orange silk knit tie from Ralph Lauren, whom the scarf and pocket square are also from.  Both reflecting some of the more common natural colors of fall.  The white scarf serves to compliment the white of the gingham as well as the light brown in the tweed.  The Bean Boots completely dress down the suit and although they were not functionally necessary on that day, but on one of rain or snow, no boots go better with a suit than Bean boots.oliver wicks brown suit brown donegal tweed suitAlthough not visible for the first ensemble, I did opt to have the brown Donegal made as a three piece suit.  For a dressed down three piece I paired the suit with a burnt orange twill button down from Vineyard Vines (with heavy alterations, the shirt fit like a tent when I bought it years back) and shoes from Paul Evans.  The vest serves as a nice extra layer for added warmth, yet without a tie, the look is still not super formal.

3 piece brown tweed suit oliver wicks tweed suit and button down shirt oliver wicks brown tweed three piece suitTo change looks completely, let’s discuss the more common and more formal blue Donegal tweed suit (also from Oliver Wicks, but I think they have since sold out of the fabric, sadly).  Whereas the brown fabric has flecks of white and cream mixed in, the blue has flecks of red, brown orange and green; reflecting the colors of fall.  Its a beautiful fabric and I would argue, acceptable in all but the most formal work environments.

The details of the jacket are: notch lapels, 3 roll 2 buttons, center vent and patch pockets.  The pants: no pleats, no cuffs, no belt loops and suspender buttons.  In terms of styling, the jacket is much more on the casual end of things given the patch pockets and notch lapels.  The inherent casualness of the tweed helps maintain the more casual look.

In this first look I paired the suit with a oxford cloth shirt from Luxire, boots from Cobbler Union, a bow tie from High Cotton, a pocket square from Monsieur Fox and socks from Dapper Classics.  Some might call the look professorial, given the tweed of the suit and tie.  And just the fact that I’m wearing a bow tie.  The tweed bow tie is what really sets this ensemble off, much like in Big Lebowski, the tie does the equivalent of bringing the room together.  It picks up the browns and orange flecks of the suit tweed as well as the orange of the pocket square.

And I made a new friend.

oliver wicks blue donegal tweed suit blue tweed suit and dog

blue donegal tweed suit and oxford cloth shirt

blue donegal tweed suit and bow tieThen it came time to really dress things down.  For continuity I kept the jacket and the shirt and changed everything else.  For the first of the two looks below I added the classic aviators from Ray Ban, corduroys from Ralph Lauren (it took me a few years to find a great slim fitting wide wale corduroy and I love these so I bought them in 5-6 colors), watch from Longines, a scarf from Drake’s and sandals from Rainbow.  I am sure some of you will shudder at the appearance of flip flops; so be it.  I enjoy wearing sandals on warm (50ish degree) fall and winter days, not only to totally dress down an ensemble but also I suppose as a snarky fist in the air to Mother Nature.  It’s a look, it’s not for everyone.

blue tweed jacket with sandalsIn this second look I switched out the sandals for some olive suede Jay Butlers and the scarf for a tweed vest from Ralph Lauren.  Still very casual, but presentable for a work or social setting and great for a day around town.

tweed vest and tweed jacket oliver wicks blue donegal tweed jacket with corduroys and tweed vest oliver wicks blue tweed suit with jay butler shoes

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to wear Donegal tweed.  It is a pretty flexible fabric in what you can wear it with.  It’s best worn on the more casual end of things, more so than the flannels we discussed a month back.  It’s unique characteristics and flecks really add some personality to the fabric whilst giving the wearer colors to tie in accessories and other parts of the ensemble with.  If you have any questions or thoughts on Donegal tweed, please feel free to hit up the comments.

JLJ

8 COMMENTS

  1. Bro, I love your site, and your advice/reviews are unmatched; however, you need too clean up that haircut. I’m not attempting to troll/offend you, but your unkempt hairstyle clashes with the dapper projection of the suit. A perfectly tailored suit doesn’t stop with the cloth, so crop-your-top. Get a low-guard on your sides, fade up, and leave length on the top. For some shine: add water-based pomade (Baxter of California), or Brylcream for something heavier. For easily manageable: use an organic sand-based paste (Hanz de Fuko Quicksand) or powder wax for some volume. Start to finish morning routine should take no longer than 3 minutes.

    Reference #49 of your THOU SHALL/NOT LIST, but substitute “man-bun” for “black dress shirt”:

    52. Never, ever, ever wear a “man-bun” with a suit (or a dinner jacket/tuxedo for that matter). Just because they may be or may have been ‘on trend’ does not mean one will ever look good on you.

  2. Dear JLJ,

    I wanted to ask you why you don’t mention the weight of the tweed cloth and if you consider this question unusual?

    Just recently I inquired by email at Purdey’s about the jacket weight of their three models: three-button, action back, and two-button. The website description of the new two-button model states it is lighter. As reply I heard the jackets are between so and so kilos! In other words, instead of cloth my question was understood to mean jacket weight!?

    • Peter,
      Good thought, both tweeds are right around 10.5oz weight, which although still heavy, not so heavy as many tweeds (which are after 12-16oz). Bobby from Oliver Wicks explained that this was intentional, by using a lighter weight tweed they could still get the tweed look without the excess weight, making the fabric more comfortable to wear in a heated office. Not sure what you mean on the jacket weight and kilos? Could you elaborate?
      -Justin

  3. I must admit, I’m one to shudder at flip flops anywhere other than in very close vicinity to the ocean, However I do quite like what you put together, the contrast of the fall colors and fabrics with bare feet is interesting and somehow works perfectly despite that unflattering hair .

  4. I’ve just bought a three piece Donegal suit for my summer wedding. Will I look out of place (or too warm) at that time of year?

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