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Summer Tweed, Winter Tweed — What’s the Difference?

summer-winter-tweedWhat are some guidelines for wearing tweed in the spring and summer?  We talk a lot about “lightweight tweed” — but what the heck is it? (For example: our most recent Suit of the Week.)  Reader C wonders…

I was wondering if you could do a post on tweed — maybe a “Guide to Tweed” or similar. I frequently see you mention “lightweight tweed” for summer, but I’m not sure I actually know what that means. Can light/bright colours bring an otherwise heavier weighted tweed into the summer months? On a more specific note, I recently bought a cropped black and white tweed jacket from BR a little while ago, and I’m wondering if I can wear this well into the summer, or if it is more of a late winter/spring piece. (I couldn’t find a picture of the exact one, but it’s similar to the jacket at this link, just cropped.) Thanks!

Interrrrrresting question, C.  We’ve talked a lot about dressing professionally for summer, including how to avoid looking like a doctor in a white blazerwearing pantyhose in the summer, and fabrics that are good for hot weather … but we’ve never really talked about what makes a summer tweed a “summer tweed.”  (On the flip side, we’ve talked about the propriety of bare legs in winter, and I agree with what I said there re: wearing winter tweed in the summer — it can be seen as a judgment call by your coworkers.)  Now is a great time to talk about it because as spring starts to turn to summer, which tweeds you wear start to matter more and more.

Kate looked into this a bit, searching for a technical answer — from Encyclopedia Britannica, we learned the term “tweed” can apply to “any of several fabrics of medium to heavy-weight, rough in surface texture, and produced in a great variety of colour and weave effects largely determined by the place of manufacture.”  I asked a friend with more fashion chops than I — the wonderful Julia DiNardo of Fashion Pulse Daily — who noted that to her, a “lightweight tweed is more of a contemporary notion to modernize the fabrication… a more lightweight summer version could perhaps be done in a combed and carded cotton, a supima-like feel, for ultimate softness.”

So here’s my answer for how to know when a tweed is lightweight enough to wear in the summer: you’ll know it when you see it (much like other things). Reader C is right that lighter colors will be involved — but just because there is white or beige or pastel in a tweed doesn’t necessarily mean you can wear it year round.  Ultimately I agree with Julia that a summer tweed will have a much higher cotton content, whereas a winter tweed will have a much higher wool content.  A lightweight tweed will physically feel lighter, less heavy than a more wintry tweed, which will feel thicker, warmer, heavier.

For example, these tweed jackets (below) read as very wintry to me.  I suppose you could wear the colors in the two black/gray ones farther into spring, and earlier in fall — but I think these would look out of place in, say, July, even if the office A/C makes it arctic. (Pictured: Ann Taylor (19% cotton, on sale today for $53.93), Ann Taylor (86% wool, on sale today for $59), Michael Kors (on sale today for $335), Vince Camuto (on sale today for $118).

winter tweed blazers

Meanwhile, all of the below jackets read very summery to me.  Note the lighter colors, sure, but also the much higher cotton content; some of them are blended with even lighter fabrics like linen as well.  While the jackets above would look out of place in July, these jackets would look out of place to me in January no matter how thick your bottom layer was (e.g., merino turtleneck or something). (Pictured:  Ann Taylor ($169), Classiques Entier ($288), Joie ($298, sold with matching shorts), J.Crew (use code SHOPNOW to bring it to $162 today), and Oscar de la Renta (on sale today for $1435).)

summer-tweed-for-women

I  was going to try to round up a bunch of “seasonless tweed” — stuff at first glance that could be in either category — but looking at the pictures now I think they do fit into one category or the other.  I’ll post the graphic just for the sake of discussion. (To me: winter, winter, summer.) (Pictured: Ann Taylor (on sale for $95 today), Zac Posen (love this, tons of sizes left, on sale for $472), Austin Reed ($325).)

seasonless tweed

 

All of the above blazers from Ann Taylor come in petite sizes; some also come in tall sizes.  Here are a few plus-size tweed blazers as well: winter, winter, summer, summer.

Ladies, what are your thoughts on tweed — what is the difference between summer tweed versus winter tweed?  Now that it definitely feels like spring (68 degrees yesterday, woohoo!), which blazers will you pull out of your closet first?  Is there any such thing as a “seasonless” tweed, or is all tweed necessarily “best” in 2 or 3 seasons at most?

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Summer Tweed, Winter Tweed -- What's the Difference?

Comments

  1. Yay! I am a big fan of summer tweed but not so much winter tweed. I say this b/c when I am sitteing at my desk, the winter tweed makes me itch, and once in a while, the itcheing get’s realy bad. FOOEY b/c when men see me scratch, they think I have bug’s or something. That happened to me in court once, and the judge asked if I needed Zinkofax. I had NO idea what he was talking about, but when I talked with Grandma Trudy, she said that she used Zincofax on my mom’s tuchus when she had diaper rash! FOOEY!

    I did NOT pull my brief from the court, and will take my chances, b/c I found out that the hive did NOT have any real expertise on res ipsa loquitor either. If the judge asks, I will tell him that the HIVE, who consist of other overacheiveing chick’s, were also confused, so how bad could I be. Beside’s, I am weareing my white silk blouse and red suit with red pump’s, so that should keep him happy. YAY!!!!

    The guy who want’s to have sex with Myrna now want’s to meet me. If he think’s I will be on his side, forget it. I am like Myrna b/c neither one of us like bald men to be huffeing and puffeing on top of us just b/c they buy us dinner. The last thing I want is for some schmoe to come into my apartement and make a mess. DOUBEL FOOEY on that! I do NOT want to meet that guy unless Myrna is there. If he is that oversexed, who know’s what he is capable of doeing. TRIPEL FOOEY!

  2. (Former) Clueless Summer :

    I am a huge tweed lover and I sometimes wrestle with the time to switch my tweed. I think all my tweed is 2 seasons at least, just depends which 2 seasons. Sometimes 3. I have one ivory and beige tweed jacket I wear all seasons although not as a suit in the winter/fall.

    I agree with Kat – it’s a call it like you see it thing. Also a comfort thing. However, I think more of the summer tweed can be worn in the winter, but not vice versa. I would wear some of Kat’s summer examples in the winter for sure, unless they looked like a particularly open weave (sign of summer tweed) or were very linen-looking or feeling.

  3. Anonymous :

    I wear light-colored tweed year round, but I live in CA, where it’s regularly 70 degrees in January. I tend to save dark colored tweed for winter.

  4. I have one piece of clothing that I would consider “seasonless tweed” which I wear in every season – the Tory Burch Dianna Jacket. Seems like it was meant more for summer, but I thought it worked during the winter with a navy dress and tights –

    small pic and description here: http://reviews.toryburch.com/3533-en_us/11131530/tory-burch-dianna-jacket-reviews/reviews.htm

    larger pic here: http://www.lyst.com/clothing/tory-burch-dianna-jacket-tory-navy-combo-a/

    The rest of my tweed screams a certain season to me (ie bright greens/whites = summer).

    • Meg Murry :

      Yes, I think if the tweed is mostly light but has some dark components to it, like the jacket you posted or the Austin Reed one above, it could cross from summer into winter if the whole rest of the outfit was dark, as long as it was otherwise weather appropriate.

      I have a male friend that has a great light tan tweed jacket with elbow patches that looks very “professorial” that he wears in fall and spring but that would be too heavy for summer but might be too light for the dead of winter. So I guess maybe fall/spring tweed is also a (small niche) thing, at least in menswear.

    • (Former) Clueless Summer :

      Oooh love, I would definitely wear that all year round – navy in the winter, white dress underneath in the summer!

  5. N.C. anon :

    I have just begun dipping a toe into the world of tweed. I bought a solid black tweed jacket from Loft last year, and I’m fairly happy with it (although it does pill somewhat). I’ve been wearing it as recently as this week, but may put it aside soon for fall.

    I really loved the first Ann Taylor jacket pictured when I thought it was a thigh-length jacket. (Clicking through, I see it’s just a regular jacket and skirt combo.)

  6. I just got this “tweed” (actually a cotton/poly blend) in the tan/ivory: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/caslon-tweed-terry-knit-jacket-regular-petite/3870195?cm_em=&cm_mmc=email_tran-_-040815-_-ship_confirm-_-proddescr2
    It is very thin and definitely on the more casual side but I think quite cute.

  7. I covet that Austin Reed tweed. Love it. Overall, I agree with what Kat said, although I think that a light (not white) tweed jacket can be considered “winter” if worn with the right bottom. My summer tweeds tend to have some silky slubs in them, while the winter ones are, as you said, more wooly.

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