When I was in college, I had a beautiful Harris Tweed jacket that my sister had gotten me as a gift from Bergdorf Goodman. From a distance, it registered as a rich brown, but it was really a small check pattern of brown, olive green and deep red on a tan background. It had three buttons (though rolled as two), two pockets and a tan lining. It was beautiful. Being the college idiot that I was, I didn’t understand the value of a Harris Tweed. I mistreated it, lent it out a few times, and ultimately lost it.
Since then, I’ve harbored a yearly autumnal urge to get another one. Last week, I finally did.
My friend Jim and I like to go on sartorial field trips every couple of weeks to our favorite clothes haunts in Manhattan. Friday, we went to J.Crew’s Ludlow Shop in TriBeCa where he had to pick up two new tailored suits he’d bought. (They looked great on him.) Among the innumerable Fall/Winter offerings in the shop was a selection of beautiful Ludlow Fielding Sportcoats in Harris Tweed. Just for fun, I tried one on.
The 38R looked good and would have fit better with a little tailoring in the midsection. Then Nick, our guy at the shop, suggested a 36. Thinking it would be too small, I was highly skeptical but I indulged him. Wow.
In more than 25 years of wearing suits and sportcoats, I cannot recall a time when a jacket didn’t require at least some tailoring. This was a first. In a recent piece I wrote about how I like a jacket to fit, I focused on the perfect fit for me in five specific areas. This jacket nailed every one, right off the peg. The fit in the shoulders, chest, sleeves, waist/hips and length were all perfect. Even Nick took a moment after looking it up and down and said “I really don’t think you even need this tailored.” I agreed. And like any jacket or suit (or any garment, for that matter), this would get “broken in” and get even better over time. Sold.
The jacket is cut in J.Crew’s signature Ludlow fit, with a slightly wider notch lapel of three inches at its widest. It’s a three-button jacket, but rolled like a two-button, and features patch pockets, a double vent, charcoal gray collar felt and a throat latch for those extra cold bike rides in the city. The interior is lined with midnight blue bemberg and pick-stitched. There’s an interior breast pocket on each side, as well as a pen pocket and a smaller lower pocket.
And then there is that Harris Tweed Certification Trademark label. What is Harris Tweed? It’s a fabric handwoven from local wool by masters of Scottish wool – islanders in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. That label is a mark of rich heritage, deep tradition and true excellence.
Unless you’re a little college-age asshole who doesn’t appreciate the value of things, one understands that a garment made with Harris Tweed is something to be worn well, worn proudly, cared for and enjoyed for life. This one, my friends, is a keeper.