Tailored Versatility: The 3-Piece Tweed Suit

December 26th, 2010

After so much positive feedback for our first “1 Piece/3 Ways” post, I thought we’d keep them coming. This time, a little bit extended as well: “One 3-piece tweed suit, 7 different ways to wear it”.

An alternative title for this post could have been: “The advantage of a waistcoat: turning 3 outfits into 7”.

A two piece suit gives you three options for wearing it: the pants separately, the jacket separately, and the suit together. Add a vest into the mix, and three options turns to seven, as shown here…

1. Pant Separate

Some of my favorite looks are very simple. If you stick to well-fitted basics like a brown donegal tweed trouser, navy fine-gage knit and burgundy tassel loafers, you have the perfect blank canvas for a textured scarf, like this fair isle number.

This is a great “Sunday Morning Chic” look that holds a certain level of masculinity even though it is very clean and fitted.

  • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic ·
  • Navy fine-guage turtleneck by Uniqlo ·
  • Burgundy tassel loafers by Johnston & Murphy ·
  • Fair isle knit scarf by Ralph Lauren ·
  • Brown alligator watch band by Montblanc ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit trousers ·
  • Blackwatch plaid wool socks by Ralph Lauren Polo

2. Vest Separate

The vest alone is a terrific (and easy) way to sneak a piece of tailored suiting into your casual wear.  You can pair it with anything from military cargo pants (as shown above), dark jeans, another suit, washed jeans (like here), cords, etc.

Bonus tip: amp up a casual look with a sharp leather lace-up, even if you’re wearing army pants.

  • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic ·
  • Olive cargo pants from Army/Navy surplus store ·
  • Olive grosgrain watch strap from eBay ·
  • Olive wool scarf by H&M ·
  • Oxblood leather lace-ups by Scarpe di Bianco ·
  • Brown leather duffle by Frank Clegg Leatherworks ·
  • Brown donegal tweed vest ·
  • Bracelet from street vendor

3. Jacket Separate

A tweed blazer is super versatile. I’ve been wearing this thing as outerwear throughout the fall – it’s warm without being bulky.

An underrated combination: thin knit + blazer + down vest.

Bonus tip: If the vest is slim enough (I usually recommend sizing down for down vests – no pun intended) you can also wear it under the jacket, as show below.

  • Tortoiseshell sunglasses by Persol ·
  • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic ·
  • Raw denim jeans by APC ·
  • Navy down vest by Lands End ·
  • Navy grosgrain watch strap from eBay ·
  • Bracelets from NYC street vendor ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit jacket ·
  • Black leather alpine boots by Kenneth Cole ·
  • Beige henley by Ralph Lauren Polo

4. Pant + Vest

Wearing the trouser and waistcoat together is a quick and easy way to look stylish. I don’t get why more men don’t do this. It’s the perfect outfit to layer under a separate jacket, a fitted overcoat or even a chunky sweater. Not to mention, there is very little restrictiveness since you ‘re not wearing a jacket.

Bonus tip: an ascot is not as tricky as you might think. Choose a masculine color with a simple, straight-forward pattern (like burgundy with white dots), keep a major part of your look masculine in nature (in this case the tweed, the classic bengal stripe and the woven leather of the gloves), wear it as low as possible on your neck and unfasten only the top button of your shirt – it should only peek out subtly.

  • Navy suede loafers by Scarpe di Bianco ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit trousers ·
  • Brown donegal tweed vest ·
  • Brown woven leather gloves by Hilts and Willard ·
  • Burgundy ascot by Ralph Lauren Polo ·
  • Blue/white bengal stripe shirt by Ralph Lauren Polo

5. Pant + Jacket

This is the easy one – the two piece suit.

Since it’s tweed, which already makes something of a statement in the business realm, pair it with more conservative pieces like a blue/white stripe shirt, navy/red rep stripe tie, suede captoe lace-up shoes and classic aviator shades.

Bonus tip: Suede shoes are a pain in the ass to take care of, I know. Rather than buying a clean design and trying to keep them pristine and new-looking, try a brogue design with a pre-burnished leather toe and embrace their break-in process. If they are well made, they will look better over time. All those creases, scratches and discoloration spots are earned – similar to the “character lines” in the face of a refined older man.

  • White linen with navy tip pocket square (Vintage) ·
  • Tortoiseshell aviator sunglasses by Ralph Lauren Purple Label ·
  • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic ·
  • Rep stripe tie by Paul Stuart ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit jacket ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit trousers ·
  • Brown suede captoe lace-ups by To Boot NY ·
  • Blue multi-stripe french cuff shirt

6. Vest + Jacket

I was going to show the vest + jacket with a tie and sharp contrasting trousers, but that’s easy. Try a rustic vibe with a chambray shirt, navy broken-in chinos and blucher moccasins for a tailored look that is much more “I’m tailored because I like to be” than “I’m going in for another day at the office”.

Bonus tip: Looking to add a youthful, fun, and unexpected punch to your look in 30 seconds? Loose the tie and button the collar. This is easier to pull-off with sport shirts (think soft collars and washed fabrics) than your stiffly-starched french cuff versions.

  • Tortoiseshell sunglasses by Persol ·
  • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic ·
  • Leather blucher mocs by LL Bean ·
  • Canvas & Leather briefcase by Filson ·
  • Chambray shirt by Rag&Bone ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit jacket ·
  • Brown donegal tweed vest ·
  • Bracelet from street vendor
  • · Navy chinos by Ralph Lauren Polo


Royal Cotton Trouser

7. Three Piece

This is probably the one I wear the least, because it takes the least amount of creativity.

Although I like the academic/professorial vibe, I usually pair the 3-piece tweed with a plaid shirt, silk knit tie and some kind of unexpected boot – just to add some personality to so much traditional, old-school looking fabric.

Bonus Tip: I often see guys wearing vests + tie bars. This is redundant. A tie doesn’t need a bar to hold it in place if it’s already tucked under a vest. If you yearn for a silver or gold accessory punch, try a collar pin with your vest instead – it doesn’t look forced or unnecessary and actually creates a great dimension by pushing the tie upward and outward until the vest pulls it back close to the body.

  • Blue/Green Plaid Shirt ·
  • Brown alligator belt and silver buckle by Ralph Lauren Purple Label ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit jacket ·
  • Brown donegal tweed suit trousers ·
  • Brown donegal tweed vest ·
  • Navy silk knit tie by Ralph Lauren Polo ·
  • Silver collar pin by WANT ·
  • Suede chukka boots by John Varvatos ·
  • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic ·
  • White linen pocket square

Thanks for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier