Colgate Couture: Tantalizing Tweed

Lisa Mischianti

Tweed has always had an eclectic identity in the world of fashion. Of course, it has been known to dress the likes of little old grannies, college professors, preppy country club moms and professionals in a conservative office setting. Meanwhile, the elegant, perfectly tailored and perpetually chic iconic Chanel tweed jacket has been making the fashion insider drool and pine for decades, a vestige of Coco’s original vision that Karl Lagerfeld successfully re­incarnates year after year. Tweed simultaneously remains a favorite of the thrift store junky as the perfect vintage find with tongue-in-cheek, old school appeal. But outside of these rather narrow de­mographics, tweed was largely lost to more mainstream fashion before this season; that is to say, your average college-aged girl would not be reaching for tweed on the racks. In fall 2010, however, tweed has become a wide­spread phenomenon, appearing all over the runways of multiple design houses and therefore flooding the major retail scene.

So how is tweed being updated and reworked to give it a place in your wardrobe? For one thing, it has forged into unchartered territory in terms of shape and cut. A reinterpretation of the classic tweed trouser, tweed fall shorts are appearing everywhere this season. High-waist­ed and subtly pleated with a cute cuffed leg, they look spectacular belted and worn over thick tights with a pair of sturdy-based pumps. The tweed blazer is likewise being reinvented into a sharp, polished piece. It avoids look­ing outdated with its new trimmer fit that creates a more defined silhouette. Brands are also experimenting with details like pockets, piping, patches and buttons to make the look more modern. But perhaps most surprising of all is the advent of the tweed minidress. Tweed has long been a standby material for jumpers and simple pencil skirts, but the notion of a sexy tweed frock that could potentially transition into eveningwear seems almost oxymoronic. Of late, however, short and tight, sleeveless and even strapless have been tweed’s modus operandi. Style icons and celebrities alike have been embracing the look; case in point, Jennifer Aniston was recently spotted sporting a tiny, tightly fitted and flirty Dolce & Gabbana tweed minidress with a racy frayed bottom – risqué and chic, for sure.

Cut is not the only way tweed is being renovated. Traditionally, it is understood as an unfinished woolen textile of a plain or twill weave, conventionally with a herringbone or checkered pattern, and generally in neutral tones like brown, black, grey and white. But designers now are taking liberties with color, opting instead for reds, blues and mustardy yellows. And many tweed pieces are featuring a little bit of shine with gold or silver Lurex (metallic yarn) interwoven with the wool of the fabric. These features lend the textile a definite shot of glam.

Still worried you will end up looking like you raided grandma’s closet? Be sure to pair your tweed with a bold pattern, a comfy casual tee or tight, sleek skinny jeans. You will not be sorry!