Ten famous tweed wearers

Man standing in a darkened room in a tweed jacket

Looking tidy in tweed
Image: Nejron Photo

Tough, versatile and stylish, tweed looks great in a wide variety of settings. This being the case, it’s no surprise that tweed jackets and suits often appear on film and television. Here we take a look at ten characters who are famous for wearing this multifaceted fabric.

1. Dr Who

When English actor, Matt Smith debuted the 11th doctor’s outfit, within hours the Doctor Who website had received 2,000 positive comments from fans. They wanted to know where they could buy his 1960s vintage Mackenzie “two by two” dogtooth tweed jacket with elbow pads.

Tweed’s timeless appeal makes it the perfect choice for a time traveler and, because it’s naturally insulating, water repellent and hard wearing, it’s certainly sufficiently robust to withstand alien environments.

2. Indiana Jones

Indiana’s classic professorial look in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade revolves around a heavy three-piece tweed suit and scholarly glasses. He soon changes into his trademark leather jacket and fedora, but he’s not the only Jones to sport tweed. Indeed, when Henry Jones senior arrives on the scene, he’s clad from head to toe in the finest Harris tweed money can buy.

Sean Connery’s costume designer apparently based the adventurer’s style on his own grandfather. But there was a problem. Connery found his Harris Tweed suit too hot for comfort. When he heard that the film crew were heading to smoking hot Petra, he refused to wear it and the designers had to photograph a length of the tweed and screen print it onto a thin cotton voile!

3. Sherlock Holmes

In 2015, the Museum of London collaborated with Christy’s hats and Lovat Mill to create a brand new tweed based on the cape in the original Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The tweed was gray, with blue and yellow accents.

Holmes’s cape, known as an Inverness cape, is really a sleeveless tweed overcoat. It’s smart but practical, and protects the iconic detective from the elements while he’s out and about solving mysteries. Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Sherlock sparked a resurgence in cape sales, with specialists selling hundreds to niche markets around the world.

4. Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood brings out the tough side of tweed as San Francisco cop Henry Callahan, otherwise known as Dirty Harry. Only a hard-wearing fabric like tweed can cope with the demands of this streetwise cop’s hunt for rooftop sniper Scorpio.

Harry’s gray herringbone tweed jacket features three buttons to the front and two on each cuff. A single vent in the back guarantees ease of movement.

A pair of Ray Bans saves him from resembling a geography teacher, but let’s face it, who would argue with a cop who has a 44 magnum revolver under his sweater?

5. Luther

Moody detective Luther is brilliant but flawed. He’s not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to pursuing violent criminals against the backdrop of a gritty London landscape.

Luther’s signature is a heavy herringbone tweed long coat. Stylish but robust, Harris Tweed suits Luther’s personality, as well as the gravity of the situations in which he finds himself. This man has no fear of making a sartorial statement with his choice of coat.

6. Alan Turing – The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game, the biopic about WW2’s British code-cracking mathematician Alan Turing, sees Benedict Cumberbatch looking rather dapper in a tweed jacket. But look more closely and you’ll see that the character often wears shirts and ties that clash. According to costume designer, Sammy Sheldon Differ, Turing was often disheveled and dressed in mismatched patterns. One scene in the movie sees him wearing a shirt with a Prince of Wales Check and a tie featuring a different check.

We can forgive Turing for his dress sense. He had more important things to think about. Cumberbatch’s tweed coat is an original vintage jacket from the late 1930s which was tailored to fit the actor. Only one jacket was used throughout filming, as well as one red tie which Differ found in the bin of a rented house.

7. Thomas Shelby – Peaky Blinders

Set in hedonistic 1920s Birmingham, England, this gangland drama stars Thomas Shelby as the head of the ‘Peaky Blinders’, a violent gang known for their dapper outfits and habit of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. Shelby exudes confidence and authority by dressing sharply in tweed three-piece suits, the fabric’s rugged practicality and warmth making it ideal for life on the damp, chilly streets of Birmingham’s gangland.

Shelby wears a gray herringbone tweed suit with a striped grandad shirt and detachable collar held in place by a brass collar stud. The vest and jacket have notched lapels and tweed buttons, with Shelby also sporting a gold pocket watch.

When the third series of Peaky Blinders aired, the iconic British department store, John Lewis reported soaring sales of tweed flat caps. This sudden enthusiasm was inspired by lead character Thomas Shelby’s gray Donegal Tweed baker boy cap.

8. The Krays

The charismatic Kray twins are the subject of Brian Helgeland’s 2015 film Legend. The undisputed Kings of the London underworld of the 1960s, the Krays were known for their dapper dressing.

Tweed’s rugged texture fits the bill perfectly. A loose cut allowed the brothers to move with a confident swagger while looking elegant and smart – essential for these famous crooks who spent much of their time frequenting their own nightclubs.

9. James Bond

A day in the country turns into an adventure in the alps for super spy Bond as he pursues villain, Goldfinger. No problem, as Connery is wearing his warm tweed hacking jacket, a sports coat originally cut for horse riding. It features a long rear vent for ease of movement, which comes in handy for this man of action.

Luckily, Bond’s tweed is still stylish enough to look good with his new Aston Martin DB5 coupe – especially when combined with classic twill pants and Derby shoes.

10. Mr.Bean

As a boy, British actor Rowan Atkinson was obsessed with James Bond. Maybe Sean Connery’s choice of attire influenced Atkinson’s decision to dress Mr Bean in a two-button tweed jacket and skinny red tie.

The inspired simplicity of this outfit helps the audience focus on Atkinson’s body language and facial dexterity. A flashy costume would only distract.

Mr Bean’s outfit makes him recognizable across the globe. He even has fans in Iran and Lebanon. Some say it’s his rubber face that makes him stand out from the crowd. We think it’s the tweed jacket and tie.

Who is your favorite tweed-wearing character? Add to our collection by sharing your suggestions in the comments below.

Posted in Men's Style Guides.

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