It has been decades since Coco Chanel made tweed a fashionable fabric by using variations of it in her women’s suits, but today we’re seeing it on everything from dresses to shoes, bags and hats, not to mention jackets. Old-fashioned winter fabrics such as tweed, velvet and corduroy are appearing on clothes and accessories for both sexes, and there’s nothing fuddy-duddy about them.
Fall finds: Benetton’s all-tweed look; a tweed dress by Penelpe and Monica Cruz for Mango
Shoemaker Christian Louboutin has used tweed for his sexy red-soled shoes, Alberta Ferretti has used it in shift dresses and Christian Dior has fashioned a sexy, one-shoulder dress from the fabric.
“A tweed suit is the suit for women to have this season,” says Rahul Khanna, one half of New Delhi-based design duo Cue. “It’s a classic fabric which reinvents itself every few years,” he says. Cue’s Fall/Winter collection has fitted, high-waisted tweed skirts and jackets for men and women, with leather piping. They have experimented as well, using thread and sequin embroidery on the skirts and jackets. “Tweed goes well with leather, suede and denim,” says Khanna, “and it’s going to be the ‘it’ fabric next winter too.”
Designer Monisha Jaising suggests you dress it up a bit. “Women should pair tweed with a luxurious, feminine fabric such as satin, lace or brocade. When worn by itself, tweed looks a little boring and far too English,” she says. She advises wearing a tweed trouser and jacket with a sexy satin shirt or an animal print blouse. “Carry a structured bag, and offset the mannish feel of tweed with high heels,” she says.
Designer Ravi Bajaj, who is doing men’s waistcoats in tweed, says he likes to wear tweed in a slightly quirky way, or else you would look like “old gentlemen in Delhi who wear tweed jackets with a turtleneck and trousers.” He adds: “Wear a checked tweed or herringbone waistcoat with a pinstriped suit and a pale pink shirt and add a bright tie. Just make sure there are lots of contradictions.”
If there’s one winter look Bajaj is turned on by, it’s velvet. “A velvet bandhgala with jeans is a great look,” he says. “You don’t even need any embellishments, only a nice set of buttons.” But he admits most Indian men are willing to go only as far as velvet bandhgalas and jackets. “I made a line of velvet jeans for men a few seasons ago which was not well received,” he laughs.
Velvet, says Jaising, is a purely luxurious fabric. “You can only get away by wearing it in the winter as evening wear,” she says. Black velvet looks great for a cocktail evening, as do jewel tones such as burgundy, purple and emerald. “Velvet looks fabulous on men as well. Wear a navy velvet jacket with a white shirt and blue jeans,” Jaising says. The jacket is quite dressy, so the denim tones it down.
As for corduroy, it’s an easy, wrinkle-free fabric, says Khanna, and a corduroy jacket with a T-shirt and jeans is a good casual look. “If wearing corduroy trousers, make sure they’re not too baggy or too fitted. They should be comfortable and flat-fronted,” Khanna says.
Fashion brands have a large selection of these fabrics currently on racks, and they’re moving fast. When we visited, the Louis Philippe store had sold out their tweed blazers. Vishak Kumar, COO of Louis Philippe says the corduroy blazers (Rs4,495) are also popular, while the velvet jackets (Rs6,999) have been successful recently. “These are usually bought by younger customers and it is critical to get the styling and fit absolutely right,” says Kumar, who has all three varieties in his wardrobe and sees them as excellent investments.
Park Avenue has stocked up on all three—tweed and velvet blazers and corduroy jackets (Rs5,699 up), and have gone an extra step. A thinner version of corduroy is used in a line of shirts (Rs1,899). Esprit caters to working women with a chic collection of tweed jackets, trousers, skirts and even a tweed beret, with metallic threads woven in.
At Mango, Penelope and Monica Cruz’s soon-to-hit-stores Fall/Winter collection will be tweed-rich—sexy fitted dresses, jackets and shorts.
Wills Lifestyle has a new range of velvet and corduroy jackets for men and women (Rs1,695 up). At Gas, it’s tweed and corduroy waistcoats, miniskirts and shorts, while at Tommy Hilfiger, tweed is paired with satin for a sexy schoolgirl look.
Higher up the ladder, Ermenegildo Zegna and Salvatore Ferragamo’s collections are tweed- and velvet-heavy, with long coats, blazers and belted-at-the-waist jackets in tweed. Zegna’s close-to-the-body velvet jackets (Rs37,800) can be dressed down with denims, or made formal with a trouser. Dark and light baggy corduroy suits (Rs28,800 for the jacket) are also part of the collection. At Brioni, velvet trousers and corduroy shirts and trousers are getting attention, says the store manager. The brand also offers corduroy blazers with contrasting details on the pockets and cuffs.
It’s reason enough to go back in time.