City to County

Is it my time for tweed? asks columnist James

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

DO YOU think I could pull off tweed? The rea­son I ask is be­cause this time of year fools me into think­ing I might just be able to.

I find my­self stop­ping to look in those coun­try wear shop win­dows, at­tracted to the flat caps, waxed jack­ets, check scarves and yes, even the odd tweed jacket, won­der­ing whether it’s too early in life to be sport­ing the man­nequin’s full at­tire.

Of course, these shop win­dows are designed to con­jure up im­ages of long, au­tum­nal coun­try walks and cosy pubs with open fire­places – the ideal sce­nar­ios for don­ning said coun­try gear. And like a lot of us in Nor­folk I do spend the odd week­end seek­ing out this ideal, espe­cially in a county that blesses us with such pic­turesque land­scapes to ex­plore in our recre­ation time. Maybe it’s in these sce­nar­ios that tweed would be ac­cept­able, per­haps even en­cour­aged?

I men­tioned my grow­ing at­trac­tion to coun­try ap­parel to a work col­league (he was wear­ing a waxed jacket, which I took as a qual­i­fi­ca­tion to ad­vise) and his re­sponse was not the talk­ing down I was look­ing for; “There’s a Nor­folk tweed jacket, you know.” Our county’s own style of tweed? This ex­cit­ing news cer­tainly war­ranted a quick Google.

Al­though the his­tory of the Nor­folk tweed jacket is de­bated, the most pop­u­lar the­ory is that it was in­vented as a hunt­ing coat in the 1860’s by Henry Fitza­lan-Howard, the 15th Duke of Nor­folk, with the style of Har­ris tweed coat later pop­u­larised by a young King Ed­ward VII in the 1880s.

The Nor­folk jacket is a lit­tle longer than most tweed jack­ets, has a char­ac­ter­is­tic belt in­cor­po­rated into the coat and ex­pand­able pock­ets, pre­sum­ably from its hunt­ing ori­gins. Alas, al­though there were com­pa­nies in our county mak­ing the jacket as late as the 1950s (for Prince Phillip, no less) they are col­lec­tors’ items to­day, so you’ll be lucky to spot one.

Af­ter spend­ing a few sec­onds star­ing at the tweed coats and other coun­try wear in the shop win­dow, I tend to snap out of my mo­men­tary daze and re­mem­ber I still live and spend most of my time in a city, not quite liv­ing the coun­try life these shop win­dows want to trick me into think­ing I live. And I’m cer­tainly too young to sport the princely Nor­folk jacket, but it’s re­as­sur­ing to know our county has its own style of tweed cov­ered should my pen­chant for coun­try at­tire grow later in life.

No, the guy star­ing back at me in the shop win­dow isn’t ready for tweed. But I’ve no doubt I’ll be see­ing him again this time next year.

“I find my­self stop­ping to look in those coun­try wear shop win­dows, at­tracted to the flat caps, wax jack­ets, check scarves and yes, even the odd tweed jacket”

Left: Henry Fitza­lan-Howard, 15th Duke of Nor­folk and tweed fan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.