When we gathered some of the most experienced – and opinionated – Purdey people together in a room to debate the topics that really matter, no subject was more enthusiastically argued than this: matching vs. mismatching tweed.
Yes, Purdey proudly designs bespoke tweed sets – the aesthetic appeal is hard to resist. But, in terms of how this tweed is worn out in the field, perhaps it’s a different story. Your wardrobe no doubt already reflects your view. But, before you declare yourself to be a head-to-toe stalwart or a mix-and-match advocate, we invite you to consider the arguments.
The case for matching
Rewind to the origins of tweed and you’ll find a matching set. There is no debating the fact that this is how it was first designed and as it was always intended.
Bespoke tweeds represent a family, a house, an estate – you’ll notice that the Royal Family are always in matching sets; and our more famous clients tend to order bespoke matching, too. Take a look at a Purdey cap, coat, vest and breeks, all cut from the same cloth, and tell us they don’t look great together. These common threads signify quality.
On the other hand, some might say that mismatching tweed is a style created by those looking to maintain an ‘inherited’ look. The hallmarks of this look are worn threads, faded colours, perhaps a few holes or patches here and there and, in this case, tweed casually thrown on. Back in the day, this distinguished ‘old money’ from ‘new money’ – a concept we can all agree is now completely outdated. Yet, the sentiment lingers on in mismatched tweed. Friends, the game is up.
Piecing together faux-thrifty mismatched sets takes time and consideration, which is the antithesis of the desired effortless look. Meanwhile, the matching tweed fans are already out in the field. No prior planning needed, their matching tweed is good to go.
Our parting shot: Buying into matching tweed supports an industry that we all love. Get a suit for every landscape, every occasion, every different type of shoot. Let’s celebrate matching tweed for the iconic, inclusive and as-design-intended creation that it is.
The case for mismatching
While the above case is very well put together, its presentation is historical. Shooting today is modern and democratic – allow us to lay down the current state of play. You don’t see matching tweeds out in the field much any more, and the main reason for that is that we have moved on. We have evolved, both in terms of shooting and what we wear.
This evolution towards mismatching reflects best practice and best use. Tweed is a material designed to adapt. The word ‘suit’ implies formal office wear, whereas tweed is the opposite – it is supremely functional country wear.
Having the flexibility to mix and match depending on the shoot, place and time of year is one of the joys of tweed. We’re not here to prescribe; maybe your cap and vest match, but your breeks and jacket don’t, that’s fine. Tweed is ultimately an expression of personal style. The most refined and elegant approach is to find your own way.
While bespoke estate tweed is a lovely thing, designed according to the flora and fauna of each environment, it’s intended as a uniform. Dress head-to-toe in the same tweed and you risk standing out for all the wrong reasons. People may assume you work on the shoot, or that you own the estate. It might also mark you out as someone who’s never been shooting before.
In short, this way of dressing celebrates difference. It’s about blending, mixing and matching materials, weights, uses and colours, according to what you actually need rather than what someone – or tradition – tells you to wear.
Our parting shot: The only thing Purdey sells that should remain matching throughout its life are its guns. Of course, buy our matching tweed sets – in fact, buy several. Then, revel in the freedom to mix them up as you so wish, for the love of field craft.
Disclaimer: Purdey approves of freedom of choice in tweed; all opinions expressed here are purely for good sport. We’ll leave it for you to decide the winner of this particular debate. And, our true tweed colours will no doubt be revealed at the next shoot day – matching or mismatching, we’ll see you in the field.