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Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

The question

Is a tweed suit a crazy idea?

The answer

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A tweed suit is a luxury. Real tweed – woven, rough wool – is almost infinitely durable. I still wear a Harris tweed jacket of my father's that was bought in 1965. The lining has worn out a couple of times but there are no worn patches even at the cuffs. Tweed's greatest aesthetic attraction is that it looks like the natural world, like the moss and scrub and earth and stone of its Scots and Irish origins. (Speaking of origins, it is a myth that the textile is named after the River Tweed: In fact, the name probably derives from the Scots word tweel, for twill, a type of weave.) But it can be woven so finely as to be soft and light. The most common patterns are herringbone and windowpane check, but they don't have to have a pattern at all – they can be just "heathery" or flecked. Tweed suits can be worn with wool or silk ties and with brown shoes, including brogues and suede ones. They are practical for daytime business and socializing, not formal enough for funerals or presidential debates. So no, it's not a crazy idea at all – as long as you already have at least one conventional (i.e., high-twist) wool suit for formal occasions and milder weather.

If I could afford this luxury, I would hop on a plane and go to the Edinburgh storefront of Walker Slater (one of the most tasteful designers of tweed men's wear) and splurge on a full threepiece greeny-brown heathery one. (Three-piece suits generally are on the rise again.) This company's looks are determinedly old-fashioned – boxy and three-buttoned. Go to its website and see how its moody photography mythologizes Britishness – it will make you crave a whisky and some woodsmoke. Dogs are not included in the price.

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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