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Nunc Dimittis

Second Wave Tweed

On tweed and cardigans.


I’m sure you know the tweed guy. This is the guy who, inspired by Tolkien or Waugh, has adopted, as daily attire, the shooting costume of a midcentury English country squire.

Of course, he doesn’t always get the style right. Sometimes he ends up looking like an Irish grandpa who lives in New York but supports the I.R.A., or like a Yorkshire gangster, replete with flat cap and whippet. Every now and then he understands—better than the other tweed guys—that his dress is for outdoor sport and wears a shooting jacket and breeks everywhere.

Usually he lives in Washington, D.C., or perhaps Atlanta, although occasionally he is genuinely English. He smokes a pipe. If he is from the South and identifies with Walker Percy, the pipe may be a corncob one. Frequently, although obsessed with Catholic authors, he is Anglican.

About forty years ago, he was briefly mainstream or at least socially recognizable. The T.V. Brideshead Revisited and the Young Fogey Handbook were major milestones in tweed guy history. In the 1980s, tweed guys could be found at the University of Chicago and at Oxford and Cambridge. They were typically middle or upper-middle-class and could afford to have an appropriate tweed suit made to specifications by a reputable tailor.

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