Thrifting a Vintage Tweed Coat, Part I
Autumn in New Orleans snuck up on the Gentleman this year. One day I was sweating in 96 degree weather, and the next I woke up to a brisk 55 degree morning. With this abrupt change in climate, I decided that it was time to pull out my fall wardrobe. I was excited because autumn is probably my favorite season for dressing. I love the classic looks that you can put together with sweaters, vests, sport jackets and scarves. They don’t get lost under a heavy wool coat the way they do in the winter. Instead, you can casually layer them on or take them off as you go in and out of doors.
Looking through my fall wardrobe, The Gentleman found one conspicuous hole that he had been hoping to close for the last few years. I wanted a classic tweed coat. Tweed sport coats, however, are not cheap to purchase new. J.Crew’s tweed sport coats start around $265 and Brooks Brothers’ are even more expensive. Tweed coats, luckily, seem like a perfect candidate for purchase for a thrift store. They last forever and only look better with age.
I visited a couple of local New Orleans thrift stores but couldn’t find quite what I was looking for. Fortunately, the internet yielded a solution. A few months ago I mentioned how I often turn to internet clothing forums for advice when I have a question that I don’t know the answer to. Many of these sites also feature buying and selling boards. I’ve had a lot of good luck with the men’s clothing buying and selling board on Styleforum.net and was able to find an excellent vintage tweed sport coat for around $40. I highly recommend checking this board regularly. You can find insanely good deals on barely used items.
I was extremely impressed with my tweed coat when it arrived in the mail. It’s a great rustic brown Harris tweed with a faint windowpane pattern. It features narrower lapels and a traditional three-roll-two button design (a three button jacket where only the middle button is designed for fastening). It’s exactly what I was looking for. The coat is from a company called Andover Traditional which, according to the seller, sold menswear for many decades but no longer exists. The seller believes that the coat dates to the 1960s.
While the jacket is a classic piece that I’m looking forward to wearing for many years, it will need alterations. Taking a sport coat to a tailor is a very important step that many gentlemen neglect to do. After purchasing a sport coat or suit jacket, alterations will usually need to be made, especially if the piece has been thrifted.
In the photos you can see the alternations that I think need to be made. The sleeves will need to be shortened. A jacket should allow about a quarter inch to a half inch of shirt cuff to be seen when the wearer is standing up with his arms at rest. Here the sleeves are extending down to my hands. The jacket is also a bit baggy around the waist. I’m unsure if I should have it taken in or not. This jacket is a “sack” design, a traditional New England cut that is a bit looser. I’ll definitely speak to my tailor about whether it should be taken in when I visit him this week.
Next week I hope to have the jacket back from the tailor and I’ll post photos of the results so you can see what it will look like as part of a full autumn outfit.