Last August I posted about Cordings of Picadilly and their tweed suits. I did so having purchased the suit in early March, which unfortunately gave me a very short window of opportunity to wear the suit. Now a year later, I thought it time to write again about the very same suit. And while you may have to wait until next year to wear one the Cheltenham, the Maryland Steeplechase season is almost upon us, which if the current state of the weather is any indication of what the weeks ahead may bring, will bring ample opportunities to wear tweed.
While I have a rather tidy collection of American Tweed Sack Coats, this suit is entirely different. You just don't see tweed suits this, the American, side of the pond. I’m not sure why, but after enjoying my tweed suit from Crodings for the past year, I am already making plans to add another to my wardrobe.
J.C. Cording & Company began business as an outfitter and waterproofer in 1839. By 1843, Cordings was selling the Mackintosh, which is still sold today. This is a waterproof coat made possible by Charles Mackintosh who perfecting the process of dissolving rubber and binding it to cotton to allow the creation of waterproof garments.
Cordings was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1909 as waterproofers to the Prince of Wales, and future King George V. In 1922, the Prince of Wales, and future Duke of Windsor adopted Cordings as one of his outfitters. It was at this time that their famous Newmarket boots were patented, boots which were made for Elizabeth, mother of the current Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Windsor, and Mrs. Simpson. Unfortunately, Cordings no longer makes these waterproof canvas and leather boots. It was during the 1920s and 30s that Cordings established the five core items which they are still known for to this day, the covert coat, Mackintosh, tweed jackets, corduroy and Moleskin trousers, and Tattersall shirts.
In 2003, after weathering the Second World War, the post war years, the rejection of tradition, and the years of outsourcing production from the UK by man businesses, the current management team approached their best customer, Eric Clapton, and asked if he would assist them in a management buyout. “I first became aware of Cordings in my mid-teens,” Clapton explains. “I come from the country and it was the highlight of our week to come up to London and listen to the musicians. It was difficult to get home late, so I would spend that time till dawn just walking the West End. I remembered Cordings. It stuck in my mind as a place of tradition; the heritage of England.”
Thanks to the assistance of Cordings friendly and extremely helpful staff, I was outfitted in their House Check Tweed in short order with turnups on my trousers ready in a few days.
Their House Check Tweed jacket is made of 14 ounce 100% Scottish Tweed woven exclusively for Cordings, and features a three button front, with a single back vent, working four button cuffs, and a ticket pocket. As I mentioned in the previous article, for those who might not be familiar with the "working cuff" this simple means that the cuff buttons are not decorative, they really do unbutton. This jacket, like every one I have purchased from them also features a functional lapel button hole which allows you to add a lapel pin or flower, as the back of the lapel features loops to secure the lapel flower stem. Small details that many do not notice or even feel they are missing, but details which set this jacket apart from the rest of the crowd and make it a staple jacket in my wardrobe.
The trousers are also made of the same 14 ounce 100% Scottish Tweed, are half lined in 100% cotton, and feature a pleated front and button fly.
The weight of this fabric is wonderful, and something not seen in many American off the peg suits with their wispy fabric to attempt to create a four season suit but creates one suit not suitable for much. This is a weighty suit, though not the heaviest weight Cordings offers.
I have some limited experience with the suit last Spring, but this past Autumn and Winter the suit really made its mark on my opinion. Because of the natural wool fibers, this suit was never too hot, but always just right throughout the Autumn and Winter. I don't need a four season suit, that is why I wear different suiting for different seasons, and this Tweed is excellent for the seasons for which it is designed. But it is this suit which makes me enjoy the cooler days of those seasons and dread the hot and humid days of summer which will cause it to be retired for a season or two.
As I mentioned before, the jacket is true to my American size, but the trousers are slightly different. The very helpful staff member at Cordings suggested a waist size 2 inches larger than my American. Needless to say, he was spot on in his recommendation.
I decided to not purchase the matching waistcoat, as I thought it a bit much for me, though it does look ever so smart! I’ve been regretting this decision ever since and will make this an addition in the future.
Another item which I did not originally purchase were breeks. Offered as plus twos or plus fours, these wardrobe items eluded me until last Autumn. I was out at a steeplechase race and it was rather damp to say the least. I’d worn my Cordings tweed suit, as I knew it would keep me comfortable all day. But with the rain I switched my country brogues for a pair of wellies. I tucked my tweed trousers neatly into the boots and went on my way dry and comfortable at the races. But unfortunately, the trouser lining does not go much below the knee and the top of the boot began to rub against the wool and in turn against my shin. Lesson learned, wool trousers are not to be worn with wellies.
The solution was obvious, breeks. In two different lengths below the knee, two inches with plus twos or four inches with plus fours, they are worn with long shooting stockings, perfect for wear with wellies. Their were photos of this everywhere from print magazines to websites, and I’d ignored them. But no more. Now I’ve got my breeks and I’m ready for the rain and damp in true Cordings style. They might not be for everyone, and perhaps as an American, you might feel a bit self-conscious about wearing these, but they are a classic British look designed for sporting events in the nasty damp, wet and cool weather, and Cordings will get you outfitted in style.
Tweed suits are not easy to find in America and when you wear one from Cordings, even without a waistcoat, you will stand out in a crowd, well dressed and comfortable.
And while you are getting yourself outfitted with a suit, do not fail to pick up a pair of their boxcloth braces. More on these in a future blog post, but these are brilliant!
Cordings make a wide range of items in their House Check Tweed, including caps, bags, and accessories. They also offer a number of other Tweeds in addition to their House Tweed. I would be remiss in mentioning that they also offer Tweed Action Back jackets designed for shooting, which give you superb ease of movement while at the same time retaining the perfect silhouette associated with a Cordings jacket, as well as Tweed shooting waistcoats which feature generous bellow pockets for cartridges, Alcanta gun patches on both sides and inside shoulder insert pockets for the addition of a recoil pad.
Over the past year, I have worn the suit jacket numerous times alone as a sports jackets, as well as paired with the trousers as a suit, and cannot recall a time when I have received so many compliments on my clothing as I have wearing this suit.
Cordings does advertise a "no quibble returns" so as long as none of the clothing has been altered, you may want to take a chance on an order without visiting London, though I can't imagine not visiting their shop in Piccadilly, as it is an experience not to be missed. Also, note that their website prices include VAT of 20% so this is removed from your order before payment is made. For online orders, they generally arrive in less than a week, but with their shipping fees, but to place a larger order and spread the cost of shipping out over many items rather than just one.
And for those buying in London, they will provide you with the paperwork needed to recover your VAT payment at the airport when you are leaving the UK.
You can find Cordings online here at www.cordings.co.uk.
I eagerly look forward to my next visit to Cording of Piccadilly and as always will be sure to leave space in my luggage for new acquisitions I am positive I will be making!