The Andover Shop And The Art Of Patchwork Tweed

Most of the traditional tailors and clothiers have contributed some signature piece or look to the canon. Henry Poole gave us the dinner jacket in 1865. In the late 1800s, Cordings pioneered the covert coat and tattsersall shirts. Haspel introduced seersucker suits around 1909, and Brooks Brothers’ contributions are almost too many to list – from introducing madras clothing in 1902, Shetland sweaters around 1904, and pink buttondown shirts in 1949. In the 1960s, Chipp popularized patchwork madras as well as embroidered critter trousers and jackets.

The Andover Shop’s contribution to the canon, in keeping with its playful patrician-bohemian aesthetic, is patchwork tweed. “Over the years, we’ve offered a range of patchwork items, from trousers, vests, jackets, scarves, and hats,” said Jim Toomey, vice president and nephew of the shop’s co-founder Virgil Marson. The tweed scraps are the byproduct of their made-to-measure and bespoke work, but there is an art to how they are thoughtfully combined into something more than the sum of its parts. The shop’s head tailor, Pat Grillo, explained how there’s a balance of how the tweed scraps are assembled. “We connect horizontal lines of different patterns across a solid color block, so that there is continuity. Or we carry through one minor color into the major color of the next block — this blue overcheck patch segueing into a blue herringbone tweed patch. And the whole piece has to have a rhythm and balance. Sometimes we end up removing one swatch and replacing it with something brighter or more subtle. It takes molto lavorare to make it look effortless.”

Last year, in his final months at the Cambridge shop, co-founder Charlie Davidson held up a patchwork tweed vest to show me. “This fits you perfectly. You should get this.”

I was skeptical: “But what does it go with?”

“It goes with nothing,” he grinned, “so it goes with everything.” Charlie proceeded to demonstrate how it worked as the centerpiece of an otherwise understated combination of navy blazer, khakis and blue buttondown. 

Larry Mahoney, vice president of the Cambridge location, offered another view. “You can also wear it with chambray or denim shirt, for more of a louche boarding school musician look. Just imagine playing acoustic guitar on a park bench just past Harvard Yard, a block from Sylvia Plath’s former apartment. It’s Good Will Hunting meets Almost Famous.”    ANV

Vintage Andover Shop items from The Cary Collection

20 Comments on "The Andover Shop And The Art Of Patchwork Tweed"

  1. Can we commission one of these today or can you only find them vintage?

  2. Vern Trotter | March 6, 2019 at 4:38 pm |

    I recall Brooks selling very nice flannel patchwork slacks for $65 in the early 70s and people were aghast at the considered high price. They were great with a navy blazer. Were not dominant brown like these. More navy, red, yellow, green.

  3. I seem to recall our host once owned a similar patch cap. Takes a bold person to pull that off. The closest I come to that look is a bucket hat of grey and green herringbone with a brown and grey houndstooth brim. Broke it out last night to walk the dogs. Damn global warming.



  4. The jacket, if cashmere, is the embodiment of GTH clothing!

  5. elder prep | March 6, 2019 at 6:19 pm |

    A little too fashion forward for me.

  6. It’s backward and it’s still too forward!

  7. MostlyTrad | March 6, 2019 at 9:12 pm |

    Beautiful stuff. I enjoy patchwork in all possible offerings, my latest purchase being a linen summer flat cap. My favorite works tend to be in earth tones.

  8. Brooks introduced pink buttondowns long before 1949 (that might have been when they introduced the women’s version, but I’m not even sure about that).

  9. Ezra Cornell | March 6, 2019 at 10:52 pm |

    I have to have those pants! Would adding the jacket be … a little too much?

  10. Old School Tie | March 7, 2019 at 6:14 am |

    RL have two patchwork tweed sportscoats in their spring offering, a Morgan model and a Polo. Probably not cuts that would curry much favour around here, but even the mainstream are tapping into this look. Personally, I prefer patchwork Madras. Patchwork tweed is all a bit too Nigel Farage for my liking (stylistically, not personally or politically speaking).

  11. Looking at all that patchwork, and it’s like I’m back in front of the television, it’s 1977 and I’m listening to all those kids with Southie accents on ‘Zoom’ out of WGBH.

    (and I say that with affection)

  12. Reminded of Paxman’s book THE ENGLISH. Mention of tweed, church (Anglican), the all-important garden, and being a homebody. The Fogey dislike of travel deserves an I-S article. “No matter how often I’m told I’ll like a place, I never like it quite as much as home.”

  13. @Al you can find these in the Andover location as of two weeks ago when I was there for the sale.

  14. @SE

    Whenver anyone says that, it is HE who should write it! I’ve made overtures before…

  15. Old School Tie | March 7, 2019 at 11:50 am |

    Hang on! What’s the extra belt loop all about?

  16. love it!!

  17. Curmudgeonly Trad | March 7, 2019 at 2:54 pm |

    Even I can find nothing to criticize in that scarf.

  18. Cuff Shooter | March 8, 2019 at 12:11 am |

    I hope patchwork tweed jackets make an appearance on the promised makeover of the Andover Shop website.

  19. Henry Contestwinner | March 13, 2019 at 2:57 pm |

    Ezra Cornell, you should definitely combine the pants & jacket. Make it a hat trick and add the vest! Top if off with a patch cap, and make sure to wear a fun shirt and a patch necktie, too.

    Now, what to do about patch socks…

  20. Robert Thorn | January 9, 2022 at 5:19 pm |

    I fell into the patch work craze when I was a mens clothing store manager back in the early 80s. It was limited to patch work ties by Briar Neckwear which I still have most and my favorite tie pairs perfectly with my ancient seersucker suit by Corbin.

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