Ok, hands up, I admit that in the last three years, I have become a bit of a tweed addict. It’s my husband’s fault really, getting involved with beating and having so much fun that I couldn’t refuse the invitation. And of course, it’s our friend’s fault, for setting up her own country clothing shop and getting in all the fancy ladies’ tweed. And then it probably was my fault too, for wanting to go loading. Hence my wardrobe suddenly developing a penchant for tweed coats over the last two seasons – and subsequently the long-sleeved shirts, ties, socks and sock garters that compliment them.
I currently own a fair bit of Alan Paine tweed, from the full set of blue-accented Compton gifted to me two years ago, to the red-checked Rutland coat and flatcap I treated myself to at the beginning of the season just gone, to the brand new ‘avocado’ accented Compton collection (a matching blazer and pencil skirt) that is new to this year’s collection. Plus, of course, the baby blue and baby pink shirts to wear with them.
I feel as though, now I am more involved than ever before with game shooting and trialing new kit for my British Shooting journey, it is perhaps time to review the items I use, from clothing to cartridges. Today, I will be sharing my comments on – you guessed it – Alan Paine’s tweed collection.
Firstly, and arguably most importantly when buying any clothes, is the fit. All women know the difficulty in sizing; there is no such thing as a standard now. Usually I’m a 10, sometimes an 8 depending on style and fit, but in some shops – H&M, for example – everything is a size smaller, so I end up in a 12. But with Alan Paine, a 10 is a 10. The skirts I have both fit excellently, no necessity for a belt, and the waistcoat is perfectly fitted to the contours of the body. The coats, although bulkier than the blazer and less fitted than the waistcoat (to be expected), still offer a lovely fit that is enough to cover multiple clothing layers (essential for those cold winter shoot days), but also cinched enough to show off shape.
Next, we move on to design. Not only do I love the fact that there is femininity in Alan Paine’s products (rather than simply making a slightly more fitted version of the men’s styles, they have introduced two different types of skirts, for example), but there is a variety of lengths of coats to suit all outdoor pursuits – take a look at the website to see the range, there are longer trenchcoat style tweeds as well as a hacking jacket, lighter fitted blazers and standard shooting jackets. Additionally, the colours are ace. One of my favourite things is to try and colour match shirts, ties and socks to the accent colour … (it’s not sad, I swear!). I think I have achieved this relatively well thusfar, as on my second loading session of the season, I received two compliments on how smartly dressed I was, one from a fellow loader, and one from the gun I was loading for.
I also really like the fact that the tweed is so versatile; I wore my tweed to load, to shoot, and have worn the waistcoat with a white shirt and jeans as a casual combo. Which brings us to the next category; shooting. Now, I am no stranger to the variety of shooting clothing that is on offer; I have had four skeet vests from four different manufacturers of a varying thicknesses, tried shooting in fleeces and t-shirts and waterproof coats, hat and no hat, regular glasses and shooting glasses, ear defenders and in-ear molded plugs, Dubarry boots and plimsoll shoes; in short, I know what I shoot well in and what is uncomfortable. FYI, I prefer t-shirts, a thinner skeet vest, my hair tied back with no hat, and my shooting glasses, so of course, trying to shoot game in what is usually deemed to be bulky tweed with restricted arm movement was never going to suit me.
I still don’t shoot in coats – tweed or otherwise, I struggle, possibly because of how short the stock is on my gun and the fact I am always kerfuffling with the collar, but that’s my issue, not the manufacturer’s! However, the Alan Paine coats are very easy to move in, with lots of give for arm extension, and the waistcoat is a dream to shoot in out on the drives; it isn’t too thick, and because it is so well fitted it doesn’t move out of place or need adjusting during the shoot.
My newest tweed, a dark brown blazer and skirt with the ‘avocado’ green check, is fresh out of the cellophane and fits like a glove. The pink shirt I got to go with it is crisp and wonderfully lightweight; I intend to wear it as a casual thing as I do with my blue one. As I have gone for the fitted pencil skirt this time instead of the flared one I have in the older Compton colouring, it is better suited for casual day-wear paired with skin colored tights and maybe a nice brown or nude heeled shoe, meaning that I will don it during the off-season rather than waiting until September, when it will be matched with thicker brown tights or leggings, Dubarry boots and probably a pair of pink and green socks to compliment the shirt and tweed at the same time. My husband suggested wearing it to a friend’s wedding in April – which I am genuinely considering! I may even wear the blazer to London for university this week.
So if you take anything from this installment, take this advice: while the game season may be over, tweed will always be in – and it isn’t just for university lecturers to put leather elbow patches on. (Come to think of it, I’ve not seen any of my professors wearing that. Yet.) Besides, it’s never too early to start preparing for the next season!!!!