3 ways to wear and match corduroy

Corduroy has been around for quite some time and we can say without a doubt that because of its strong “eccentricity” its reputation have had its ups and downs. In fact, it looks virtually like its long lost summer cousin the Seersucker, which has vertical textured stripes, both of them can make you look super cool, dandy and corduroy might just add up to 10 years of age to you (aesthetically speaking).

Starting from 2015, men’s clothing trends (and everywhere else) are inclined towards the charm of this fabric and during this fall-winter 2018/2019 season, the trend is finally reaching its golden period. It is clear that if done well and paired well, a corduroy garment will be a piece that you will be proud of this coming winter.

Icons like John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Woody Allen are well aware of the charm of this fabric and since the 1960s they have helped in defining the corduroy suit as an essential part of the informal wardrobe. A trend that is still strong and carried off even today by many movie stars and celebrities like American director Wes Anderson or Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of the British rock band Pulp, famous for their fondness (or more like an “obsession”) for the corduroy ensembles.

Wes Anderson (left) wears a brown corduroy suit; Jarvis Cocker (right) wears a green corduroy suit
Director Wes Anderson and singer Jarvis Cocker passionate about corduroy suits

Although simple velvet fabric is reserved for sophisticated evening events, the corduroy version of the fabric is, in fact, quite appropriate for almost all workplaces, when worn in dark tones, with formal office accessories. If you’re wondering how you could fit it in your wardrobe, here’s a practical guide on how to wear corduroy this winter.

What is corduroy?

Let’s start from the beginning. The simple velvet fabric is a usually made of cotton and is woven as tufted fabric in which the cut threads are distributed in an even manner in a short dense pile thus giving a very soft and smooth feel. Corduroy is precisely a variant of the classic velvet fabric, which can be obtained through various specific procedures such as weaving, brushing, waxing or calendering.

As the name suggests, this fabric is visually characterized by a series of raised ribs (or cords) that give it the typical ribbed/corded appearance. The frequency and size of these “cords” can vary a lot and which determines the different types of corduroy in the market: wide-cord velvet, medium, 500 lines, 1000 lines, etc.

Detail of 100% cotton red fabric in corduroy
Detail of a 100% red corduroy cotton fabric with fine ribbing

Where does the English term corduroy come from? The theories are different but the two main ones are of English and French origin. According to the first hypothesis the term corduroy derives from the union of the words cord, as it resembles the striped rope kind appearance, and duroy, a rough wool fabric produced in England in the eighteenth century. The other hypothesis is that it has a Folk etymology deriving from *corde du roi meaning “the king’s cord”(“cord” being ribbed or tufted fabric) but this is not attested in French, where the term for the cloth was known as velours à côtes.

How to wear corduroy

Well, we have understood what corduroy is and we know that it is one of the biggest trends of this season, but how can we wear it without looking like it came out of the boho era of the ’70s? Actually managing a corduroy outfit requires a little more planning than the usual blue suits, but nothing too complicated.

Here are 3 easy ways to wear blazers, trousers and corduroy suits without making any style mistakes.

1. Corduroy blazer

Button sleeve detail of a red corduroy blazer
Detail of a red corduroy blazer, available at lanieri.com

A great way to slip corduroy in the rotation of outerwear is to get a corduroy jacket in a jeans jacket cut style or in a bomber style. Neutral colours always work, but the most fashionable options are definitely those in beige, brown and blue.

If you are looking for a less street style kind of look, but at the same time a clean modern outfit choice, go for an unlined corduroy blazer. While buying, please note that the fabric of the jacket and blazer should not be very thick and try to look for the same type of fabric that is used for the construction of the trousers. The thinner the cords, the lighter the cloth appears: this will actually allow you to wear the garment a) without appearing as if you have put on a few extra pounds and b) at an informal work setting.

An absolute must for the coming season is the olive-green colour, to pair with winter chinos, jeans and with anything in your wardrobe like a T-shirt, shirt or polo in wool. If you are going to wear the blazer at work it is clear that you will have to select the darker shades of blue, brown and green (the first one is absolutely the most versatile and appropriate option).

Do you like to experiment and get creative with your looks? Well, the interesting thing about a corduroy men’s blazer is that the fabric looks visually very rich and allows you to wear colours that you would not normally wear. Feel free to get tempted by the shades and nuances of reds, violets, greens, and navy, even in the most irregular versions. They will look their best on you at the casual winter occasions.

Style note: a corduroy blazer is definitely a step up over the other garments of your wardrobe in terms of character but you need to make sure you get it right. When you wear it, keep the rest of your look simple and let the corduroy garment be the main attraction.

2. Corduroy trousers

Bottom detail of red corduroy trouser's cuffs: the length reaches the upper of the shoe
Corduroy trousers bottom detail: lands on the tip of the shoes

Trousers are definitely the safest and most “classic” way to dress in corduroy, but there are some risks that come with it. If you risk getting very wide cut trousers combined with boots or sneakers, you’ll soon find yourself looking like you are one of the ’70s show. The advice to follow here is to go for a standard or slim fit that is narrower towards the ankle, ending just above the shoes.

Corduroy trousers are a statement of style, well they can definitely be if they are done in the right way. It is always better to mix and match the trousers with something that matches well and compliment the style the same way as the trousers and don’t look out of place.

A crew neck or turtleneck sweater will always work, especially if worn under your tailored winter coat. In this case, the materials will both have a similar thickness, and this will visually balance your upper half of the body with the lower half.

As for the colour, do not be afraid to stray away from the usual grey/black, after all, if you’re wearing corduroy what you want is that your trousers get noticed, right? A “safe” and moderate alternative is brown.

By some people, It is considered a bit old-fashioned, but you will be surprised to know that this nuance is one of the current season trends. Do not overlook the beige and navy blue versions of corduroy.

For a casual Friday look, wear your corduroy trousers with a button-down shirt without a tie. And for a touch of colour, replace your black socks for a pair in blue.

3. Corduroy suit

Detail of a corduroy jacket with denim shirt and blue tie
A corduroy suit must be worn with modern accessories that contrast the retro atmosphere

Given its soft nature and a history of clumsy and sloppy examples, when you choose to wear a corduroy suit you have to be very careful about the fit. Look for a suit that is rather figure-hugging, has the right fit and is with a very clean cut: wide jackets and trousers at the edge of the baggy style are completely out of context.

A perfect solution for leisure and casual professional settings can be the brown corduroy suit, paired with an elegant plaid shirt with black and red details. Chelsea boots will add shine to the whole ensemble.

A blue corduroy suit will be an alternative to your classic winter separates, can be worn with modern accessories that contrast the retro outfit. For the office: a light blue wool (or denim) shirt with a silk tie is appropriate. For the weekend: pair the blue corduroy trousers with a turtleneck sweater in an intense colour.

Corduroy in short: what to do and what not to do

  • Always take into consideration the thickness of the material. For jackets and suits prefer narrow and thinner cords, for the trousers a little more full-bodied fabric with wider edges can be a great choice.
  • A corduroy jacket or a blazer are the easiest ways to incorporate this fabric into your wardrobe. The informality of the garment and the weight of the fabric allow you to experiment with colours.
  • Corduroy trousers should not be too loose and should be worn with pieces that are not excessively tight, as it is always necessary to maintain a balance of the thickness of the fabric.
  • A corduroy suit is a style statement that lets you experiment with the colours or also pull of the classic blue and brown and still look different. Accessories should be modern and contrasting the retro vibe of the outfit.

1 Comment

  1. Jon Davis says: Reply

    I once had a suit made with Jumbo/Elephant corduroy and if you are able to supply I would consider purchasing the same.I have seen many adverts for jumbo cord these days as made with “Jumbo Cord”
    but this is definately a misrepresentation as like “MARS BARS” “Milkyway” and various other makes that have been shrunk in size generally as the compnies have been taken over by foreign companies .
    Regards
    Jon Davis

Leave a Reply