There aren’t many fabrics that scream the seventies quite like corduroy does. But, despite its decidedly old-fashioned reputation, corduroy has made an improbable and stunning comeback. The likes of Bradley Cooper, Mark Ronson and Eddie Redmayne have championed the fabric’s revival, while fashion mags have hailed its resurgence with Elite Traveler declaring ‘a new era for the fabric.’
Characterised by its rows of ridges and cotton composition, corduroy conjures up images of school teachers sporting oversized trousers made from the fabric. But it’s this perception that’s outdated, not the fabric itself. Cord is a lot more stylish and versatile than you might think. Throw in its durability and supreme comfortability and there’s good reason to incorporate the timeless texture into your wardrobe. Here’s how to do it with style.
Trousers are the easiest way to introduce some corduroy into your look and such legwear also happens to be among the most versatile. Cord trousers pair well with a casual t-shirt and hoodie as well as with a shirt and tie. They are also a lot softer and more comfortable than denim, providing a great alternative to jeans. However, there are pitfalls to avoid. Go for too wide a cut or combine with brogues or boots and you’ll be looking more Jeremy Clarkson than David Beckham.
Opt for a slim fit that tapers around your ankles and combine with a pair of understated white trainers. Treat your corduroy trousers like you would any other patterned slacks and plump for subtle upper wear to complete the look, avoiding double corduroy. Anything too ‘out there’ can be an overwhelming combination—as put by Hackett: “corduroy looks best when it’s left to breathe on its own, without any other patterns or fabrics to distract from its brilliance.” When it comes to colour, steer clear from brown and green and go for trousers in classic hues like navy, black or grey.
While less common than cord trousers, a corduroy jacket offers many of the same advantages. Remaining well within the realm of traditional menswear, it is the perfect way to add some texture and intrigue to your outfit. The fabric’s thickness also helps to retain heat making it ideal during the colder months, while corduroy’s durability will also help you withstand the elements.
Opt for a cord jacket in a neutral colour to give you greater freedom when layering your outfit—we’re talking shades of black, grey, or even a deep red or tan brown. Combine with subtle accompaniments to counteract the fabric’s flamboyance, such as a plain cotton shirt or sweater, conservative jeans or chinos. Slip into a pair of black or brown brogues or even some Vans for a more casual look.
Images of shirts probably don’t come to mind upon hearing “corduroy”, but they should. Cord is the perfect fabric for shirts, offering robust, breathable, and soft button-ups that have a little more je ne sais quoi than your average cotton cut. Take advantage of the diverse range of colour options and opt for a cord shirt in burgundy, mustard or navy combining with either jeans and trainers or tailored trousers and brogues. Corduroy shirts look great under a blazer or casual sports jacket, though make sure they don’t clash colour-wise.
Even some of the most hardcore apologists think the full corduroy suit is too much. But those reservations don’t hold up any more with a noticeable upturn in the stock of these suits everywhere from luxury designers to high streets stores. Indeed, celebrities like Jay-Z, Jeff Goldblum, and Dev Patel have all rocked corduroy ensembles.
To nail this look yourself, a good fit is vital. So, make sure the blazer and trousers aren’t too tight or loose—we’d recommend taking the suit into the tailor before you debut it. Go for colours like blue, dark green, or brown, and mix and match the suit with items that contrast with the corduroy’s retro feel, such as knitwear or a denim shirt, in colours that don’t clash. Also, either ditch the tie entirely or go for something understated.
To hide that desperately-in-need-of-cutting barnet and complete your weekend look, corduroy caps or snapbacks are ideal. They represent a happy medium between smart and casual, as the fabric’s polished look collides with the sportswear heritage of the baseball cap. Simplicity is the order of the day, owing to the unorthodox nature of cord caps, so avoid patterns and opt for muted colours like black, navy, or green. Wear plain jeans or chinos and a modest t-shirt and bomber jacket combo to ensure your outfit isn’t too over the top.