As the fashion world moves towards winter we normally always see an influx of new heavy weight materials and styles in order to cope with the bad weather. This year is no different as we have seen with the recent “Town meets Country” trend, as well as a lot more wool and tweed present in the Autumn/Winter releases. Today we have another fabric trend which is garnering a lot of attention this season… Corduroy.
Corduroy has long been the stereotypical choice of the old, or the sensible. I have pictures in my head of eccentric or “wacky” teachers, as well as old folk who especially need to be able to stay warm during the colder months for health reasons. However, this A/W corduroy and cords are set to become big news, and infinitely more wearable for the younger generation. Corduroy was present on a lot of the runways for this season, with pick of the pieces coming from Ralph Lauren – who produced some neat cut trousers and jackets in corduroy, but gave them a modern slim fit. Margaret Howell and Zegna also used corduroy in their formal suiting, which showed that if done right, corduroy can look sharp and refined, without the bulk.
The bulk produced is the important point to note with corduroy. The reason it is generally a Winter fabric is because it is a good insulator and provides serious warmth, but this is generally due to the size of the cords and how many you have on a garment. Here is the basic information about the anatomy of corduroy: “Corduroy’s vertical ribs are called wales, from the Anglo-Saxon walu, meaning ‘to mark with stripes’, and their thickness can determine how you wear the cloth: Sixteen ribs to an inch is known as pinwale, and it’s great for suits; eight ribs to an inch is a wide wale and is good for casual trousers. Above that and things get seriously chunky.” As fashion forward males the point to note is that you generally want thin cords so as not to add unnecessary bulk to your frame.
So how does corduroy fit in with other trends we have seen this year? Well as you all know by now, the casual trouser was MASSIVE through the first half of this year, with chinos taking off like never before. I put cords and corduroy trousers in this same category. They are just as easy to use if you find a great razor sharp pair, and they come in a lot of bold colours such as beige, camel, burgundy etc. as well as your traditional blacks, navy and browns. Corduroy also fits in with the whole heritage and country trends we are seeing at the moment. With definite roots within the countryside and the whole country club ethos, these would look great when paired with other traditional fabrics such as tweed.
Corduroy trousers in particular give your casual outfits a completely different look. They have clean lines and a smarter appearance than jeans, which means that instantly they bring your outfit up a notch. Due to this, it means they are so versatile when creating outfits. You can tone down your top half using casual items like t-shirts and polo’s OR go completely the opposite way and use shirts, loafers and statement jackets to dress it up. The other benefit to cords is that they give your outfits TEXTURE – like tweed you often do not notice just how great the fabric looks until you are up close. It is a way of giving you that differential compared to the rest of the male population, but at first glance people may not even notice you are wearing what I feel is still a rare item within fashion circles. This season is the perfect time to introduce this fabric and beautiful texture in our wardrobes.
A lot of males do shy away from corduroy because they can’t get their head around HOW to use it or the stigma attached to it. However I have found examples on Lookbook.nu of a variety of corduroy garments, with everything from jackets and blazers to shorts and trousers featured. I have even had to label which piece is created from corduroy in each picture because it is generally hard to tell from the naked eye – what this means for you though is that they are going to be easy to incorporate into your personal style:
- A lot of corduroy blazers have elbow patches (see main picture): corduroy is a lot like leather in that it looks better the older it gets. BUT as it gets older it sheds its pile and those areas where there is the most wear and tear (i.e. elbows) will suffer. This is why having elbow patches can prolong the life of your jacket infinitely. If you do not buy a version with patches then look to get some added in suede or leather once you see the material thinning round the elbows to really get the most wear out of it you can.
- As we know, the thicker the wales, the more casual the corduroy. It is good to note that the thicker the wale, the richer the colour tends to be as well. So if you are going to go for a deep red or camel for this season, then look to get a thicker cord version
- Males can use the thickness of wales to their advantage: larger males should go for thinner wales because you do not want to add volume to your frame. Skinnier men however should go the opposite way and try to use the cords to add some slight bulk onto their smaller frame.
- Corduroy trousers or blazers look best with shirts or sweaters that hold their own against the texture and weight of the cords. Ideas for this season; Chunk fair isle knitwear, the gilet, tweed fabrics and the thick check/plaid over shirt.
- Corduroy is very versatile, and can be dressed up or down very easily (as seen in the look book). I would recommend pairing your new corduroy trousers with a brown brogue in order to really bring your outfit up a notch. Plus the neutral colour of the brogues will complement pretty much any colour corduroy other than black.
New Season Cords
What is great about this cord trend is that you do not have to go all out to get on board. If you are still not comfortable with wearing a full cord shirts, blazer or trousers then a lot of new styles have cord detailing on pockets and collars: