As outlined in my first article on tweed, it’s important for a man to have a seasonal wardrobe. Not only does it allow you to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer but it offers additional versatility, durability and excitement to an otherwise ‘same old, same old’ four season wardrobe.

For the colder months it’s important to have pieces that not only protect you from the wind, rain and snow but are also easy to layer with the other staple pieces within your wardrobe. We’ve already covered tweed and its pros and cons as an autumn/winter fabric, so now it’s time to move on to something a little different – corduroy.

Essential Fabric #2: Corduroy

Corduroy is a fabric that is created by twisting fibres of cotton so that, when woven, they lie parallel to one another. This forms the materials distinctive pattern of ribbed cord, sometimes referred to as a wale.

Wale’s can be very important when it comes to making a decision on what corduroy you purchase. Modern or updated corduroy (and I use both those terms very loosely) tend to have a finer amount of wale’s – i.e. the cord count is higher, less distinctive and closer together on the fabric.

However, wider wale’s make the fabric a lot thicker and heavier. They also happen to be a bit more traditional in styling, mainly because wider wale’s can be associated with a time when dressing for practicality (read: warmth) was just as important as looking stylish.

Both wide and thin (or pin) wale corduroy can be found just about anywhere these days, so what you choose is going to come down to personal preference or the sort of look you’re going for.

For most people out there, corduroy is viewed as a naturally casual fabric. However, I think that it can in fact be used in a variety of clothing, covering a range of different occasions.

Men’s Corduroy Lookbook

Men's Corduroy Lookbook

How To Wear: Corduroy
  • Recently I’ve taken to layering shirts this autumn/winter. I’ve personally found that a corduroy shirt has been the easiest and most versatile shirt to do this with. A navy wide-ish wale version works great with just about any sort of trouser – be it denim, chino or flannel – and due to being thicker and more rugged than your ordinary cotton/flannel shirt, it looks great layered over a thinner material shirt. However, it can work just as well with a different under layer – Henley’s, t-shirts and knitted polo’s are all equal contenders.
  • The corduroy suit is one of the most underrated suits a modern day gent can own, especially in the winter. Admittedly, if you get it wrong there can be all kinds of awful ‘aged professor’ connotations but if you stick to a pinwale slim fitting suit in an achromatic colour such as beige, tan or olive this shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll get plenty of complements and it will effortlessly separate you from the sea of navy and grey. Wear it with classic business pieces like solid semi-spread broadcloth shirts, grenadine ties and black/brown wingtip shoes.
  • Arguably, corduroy’s best use is in trousers and, as we all know, is going to be a big trend itself this autumn/winter. Without covering too much old ground; it’s durability, rigidness, softness and get-better-with-ageness are ideal characteristics for any item of clothing. Why not stray from the tried and tested brown and navy pairs and go for something in a saturated burgundy?
  • Similarly with tweed, never underestimate a corduroy waistcoat! Buy one in either a neutral colour or an autumnal tone such as brown, olive or burgundy, and make sure it is in a pinwale for the best effect. Pair it with similar workerwear pieces such as selvedge denim, chambray or plaid flannel shirts and heavy duty cargo trousers with boots.
  • Finally, my favourite use for corduroy at the moment has to be in accessories. They can be quite hard to find but when you do they will add a whole new element of texture to your look. I’ve currently got a pinwale brown drivers cap that goes great with pretty much any casual outfit I put together and is a great way to separate yourself from the sea of beanies and snap-backs this season without having to tread the murky depths of fedoras. Also, keep your eyes open for corduroy belts and ties that can really add a nice twist to your outfit, especially with the velvety feel that comes from quality pinwale versions.
Men’s Corduroy Picks
  • Uniqlo Men Corduroy Long Sleeve ShirtUniqlo Men Corduroy Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Faconnable Slim-fit Fine-corduroy Button-down Collar ShirtFaconnable Slim-fit Fine-corduroy Button-down Collar Shirt
  • Vintage Surplus Pinwall Cord ShirtVintage Surplus Pinwall Cord Shirt
  • Lee Cord ShirtLee Cord Shirt
  • Topman Green Cord Button Down ShirtTopman Green Cord Button Down Shirt
  • Chocolate Elbow Patch Cord ShirtChocolate Elbow Patch Cord Shirt
  • Lanvin Attitude Micro-corduroy Suit 133558Lanvin Attitude Micro-corduroy Suit 133558
  • Five Pocket Slim CordsFive Pocket Slim Cords
  • Barbour Burgundy Claremont Corduroy TrousersBarbour Burgundy Claremont Corduroy Trousers
  • Rag & Bone Rb15x Straight-leg Corduroy TrosuersRag & Bone Rb15x Straight-leg Corduroy Trosuers
  • Reiss Brightling Cord Trousers Burnt AmberReiss Brightling Cord Trousers Burnt Amber
  • Petrol Slim Cord TrouserPetrol Slim Cord Trouser
  • Carhartt Tar Grey Cord Klondike TrousersCarhartt Tar Grey Cord Klondike Trousers
  • Z Zegna Corduroy Waistcoat 53716Z Zegna Corduroy Waistcoat 53716
  • Cord Trapper HatCord Trapper Hat
  • Cord Flat Cap GreenCord Flat Cap Green
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Chocolate Corduroy FlatcapPolo Ralph Lauren Chocolate Corduroy Flatcap
  • Dolce & Gabbana Corduroy Flat CapDolce & Gabbana Corduroy Flat Cap
  • Alexander Olch Cotton-corduroy Bow TieAlexander Olch Cotton-corduroy Bow Tie
  • Asos Slim Cord TieAsos Slim Cord Tie
  • Topman Biscuit Cord TieTopman Biscuit Cord Tie
Final Word

Corduroy is a great fabric for staying warm during autumn/winter that is durable, versatile and, in a pinwale, can often be seriously soft and comfortable to wear.

Sure, it can be a slightly more casual fabric than others and really is a bitch when it comes to picking up lint and fluff, but once you embrace its flaws it can re-energise your current winter wardrobe.

Next week: Wool.

Matt Allinson