Corduroy is back in style this season, the physically enduring ridged fabric is a perennial fashion staple. In this post we discuss what corduroy is, its functionality, history, and aesthetics.
- Corduroy originated in the city of Al-Fustat, Egypt in 200 BC.
- Its adoption has oscillated among many social classes across centuries.
- Corduroy is best paired with less textured clothing.
Introduction To Corduroy
Corduroy is a velvety cotton fabric. The yarns lie parallel to each other, forming individual cords that almost appear to be separate and attached. The width of the cord is commonly referred to as the size of the “wale” (i.e. the number of ridges per inch).
This soft, durable fabric is a variation of velvet that is easy to maintain and keeps its shape relatively well. It is very popular for hunting apparel, trousers, jackets, suits and other cool-weather attire due to its warmth. Wide wales are more commonly used in trousers and furniture upholstery, while medium, narrow, and fine wale fabrics are usually found in garments worn above the waist.
Corduroy fulfills the functionality of warmth, pleasant to the touch and durable. In addition, it is a beautiful fabric. Working men, royalty, hippies, intellectuals, etc, associate with corduroy due to its relevance in different eras.
Origins of Corduroy
Corduroy’s beginnings can be traced to the Egyptian city of Al-Fustat in 200 BC to a popular cotton weave known as “fustian”. Fustian’s popularity increased throughout Western Europe in the Medieval period when Italian merchants introduced the fabric to nobles. Fustian provided warmth at a time before heating, and it was much coveted by high society, most notably, England’s King Henry VIII.
What we now recognize as corduroy emerged in the late 18th century in Manchester, England as factory wear during the Industrial Revolution. The word corduroy is from cord and duroy – a coarse woolen cloth made in England in the 18th century.
The width of the wale gives corduroy jackets different levels of formality. Pinwale corduroy creates a softer-edged and textured version of the classic style. On the other hand, colored sport coats, which were popular classic autumnal jackets, required tougher corduroys with wider wales.
Styling Corduroy Jackets
Photo Credit: I am Galla
A key rule for corduroy is to wear one piece at a time for an understated look or otherwise, if you want to make a bold statement.
Over a white shirt and tie, a corduroy jacket for men looks like an Ivy League professor’s outfit; over a chambray shirt and textured chukka boots, you get a modern, striking, and interesting look.
When it comes to worker jackets, you can pair it with knitwear, or flannel shirts, selvedge jeans, and sturdy boots. The idea for the pairings is thickness. This is to supplement the casual nature of a worker jacket. Royal, or navy blue are great options for worker jackets. However, you could also try lighter pastel colors over a dark outfit.
Shoes accentuate levels of formality with corduroy. For example, sneakers or boat shoes give a casual effect, while leather lace-ups say office wear. Belts have the same effect: simple leather for work, and colored cloth or textured leather for play.
Corduroy overshirts are a versatile way to wear corduroy, worn open over T-shirts or sweatshirts on mild autumn days. Buttoned up and under an overcoat changes the dynamic, which works well in less casual settings.
Versatile colors for a corduroy jacket include brown, tan, olive, khaki, sand, black and navy. You can also choose to go all out in a corduroy suit in vibrant colors such as red, burgundy, or mustard yellow, the key is to accessorize simply and keep the shirt white. In the grey days of winter, corduroy gives you a chance to fill your environment up with brightness.
Photo Credit: Robert Pattison
A modern way to get some corduroy into your upper half rotation is to buy a jacket with a thick wade in a boxier cut, like a denim or bomber jacket. Neutral colours will always work, but if you’re feeling brave go for something fresher in mauve, olive or even sky blue, keeping the rest of your outfit nice and muted.
Embrace The Look
It’s still quite easy to look like an 80’s geography teacher in corduroy. When you get it right you’ll stand out in a crowd for all the right reasons. Modern fashion culture embraces looking different and trying a number of styles. Corduroy’s transience in vogue always makes it a bold choice.
Photo Credit: Tinie Tempah
Celebrities are making this choice to transcend the realm of regular style. Take John Boyega and Tinie Tempah for instance, who have styled themselves in corduroy ensembles.
Corduroy at U.Mi-1
At U.Mi-1, we have created a contemporary corduroy jacket with matching trousers. The jacket is cut like a contemporary safari jacket. The trousers feature turn-ups, which contrasts with the traditional appeal of the corduroy fabric. The idea behind them is to give our customers an interesting and new take on the classics.
Both pieces have a tailored silhouette. They are a new take to the traditional corduroy suit, ideal for a modern man looking for an elegant wardrobe addition. Furthermore, corduroy can be applied in scenarios where you may like to subvert defined styles while keeping a smart look. Another good reason to choose corduroy is because of its tight weave. Consequently, it is efficiently warm as long as it’s dry, an ideal item for spring or autumn.
Corduroy’s movement in style is quite like the tides, habitually coming and going but never gone. The warmth it provides makes it an essential for every spring or autumn wardrobe. Beyond that, the debonair impression it can create on a night out cannot be replicated. Coursing through the phases of being practical, posh, groovy, geeky, stylish, etc, the corduroy style trend is a perennial mainstay.
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