If we look back to the 1970s in terms of economic inflation, we might as well look back to this decade to find something far more groovy: corduroy.
While corduroy clothing gained prominence in the age of gas shortages and boogie nights, it’s never quite gone out of style (although baggy ’90s corduroys — with enough room for neat burlap — did their best to kill them). Corduroy is a classic. It’s soft – it’s actually made from the same fabric as velvet. It’s warm and cozy – perfect for the colder months. It’s durable – and stain-resistant too. Plus, it has a pleasing, tactile texture that not only feels good, but stands out (and not just because of the whooshing noise it can make when walking).
Corduroy’s uniqueness makes men reluctant to incorporate it into their wardrobe. You may have asked yourself, “How do I wear this rib in style and what do I wear it with?” With?”
Below we give you some hints.
A few general guidelines for wearing corduroy
Corduroy is casual. Depending on the cut and style, the formality of corduroy trousers is roughly on a par with jeans and khaki. And while corduroy garments of all kinds can be dressed up or down a little, their elegance sits on the smart-casual level. It’s a fabric with relaxed vibes.
Thinner band = more formal / wider band = more casual. The cords – their vertically running ribs/edges – are called wales. Each piece of corduroy has a “treble count,” which is the number of trebles per inch. Thicker wales mean fewer wales; thinner wales mean a higher wale count. A garment with a smaller gauge (wider ribs) is more relaxed; a garment with a higher gauge (thinner ribs) is more formal (relatively speaking).
Thinner, finer wales (called pincord, pinwale, or needle cord) are often found on upper body clothing (shirts, blazers), with heavier wales being more commonly found on pants. The exception to this rule is corduroy outerwear, which typically has a low gauge.
Don’t overdo it with the patterns/textures you combine with corduroy. Corduroy has a lot of structure and personality. So, when you put on a garment made of this fabric, you make it the star of your tailoring show. As a general (non-hard-line) rule, you don’t want to make your getup too busy by pairing a piece of corduroy with other boldly patterned/textured pieces. So if you’re wearing corduroy pants, pair them with a smoother knitted sweater, rather a chunky, ribbed one. Or if you’re wearing a corduroy blazer, wear a solid color button-down over it instead of a flashy plaid.
Even if you don’t rock a corduroy suit (and are great for you when you are), you only want to wear one corduroy at a time.
How to wear corduroy
There are many garments made from corduroy, including suits, outerwear jackets, and hats. Below we offer some tips for wearing the most basic and common iterations: sports jackets, trousers and shirts.
How to wear a corduroy sports jacket/blazer
The corduroy blazer (often referred to as a blazer, although technically it isn’t) may be associated with academic types, but chic without being stuffy, it’s a good-looking piece no matter what your profession.
A corduroy sports jacket is a good choice when you want to look a little smart but still casual. Slip one on if you’re working at a more casual, but not casual, jeans-and-t-shirt workplace (like if you’re a teacher or librarian — of course!) or to an event that feels special, but is not formal, like going out to dinner with your lady.
Most commonly, you can find corduroy sport jackets in different shades of brown, and the versatility of this color makes it a great option to add to your wardrobe. You can also find jackets in green, burgundy, and navy, and these can certainly work if your budget and taste allow for purchasing a garment that will see less use and make you stand out more.
On your bottom half, pair a corduroy sport jacket with jeans, chinos or pants, along with chukkas, leather boots or Dress shoes at the more casual end of the formality spectrum. Wear it over a solid (you can’t go wrong with white) button-down or a skinny solid sweater or turtleneck (give the turtleneck a try!). If you’re wearing a button-down tie, consider a more casual tie; As an exception to the rule of not pairing structured accessories with structured corduroy, a knit tie works well here.
If the elbows on your jacket start to wear out, you can sew on some patches for the full professor look.
This is how you wear corduroys
Corduroys are more comfortable than jeans and more interesting than chinos.
They come in a variety of colors, with brown, grey, green and navy being the most common, and come in a more pant-like style as well as the five-pocket variant. The former is a bit dressier and the latter is essentially interchangeable with jeans. But while corduroy jackets with their thinner ribs can be dressed a little more up and down, corduroy trousers with their thicker ribs form a basis that is more firmly rooted in casualness.
To avoid the outdated, baggy, wide-leg look of the ’90s, choose corduroy pants with a slimmer, straighter cut. The pants should have little to no “break”; The bottom of the leg should touch the top of your shoes without the fabric folding/creasing over it.
Corduroys go well with crew neck sweaters, henleys, solid color t-shirts, turtlenecks, and casual button-down shirts. Combine a simple plaid with trousers that complement one of its colors. A chambray shirt with brown corduroy pants is also an easy and winning combination. In the footwear department, reach for boots, chukkas and leather or canvas sneakers.
How to wear corduroy shirts
Corduroy shirts are warm, comfortable, durable, beautiful and easy to wear.
Those made with a fine pinwale are more suitable to be worn alone; those with a thick drawstring are better suited to slipping over another shirt. But both can serve a double purpose both as a single piece and as an overshirt/shirt jacket. The latter option is perfect for fall, when the weather is cool but not so cold that you need to wear a coat. Just layer your corduroy shirt over a henley or plain tee (white is classic), pair it with jeans or chinos and some canvas sneakers or leather boots, and you’re good to go.