Fashion Guide to Corduroy

How to Wear Corduroy

When the air becomes crisp and trees discard leaves in frantic flurries of reds and golds, you know it’s time to consider corduroy. This cool weather fabric is both comfortable and versatile, and though it may inspire a collegiate flair you’re not so sure you want to return to, think again. The truth is corduroy can be an extremely wearable and diverse fabric that can take you from the first chill of fall through the New Year, and into the thaw of spring in style.

What makes corduroy so unique are the myriad wales, or grooves, running down the length of the fabric. The fuzzy fabric made its debut in the medieval times when corduroy was created as a unique form of velvet favored by kings. Since then, the royal fabric has evolved into one that is used by the masses, but it retains its original purpose of providing the wearer with durability, comfort and style .

Corduroy comes in different sized wales, or ridges. Generally, fine wale corduroys have a more uniform appearance, whereas wide wale corduroys appear a bit more like monocolored stripes. Choose a fine to medium wale corduroy to suggest a more polished, classy look.


Pants and Trousers
The most common item of men’s clothing found in the corduroy family is probably the pant. Versatile and comfortable, corduroy pants can be dressed up or down to work for any occasion. Just steer clear of the mustard and maroon families on the color spectrum or you may end up looking a little too Mike Brady for your own good. Considering a casual weekend at the farmer’s market? Add a t-shirt, a leather bomber and a pair of aviators for a nonchalant vibe. Corduroy trousers can just as easily be dressed up for a swank dinner simply by adding a cashmere sweater and glossy boots.

If your image of a corduroy jacket is banished to that of an octogenarian professor warming the halls of some Ivy League campus, think again. Corduroy jackets can add a sprinkling of panache to a day at the office or simply keep you warm in style on a chilly eve. To avoid that stodgy look, be sure to choose a slim fitting cord blazer or a biker-style silhouette in a dark neutral such as slate or navy. One of our favorites corduroy jackets is the dark green sports coat by Ralph Lauren pictures above.

Silk Corduroy Neckties

Neckties & Bow Ties
Classic corduroy fabric made from cotton is not suited for neckties. The fabric is simply too thick to be able to add an inner lining that is needed to ensure the tie goes back to its original, wrinkle-free shape after each wearing. BUT, if you like the look or the wale textured corduroy fabric, then some designers offer silk fabric woven to mimic the corduroy look. HERE is one new collection by designer Parsley that is the perfect example. Made from finest silks the fabric has more sheen making it appear like a corduroy texture made from velvet.

Tips and Tricks
Wondering where to go to infuse your closet with a little corduroy? One of the cheapest and easiest ways is to scour your local vintage stores. Corduroy, though enjoying a well-deserved resurgence, was indefatigably popular in bygone eras, and gently used pieces with modern day charm can be had for next to nothing.

The key to wearing corduroy is to embrace texture, and don’t be afraid to mix and match. Leather, nubby wool and textured cottons such as flannels and canvas can all blend into outfit perfection when combined with this medieval fabric winner. Hey, if corduroy could work for King Henry the VIII of the six wives, surely it can work for you.

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4 Replies to “Fashion Guide to Corduroy”

  1. Corduroy is fantastic not only for a college professor but for young professonals as well. I have been in the human ressources business and I have found that a corduroy suit (or a double corduroy : blazer with cord pants or cord jeans) is the perfect attire for many reasons. My mother used to say that boys with corduroys make perfect gentlemen. It has been proven that men dressed in corduroy are judged to be reliable and nice persons. For most jobs wearing a corduroy suit is a winner in a job interview not only for college professors.

  2. Hi Martin, thanks for the insightful comment. Much appreciated! You mentioned that men wearing corduroy are often seen as “reliable and a nice person”. This could also have to do (in some part) with the color. Most corduroy pieces are in earthy tones (brown and beiges), a color family that is often times associated with maturity, reliability, being down to earth, etc.

    For more information on the psychology of colors on clothing, here is an interesting article:

  3. Hi: Can a corduroy jacket be pulled off at the office? Can one do colors for corduroy jackets, or they must stick to biege, brown, and navy?

  4. Hi Will, good question. It always depends on your job/industry. If you are working in an office with a more conservative/strict dress code, then save the Corduroy jacket for after office hours or weekends. But for most cases I say yes it is definitely acceptable in the Fall and Winter months. As far as colors goes, tan, brown, and navy are the classic colors, but deep burgundy is another excellent choice for the Autumn season.

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