Having shaken off its associations with fusty academics and dusty old libraries, corduroy has well and truly come into its own in recent years, cementing itself as a versatile and durable fabric for autumn and winter. This season, integrate the timeless texture into your wardrobe in the form of tactile overshirts, jackets and trousers.
The velvety, ridged fabric is made up of pile-cut yarn that's been woven into tufted cords, known as 'wales', which offer the rich, touchable texture that corduroy is so beloved for. The size of the wale refers to the number of ridges per inch: the lower the wale number, the thicker the cords. Corduroys with wider wales are generally more sturdy and great for trousers, while fine wale fabrics are more commonly used for shirts and jackets.
First manufactured in Egypt approximately 1800 years ago – the Egyptians were both intelligent and extremely stylish – the fabric wasn’t a viable choice until the growth of the cotton trade between 1100 and 1300. The material is made from fustian, a fabric that originated in a city called Fustat near Cairo, and when fustian was finally exported throughout Europe it became highly popular with the elite classes.
By the 18th century, corduroy was being produced in Europe, proving its versatility through the fact that it was favoured by royalty and farmers alike. From this point onwards, it became used as a material for working uniforms thanks to its durability. In 2020, corduroy has lost much of its value as a material for work uniforms due to the arrival of denim, cotton twills and technical modern materials. Luckily for us, this means that corduroy has found its way into many contemporary autumn/winter collections.
Corduroy's inherent versatility means that you'll come to rely on it time and again in myriad ways. It's the perfect fabric to bridge the gap between smart and casual. Wear heavyweight corduroy trousers with high top sneakers and a denim jacket for a low-key workwear aesthetic or add an Oxford shirt and penny loafers for a more formal look. A corduroy shirt or overshirt can just as easily be dressed up or down, depending on the trousers and shoes you choose to pair it with. Throw a corduroy blazer over the top of a hoodie for a fresh take on luxury sportswear, or wear it with matching suit trousers to make a stylish statement. To spark some inspiration, here are a few corduroy styles we're loving right now.
Wax London's Whiting Overshirt is one of the label's bestsellers, and for good reason. Versatile, durable and effortlessly stylish, this olive green corduroy iteration makes for an instant wardrobe classic and the perfect transitional garment.
Oliver Spencer's elegant take on the bomber jacket is the perfect piece to see you stylishly through the autumn and winter months. The combination of corduroy and faux sheepskin lends it a rich tactility that we can't get enough of.
These workwear-inspired trousers from Garbstore are as functional and comfortable as they are stylish. They've been crafted from a sturdy Japanese fine wale corduroy for ultimate durability, with oversized pockets to store all your essentials.
Just as easily dressed up or down, this versatile jacket from Portuguese brand ISTO. is a fail-safe wardrobe staple that you'll reach for time and again. Wear it with the matching corduroy trousers for a casual take on suiting.
We can never go past Forét for its timeless menswear staples. This corduroy and canvas patchwork shirt epitomises the Danish brand's effortless utilitarian aesthetic. Wear it as is or as an overshirt, unbuttoned over a plain tee.
If you're not quite ready to commit to a full corduroy look, this Percival overshirt is for you. The subtle corduroy collar adds a touch of texture against the classic forest green twill, with the cord detailing extending to a strip on the pocket. It's an ultra-versatile jacket that you'll reach for year-round.
This super-soft Japanese cotton shirt from Dutch clothing label Delikatessen is exactly the sort of piece you'll never want to take off. And who says you have to? Wear it with just about anything, from tailored trousers and a blazer to your trusty denim jeans.
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