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, trousers and even footwear.

What is corduroy?

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.

History of corduroy

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 2021, 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.

How to wear corduroy

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.

10 of the best corduroy pieces for men in 2021

Form&Thread Cord Double Pleated Trouser

These double pleated trousers from British brand Form&Thread fuse the comfort of sweatpants with the elegance of trousers. Wear them to work as part of a business casual look with a blazer, white tee and derbies.

Wax London Charcoal Jumbo Cord Kurt Trouser

Wax London's ultra-comfy drawstring Kurt Trouser is one of the label's bestsellers, and for good reason. Versatile, durable and effortlessly stylish, this charcoal grey jumbo cord iteration makes for an instant wardrobe classic and the perfect casual alternative to jeans.

Closed Corduroy Hoodie

This super-soft oversized hoodie from Closed is exactly the sort of piece you'll never want to take off. And who says you have to? Wear it with your favourite pair of jeans and white leather trainers for an effortless weekend look.

Norse Projects Arnold Corduroy Overshirt

These workwear-inspired overshirt from Norse Projects is as comfortable as it's stylish. It's been crafted from 14 wale cotton corduroy woven by renowned Italian mill Duca Visconti, and is finished with mother of pearl buttons.

ISTO. Olive Green Corduroy Jacket

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 cord trousers for a casual take on suiting.

Percival Navy Code Western Jacket

Inject your wardrobe with a subtle dose of Western style, with this American-inspired jacket from London-based menswear label Percival. Its slim fit, clean silhouette and easy-to-wear navy hue make it an ultra-versatile staple that you'll reach for year-round.

SIRPLUS Navy Organic Cotton Corduroy Trousers

Crafted from velvety Italian organic cotton corduroy, these slightly tapered trousers from SIRPLUS are a luxurious smart-casual staple that can easily be dressed up or down. Team them with a corduroy blazer, plain white tea and leather trainers for an effortless day-to-night look.

Oliver Spencer Midnight Penton Cord Buffalo Jacket

Oliver Spencer's elegant take on the iconic trucker jacket is the perfect piece to see you stylishly through the autumn and winter months. The combination of cord and faux sheepskin lends it a rich tactility that we can't get enough of.

Forét Raven Corduroy Cap

We can never go past Forét for its timeless menswear staples. This navy corduroy cap epitomises the Danish brand's effortlessly understated aesthetic. It's the perfect year-round accessory for channelling a subtle sports luxe look.

CLAE Doe Corduroy Porter Sneakers

If you're not quite ready to commit to a full corduroy look, these CLAE trainers are ideal for adding a subtle touch of texture. Made from 100% vegan materials, they're an eco-conscious option for those looking to shop sustainably.

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