Corduroy: Arguably fall's best fabric
It's time to hoard some cords
Words— Mylène Genty
An earthy, rustic quality. A soft and thick, ribbed handfeel that acts as a protective layer and keeps you warm. Yes, we're talking: corduroy.
With textures and colours that echo the moody atmosphere of fall, corduroy is as autumnal as a pumpkin spice latte (but way better). The heritage fabric has been staging a slow comeback for the past few seasons, but judging from the runways and Instagram – the trend is in now full motion.
Chances are you might not have touched corduroy since middle school. But it's cool. While those cord dungarees made us look like adorable bookworms yearbook photos past – corduroy never really went away. It's time to give them another shot.
Clockwise from top left: Sir David Attenborough, Bilbo Baggins, Wes Anderson on the set of Moonrise Kingdom, Gertrude Stein in her signature brown corduroy robe, Lucas from Stranger Things just one of many people in Hawkins to rock corduroy, John Lennon.
Corduroy has had a reputation of being outdated: the name itself is 300 years old – and derives the French royal courts. Because of its royal heritage, one would assume it to be a desirable luxury fabric, right? Not so much, because in the by the late 1800s, corduroy was mass-produced in factories in both Europe and the United States. On account of the fabric's hardiness, it became widespread among working classes. As a matter of fact, it has a lot in common with another fabric that was adopted by blue-collars: denim. They’re both resistant and inexpensive textile, yet denim always had legs over corduroy.
Corduroy is now going through an identity revamp - thanks to the 70s revival. There's also a book smart quality about it. Think of everyone part of the corduroy appreciation club — most of them are great thinkers: Henry David Thoreau, Diane Keaton as Annie Hall, Gertrude Stein, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Wes Anderson. Not only are cords easy to style, they're often reasonably lightweight and warm, making it the ideal material for the transitional days ahead.
While the fabric still has a hold of his traditional connotations, we should take it as a reason to embrace it. Styled the right way — with bold colours, sharp cuts, or an oversized fit — it can be as contemporary as you like. Here, a few picks to help you nail the look yourself.
While thick-wale corduroy styles can seem retro, a sharp slim cut and fine wales in plush cotton in a modernize this heritage fabric. The fall colours make a simple corduroy shirt an ideal layering piece.
Let the pants do the talking — stick with a simple T-shirt and classic accessories. Good cord trousers will have a deep and rich colour and will elongate the leg, especially if the cut is wide and the length drops slightly above the ankles. If an austere look is what you’re after, complement the outfit with a pair of Chelsea boots. For the savvy ones, try on the full look to show you mean business.
Everything denim can do, corduroy can do better. A pinafore dress has an irrevocable youthful feel, so it’s best to dress it up with elevated pieces like a lofty turtleneck and heeled boots. You can even go 360° and pair it with Doc Martens and a loose T-shirt for extra-casual affairs.
Thought about packing your skirt for the next six months? Wait a minute. They don’t lie when they say cord is warm, and that’s especially true when paired with nylon tights. Add on a soft knit for extra cosiness.
If you’re getting involved with corduroy for the first time, the best way to look at it is as an alternative to denim. It’s warmer, the colour schemes are far more interesting and most important of all – it matches the beauty of autumn.
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