The first thing anyone should know about corduroy is that the old chestnut about it being the corde du roi – the cord of kings – is nonsense. It’s been a favourite of princes and paupers and more likely takes its name from ‘duroy’, a rough wool that was popular in England in the 18th century.
The second thing to know about corduroy is that you should swerve any that’s the colour of old chestnuts. Muddy browns, burgundies, baby-sick yellow; these hues conjure up the corduroy of faculty common rooms, stained in chalkdust. Instead, the best corduroy trousers are the ones knocked out by Gucci and Prada and all those other 70s-raiding brands, who do theirs in emerald greens, cobalt blues and rich caramel.
In other words, the kind of corduroy that announces itself. If you’re conscious of how much wear you’ll get from it, know that today’s cord trousers can lean skate or smart, pairing with everything from hoodies to biker jackets to matching corduroy jackets. Dress them up or down, and look for other modern touches like a wider leg or cropped hems that show off your sneakers or boots.
Where To Buy Corduroy Trousers
Not convinced about cords? Then get a pair cut exactly like your jeans. Weekday does its cord trousers in the same cuts as its denim, so you can sample a new texture without trying a novel silhouette, too. We’d suggest you stick to something slim, like the skinny Fridays (don’t worry, they’ve got some stretch) or tapered Sundays, to keep your look up-to-date.
Marks & Spencer
In this irony-slathered, ugly-beautiful moment, the squarest brand’s squarest trousers can, on the right man, look very modish indeed. If you are the kind of guy that people picture when they think of M&S cords – middle-aged, not quite as lean as once you were – then give these a miss. If you’re a rail-thin 20-something, get a pair in a straight leg, a size or three larger than you should, then hold them up with something unexpected, like a shoelace belt. You’ll take advantage of M&S’s unbeatable price-to-quality ratio, without looking like you were dressed by your mum.
The LA surf/skate brand specialises in stylish cosy, the kind of clothes you could pull on straight out the water and wear to a hardcore show. Its cotton-corduroy trousers are cut with some extra room from a fabric that’s heavy enough to take a bit of a beating, under the assumption that you, like the designer, will be wearing yours on your skateboard. Of course, they’d look just as good with a nice jacket, at your desk. We won’t tell.
You’d only know that Topman’s cords are technically joggers if you got a peep at the drawstring waistband; from the pockets down, they’re a pair of classic, slim-cut cords, with a cropped ankle that gives them a slightly streetwear feel. If, however, you get the matching corduroy sweatshirt, and French tuck it to show off that sporty bow, your look suddenly changes to off-duty rapper. That’s versatility.
Swedish brand Séfr is all about creating clothes with a vintage feel, but modern sensibility. These cords are a case in point; the wide wale, even wider leg and buffed-mahogany colour are the kind of thing you might have turned up in the second-hand shop its founders ran before starting their brand. Although, you know, without that lived-in smell that you just can’t seem to shift from corduroy that’s been worn by someone else.
British start-up Spoke claims to have solved trouser fit issues, thanks to its extensive sizing options, hi-tech European manufacturing (for more accurate cutting) and focus on just a handful of product categories. Having launched with chinos, the brand now offers cords with the same, guarantee-backed fit promise. They’re more for weekends at the garden centre than your local garden centre, but combined with their bulletproof build and that focus on shape, their classic styling means you’ll be wearing them for years.
Cord shorts meet seem like a misnomer: corduroy’s thick and warm; shorts, generally, are not. But if you don’t wear them on those 30+ days, the loose cut of these cord shorts from BDG means you’ll have more than enough airflow to keep you cool, plus a helpful injection of texture into your summer wardrobe, which tends to be cotton-heavy so can tend to feel a bit flat.
Wallace & Barnes is where J. Crew’s designers reimagine all the vintage clothes they discover on their travels. These cords have a host of details your granddad would appreciate – double pleats at the waistband, a wider wale (that’s thicker ridges, to the uninitiated) and a hefty cuff, to help the legs hang nicely. But they’re cut from premium cotton and look best with some modern buddies, like a logo hoodie and a pair of chunky trainers.
We’ve had the cashmere joggers. The silk joggers. The joggers that look like chinos and the joggers that look like jeans. Now, to round out your collection of sportswear you should never play sport in: corduroy joggers, from Montreal-based knitwear experts Twenty. Sure, running in them wouldn’t be fun, but corduroy this fine feels almost indistinguishable from velvet, so they’re more comfortable than you’d think. Especially if you get the matching sweatshirt, for doubly cosy vibes.
Alexandre Mattiussi has made the carrot fit his brand signature. Unlike the awful drop-crotch silhouette that was ubiquitous a decade ago, his take has a slouchy, spacious vibe, with a subtle taper into the ankle. It works particularly well in his carrot-fit cords, because the fabric’s heft means it holds its shape nicely, rather than swinging around too much as you work. Try them pulled up high, with a tucked-in tee and a roomy overcoat on top.