The corduroy comeback is here, and you can’t fight it. Though frankly, we don’t know why you’d want to! This storied fabric (its roots go all the way back to ancient Egypt) has come a long way from the bizarrely wide-ranging style cliches it’s associated with. Ugly couches, super-wide bell-bottoms, and stuffy college professors, right? Corduroy was everywhere and on everyone… And then it wasn’t.
Luckily, this fabric’s triumphant and stylish return doesn’t include those blazers with suede elbow patches and the dorky pleated pants your weird uncle Mitch wore throughout the ‘90s. The corduroy moves of 2019 are sleek, modern, and honestly? Pleasantly unexpected. Think dad hats, skater kicks, and bougie varsity jackets...all rendered in soft corduroy.
Along with the wide range of colors, you’ll notice not all of this new corduroy looks the same, because of a fun fashion term called wale. The wale is how you describe the number of ridges per inch of corduroy fabric. So a “thick” wale means there are less ridges per inch, and the texture is a little oversized and very visible. A “thin” wale is more subtle both visually and to the touch. Traditionally you’ll see a thin wale on shirts and jackets, and a thicker wale on pants. Neither is better necessarily, so choosing your prefered wale is a matter of personal preference. Not to mention a great way to sound like a sartorial savant next time you go shopping.
Corduroy is one of the easiest and most comfortable ways to add some texture and color to your winter style uniform since it plays well with everything from knits to denim, chinos and down. Shop six SG-approved corduroy pieces you can wear now and well into spring.
Team SG is extremely pro-Vans across the board, and we hold a special affinity in our collective cold, dead heart for the Old Skool. (Yes, we know everyone loves them at this point, but like, we were early adopters, okay?!)
If the classic canvas version feels a little too “California cool kid” for you, I get it. (Sk8ter Boi, see ya later boy and all that…) But might I gently nudge you with a lot of suggestive eyebrow raises to these? The faded navy corduroy and contrasting round cotton laces make this remix of the original Old Skool feel more Vampire Weekend than Avril Lavigne. The corduroy adds a dash of prep and a unique texture that totally sets these sneaks apart.
Bonobos Shearling Cord Jacket, $118 (originally $298)
If Rebel Without a Cause, Frozen and Brokeback Mountain had a menswear love child, it would be this Bonobos cord jacket (currently available in all sizes and on sale!). I know this is an extremely random reference melange, but go with me here. It’s a little bit bad-boy, extremely warm, and ruggedly handsome.
It’s also lined in cozy sherpa fabric and cut like your favorite denim jacket, meaning it’s warm and easy to wear. Pop it on with your James Dean-worthy black jeans and a white t-shirt, or your rugged leather boots and outdoorsy-est flannel. Look at you, so versatile, so complex—just like this jacket!
Of all the corduroy “categories” experiencing a resurgence right now, the easiest one to wear is definitely the button-down corduroy shirt. Any color will go with your jeans, but I particularly like this rich, almost golden brown from ASOS. This hue really pops against a white t-shirt and dark denim, so bookmark the brand’s styling in your mind as you get dressed. And while you’re at it, make an additional mental note that you can wear this shirt unbuttoned over a cashmere sweater or under that new shirt jacket I recently convinced you to buy… Just sayin’.
There’s a scourge affecting the menswear industry right now, and you should be aware of the dangers. They’re called bucket hats and they look as bad as the first time you tried to wear them in middle school. And weirdly, there’s so many corduroy bucket hats.
But just because bucket hats have become “a thing” again in menswear doesn’t mean you have to take part in this trend. Unless you’re working on your Hunter S. Thompson Halloween costume or you are an actual member of Run DMC—you’re probably gonna wind up looking more like Gilligan.
As an alternative, might I offer up one of these excellent snapback corduroy hats from Saturday’s? They’re an updated take on the classic canvas dad hat that doesn’t feel dad-ish at all. Plus, I love a brimmed hat as an alternative to beanies on snow days because they can actually help block the snow from your eyes.
I went on a date the other night with a guy who, after the course of three hours of chatting and cocktails I found to be pleasant-if-unremarkable. But then, when we got up to leave, I saw his jacket—a tonal black-on-black bomber—and I… Felt things. Good things. I’ll definitely go out with you again things. It wasn’t this exact jacket, but hot damn, I’m getting those same feelings just looking at my browser window right now.
I love this take on a varsity jacket because it feels totally grown up; the super-fine wale of the corduroy makes it look almost like black-on-black suede, and therefore quite bougie. At almost a G, this Officine Generale jacket is an investment, I know. But the midweight fabric and timeless design mean that not only will you wear this one three seasons a year, but for years to come, guaranteed.
And finally, I want to point you towards a super-traditional corduroy option with a twist: customization! Blank Label sells semi-custom menswear you can order online by entering a few easy measurements and your typical sizing for jeans, shirts and jackets. Their corduroy pants can be customized with or without belt loops, pleats and cuffs, and you can choose between a tailored or regular fit as well.
Of all the things you could spend $125 on this winter, a pair of made-to-measure corduroy pants is a really good option, IMO. Blank Label’s cords come in six neutral colors you can wear now with chunky knits and flannels, in the spring with a chambray shirt, and then again in the fall with a crewneck grey sweatshirt and crisp white sneakers. How could you possibly not be sold at this point?