The Guide: Corduroy
Corduroy is a classic cotton fabric marked by many raised “ridges” that give it a three-dimensional look and a tactile feel. The raised portion of corduroy is called a wale, and the number of wales running through the fabric alter its look. A corduroy fabric with many thin wales is sometimes called a needlepoint. Wide-wale corduroys have a more distinct, casual look.
Corduroy comes with a lot of associations: you may think of British farmers, college professors, or even Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. But incorporating a bit of corduroy into your wardrobe doesn’t require a stuffy background or an artsy director.
One of the best parts of corduroy is its casual appearance and nappy texture. It’s hard-wearing enough to take the place of your jeans for a day, yet it’s a bit less casual than denim. While less formal than chinos, it pairs easily with sportcoats and suit jackets.
While the fabric is most commonly seen as pants, corduroy sportocats—and even full suits—have their place. The very nature of the fabric makes them casual, and incredibly easy to pair with other clothing. A full corduroy suit can easily be broken up, allowing the trousers to be paired with buttondowns and sweaters while the suit jacket can be worn as a standalone sportcoat or even a piece of outerwear thrown over a cozy sweater.