Parallel lines: Corduroy makes a comeback

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Corduroy has shaken off its fusty, fogey image, says Lee Holmes. Wear it on jackets, shirts, shoes and ties – just make sure it's smart, not scruffy.

Nothing marks the arrival of autumn like the re-emergence of corduroy.

But the heritage of this much- loved fabric is somewhat shrouded in mystery, the most romantic tall tale being that it derives from the French corde du roi, for "cloth of the king". With its velvety, rich texture, it's easy to understand why, but this is more than likely a marketing gimmick, and its origins are probably more homely.

Initially conceived as a durable material, research suggests it probably derives from the cotton mills and industrial towns of northern England – an area populated by sticklers for a fabric that's going to "wear" well. And wear well it has, evolving froma lowly workwear staple to a high-end

catwalk stalwart. This winter, Gucci showed skinny cord jeans in its collection, while British label Margaret Howell gave us the perfect corduroy jacket and trousers.

It's not surprising that designers – and high street labels too – are focussing on this well-loved fabric, as it's a great alternative to the denim that has saturated the market over the past few years. Corduroy appears almost fresh by comparison. In style and general shape, though, it remains essentially an untouched classic.

So how can you incorporate corduroy into your wardrobe? First and foremost, dispel any images you have of fusty professors – Robin Williams's character John Keating in Dead Poets Society just won't cut it – as it's no longer the preserve of stuffy sartorial academia. That done, invest in a pair of cord jeans. Genetic Denim and Oliver Spencer both offer pairs of a slimmer cut, which help to give a longer and leaner silhouette.

Next up, invest in a corduroy blazer, slightly cropped at the waist and narrower in the back to give a fitted feel. Elbow patches are optional, but team with skinny chinos, a white shirt and a perhaps a contrasting-coloured corduroy tie for that all-important preppy look. When it comes to corduroy shirts, always opt for needlecord – Topman have done a great version. Be wary of elephant cord though. It can look bulky on shirts – nobody actually wants to look elephantine.

Finally, don't forget to add a splash of colour. Menswear label Hentsch Man has an array of coloured cord, and founder Alexia Hentsch understands why it's so popular.

Already singing its praises as a durable and perfect material for the winter months ahead, she wasn't at all surprised whenthe pistachio and red colours flew off the shelves, because, as she rightly says, "Our customers tend to be the ones who are inclined to push it that bit more." So there you have it – Carpe diem.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk