How cords have made a comeback

Corduroy was huge in the 1970s, with rock stars, models and actors all helping to spread the popularity of this durable, soft fabric across the world. Jeans manufacturers embraced cords in a wide variety of colours, and it was also worn in shirts, jackets and even dungarees and dresses.

The seventies was the highest point in the popularity of corduroy, but there’s excellent news for cords fans. The fashion industry loves a retro revival, so it’s no surprise that cords have made a triumphant comeback in recent years, in both men’s and women's wear.

Designers such as Prada, Nina Ricci, Isabel Marant, Berluti and Hermes have all embraced cords on the catwalk over the last few years, and the fabric also has several celebrity fans. Spotted in corduroy - musician and actor Donald Glover (GQ’s best-dressed man of 2019), British star Eddie Redmayne and model and actor Jaime King.

Hollywood stars Bradley Cooper and Olivia Wilde have even been photographed at high-profile and red carpet events wearing cords from head to toe. Guardians of the Galaxy star Bradley Cooper’s look was a midnight blue cord suit, a more modern take on the style, while TV and film actor Olivia Wilde chose a classic 1970s brown double-breasted suit with enormous flared trousers.

Fashion writers in most major publications have been including corduroy in their look lists for 2018/19, while social media image sharing site Pinterest has even named 2019 as the ‘Year of Corduroy’.

So, what is corduroy?

When many people think about corduroy, the 1970s springs to mind. However, this textile has been around a lot longer. Cords first became popular all the way back in the 1700s in England and France. It’s been in and out of fashion ever since, usually appearing once a decade in a slightly updated look.

Corduroy became a popular fabric among the working classes, especially from the late 1800s onwards, primarily because it was cheap and durable. However, it reached the pinnacle of its popularity and the mainstream fashion world in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Its name comes from the combination of two words - cord and duroy. Duroy was a type of woollen cloth made in England back in the 18th century. The fabric looks like cords of fabric laid next to each other, producing the distinct lined texture and pattern that cords are known for. It’s extremely hard-wearing, but super soft to the touch. This makes it really comfortable to wear, and surprisingly luxurious feeling.

Not everyone realises this, but cord comes in different types, also known as wales. This refers to the width of the cord, or the number of ridges per inch.

How to wear corduroy

Corduroy, formerly known as ‘geography teacher chic’, is no longer nerdy. It’s officially in vogue again, so time to make the most of the trend while it lasts. Here’s how to wear it:

-       For everyday wear, muted colours are best. Cords in soft greys and dark blues are easy to wear and incredibly elegant. They’re understated and perfect for all kinds of occasions, plus you can wear them with anything.

-       Love the latest trends? Wear it bright. Some designers are reinventing the traditional 1970s colour palette which includes mustard yellows, browns and burgundies, but these can also bring to mind the dated, unfashionable looks of the decade. That doesn’t mean you can’t embrace bright hues, but it’s all about reinvention and making a statement. Cords in shocking pink, emerald greens, rich caramels and cobalt blues are a great way to make a splash.

-       Cords and knitwear are great friends. If you’re preparing your autumn/winter wardrobe, pair cord skirts and trousers with light knitwear, choosing a simple, unfussy colour palette.  

 -       Cord jackets are a big hit in menswear. There are lots of options to choose from too, including trucker jackets, blazers, cropped jackets and wool-lined jackets. The latter is a great option to replace your casual winter coat, while a blazer is perfect for formal and social occasions.  

 -       Embrace the vintage look. While cords have been reinvented for 2019, what so many people like about them is their vintage appeal. Cord material is thick, rich in colour and surprisingly expensive-looking considering how affordable it can be. If you love the vintage look, why not embrace it by pairing your cords with a 70s-print shirt or vintage jewellery?   

 -       Corduroy is a great way to update your work wardrobe. If you’re tired of looking like everyone else at work, in plain old suit and tie, a cord blazer or jacket could be the ideal way to inject some personality into your work wardrobe. Stick to dark blue, grey or black, and pair with a crisp white shirt to keep it ultra professional. For less formal workplaces, a pair of cord trousers and a white shirt is a great choice. You’ll be smart, comfortable and stylish.

What to wear with corduroy leggings

Flared corduroy jeans were all the rage in the 1970s, but cords have undergone a reinvention for 2019. One of the best ways to wear this updated look is cord leggings, a skinny jean-style trouser that finishes just on or above the ankle. The wonderful thing about corduroy is how soft and comfortable it is, even worn close to the skin in leggings.

Choose a cut exactly like your jeans and you’ll find cord leggings easy to wear with a huge number of different items. Both men and women can pair theirs with a loosely-tucked white shirt or a lightweight jumper. Cord leggings look great with brogues, but you can also wear them with boots and more casually, with your favourite pair of trainers.

Let’s all make the most of cords while they’re back in fashion. They’re good for your wallet as well as your wardrobe, as this hard-wearing fabric is bound to last you for years. Choose something classic and timeless so that even if cords fade in popularity, you’ll still have a great-looking piece wearable for all kinds of occasions.

To find about more about corduroy fashion, check out this blog.

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