Your Ultimate Guide to Corduroy

Corduroy. You’ve likely heard the word before, felt the texture of corduroy pants or a corduroy jacket…and yet, when you ask someone to sit down and define what exactly corduroy is, you’re more likely to get a blank stare than an answer.

With autumn upon us, you’ll hear the word “corduroy” more and more—and that’s for good reason. “Cord” pants, as they’re often called, are considered a fall staple because they’re comfortable, they’re protective, and they’re a little warmer than the standard chino or khaki pant. And since they offer a unique texture, they’ll make a great addition to your own wardrobe, as well. Just make sure that you know how to wear them.

Is Corduroy the Ideal Fall Trouser?

First, a definition: corduroy is a type of fabric weave that results in lines (hence “cords”) raised above the rest of the piece. This gives corduroy a thick and substantial texture, which is both comfortable and has some added resistance to cool breezes that are common in the fall.

Corduroy isn’t wool, however; it’s not the kind of item you’ll want to wear in the dead of winter above the Arctic Circle. It’s great for cool days, or even some of those warmer fall days because it’s typically made from cotton or a cotton blend.

What you’ll really notice about corduroy is that it provides a completely different texture in a pair of corduroy pants than you’re used to: it looks a little more rugged than the usual chino. It’s still a “dressy” step above jeans, but it has an outdoorsy quality. It pairs especially well with bold belts and thick boots as winter approaches.

Does that make corduroy the ideal fabric weave for a fall trouser? We think so, but you’ll have to try some for yourself to see if you agree.

Piecing Corduroy Into Your Outfits

Because corduroy has such a distinct and rugged texture, it can usually pair with some of the more bold items in your wardrobe. It looks great with thick sweaters, with canvas belts, with thick leather brown belts, with boots, with desert boots—you name it. And because corduroy, like chinos, are available in a variety of colors, the real challenge with matching corduroy isn’t so much about the fabric as it is the color.

If you want a quick “cheat sheet” for wearing corduroy in your wardrobe, consider corduroy to be similar to jeans. The reason? From a distance, many people might think you’re wearing denim. They’ll likely give you more of a casual or business casual vibe; you can wear them to the office if the dress code is somewhat relaxed. They’re a great alternative to the usual chino-jeans habits most people employ, which means you can stand out from the crowd quite easily in a pair of cords.

Corduroy is certainly not a year-round pant, but it’s a pant that’s ideal for a cooling season—in other words, it’s perfect for right now. We say, give your jeans and chinos a break once in a while, and rock a pair of vintage corduroys this fall season.