Like most women who grew up in the 1990s I have some feelings about corduroy. (What, you don’t?) As a former fashion staple of the back-to-school season, my point of view on corduroy ultimately came down to being a super keener. I was a fan, especially around Grade 6 when I wore a corduroy blazer (in brown, naturally, the ’90s colour of choice for all things corduroy) for my first day back—despite the still-summer temperatures. But by the time I hit high school, corduroy was too plain, too conservative and too, well, eager. And, to be honest, I haven’t thought much about it since then, relegating it to the best-left-in-the-past shade of nostalgia.
“When I look back at pictures of my childhood, I see a lot of corduroy pants paired with thick striped T-shirts and blunt haircuts that can only look cute on 10-year-olds,” says fashion stylist and CTV fashion expert Alexis Honce. But this season the sheer volume of corduroy options (In so many styles! In so many colours!) has me rethinking my aversion to the classic fabric and all the very uncool tween memories that come with it. In fact, after chatting with Honce and fashion designer Hilary MacMillan, I’ve learned there’s plenty to love about the return of corduroy. Excuse me while I embrace my Grade 6 back-to-school vibes—but with a much better haircut of course.
Here are four ways to embrace this fall’s corduroy trend, and still feel like a totally stylish grown-up.
In a tailored jacket
Take your cues from grade-school me and opt for a corduroy jacket. “Designers brought corduroy back in pieces you are already wearing, so if you love to rock a blazer, this season try buying a corduroy style and wear it the same way you would a normal blazer,” says Honce. Outerwear is another solid choice, either in a cropped corduroy jacket or a long trench-style coat that let you make a statement and embrace the fabric’s utilitarian vibe.
Corduroy Birkin Blazer, US$795, smythe.com
Sam Corduroy Jacket, $486, nordstrom.com
With an unexpected counterpart
MacMillan says her favourite way to wear the trend is corduroy trousers with an oversized blouse. The entire outfit works just as well in the city when you’re on the go as it does in a cozy cottage on a brisk fall day, but it’s also an excellent example of pairing the utilitarian fabric with softer textures like silk, cashmere and even crochet and lace. Don’t believe it works? Take it from a pro: “This season I’ll be looking for a high-waisted slim cut flare pant, paired with silk button up shirts, and pointy toe boots,” says Honce.
RW & Co
Short Corduroy Skirt, $90, rw-co.com
Jess Skirt, $30, aritzia.com
Head to toe
Or you can lean right in to this trend and go for a matchy-matchy full corduroy outfit. And why not? “It’s stiff, it’s stretchy, it’s comfortable, it’s warm, it holds its shape—it’s unique,” says MacMillan. Which also means corduroy is very versatile and made for crisp fall temperatures. Embrace all it has to offer by wearing it top to bottom. Consider pairing a jacket with corduroy culottes or opt for a full-on corduroy suit. You’ll be surprised by how often you reach for it over your classic Canadian tuxedo.
Corduroy Long Blazer, $225, and High-Waisted Pants, $175, hilarymacmillan.com
Corduroy Jacket, $30, and Mini Skirt, $20, winners.ca
In unexpected colours and prints
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to distinguish a dated corduroy from a modern one is taking stock of the colours and prints the trend is offered in these days. “Corduroy is fun right now as it’s coming in a lot of different colours, like pinks and reds—not just the browns of the 1990s,” says MacMillan. Opt for soft blushes, deep rusts, royal blues and animal prints instead of the usual suspects like plain black and brown.
’70s Pioneer High Rise Corduroy Flare Cords, $98, gapcanada.ca
Ribcage Straight Angle Jeans, $130, shopbop.com
In cute accessories
This styling tip fits the corduroy-timid, but also the fashion-forward. Embrace some of the season’s biggest accessory trends—namely hair accessories and tiny bags—and corduroy by meshing the two together. “Small corduroy bags in bright colors would look great paired with everyday outfits, or try out a corduroy headband to amp up any look,” says Honce. It’s a simple way to dip your toe into the trend and complete a casual look.
Corduroy Velour Hairband, US$13, hm.com
Hortensia Mini Corduroy Houlder Bag, US$271, matchesfashion.com