Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that tailoring is undergoing one of the biggest refits in the history of suiting. Because fewer and fewer people need a suit for work, the choice to wear one at all is becoming more about style than dress codes. And that means options: more cuts, more fabrics, more styles than ever. Leading this new wave of rethought tailoring is the corduroy suit.
Once the tired uniform of tired academics, this formerly-stuffy fabric has been given a new lease of life. While there’s not a single moment we can credit to its rejuvenation, we can weirdly thank director Wes Anderson for extensively featuring it in both his films and personal wardrobe; as well as the rise of workwear and the increasing desire from stylish men for hardy, durable fabrics that can be worn hard and often.
“I see cord as the everyday alternative to velvet – it’s luxurious without being pretentious,” says Holly Macnaghten, a stylist and fashion editor who has worked with the likes of Bill Nighy and Ralph Fiennes. “It’s elegant, but also holds a bit of old school charm that I love.”
At the same time, corduroy fits into a wider movement within menswear, as the way we dress today becomes more relaxed and fluid and casual. This seventies classic fits that mould better than any wool-blend two-piece ever can. Yet to be convinced of its pulling power? Read on for how – and why – you should try a corduroy suit.
How To Wear A Corduroy Suit
The beauty of the cord suit is its versatility, whether you’re wearing it for work or a more casual occasion. Our best piece of advice? Keep the rest of your outfit simple. The suit will be a big enough statement on its own, and you don’t want to overwhelm it with a mass of varying tones, textures and silhouettes.
For a simple look that works just as well for a casual day in the office as it does for a weekend dinner, try a white cotton T-shirt and pair it with your favourite trainers. For something slightly smarter, a slim fitting – but not body hugging – roll neck is a good option. In either case, Wes Anderson would approve, but so would your mum.
Pick any colour, just make sure that it isn’t the exact same tone as the suit, and pair together with desert or Chelsea boots. And for those men who are already comfortable with cord and ready to really make it pop, pick up a denim shirt, worn untucked and undone with a T-shirt underneath, and add high top trainers.
What To Look For When Buying A Corduroy Suit
“I see cord as the perfect alternative to a lightweight cotton, especially during winter: it’s warm, it’s sturdy and durable and it doesn’t crease as much as cotton,” says Henry Hales, founder of menswear brand Sirplus.
Start by thinking of the silhouette you want. For more casual occasions, pick something boxier and utility-inspired, which will likely have two or four pockets and come with looser fitting trousers. For something a little slicker for smarter occasions, pick a double-breasted suit with tailored trousers and pair with a slim roll neck and leather Derby shoes.
Next comes colour. It pays to consider which hues normally suit your skin tone before making an investment. Navy, grey and tan are all good staples for the everyday, but if you want to go for something slightly bolder, pick deep reds, rusty orange or forest green.
Finally, think about how thick you want it to be. Corduroy is available in numerous weights (or wales), and the width of each individual stripe has an affect on this. The thinner the cord, the slimmer the silhouette and the thicker the cord, the bulkier the silhouette. Consider this if you want to layer your cord suit.
The Best Brands For Corduroy Suits
From high street to high end, you’ll be hard pressed to find a brand that isn’t offering cord suits this season. Depending on your budget, the style you’re going for and where you’re planning on wearing the cord suit, there are brands to suit everyone.
If you’ve already experimented with the trend and are ready to turn it up a notch, Topman is a good place to start. Bold colours are part and parcel at the high street stalwart, so look to burnt orange and brown shades for your winter tailoring fix.
For a more contemporary take on modern tailoring, wear your new cord suit with a black round neck T-shirt and some minimal white trainers.
River Island tailoring sits at a similar price point to Topman and offers a range of slim fits to suit low budgets. Bold colours are also popular with the chain, but if you’re keen to break up the colours a bit, wear the jacket and trousers as separates for a perfect take on deconstructed tailoring.
John Lewis & Partners
For a middle ground option that easily blends the smart with the casual, give John Lewis & Partners a try. Both the corduroy jacket and trousers of its thick, medium-wale corduroy suits are cut to a tailored fit and are fully lined, so they promise to ward off winter’s chill in the most stylish way possible.
Pair together with a thin navy or black roll neck and add an oxblood leather loafer for an impeccable everyday look that’s hard to beat.
For the ultimate in fabric, construction and price, Brunello Cucinelli is the only option. The Italian house has made corduroy something of a signature over the past few years.
It’s the perfect fabric choice for the brand’s unstructured tailoring, pairing well with denim, cotton and cashmere – three more fabrics Cucinelli has mastered. Look out for its one-and-a-half double-breasted jackets, the ultimate refined silhouette.
Kingsman at Mr Porter
If you’re looking for something smarter and more elevated, you’re going to want to trust in a true tailoring pioneer such as Kingsman. Its beautifully tailored suits are perfect for smarter occasions, especially when worn with a white shirt, tie and pocket square. Look out for the finer-wale corduroy the brand tends to prefer, giving its suits a velvet-like sheen.
Tailoring today is more diverse than ever, and this is especially true when it comes to fit. Look for something slightly oversized and turn to French brand AMI. Its house cut boasts a slightly boxy silhouette and is perfect for layering up as the weather cools. Even its matching straight leg trousers have been crafted with optimum comfort in mind.
Add a dark hoodie and a pair of black Chelsea boots for a modern take on everyday workwear.