Heavy brown Brisbane Moss cords

Friday, December 11th 2020
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The main reason I shot this outfit with Milad last month was to talk about the cords - a heavy Brisbane Moss brown that has both its pleasures and its weaknesses.

I’ll run through the rest of the outfit too though, because there are a few things to highlight, particularly given our recent article on the ‘cold-colour wardrobe’

The cords are 8 wale, 550g, which is the heaviest Brisbane Moss does by the cut length - it’s Brown 100 from the GS2 bunch

I’ve always had a thing for heavy trouser fabrics, because they wear and drape so wonderfully. You get a straight line without the fragility of a worsted, and they keep their shape better than a lighter woollen. 

Cotton has the added bonus of strength and a nice patina of wear, which is nice in cord until it starts to really wear down, and even better in cotton twills like my Fox trousers here. 

The only other cloth that’s really comparable in terms of performance is the tightly woven wools like cavalry twill or covert. 

But I’ve also had my problems with heavy trousers. 

I had two pairs made in the ‘Pardessus’ bunch from Holland & Sherry, which was really more of an overcoating - and indeed, is now only available as a few colours in their overcoating range. 

The problem there was that the cloth wasn't really woven tightly enough to make a good trouser. Fine as a coat or even jacket - when sharp lines are less of a priority - but too soft for trousers. They bagged a little and lost their shape as a result. 

(If anyone wants more detail on this cloth geekery, it’s all in the Guide to Cloth here.)

Given that history, I was a little worried about going for the heaviest Brisbane Moss. But most of the cords I’ve had in the past have been rather lighter and softer - eg here from Scabal - so this would at least give me the context of the opposite extreme.

The trousers were made up by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury in my normal pattern from them, flat fronted with a mid-rise, 5cm turn-ups and 19cm opening.

Interestingly, the thickness of the cloth made an unexpected difference to that trouser opening. Having four layers of the cord (as you do on proper turn-ups) made the opening almost too narrow to easily get over my calves. Certainly 1cm narrower would have been tricky. 

The trousers do wear wonderfully, and I think look great. They keep a great line, have a pleasing lustre without being too velvety, and the colour feels more modern that most cords. 

You get rubbing on the knees and seat that makes them look worn, but as with suede brushing the nap back up* removes that. It will be a long time before the nap actually starts to wear away.

The downside of the material is that the trousers are heavy and tough, which can be a little tiring on the legs. Not something you’d feel in the morning but - rather like shoes with a slight niggle - certainly noticeable by the end of the day.

So if you wear heavy materials like this, and are happy doing so, I can thoroughly recommend the cloth. But if you don’t and haven’t, I’d approach with caution. 

The dark shade of brown means the trousers are as useful as my charbrown Fox flannels, and fit into that cold-colour wardrobe very nicely. 

They do work with brown-calf shoes when there’s some variation in the colour, but look best with black - either black suede (as here), black calf (as with my EG Shannon boots) or in fact black cordovan (which I have in an EG Belgravia loafer). The soft glow of the cordovan seems more pleasing against the shine of the cord, compared to highly polished calf. 

Grey is the other dominant colour in the outfit - my Anthology tweed jacket. And the shirt is in our Lighter Everyday Denim.

That shirt could have been white or indeed cream, picking up on the other cold-colour options. But the pale denim is softer and more casual. 

The scarf too could have been cream, and would have looked very nice. But I wanted a more tonal look, and so went for a dark-grey instead. 

The handkerchief is an old cotton bandana, and is also useful here as an illustration of the point in that cold-colour post about pops of red, yellow or indigo. 

The scarf is the Arran from Begg, with its luxurious ripple effect. I remember so clearly watching that process being done at the Begg factory, with the dried teasles being carefully arranged. You’d think there would be an artificial equivalent, but then if it works, why change it?

The socks are a grey/brown from Anderson & Sheppard. The notebook is my cordovan one from J.Girdwood

Photography: Milad Abedi

*The nap runs up the trousers, so they feel smoothest when you run your hand up the leg. Interestingly, Italians often cut the cloth the other way, so the nap runs down. It's barely noticeable until you get to this thickness of wale though.