A guide to corduroy: Colours, wales, fibres, bunches
I’ve been buying and wearing more corduroy in recent years - including the new dark-brown jacket above, from Sartoria Ciardi.
I think the reason is that if you’re not dressing for a formal office, worsted is likely to feel out of place; flannel can be a bit smart too, at least as a suit; and cottons such as moleskin or canvas lose too much in the way of elegance.
Which leaves you with tweed, which I love, but can be a little hairy for some or even rural, again certainly in a suit. Plus you’re not just going to wear one material all winter.
This is not to suggest that the appeal of cord is merely one of last resort, or process of sartorial elimination. A well-worn corduroy jacket has a distinct knockabout charm, encompassing how it softens over time, the way it shows signs of wear, and a slightly romantic side that replaces the stereotypical geography teacher with a flaneur carrying an old paperback in the pocket.
But what is the best colour, weight, and number of wales? Why are some cords shinier than others, and is mixing in wool or cashmere a good idea? Here’s my two cents.
Dark brown and dark green are the best colours to start with - like the brown at top, and the green shown above. Darker, more muted versions stand out less and are easier to wear.
Navy seems appealing because it’s such a staple menswear colour, but often it looks like a poor imitation of a worsted or flannel. Grey can work well, but it’s a little unusual and wouldn’t be my first choice - it too is better in a mid- to dark shade, and with a little brown perhaps (as above).
A tan or wheat colour, like my double-breasted jacket below, is really nice, and might be better in cord than any other material. But it is very dependent on tone. The jacket I commissioned here was too strong, for example. Keep it a little darker, a little more muted.
The same goes for brighter colours, such as pink (also below). Because of cord’s texture, and more casual appearance, it is quite an easy way to wear colour. But again the watch word is muted.
Black is unusual, but is actually one of the easier ways to wear black as a jacket or suit. Cream is great as trousers, even though it always looks best on a sunny day, and needs careful looking after.
After colour, most cords are defined by their ‘wales’, the ribs that run along the cloth (a 12-wale cord has 12 of them to the inch). A mill with a big cord range will offer everything from 5 to 12-wale cord.
I’ve tried pretty much all of them, and I’d say the best way to think of the choice is probably as between two halves - roughly 5-8 and 10-12.
The former, with thicker cords, will usually be heavier, feel softer and have more of a sheen (cord is technically a type of velvet). It will often drape a little better, but the sheen puts some people off. I tend to have it more in trousers, but did go for that in my Ciardi jacket shown top.
The latter, extending up to what is called needlecord, will usually be lighter, feel drier and have less of a sheen. It is what you see most in ready-to-wear suits these days, and is what I've usually had for suits and jackets.
I do like both though, and I think the choice depends on the look you’re after. And if in doubt, go somewhere in the middle - 8 or 10 wale.
Weights and weaves
Thicker wales tend to be heavier. "There's no technical reason they have to be, it just tends to suit the material," says John Wright at Brisbane Moss. "So often the weight is largely determined by the number of wales you want."
Differences in weight are also often due to how densely the cord is woven - the number of picks or ends. As with most materials, English mills generally weave more densely than those in Europe, so you'll find that the same 12-wale cord from Brisbane Moss will be heavier than one from Solbiati. (Even when weaving in different places - eg Brisbane Moss weaves some cord in Austria.)
Denser corduroy, like denser flannel, will be stronger and last longer, but not necessarily feel as soft (though it does soften over time). Unlike flannel, I'm happy with softer, lighter cords too, particularly in jackets. As a general rule on weight, I'd stay within the mid-range, say 270-350gsm (9.5-12.5oz), and go up or down within that depending on what seasons you want it for.
Bedford cord, by the way, is not a cord. It is simply woven with its texture, rather than being a pile material that is cut down. And there is a variation of cord, thick/thin, where you get alternating thicknesses of rib. Neither is a look I particularly like, but in either case the choice is about look rather than anything like performance.
Good corduroy is 100% cotton. Adding in a stretch fibre, such as elastane, seems like a good idea but it means you’re always fighting with the material - it allows you to stretch the material, but it also means it’s constantly pulling you back. The cord also doesn’t drape or otherwise behave as well.
Cashmere is sometimes added for a more luxurious feel, and I like that in a jacket. In trousers, however, it adds little to the feel and undermines their shape. They are even worse at holding a good line.
I have seen cords with just wool added, which would be better, and even with silk. But I would always tend towards pure cotton.
The British weaver is often where other mills source their corduroy, and it has a big range as well as being one of the cheapest. However, not all tailors carry the bunches, and the bunches there are aren’t always updated, which comes with being primarily a mill rather than a merchant. I’ve used the T1 bunch several times, and the GS02 for a chunky pair of trousers.
Holland & Sherry
Holland & Sherry usually has the biggest range of colours in corduroy, and has that reputation among tailors. It’s where I sourced my pink cord (though I got one with stretch by mistake). They’ve had supply issues recently, and when I went to check out the current range, nothing was on offer. But I assume that will be temporary.
John G Hardy
The Eskdale trousers bunch from John G Hardy is a solid option for English cords, and I’ve used them a couple of times for heavier weights, including these from Thom Sweeney. It’s the bunch I would go to for a heavier option in the absence of Brisbane, or if I wanted more colours. They offer a 22g and 15g, 7 or 12 wale.
This is a new merchant, and not one I’ve tried, but they are English and seem to have a nice range. In 100% cotton they offer 10, 11 and 12 wale, coming in at 17, 13, 15 ounce respectively.
The continental European mills tend towards lighter cords, more usually with stretch, that change every season. If you want something lighter and perhaps more unusual, they’re always worth checking out, but less so for a standard cord or something you saw made up on a friend. Zegna and Ariston are similar to Caccioppoli, particularly in regards to the stretch.
Scabal is in the European mould, but is particularly know for its cotton/cashmere bunch, which I’ve had tan and olive jackets out of, but as I said isn’t absolutely ideal for trousers. It’s 8% cashmere, 92% cotton. They do a 12 and a 7 wale, and I personally prefer the 12.
Solbiati was always an interesting mill, but even more so now they’re part of Loro Piana. You see that with their linens, and the cords are similar. When I checked a couple of months ago, they were offering two types of cotton/linen mix for corduroy - 53%/47% or 63%/37%, 330g or 500g respectively. I haven’t had anything made in it, but Tony Sylvester has had a Bores jacket in it, which will be covered on PS soon.
Hi Simon, thanks for the very useful article. I have been waiting for this.
Have you tried or owned Drake’s Cordoury Games Blazer? They said they use elephant corduroy with a weight of 10.6oz. It’s somewhere in the middle of the range you have provided in terms of weight. Do you think this could be warm enough to wear during the winter? I have attached a link for your reference below.
Also, could I ask which cloth and weight were used for your Ciardi dark brown corduroy jacket?
Thanks, pleased to hear it.
I have a piece coming on the Games Blazer, but I certainly think it’s an OK weight for winter, yes.
The cloth for the Ciardi I bought vintage from a tailor – it’s not available currently I’m afraid. It is about 11oz though
Is the corduroy Games Blazer full or half canvassed? At £795, it should have a half canvass at the very least. I’m also considering a John Simons Ivy jacket in corduroy from Brisbane Moss. It has a natural shoulder, is made in London and costs only £325. There would have to be a very good reason to pay £470 more for the Drake’s Games blazer.
Drake’s is always going to be more expensive, even before recent price rises they were. There’s more design work in everything they do, which people may or may not value of course. Certainly I would say the Games Blazers are more unusual (in fabric, make up, details) than more regular jackets you’d get elsewhere.
As regards the canvas, I wouldn’t judge it in the same way – it is not a tailored garment and isn’t designed to be. It’s meant to be virtually workwear, that unstructured.
How is Drake’s Games Blazers’ fabric more unusual? Do you know who supplied it? It’s still hard to understand how Drake’s charges £795 for an unstructured corduroy jacket that is cut like a chore coat rather than a tailored jacket.
I’ll probably get the Ivy jacket from John Simons next week. It seems to have all the classic details, traditional design and top class fabric at a very reasonable price. Many thanks for helping me make the decision. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it to the pop-up too.
No worries Gary.
On the material of the Games Blazer, no I don’t know and that’s part of the point, perhaps. When a more design-led brand offers something like this, it will often be in a material that isn’t available by the cut length, from a mill or a selection that only a brand would see, and might even be something they’ve developed specifically and exclusively.
I’m not saying this necessarily was, and it may well be that the material doesn’t appeal to you anyway, but it does feel different to anything you get from a more regular retailer, like that John Simons, and that’s part of what you pay for.
I just can’t get on with Drakes sizing anymore. I normally take a 36 although my chest measurement is slightly larger. I’ve tried a few models in their ‘games’ range and all have felt and looked to big even in their smallest size. It’s a real shame but having also had a poor experience with the quality of their trousers I have now resigned to no longer shopping there. Alas the old drakes seemed to fit me fine. Not sure what changed but I’ve moved on now and there are plenty of other great brands about.
On the sizing, I guess bear in mind the Games blazer is cut more like a chore coat, not like a tailored jacket, so it will fit much straighter through the body
Could I ask which size you wear for the Games blazer?
Did you go for the roomier size, or did it fit you well? I usually wear size 38 for jackets, but I went down to size 36 as the blazer was too big and roomy around the chest, waist and sleeves. Sorry, Simon, I understand you will soon post the piece for the Games blazer, but I really need some opinion/information about sizing from you as the exchange expiry date for my Games Blazer is in two days.
No worries. It is roomy, but that’s my regular size
Hmm, I see. I remember you wear size small for the A&S travel jacket, and I wear the same, which fits me pretty well. The blazer in 36 fits me like well fitted RTW tailored jacket, not tight nor roomy. Would you suggest going for a bigger size for this style?
I can’t really say remotely Jack, sorry. It depends so much on body shape etc
Yea, I wasn’t expecting it to fit like a tailored jacket. That much is obvious. It’s more just the general proportions. I have a games blazer from a few years ago, must be one of the first ones which just about fits ok. But either they have changed their measurements slightly or are using a new factory, or a different grading model since. I’m not sure but it’s not the same. It’s ok though. I must say that whilst appealing on a superficial level I actually find the drakes style a little OTT and perhaps slightly to commonplace now. The menswear world is saturated with that style now either from drakes own images or other brands imitating. I note that the new J Crew stuff is almost identical. I prefer something a little less trite nowadays.
Yes I have heard that there can be some variation between pieces, best to try on in the shop if you can.
I can certainly see how the style could be a little OTT for some people – the patch pockets with flaps and so on – although actually I found previous iterations to be more like that (the little peak lapel on one design for instance.
I guess I don’t know quite what you mean by trite, but always keep in mind what world you actually live in – I see no one at all wearing this kind of heavy, unstructured traditional blazer, so it doesn’t really matter how many brands I follow might be doing it.
By trite I mean exactly as I say. I find that look less interesting due to its prevalence and over exposure. It’s not so much of a case of how many people I see wearing it and In fact I find that an odd benchmark on which to base one’s taste. I feel the drakes look, although very nice in its way, now lacks originality. Perhaps my tastes are to niche or nuanced but there you go.
Thanks Johnnie. Personally I would think it no more odd to base one’s taste off what brand advertising you see, as off what people are wearing.
I too have been tossing up between the two.
My two cents: the difference is probably to the untrained eye, basically indistinguishable. From the point of view of the outfit you could put together with either, there is no difference whatsoever.
Then the details. The marginally lower buttoning point on the Drake’s one. The slightly wider lapels. The way it hangs in a way that seems somehow more deliberate, where the John Simon’s one seems sack like (it’s in the name). Well, so few people would notice those details, but I would. I bet you would too.
Is it worth the difference in price? My thoughts are absolutely not. But I often ask myself this question before making egregiously irresponsible financial decisions: If I bought X would I still want Y? If yes, don’t get X. If buying Y would also eliminate X from my mind forever, go for Y. I’ll enjoy it more.
Potentially a very stupid way to spend money on things, but if I bought the Ivy Blazer I’d still be liable to one day, perhaps after a drink, merrily buy the Games Blazer. Wouldn’t happen the other way around!
Thanks, Simon. I can’t wait for the piece!
Slightly confused. first the brown jacket is from ciardi, than you mention something about tony sylvester.
But yeah, love the corduroy trousers! I think i have like 5 pairs!cream, sand, tan, dark green, and caramel.
No jackets yet but im on waitlist for 8 wale dark brown double breasted from spier.
Ah yes, thanks Martins, typo there. I’ll remove that ‘(below)’. There was originally an image of Tony there – that piece will be up on Friday
When I was younger, I used to wear corduroy. I liked the dark green, wide wale trousers. Rather useful because they did not show dirt and seemed warm in the fall in the Midwest, USA. I eventually got away from cords, I guess it was, when they started adding poly to them. The jackets always seemed too heavy for my liking.and never draped right because they seemed so rigid. The golden color is also a nice choice for trousers
Thanks for the overview Simon. Any thoughts on Anglo-Italian’s cord? Really loke the matte look.
Brown made up.
Yes I’ve seen it, the texture is very nice
A lovely material. I have a suit made in the same Brisbane Moss as your trousers and I think it’s a bit too thick for a jacket. It feels stiffer and less comfortable, so I tend to use the trousers by themselves more.
Which is the fabric for the Ciardi jacket at the top ?
Yes, I can imagine it would be pretty stiff and heavy.
The fabric for the Ciardi jacket I bought vintage, but it’s not that different to most cords out there – I’d say about 11oz, 8 wale I think (I don’t have it with me to hand)
How much does crease holding vary with the factors discussed here, in your experience? Not expecting cav twill sharp; if more regular ironing is the price to pay for wearing cord then it’s still worth it.
The most important thing there is the English aspect I find, being a denser weave usually. Outside of that variable, the slightly finer cords press a little better, the 10-12 wale. Also worth avoiding stretch and obviously cashmere
Looking forward to it. You forgot to include a picture of the Bores (below).
Cheers H, yes I took that out, images coming on Friday now, and mention of it edited
As a boy I had an old corduroy jacket of my father that he wore for horse riding when he was young in Sils Maria. I think my mother made the jacket smaller for me. The jacket was in a light color and it still had green and brown marks on it from when my father fell from a horse and sliding downhill on the grass. To this day he does adventurous things I’d never dare. Of course, I was very proud to wear this jacket and told my friends where the stains are from.
Maybe that”s why I love corduroy. I ordered 3101X in dark brown and T1 in tan and bottle green from Brisbane Moss a short time ago (tan is nice, not entirely sure if bottle green was a wise choice). Some of the 3101X I used to make a tote bag a few days ago. Very beautiful fabric. It would be great for trousers. The T1 will be used to make two jackets similar to Forestière.
I see Brisbane Moss as a very British Mill. I was a little disappointed that both 3101X and T1 are made in Italy.
Where did you get that information out of interest, H? I know they weave some things in Austria and Germany, but I thought there was very little in Italy – and what there was was from Chapman, their sister company that is a level cheaper
It was stated on the bill. I then emailed the very kind lady at Brisbane Moss who sent me swatches and took the order from me. She confirmed that 3101X and T1 Bunch are made in Italy.
It would be convenient for me to pick up fabric in Italy as I’m always looking for an excuse to drive down to Italy. But that’s not possible she said. I then asked myself what exactly Brisbane Moss is weaving at their mill in Todmorden.
I’ll definitely order again from Brisbane Moss because I like the fabric and their prices are good. It looks very British even if it’s made in Italy.
Interesting, I am surprised at that. Thank you.
I can confirm that. I was also surprised when i got Brisbane Moss 3101X cloth and i had to pay extra tax because it is made in Italy and not U.K. (even had a small beef over phone with DHL clearance guy trying to convince him that it is U.K. product ). But anyway i think the material is beautiful. After years of reading PS i made my first suit from this bunch in dark olive by my local tailor. I am not an expert enough to know if my suit is MTM or bespoke. Does this depend on number of visits? First i came for measurement, then second time there was vest and separate sleeve made. Third time both sleeves were provisionally sewed on west and he did some more lines on material which was already full of chalk lines. Next time i came suit was finished except patched pockets and buttons were not made yet. It is fully lined and with 470g/m2 my jacket is heavier then leather pilot jackets.But me being 6 foot 6 and 100kg it is not such a big problem if i am not wearing it more then 6 hours. Both trousers he made me are so comfortable that i could sleep in them. I tried to ask him myself but he doesnt know english and i could not translate this terms properly. He just makes suits for 50 years mostly 200s sharp suits for hot shot lawyers in my town and he was smiling when i wanted big lapels, minimum shoulder padding and patched pockets.
If the suit is being fitted like that, only partially made, then yes it is bespoke.
Thank you for your answer. Tailored jacket is really something else. When i wore off the rack jackets something always seemed off and i didnt feel good wearing them (mostly too tight and/or too short). Your latest brown jacket from Ciardi looks spectacular. Even better then olive one from Ettore which was my favorite cord till now . Maybe i like it more because the sleeves are wider. Strange how even with roped shoulders looks more casual then the olive one with natural shoulder.
I think that might be because the jacket as a whole is bigger, and the shoulder wider
I think that Brisbane Moss no longer weave any of the fabrics in-house, for a number of years now. The corduroy and moleskin are made in Italy. The twill and drill are made in Turkey. The linen is made in Lithuania. But as you mention, they are still nice natural fabrics.
I don’t have any other evidence for this Bryan, but when I interviewed Brisbane Moss last year they said they still weave most of the cords and cottons in the UK
Interesting. The production in Italy, Turkey, and Lithuania is what Brisbane Moss told me in correspondence this year. And that there has been no UK production since the early 2000s.
Hmm. I could certainly have misunderstood, but it would surprise me. I’ll ask again when I have the chance
Hi Simon, what whale is the Ciardi jacket pictured?
I don’t have it to hand, as mentioned above, but I think it’s 8
There’s a photo here of some tan (dark tan?) cords you’re wearing with a white sweater. What can you tell us about those? What mill produced them, what’s the wale count for them, and are they 100% cotton or is there anything else in them?
They were from Berg & Berg, part of this article. They were ones leant for that shoot, so I don’t have any experience of wearing them, but I have had other Berg cords in the past and I would say you could feel they were a step cheaper from what we normally cover
My experience has been B&B trousers are the same level as Drake’s (another brand that PS covers) in terms of make. However Drake’s is quite design led, as you said, which is what they charge for.
I don’t think the cords are the same, from what I tried. But of course that might have changed too
I never had any cords from B&B, but the fabrics they use for their knits and tailoring generally is superb for a RTW company at any price range. Their flannels (heavy, english) and high twists (also heavy and english) are exceptionel to my taste. And with flannels for example: it is still not easy to find something more substantial than the standard italian VBC 300 grams.
Thanks. I haven’t tried the flannels or the high-twist, but the cord I tried certainly felt different, and to be honest the knits I’ve tried were a little flimsy too (polo and knitted tee). Nice pieces, and I wear them, but something has been saved in the price
Please try their flannels and high twists some day. I would be curious on your verdict. On knits: The rollneck I have from them is a cashmere/wool mix and there is nothing flimsy about it. Thick enough to wear on its own. Never tried the tees.
Sure, will do.
No, I wouldn’t imagine a thick rollneck like that could feel flimsy
How does the Rubato knitwear compare to B&B quality-wise? Higher and somewhere along the lines of Colhays’s?
Absolutely. Actually better than Colhay’s when it’s the top-end line, whatever they call it – as that’s hand framed.
This is confusing to me sometimes, because B&B is actually slightly more expensive than the basic lambswool jumpers from both Colhay‘s and Rubato.
Really, for lambswool? That surprises me
Yes, for a standard crewneck Rubato starts with € 217,20 and B&B starts at € 265,00. B&B has no lambswool as far as I can see but mostly merino with 10% cashmere. I don’t know if that’s cheaper than good Scottish lambswool.
Ah, no the merino with cashmere in will likely be more expensive as a raw material.
Maybe their business model has changed, but they are fairly expensive in all categories nowadays.
I guess also bear in mind in that case that most of my experiences are 2-4 years old
I added a new comment under the main article on B&B. I think it is better suited there than here.
I love cords, but for some reason, it seems to me that it doesnt work in mix matching the same material. I mean for example, it doesnt work a brown cord jacket with a grey cord trousers. I dont see that happens with other material when you mix them in between like wool, linen or cotton.
Do you see it in the same way? And if, why is the reasons?
I don’t think most materials work well in that way when they are similar at all. You wouldn’t do two tweeds in the same weight and weave, even if they were different colours. I wouldn’t do two linens or cottons either unless they were a little different in terms of weight, weave etc, so the texture looked different.
Hi Simon, where is the pale blue shirt (perhaps chambray?) shown in the photos from?
It’s from Al Bazar in Milan – more a denim than chambray
Thanks for this article which is timely for me. A couple of questions.
What is the cord wale of the Jacket in first picture?
I currently plan to go with a RTW for a cord jacket Games Jacket from Drakes, as I am pretty standard size (particularly in Drakes tailoring) and I intend to wear it a lot for a ‘lived in look’, with vintage jeans. I have seen a dark brown 8 wale. Any views in relation to that look appreciated?
Finally on a completely unrelated point, I have recently watched a television programme called Kingdom of Dreams on Sky Documentaries, which I’d recommend to all readers.
All the best and thanks again for your writing and insights.
Ok, third time I’ve answered this – I’m going to check at home and put it in the article! I think it’s 8 wale
I think that sounds like a great way to wear the Games Blazer.
Thanks Simon and apologies. I wrote and posted my comment prior to reading others. Please try to watch the programme I mentioned m
No worries, and sure thanks
I prefer fall colors like wheat, lighter olives and even rust because these colors work well with denim and with chinos.
True, that’s definitely an advantage
Always look forward to new guide article coming up and this is no exception.
There’s a spanking new bunch from Dugdale called “West Riding” which has some nice swatches in it, albeit on the heavy side 14-16oz.
All of my corduroy apparel comes from Peter Christian, link below, who have a large range including larger sizes in jackets & trousers but RTW only. They are on the cheaper scale of clothing retailers.
My Navy 7 year old corduroy jacket is getting blissfully worn and will be relegated to be replaced by my current bespoke commission of worsted jacket and whipcord trousers.
I definitely think cord is best in a thicker wale and with a little structure. Seriously tempted to try a dark green cord over brown trousers/knit. Autumn is the season for going rustic.
I love corduroy! Certainly, at least in the Netherlands it’s mostly old mans’ game. On the other hand, I feel like currently it’s quite ‘trendy’, with many brands suddenly offering cords.
I think bottle green cord trousers can be quite striking, albeit a bit showy!
In your third paragraph, you expressed surprising openness to a tweed suit. My impression was that you found tweed did not work well in trousers because it didn’t hold its shape well. Has your perspective evolved? Or perhaps there are a minority of tweeds that can work in trousers, and I interpreted your previous comments in an overly broad way?
As for corduroy, I assume you’d only have a suit done in a Neapolitan or English drape cut; a English structured suit would be too formal for the material.
No, as far as my tastes are concerned I’m talking really about tweed jackets there.
There are tweeds that are woven more densely and make good trousers, like Thornproof for example. But that might also not be what people think of as tweed.
Yes, I wouldn’t do a cord suit in a structured make myself.
I heard Moon herringbone tweed in 13/14oz works well for the trousers. Have you tried by any chance?
I haven’t, no
Meyer and Mortimer have made me a structured 3 piece cord suit and it is quite splendid (if I say so myself). However the jacket and trousers don’t work well on their own – only together.
Nice. I certainly think it can look great, just not my style as much, and I guess a little more unusual
How do you think about shoe pairings with cord trousers (vs. other options)? I feel like I default to boots but am wondering about other options
More casual shoes, certainly, boots or loafers or derbies. I prefer the first two generally, perhaps because a derby can add to the slightly old-fashioned, rural, geography-teacher look that cord is always at risk of
Boots or derbies. I find loafers too light to go with corduroy trousers. In the fifth picture the loafers could be mistaken for pantoufles (house shoes).
Nothing wrong with a slightly old-fashiones, rural look?
Not at all, if that’s what you want. Personally I prefer something a little more modern and perhaps urban, but it’s just a question of which style you like.
I don’t get that house shoes similarity at all, but perhaps it helps that in the UK there is no such thing – or at least not common enough to have a name like that.
Hi Simon, do you have some suggestions on what kind of jacket would go well with (mid) grey corduroy trousers? like the one from A&S that you cover here: https://www.permanentstyle.com/2019/11/three-rtw-trousers-compared-drakes-anglo-italian-anderson-sheppard.html
Quite a lot of things I would have thought. Navy or dark brown, perhaps black or the right green. In most wools, tweed or cashmere. Have you tried some combinations already?
Tried it with navy (and a white oxford shirt) but I didn’t like the look without a knitwear. Not sure why..
Hmmm. Sorry, might be the problem with trying to give advice that’s detailed, remotely
Lovely article and I would love to know more about the actual production process of corduroy, maybe inspiration for another article?
Does anybody know where to buy nice off the rack corduroy garments? The ones from the local Suitsupply tend to be quite “meh”.
Sure, it is pretty cool. Weaving and then cutting down the surface, basically by hand.
Plenty of technical stuff to get into as well – V weaves and W weaves!
I really like the corduroy trousers from Cordings. The cut is full, so I always have them tapered a bit.
An article i was waiting for, to the point and simple. Simon, could you suggest a specific dark olive cord to use for a cord suit ? I plan to use them mostly separately but sometimes also together. Also which tailor would you suggest for something very casual-chill looking cause i almost never wear a suit and rarely a jacket and i dont want by any means to look too tailored.
Thanx for the time
I’d say the olive I used here with Ettore de Cesare would be good. And I would want a Neapolitan make for something that relaxed – so Ettore, Ciardi, Solito, Pirozzi etc
Excellent informative article. Loved it.
It would be interesting to extend into which cords suit which styles. I have seen db jackets which look awful mainly to what appears to be low grade material and average (fit everyone) cuts.
Good point Neil. Certainly for a DB I’d err towards the lighter end of the spectrum, a 12 wale or above probably.
DBs in general are hard to buy off the peg – they’re much harder to find an average fit that suits everyone
Hi Simon, this article made me more open minded with regard to corduroy. Can you tell me where the black tassel loafers are from? It has a very appealing last shape. Is it calf it cordovan?
As per usual, they’re the Belgravia from Edward Green. It is such an elegant shape isn’t it? I think that’s one thing that has always set EG apart, and never gets talked about because it’s so hard to quantify.
They’re cordovan, though in black pretty similar looking to calf
Thanks Simon. I was thrown off a bit because i thought the belgravia always come with braided side lacing. Would these fit with a business suit as well, in terms of formality and material?
Yes I think so
I have two cord jackets; one navy, the other medium brown. Elbow patches. The blue is paired with gray trousers, khakis or blue jeans. The brown goes with either khakis or olive chinos. I’ve got a rainbow of OCBDs and ties. All that gets me through just about any place I need to go which doesn’t require a suit.
A good and interesting read and a very very beautiful jacket. Style, fit, color and fabric are top notch. Neapolitan but neither too short or too tight. Sartoria Ciardi hits a home run. Congrat’s
Excellent post! Many thanks for having provided this useful overview!
That is a beautful jacket. One that I’d be very tempted with.
Years ago I happened upon some older photos of gents in full Highland outfits. One of them was wearing a corduroy waistcoat. It looked very good indeed. A low wale count and apparently in silk. I have been looking for a maker of silk corduroy ever since. Do you have any ideas where I might find some?
No, sorry Tim
Is Genoa back such a rare breed nowadays that it’s not worth mentioning? A fustian unicorn of sorts?
That put aside, great piece of fabric based journalism again, and in my opinion about maybe the most versatile fabric out there. I just counted eight different trouser colours in my wardrobe, and at least in six different cuts.
Simon, What is the scarf/bandana you are wearing with the dark brown jacket in the second image? Great article and discussion, as usual.
It’s an Hermes silk scarf – 90cm square. An old collection where they buried the silk I believe, to give it a particular aged look.
Simon on the last photo, I take you’re not fussed about matching your bag/shoe leathers? Somehow I am and im trying to break the habit. What would you say is your most versatile tote (cadidates are your black brown nubucks, and this mahogany f clegg) that covers the biggest spectrum of formality (and shoe colours)?
No I’m not – of the various things that could match, I care most about the belt and least about the bag. Rather it’s best to see it as them both complimenting the outfit. Biggest spectrum of formality is probably the dark-brown nubuck
Is the shoulder on this new Ciardi jacket their more formal and roped variant? If so, was there any reason for you not to go for the same natural shoulder like with your gun club tweed? Thanks
Yes it is, though the roping is pretty minimal, as is the padding. No particular reason, I just liked the idea of it having that touch more of the style
That jacket looks great Simon. Ciardi really suits you generally and I like the more padded shoulder on you, as well as the choice of jetted pockets. I tend to prefer better pockets for all but the most casual jackets.
Thank you Andrew
*jetted pockets. Sorry typo
Hey Simon, is the black belt you’re wearing in the second to last photo from Rubato? I’ve been looking for a one inch black belt with a brass buckle — any suggestions? Thanks!
Yes it is. It is very nice, but alligator makes it a bit more expensive. I haven’t looked around much for others
Very interesting read, thanks. I far prefer bigger wale, for some reason small wale is uninspiring to me, perhaps because it is flatter and the big wale has more drama to it.
Yes, that’s probably true, which is likely most RTW is in the smaller cord, and it’s easier to wear for most people
Enjoyed the article. Do you have any thoughts on the Private White corduroy blazer?
No sorry, I haven’t tried it Charles
Gianluca Migliarotti has a black cord suit by Zisolfi that looks great.
He does. Actually having a similar one made based off his
I thought you had an admiration for GM’s black corduroy suit even with its inherent problems. How do you hope to wear it in combination with shirt/top styles, colours & shoes. Do you intend to wear the jacket & trousers as separates? I’m playing around with what works well which focuses on a limited palate. But I still like the black corduroy suit & was inspired by GM.
I’ll try to go through it all in an article I think Steve, I hope that’s ok. I do plan to break it up, but I don’t think it will be as easy to do so as another cord would be
I’ll look forward to the article & hope to find some additional ideas on how best to wear a black corduroy suit or indeed wearing them asseperates occasionally.
Great article. I really like the brown Ciardi cord jacket. Of all the Neapolitan tailors you have showcased I like their style the most – it looks comfortable, the right balance of elegant and casual, and like the style is the most timeless.
Do you find the level of sheen in cord varies between colours? I have a grey pair of 12 wale cords from Brisbane Moss and while I really like them, the sheen is so much that they almost look silver in bright light. I wondered whether earthier colours like olive and brown will have a less noticeable sheen.
Yes, I think grey seems to have more of a sheen for some reason. More on darker colours too on average I would have thought
Glad it’s not just me that finds that. I find it makes them less versatile than I hoped given how versatile grey wool trousers are.
This is a very particular question but would you wear olive cords with your Anthology herringbone tweed jacket or your Steven Hitchcock charcoal Donegal jacket? I ask because my two most worn winter jackets are in very similar fabrics to those two and I’m wondering whether olive would be a good cord colour to combine them with, particularly since I prefer lower contrast cool colour combinations.
Yes, I’d wear a dark olive with both
Hi Simon, thanks for this wonderful posting! I have a bit off topic question regarding trousers leg openings. I am slim (76cm waist) and have a height of 180cm.
I’ve read your trousers leg openings thread and there is the recommendation of 19cm. So do these measurements also work for slim persons like me? Or should I go down to 18,5 or 18 – I still really like to hit your art of style and not falling into the skin tight hype thats around us nowadays 🙂
Thanks in advance! 🙂
I would recommend staying there, but I think it’s very important to make you your own mind about what style you like as well – 19 will not be skin tight at all, but you could go bigger or a touch smaller depending on the style you like
Thank you very much Simon! As however your service on the web page is excellent and I just want to take this opportunity to also highlight the fact that you care so much about your web page – its fantastic. Some people in this scene only contribute via eg. instagram, so I hope you are inspiring more and more people! 🙂
Thank you Max
I just wanted to chip in and say that Dugdale Bros have recently launched a new bunch which is largely corduroy that can be added to the list. The West Riding bunch features two pima cotton cord qualities with a bit of colour variety – https://shop.dugdalebros.com/west-riding/
There is a short video on the bunch on the Dugdale Instagram account.
I’ve a black corduroy jacket, soft shoulders, patch pockets. As you’ve stated in your previous articles black has it’s problems when combining with trousers, but I want to get more wear out of the jacket (part of a suit – which is fine for winter nights out ). The obvious choice would be charcoal flannels. But for a more casual look I’m toying with either ecru or stone jeans or chinos even as winter approaches. If only black jeans kept more of their colour I’d contemplate them. Or tan chinos? Any suggestions Simon?
I think faded black jeans might actually be nice, even nicer than black. Have you tried that?
Of the rest I’d suggest the stone jeans or chinos. Not easy to wear such casual trousers with a black tailored jacket, but that’s what I’d try
I haven’t tried them yet as I consider them a bit too faded & worn but I’ll have a go & might be tempted to buy a new but better pair from HLA. In the meantime I’ll go for the stone chins with the jacket – still trying to break it down until it softens even more. Thank you for your suggestions & looking forward to you article tackling the challenge.
No worries Steve
Long time reader, thanks for a great piece.
Having recently turned 50, I am less inclined caring about dress rules, and have recently started to match corduroy trousers/blazer in different colours. I have two pairs of trousers in muted brown and green colours that I match with a navy blazer. All have a similar wale width and fabric thickness.
I like a lot, but remember reading that this has been “frowned upon” traditionally, any thoughts on the topic? 🙂
I think that’s a healthy attitude Joakim, and the thing that matters most is how you feel about it. Just be aware that the reason it’s usually frowned upon is that with smart jacket/trouser outfits you aim for different textures in the materials so it doesn’t look like you’ve put on the wrong trousers from a different suit.
Armed with that, make up your own mind.
Thanks for the reply, and I agree. Less of risk with a more casual corduroy fabric than worsted wool, but it’s a valid point. Keep up the inspiring work. 👍
Simon — Do you have thoughts on corduroy as a material for five-pocket trousers? I suppose it’s vulnerable to the criticism that it’s neither fish nor fowl — i.e., if you want to wear jeans then you should really wear jeans, in denim. But I tend to think it can be a nice change of pace for someone who generally dresses quite casually — e.g., jeans, Shetland, oxford button-down. That way you’re not reaching for denim day after day after day.
I have had them in the past, and I’d err towards the fish nor fowl side of that debate – I feel like I’d rather have cords even casually that didn’t have patch pockets on the back
hi simon. i have been holding off on buying corduroy pants. usually, i taper the legs. i worry corduroy does not handle alteration well due to the wale. do you have any thought on the matter? thank you.
Alterations on cord are fine, why would the wale make a difference? It will always be cut through at some point on the leg, just usually on the inside leg not the outside
my thinking is the wale pattern will not line up after alteration. apology if this sounds ridiculous. i have zero experience with tailoring.
It’ll be fine – ask the tailor doing the alteration if you’re not sure
Hi Simon, do you think 10 wale corduroy trousers weighing 11oz could be worn well for three seasons (September-April)?
I love corduroy but have difficulty finding good quality cord clothing. Apart from Margaret Howell and occasionally agnes b. I know this is a men’s site Simon , but would you happen to know of any womenswear brands that do quality corduroy? Many thanks.
I’m afraid not, sorry
Natalino has a 400gsm American supima cotton trouser that has been enzyme washed. I just picked some up. We will see how they perform.
I was wondering if you’r recommend the brisbane moss 300 g/m in a 5 wale cord for a blazer?
Would be great to hear your opinion! 🙂
I haven’t tried it Leo, but I’d worry it might be a little thick at only 5 wale
Hi Simon, thanks for the helpful article. Would you have corduroy trousers finished with turn-ups or the regular seam (as jeans or most chinos)? The trousers are separate, not part of a suit.
Either. The turn-ups would look a little smarter, a little more sartorial. A seam would look more casual. If it’s a tailoring material and something you’re having made, I’d probably go with turn-ups
Thanks for taking the time to respond. It’s actually RTW from Rota. They don’t seem very formal, so my first intuition was to have a seam, but then I liked the look of the brown corduroys with turn ups in the picture above… I’ll think about it some more, depending on the look I want…
Hi simon, I’m wondering do dark brown jackets necessitate wearing equally dark shoes (e.g. dark brown suede or calf/black shoes/cordovan)? I have a pair medium brown paraboots (PARABOOT / CORAUX- LISSE NATUREL BROWN – COLONY CLOTHING) that I am trying to pair with a dark brown sportscoat and I find the colour too incongruent in that the shoe shoe seems to stand out too much. Is there something i can wear either in the top or bottom that can help the shoe fit in?
What trouser are you wearing Shem? I would imagine that if it was a cream or pale grey trouser, for instance, then those shoes might work fine.
Hi simon i tried it with a dark denim. Would you say the rubato khaki chinos or similar shades of khakis are ok?
Yes, that shade should be nice.
Dark denim is great with than kind of tan colour, but less so with a jacket, or at least less so as a smarter combination
Great article and a great site.
I was wondering what colour corduroy suit you would think would suit Indian skin tone?
I saw a biscuit and a navy (the only available colours in my size) in John Simon and wondered whether I should wait for another colour?
Many thanks in advance for your help.
It’s a little hard to say, Sandeep. I’ve never looked at what suits other skin types that closely, and of course know my own far better. I’d instinctively think something like a dark olive or dark brown or black perhaps. But remember, as discussed here, that a lot depends on what else you put with it – particularly the shirt.
Thank you Simon.
this is little out of the topic, but related.
In Scabal cord bunch, I can see they offer cotton/cashmere twill blend: https://fabrics.scabal.com/en/catalogue#/product-detail/501459. It's fairly heavy and with added cash, this could drape nicely even although made out of cotton.
Would you agree that in the black colour (pictured in the link), this could make a good, if unusual, separate jacket? Maybe even separate trousers could look nice. Or do you think it’s the cloth only for a suit?
Thank you for your opinion!
I’d normally be wary of any cashmere in a suit, but that’s a pretty small amount. I think it would be fine as a suit and a jacket, though always a little hard to tell when you haven’t seen it made up. And obviously has the limitations of black we’ve discussed a fair bit
Hi Simon, could I ask how you iron the corduroy trousers?
Same as regular trousers, though more often with a cloth between the iron and the material
May i ask where the brown silk scarf is from? Also, the work shirt in the second to last photo.
The scarf is from Hermes. The work shirt is from Al Bazar
Reversing the direction of corduroy makes for a much richer effect, losing the silvery shininess of some colours. Works particularly well on trousers.
True. English tailors tend to favour that way, the Italians the other way (shinier)