Velvet has undergone a major renaissance over the past few seasons. It jumped the barrier between nightwear and daywear, Christmas wear and summer wear, apparel and footwear. (Walls put in place by sensible concerns like Why would somebody wear a densely woven, stiff, heat-retaining material in the middle of August? Or put a notoriously hard-to-clean fabric in direct contact with the ground? But we all know fashion and reason have little to do with one another.) In fact, the velvet trend appears to have been so far-reaching that even heretofore unsexy corduroy, the uniform of professors and stuffed animal bears alike, is now cool.
To clarify: corduroy is essentially a ridged form of velvet. Both materials are derived from fustian fabric, a heavy cloth woven from cotton — well, we won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, they’re close cousins — velvet’s the one that always gets invited to the fun cocktail parties; corduroy’s got a more buttoned-up rep.
Still, nowadays, it’s hard to tell which is more popular. (OK, probably velvet, but only by a hair.) Corduroy was all over the Fall 2017 runways in a variety of shades, some autumnal (burgundy, chestnut, moss), some less tried (sky blue, canary yellow). In most cases, the fabric took on its traditional forms — suiting, skirts, outerwear — and earned a double take regardless.
British designer Margaret Howell, who manages to perfectly distill the Brooklyn coffee shop vibe into her designs, mixed slouchy, mossy cords with a tailored blazer and Seinfeld-reminiscent blouse. Tory Burch paired corded A-line skirts and slacks with silky knotted blouses and front-zip knits. Paul & Joe offered up outsize, pajama-inspired corduroy suits in bold greens and crimsons, upping the workwear vibes with pearl jewelry.
Marc Jacobs put Slick Woods, Kendall Jenner and other sizzling hot street style stars in oversized, shearling-trimmed corded jackets, adding shine with glittery turtlenecks and blinged-out necklaces. At Mulberry, Johnny Coca toyed with proportions, styling a modest, chestnut-hued corduroy maxi with a figure-swallowing chocolate sweater and expertly tied silky orange scarf. Ermanno Scervino glammed up a slightly oversized, military-inspired, corded baby blue coat with striped mink sleeves, styling the chic topper with matching blue slacks and a simple white turtleneck.
At Lemaire, masters of suiting Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran showed a creamy, boxy, wide wale corduroy set. Another boxy, modern corded jacket walked at Sportmax, this one self-consciously paired with nylon pants and futuristic sunnies. Then there was Miuccia Prada, who belted her hip corduroy flares with fuzzy fur belts and paired ‘em with bralettes or more apropos matching blazers — or both. (Let’s not talk about the puka shell necklaces. Pretend they never happened.) And that’s just scraping the surface. Further corduroy sightings happened at Kenzo, Y/Project, Nina Ricci, Brock Collection and Public School, to name just a few.
In the real world, we recommend styling corduroy bottoms with silky blouses or fuzzy turtlenecks and knits. Do corded tops with vintage denim (nothing too bulky). And as far as corded overalls and jumpers go, we’re big fans of the hoodie-as-a-shirt look, highly popular among models off duty. One last thing: make sure the fabric isn’t too thin and tight — cords are meant to be warm, cozy and visibly ridged. It’s corduroy’s texture that makes the unsexy fabric so relentlessly appealing.
And on that note, shop our favorite retro-yet-modern corded pieces in the gallery below.