We are simply saying that cord should be given a chance. Apologies to those of you who run for the hills at the mention of corduroy, but I’m not giving up yet, for three very good reasons.
One: cord is one of those fabrics that has altered beyond recognition since the corduroy of your nightmares; it’s now a soft, light, ribbed material, with a bit of stretch in the mix, nothing like the chunky sort that makes you look like Babar.
Two: you’re assuming it’s unflattering (see Babar), but it’s no more so than denim and I would argue that dark cord trousers can be more flattering, maybe because if you wear cords a little loose in the leg (the only way to wear them) they look relaxed and easy, whereas denim can look bulky.
Style: Sophie Raworth is seen in a cord gown leaving BBC Studios after she presented her first Sunday Morning program, which replaced The Andrew Marr Show.
Likewise, I love a corduroy jumpsuit (my old Me+Em one is as light and soft as barely ribbed Lyocell), but you’d never catch me in a jean jumpsuit.
And reason three: those of us who love cord know that it adds glamour in the same way velvet does, but, because it’s harder wearing and doesn’t make such a statement, it’s much more useful.
Those are the big reasons why you should give cord a chance, if you haven’t already, and now, for the still apprehensive among you, here’s how to make sure it always works . . .
It should be tailored, and smart casual. There’s a tonne of casual corduroy in the shops — shackets are everywhere — but the whole point of cord is its capacity to make your regular clothes look more natty. Likewise, if you avoid floppy, loose-fit throw-ons, you won’t accidentally veer into country casual territory.
Bella Hadid seen departing the La Detresse launch party at New York Fashion Week February 2020 in a teal corduroy trouser-and-shirt set.
When it comes to fit, being relaxed (good) is not the same thing as being baggy (bad). The cord trousers you choose should have high waisted, fitted at the hips, and be either wide-leg (never slim), flared, or bootcut.
Saint Laurent’s brown corduroy suit for spring comes with bootcut trousers, which tells you which way the fashion girls are leaning.
For something similar, try Wyse’s brown cord flares (£180, wyselondon.co.uk), which are slim enough to count as bootcuts, or AllSaints’ chic wide-leg style in Bordeaux (£97, allsaints.com). Marks & Spencer also does good relaxed wide-leg cords (£25, marksandspencer.com) — perfect for wearing to the office.
Olivia Wilde, sporting the trend again in Los Angeles in a tanned mustard color, is
Wyse also has single and double-breasted cord jackets (£220 and £210, wyselondon.co.uk) to match their trousers, in several colours including cranberry and navy. A cord suit can be dressed up with a blouse or plain shirt or worn separately.
Aspiga also has jackets and matching straight trousers (£205 and £125, aspiga.com) though its chocolate wide-leg trousers (£125, aspiga.com) have just the right amount of slouch and look like they’d quickly become your favourite pair of (not) jeans.
If in doubt, always get the suit; you can wear it with a T-shirt and white trainers in four months’ time.
Olivia Wilde in a two-piece red cord set at the Booksmart Film Premiere Los Angeles
Cord is also versatile in any colour. I would hesitate to wear a pair of coloured wool trousers, but coloured cords are nearly always cool (although I’d leave reds, pinks and all the pale shades to the youth).
Even so, I’d go for a blazer over trousers every time. I can think of nothing in my wardrobe that has given me as much good service as my & Other Stories blue double-breasted blazer.
I can’t count the number of times it has punched up a pair of jeans or saved a safe pair of black velvet trousers from looking dull. This season & Other Stories has a single-breasted jacket in ginger (£120) which is shaping up to be the cord colour of spring.
The other popular cord item of the moment is a plain dress — three-quarter sleeved with a tiered hem and a high-ish neck. The BBC’s Sophie Raworth wore one to present her first Sunday Morning show (£220, aspiga.com), but they’re not for everyone and you need to wear them with trainers or stompy boots to dial down the prairie girlishness.
I haven’t mentioned cord jumpsuits (of which there are many) because I haven’t yet had a chance to try them on, but Usisi Sister’s Edie jumpsuit in olive green (£295, usisi-sister.com) looks like it might ruin my resolution to steer clear of jumpsuits in 2022. That’s the power of cord.