Wales of a Time: Why Corduroy is King

Wales of a Time: Why Corduroy is King

The once-maligned fabric is this season's class act, with Oli having used three different types of corduroy across the entire Autumn 23 collection. Actually, maligned is a bit of a strong word. Corduroy emerged from its heyday in the 60s and 70s - when the likes of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were sporting knockout corduroy jackets and suits in films such as All The President's Men and The Graduate - only to enter the 80s as everyone's favourite fashion scapegoat (then again, the 80s can take a good long hard look at itself in the mirror if we're talking fashion faux pas).

Overnight (at least in fashion terms), corduroy went from swarthy masculine to laugh-out-loud antiquated, but then that was the 80s - the era that spawned mullets, spandex, and shoulder pads - so what did they know?! In recent years however, men have come back to their senses, re-adopting corduroy and giving it pride of place in their autumn wardrobes. And quite rightly too - it's a fabulous fabric, full of texture, reflects light, and comes in a variety of styles, which is why we've used it extensively in this season's Oliver Spencer collection.

So what exactly is corduroy? Well it's thought that the origins of the fabric are French - the etymology of the word is believed to come from late 18th century France, from the term 'corde du roi' meaning 'cloth of the King'. It was woven then as it is now (only by less industrial means): it's most unique feature are the raised ribs that run parallel to the selvedge of the typically cotton cloth. The ribs are formed by cutting the threads in one direction, resulting in the rows or what is better known as 'wales' in the fabric. The higher the number of wales, the smoother or less textural the cloth will be. Fewer wales give a far more obvious striation in the cloth and generally makes it more lightweight. Classic corduroy typically has about 14 wales per inch, whereas needlecord has much finer ribs and is typically around 18 cords per inch. So that's your Corduroy 101 wrapped up. Let's see how we've used it in this season's collection:


Corduroy's durability and warmth make it an ideal fabric for colder seasons, providing insulation without sacrificing elegance. Its versatility shines through in a range of modern styles that we have created at Oliver Spencer, not least in our trucker-inspired Norton jackets which comes in three autumnal corduroy tones. We've used a super-soft corduroy cloth with a wide wale, and added some Western jacket details to the front seams and the yoke. It's a subtle slice of Americana that's easy to style with denim or wool trousers. 

Hythe Jacket Whitton Cord Brown

Hythe Jacket Whitton
Cord Brown

Norton Jacket Hudson Cord Tan

Norton Jacket Hudson
Cord Tan

Norton Jacket Hudson Cord Green

Norton Jacket Hudson
Cord Green

We love the look and feel of micro-corduroy, too and so this season put it to work on our versatile Hythe jacket. The multi-pocket style riffs on vintage safari shirts and chore jackets, only the Hythe is more refined, thanks to the soft cotton fabric. Pair it with our matching belted trousers for a casual take on the suit, or selvedge denim for an off-duty workwear look.


Solms Jacket Hudson Cord Blue

Solms Jacket Hudson
Cord Blue

Solms Jacket Hudson Cord Green

Solms Jacket Hudson
Cord Green

Mansfield Jacket Whitton Cord Brown

Mansfield Jacket
Whitton Cord Brown

Part of a suit, the Solms jacket has long been part of the Oliver Spencer DNA, each season reinvented in new fabrications. Unstructured and unlined and with a soft lapel construction, it’ll make you rethink the purpose of tailoring, being so easy to wear casually. We've used an Italian, regular-wale cotton-corduroy cloth this season, giving it a rich, warm and stunningly tactile finish. Wear it as a suit for maximum style impact, or keep it in the separates arsenal when you require an injection of colour and texture. Similarly, the peak lapel Mansfield blazer has been crafted using a fine wale corduroy cloth that gives off a subtle sheen. Cut in a few different tones, it's a great piece to wear as a suit with matching trousers or add it to your arsenal of smart separates.


Shirts and Tops

Calstock Track Top
Lulworth Blue

Brook Shirt Mersey Cord Green

Brook Shirt Mersey
Cord Green

Corringway Long Sleeve Polo Shirt Lulworth Blue

Corringway Long Sleeve
Polo Shirt Lulworth Blue

Cut from organic cotton cloth, this season's corduroy shirts come in a micro wale fabric, giving the shirts a subtle textural handle and an extremely soft finish. They're perfect layering pieces over a tee or under a jacket. We've also used a beautifully soft corduroy jersey fabric to create our Calstock zip-through track top, which is a really easy sporty layering piece, as well as our new Corringway long-sleeve polo, a versatile smart casual layer.



Drawstring Trousers Hudson Cord Blue

Drawstring Trousers
Hudson Cord Blue

Belted Trousers Whitton Cord Brown

Belted Trousers Whitton
Cord Brown

Drawstring Trousers Hudson Cord Green

Drawstring Trousers
Hudson Cord Green

If you’re looking for a modern flat-fronted trouser with a gradual taper from the mid-thigh that will go with virtually everything you have in your wardrobe, you can call a halt on the search now. Our cord drawstring trouser is equal parts comfortable and contemporary. This style is cut from a regular-wale cotton-corduroy cloth for a beautifully tactile finish and can be worn as a matching set with a number of our corduroy blazers and jackets. We've also created micro-wale belted trousers which can again form part of a suit, or slide straight into your separates rotation.

Shop Corduroy

← Older Post Newer Post →