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Corduroy chinos evoke a 60s campus vibe. Pull them over your legs on a bitingly cold winter’s day and you’ll immediately feel like you’re in a movie. A really cool movie, such as The Graduate, All the President’s Men or The Big Short.
Image aside, corduroy chinos are substantial, warm and weighty. So let’s celebrate their history and iconic look.
Things have changed in the world of corduroy over the last 50 years. You might remember corduroy pants as your go-to autumn option as a new term kicked off at university. Or perhaps you associate the fabric with the big lapels of the 70s and those iconic movies we discussed.
Truth is, you have to go back even further to find the roots of corduroy: over 2000 years, in fact.
Corduroy began life as ‘fustian’, a cotton weave developed in Egypt in 200 BC. Its popularity grew even further during medieval times, when Italian merchants sold the fabric to European nobles.
This was a time before central heating, when corduroy offered ready warmth, a quality appreciated by royalty, particularly England’s King Henry VIII.
Corduroy chinos aren’t patterned as such, but there’s a natural stripe in the weave, so pair them with plain shirts and jackets. But don’t feel that your corduroy chinos must be that ubiquitous tan color, attractive though that is. Shop around and find green, navy and even black examples.
Note that Corduroy Trousers and Corduroy Chinos tend to offer different cuts: trousers are more akin to suit trousers, with a little more room in the legs, while corduroy chinos offer a much slimmer cut.
Corduroy’s USP is, of course, its distinctive stripes. These are created by the velvety tufted cords, or ‘wales’.
How big the wale is dictates the width of the cords – the number of ridges per inch. For winter warming, you’ll want a heavy, wide-waled version; for summer, a breathable, fine-waled finish.
To keep your corduroy chinos looking great for longer, you’re going to want to perfect your washing and drying routine. Before washing your chinos, zip and button them, then turn them inside-out. This protects the cords and ridges and ensures that the pile doesn’t get damaged.
Put your corduroy chinos into your colors wash. Because of their chunky, hardy nature, they’re best washed with other durable items.
When you remove your cords from the washer, tumble-drying them on a low heat for about ten minutes will take care of the creases. You should then air-dry them after smoothing out the pockets and seams.
When ironing, turn your corduroy chinos inside out and use a medium heat. Move in the direction of the pile and don’t pause too long in one place or press too hard.