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How to wear the corduroy trend without looking like a geography teacher

Steve Sanderson, co-founder of menswear haven Oi Polloi, on a tricky style move

How to wear the corduroy trend without looking like a geography teacher
21 September 2018

Take a peek at the coolest corners of UK cities and you’ll notice that corduroy is very much enjoying a moment right now. Corduroy jackets, in particular. Thing is – big thing is – corduroy sure as heck dances a terrifyingly thin line between “bang-on 2018 menswear look, nailed it brother” and a “Christ mate, get over it, you weren’t born in the sixties OKAY” vibe.

To put our mind at ease, Mr Hyde enlisted some superior style expertise in the shape of Steve Sanderson, co-founder of menswear haven Oi Polloi, who knows how to get corduroy jackets absolutely right…

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Steve, corduroy jackets, eh? Where’s that come from?

Corduroy has always been about subverting. Its normal environment is among the hunting set, or in a college lecturer’s staff room, but it’s been re-appropriated over and over: in the psychedelic Sixties it was the likes of The Byrds and The Rolling Stones, and kids in the Eighties mixing items traditionally worn by old people. Even surf brands, like Ocean Pacific, started making board shorts from it, because of its hard-wearing properties. When it’s taken out of context, things get interesting.

Why choose a corduroy jacket over a nice and safe denim one, though?

Of course there’s dyed denim – that’s not a terrible thing – but corduroy has always been a fabric that you can put colour into. And it’s a weird fabric, in that it comes in and out of vogue, but when it comes in, it goes massive. Personally, I love that it’s one step away from velvet, which is even more subversive – a mad-posh fabric that became a really hedonistic material in the acid house days. Velvet, moleskin, corduroy – they’re all from the same family. They’ve all got the same properties and manufacturing processes, just a different finish.

Consider us convinced. Which brands are killing it?

Engineered Garments do a really lovely corduroy trucker jacket in a chestnut brown colour. What I really like about it, though, is that it has snaps instead of buttons – I find the buttons on these things can get a little loose over time, especially on corduroy, because it’s a soft fabric. At £344 it’s not cheap, so if you don’t have that sorta money, Universal Works do a similar beast – a stripped-back trucker jacket, with a single pocket on the chest (£231). OrSlow is a label to watch, too. They’re a Japanese denim brand, but work with a bit of corduroy as well. They base a lot of their stuff on good old Levi’s blocks, and the quality is amazing.

How will I know I’ve got the right fit and cut?

Sounds so obvious, but make sure you can fasten it. The older classic shapes are a little too nipped at the waist, and are cut higher at the back than the front. I’m not a fan of that. A more Eighties or Nineties feel – straight-cut, and not massively oversized – is more relevant for 2018.

What about the rest of my outfit?

Let’s say you’ve bagged yourself a stone-coloured jacket. Go for a loose jean or canvas trouser, with a pair of Clarks Wallabees on your feet. Come the winter, add an A.P.C. tweed overcoat or a great big mac over the top. That’s a great cross between smart and casual – it’ll work for the office, but for the pub on a Saturday too.

This content was first published in Mr Hyde’s free weekly Style + Grooming newsletter.