When I think of fall fashion, the first thing that comes to mind after plaid is corduroy. Corduroy is soft, and warm, yet very durable and versatile making it perfect for fall.
Origin of Corduroy
The word corduroy comes from “Corde du roi” which is French for the cord of the King. In the 17th Century, French royal servants were known to wear a fine but durable woven velvet fustian-style fabric made from silk. The word corduroy was coined in England around the late 18th Century as an early form of branding using the French translation of ‘cloth of the King’ (corde du roi). This is perhaps to promote an image of royal quality and to give the English-manufactured cotton cloth an air of French prestige.
Corduroy is, in essence, a ridged form of velvet, made from cotton instead of silk, that’s why it is often referred to as the “poor man’s velvet,”. This also has its advantages. The cotton makes it durable and more affordable, allowing it to be a good choice for a wide variety of uses, among all classes, not just royalty. Corduroy has been popular among people of all classes for almost two centuries and has been used for everything from clothing to upholstery because it feels luxurious, but is so practical.
So how it is made, and why is it so fuzzy? This fabric is usually made of cotton and is woven with loose twisted threads that are then cut to create a thick, soft texture called pile. How does this differ from velvet? The pile of most corduroy is in ridges that run the length of the fabric giving it a ribbed or a striped appearance. This is called the wale, which refers to the width of these ridges. Fine or pinwale corduroy is thin and has sixteen ridges to the inch, while wide wale corduroy has eight ridges to the inch. Finewale corduroy is more commonly used for women’s clothing and finer garments, while wide wale corduroy is used for sporting clothing, drapes and upholstery.
Some Big Moments
- In 1918 auto manufacturer Henry Ford (1863–1947) chose hard-wearing, luxurious corduroy as upholstery in his new Ford Model T automobile.
- 1982 popular fashion designer Gianni Versace (1946–1997) introduced an entire line of men’s clothing in the “cord of the king”.