By Thomas Cuthbertson
The briefest of etymology lessons is really all that is required to confirm a statement of irrefutable fact. The word “corduroy” is said to be an anglicised corruption of the French corde du roi; an origin that amply confirms the kingly status of this reliably furrowed fabric. So sought after are its characteristic striations and so enthusiastic its devotees, that there even exists a Corduroy Appreciation Society on the other side of the pond. Attendance at meetings requires fans to submit to the rigorous “Two item rule,” and wear AT LEAST two articles of corduroy clothing. Even for me, a lover of frowned-upon sartorial combinations such as double (nay triple!) denim, two articles of corduroy together is frankly a push. I love corduroy but I think that, excepting occasional flirtations in the form of shirts, the fabric really comes into its own as trousers.
A quick lesson in vocabulary: the technical term for the width of the cord is the “wale,” (the unit of measurement for the number of ridges per inch). The lower the “wale” number, the thicker the cord. In reality, thick cord is vastly superior to thin (“needle”) cord, the latter being merely a meagre imitation of the former.
At Christmas I set off on a pilgrimage to find the Holy Grail of chunky cord trousers. The pair I found was in a comfortingly subdued hue of dark green, came with generous pocket space, and screamed dependable sturdiness in the way that only clothes aimed at the gentleman of a certain age can be. I carried them proudly home and showed them to my father, a man of a similar pro-corduroy persuasion. He was so enthused by my purchase that he went into town the next day in order to buy the same pair (although promising to vary the colour slightly). I already resemble a younger, more lanky version of my father, looking at him is like looking into the future, so the prospect of sharing clothing tastes with him was nothing new. If anything, the fact that this fabric can span the generations in such a way is testament to its appeal; a fabric made for kings that appeals equally to wearers in their 20s and in their 60s can’t be all bad.