The cooler parts of the year might be the best to break in a brand new double-fried crispy pair of raw denim jeans, but why suffer? Instead, leave the crunchy bits to the dead leaves and dried trees and slip into something a little more comfortable. We're talking about a pair of velvety, ultra-soft corduroy pants.
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History of Corduroy
Corduroy stems from ancient Egypt, in a small town near Cairo called Al-Fustat. Despite its signature ridged finish, corduroy was originally smooth. Then, it was a thick, sturdy fabric woven from a warp of linen and a weft of cotton. The result was a dense “pile” (like on a carpet), and in the intervening years since this weave has yielded two types of commonly used materials: velvet and corduroy. As you probably know, the latter comes with a textured surface of long ridges, known as wales. As such there can be thick fat “wide wale” corduroy or more subtle, slimmer wale ones.
It's common to see 14- or 16-wale corduroy. But what does "wale" even mean? 14-wale corduroy means there are 14 ridges per inch. The fewer ridges, the more durable the fabric. The more wales, the finer the fabric.
When to Wear Corduroy Pants
They're ideal for nippy weather, thanks to the cords or "wales" woven into the fabric. Those are made by inserting yarns into the fabric from the backside. The yarns stand up through the right side of the fabric and are then shorn, resulting in the hairy piles of cords (or velvet) on the surface. That does two things: the piles are able to trap heat better, making them great for cooler weather, and; it makes the fabric more durable.
No wonder it's often been seen in winter workwear garments like chore coats and heavy pants. These piles are able to trap heat, making them ideal for colder months. "But that's it," Todd Snyder Chief Product Officer Alejandro Rhett says, unless it's a pair of corduroy shorts — like vintage OP corduroy shorts.
The Best Corduroy Pants for Men
Whether you want a pair for the durability, the rustic aesthetics or the touch, the feel of corduroy, now is the ideal time. We've put together the best options out there right now.