Five Ways To Wear One: Burgundy Corduroys

by Beau Hayhoe  |  in Smart Casual

Have you seen our other Five Ways To Wear One articles?


Just as fall represents a (very welcome) opportunity to throw on more layers, it also gives all of us the chance to work simple textures back into an ensemble.

While lightweight casual pieces and basics like simple tees are nice to wear in the spring and summer, those same items don’t exactly cut it in the fall.

You need something with some heft. Some visual (and actual) texture to stand up to sturdier fall essentials.

You need (drumroll, please) some corduroy pants.

Like any style upgrade that’s hit the #menswear scene in recent years, brands big and small are turning this Sunday school staple into a modern item fit for just about any situation you can think of. Throw in a pair with very fall and winter-appropriate colors and you’re set.

Seeing designers make use of deep shades of maroon is like the spring or summer equivalent to a nice pair of medium-blue chinos that pair well with navy polos, charcoal tees and just about everything else. Mark my words — a nice set of burgundy cords is just as great for the colder months. Where to begin, though? That’s why we’re here.

What To Look For

Corduroy can bring up almost as many buying choices as something like denim or sneakers. Some brands, like style stalwart J. Crew, bring a decidedly dressier tilt to the typical corduroy pant.

Other retailers take a more standard — yet no less stylish — approach. Take for instance, Bonobos, who makes the cords you see here. The retailer known for the fit of its pants, not surprisingly, nails this pair. Ideally, a good pair of corduroys will fit slim but not too tight — like a nice pair of denim. You should look for a pair without too much break — there’s nothing worse than excess fabric around your ankles when going for a sleek look.

If you do prefer a different look, corduroy is also the type of pant that can be cuffed or rolled, like a solid pair of chinos. But the biggest key is fit — even if you’re carrying around some leg muscle, a pair with some taper (or at least a straight cut) will go a long way toward helping you look your best.

Now that fit is in-line, there are a few options when selecting the wale — or width of the corduroy ridges — on your pants. A thinner wale, like the pair linked to via J. Crew above, is going to be dressier, while a thicker wale will read more casual. Bonobos, for example, offers both dress corduroys and the more traditional French Corders featured here.

Now that you have the perfect pair picked out, caring for them should be top-of-mind.

How To Take Care of Your Cords

Corduroy can be a tricky fabric to take care of, by nature — it’s more delicate than sturdy denim or even a thicker cotton chino, so it stains and can show signs of wear more easily. If you’re dealing with a thinner, finer wale, it could be best to hand-clean the corduroys and only machine-wash when necessary. Even with a thicker-wale pair, like the French Corders, it’s advisable to machine-wash when necessary and hang-dry.

As long as you’re not sprinting through the mud or the snow this fall or winter, a good pair of corduroys should hold up well with an attentive eye. And with the amount of versatile and sharp outfit combinations you can create with a nice pair of cords, you’ll want to keep them in tip-top shape.

1. Rugged-Refined

Five Ways To Wear On: Burgundy Corduroys

Lest one think that corduroy pants can only be dressy, outfit number one is here to flip that equation on its head. With a pair of more casual corduroys, there could be the temptation to let your basics slip — but that’s why it’s all the more important to keep reaching for quality.

The striped socks, navy henley and tan belt all represent responsible basics made the right way, and the color in the belt pairs well with the watch and the suede Chelsea boots in particular.

However, each staple can be mixed and matched into other ensembles, too. The grey jacket is a nice basic that should fit well and ground the outfit — and you can wear it in the spring in the right climate, too. And the Chelsea boots finish things off in a sleek, on-trend manner.

2. Down to Business

Five Ways To Wear On: Burgundy Corduroys

While it would be great if we could all wear rugged henleys all the time, sometimes the occasion calls for something dressier . And burgundy cords do just well there, too.

The brown wool blazer from Uniqlo features a trim fit and good quality for the price, while also lending a bit of a “stylish professor” vibe. Turning the rougher fabric of chambray into a dress shirt keeps this outfit in the business-casual ballpark, as does the navy knit tie.

The real stunner of the outfit (apart from those cords) might be the wingtip boots — they’ll probably look even better after a season’s worth of wear, and they could even swapped into outfit number one.

3. Sunday Brunch

Five Ways To Wear On: Burgundy Corduroys

Since burgundy cords can bring quite the pop of color if you’re mainly used to dark denim or navy chinos, it’s best to tone down the rest of your outfit.

Reaching for a lambswool cardigan cut in a flattering fit in a neutral color is a great way to do this. It’s the ideal combination of a trendier look done in a less ostentatious way thanks to the use of the classic white Oxford-cloth buttondown, too.

And to keep things even more sleek and minimal, a great dress belt and a pair of simple black wingtips make this one get-up you can wear to church and then out to a nice meal afterwards, while the navy peacoat is a classic style staple that, in this case, won’t break the bank.

4. Sporty Saturday

Five Ways to wear one: Burgundy Corduroys

For days when you want to look a little more put-together than your bill from the night before might indicate, cords can also be one way to go.

This is especially true when you pair them with sportswear staples, like a wool-cotton blend jacket and high-top sneakers. The jacket is cut slim and designed to keep you quite warm thanks to the quilted lining, while the tan leather sneakers are a major throwback in terms of silhouette.

Striped socks made with a soft cotton blend are as functional as they are stylish, while that same Timex watch as mentioned above is another way to add a little more refinement when you might not feel like it.

5. Daily Uniform

Five Ways to wear one: Burgundy Corduroys

Last but not least, we’ll dive into an ensemble that could definitely become an everyday go-to for a lot of us, particularly when you swap out multiple different pieces (take, for example, the lambswool cardigan).

The burgundy cords play nicely here with the navy sweater, which takes a basic color base and injects it with a unique (but not too crazy) pattern. It’s one way to dip your toes into an edgier piece while still paying homage to the classic crewneck sweater.

Meanwhile, a blue chambray shirt in a lighter tone provides some nice contrast to the deeper burgundy and navy hues. Add in sturdy wingtip boots and a trusty stainless steel dive watch and you’re set for this fall and winter — and likely at least a few after that.

Although it can be somewhat intimidating to switch from safer, more conservative pant colors at first, stick to neutral, well-fitting basics as you mix and match different ensembles. Taking items you might already have in your closet, like a chambray shirt, a white OCBD or a strong pair of great wingtip boots, can certainly make the transition easier.

And for being a more eye-catching color, keep in mind that burgundy can work through four of the colder months of the year. What are you waiting for?

Tell us:

Would you rock a pair of burgundy cords? What brands are you looking into? Let us know in the comments below!