When you think of a corduroy blazer, your mind probably travels back to the 70s and envisions a man with huge lapels, even bigger sideburns, and too much chest hair poking out of his shirt. But this classic menswear piece doesn't have to look dated and a modern take on the men's corduroy blazer is definitely in style, especially when it's part of a smart outfit.
The ribs on your corduroy blazer are known as 'wale' in fashion-speak, and they can be thick, thin, or in-between. For a blazer, look for a thin or medium wale, as anything too thick will bring up memories of vintage leisure suits and Brady Bunch reruns. A thinner wale (sometimes referred to as 'pincord' or 'pinwale' if it's extra skinny) always looks sophisticated, but still begs to be touched.
Corduroy is a heavy material, so don't wear that blazer with other weighty pieces of clothing or you'll look too bulky. For example, a thick wool sweater paired with corduroy is just too much. Instead, try a thin crewneck sweater or tee. A slim-fitted blazer made from a finer gauge corduroy will also help you avoid looking like you've packed on the pounds. If you decide to try a full corduroy suit – yes, it can be done – don't wear it with anything but a simple white button-up and plain shoes.
Corduroy fabric has a rich, lush look that makes it easy to carry off in a variety of colors that might not normally work for a blazer. Navy and black are always classic (and go with anything, of course), but you should play around when you're wearing corduroy. Try one in a shade of green, tan or red and see how it looks. These deep tones also go well with dark wash denim, so don't hesitate to put on your favorite men's jeans, too.
When you need to look smart, but not overly dressed up, try a corduroy blazer. They always feel a little casual, but there's something about lapels that looks dapper. Try wearing a blue chambray shirt underneath and a simple tie. If you feel comfortable rocking the double denim look, add some jeans. If that's not your thing, try wearing slacks or men's chino pants instead, along with a leather belt and shoes.
Corduroy doesn't usually get better with age – it's not leather after all. So keep your blazer in good shape and consider retiring it when it starts getting ratty and worn out. If the elbows are looking a little worse for wear, extend its life by having a tailor cover them with suede patches. To keep your jacket looking good, always follow the care directions on the label. You might be able to toss it in your washing machine, though if the interior (which gives the blazer its shape) is made from delicate materials, drying cleaning might be in order.
If you love the dandy look, which combines high-quality apparel with a touch of eccentricity, you need a corduroy blazer. Wear ones with slim-fitting trousers and some snazzy shoes, like a pair of brogues, loafers, or winkle pickers. On top, add a men's dress shirt and tie. Alternately, try a turtleneck along with a pocket square for a little burst of color. Feel like making a statement? Complete your outfit with a fedora or even a straw boating hat.
When you start wearing a corduroy blazer, you'll fall in love with the fabric and want to add more of it to your wardrobe – and you should. Corduroy pants are timeless and since they're warmer than khakis and chinos, they're great in autumn and winter. A corduroy baseball hat is stylish and easy to wear, just like a Harrington or trucker jacket made from this cozy material. You can even try a pair of corduroy sneakers, but limit your outfit to one cord-centric piece at a time.