03 February 2011

Ungrateful Corduroy

This... (M Magazine - 1985)

and not this. (Esquire Magazine 1970)

A favorite of poor students and journalists everywhere.

Preferred gentile apparel at a Bar Mitzvah.

Patch pockets and double vents keep it interesting.

Half lining keeps it cool

J Press shirt with murky-logo origins.

Label is little help

Corduroy: This is the anglicized version of the French Corde du Roi, for the material was used on the jackets of the hunting livery of the servants of the Kings of France. It is interesting to note that, like cul-de-sac (which always makes the French laugh as it is very rude), it is never used by the French, who call it, velour cotele, which is exactly what it is, namely ribbed cotton velvet.

The Germans have an even more romatic name for it, namely "Manchester." Manchesterhosen to the German means corduroy slacks. It is in this latter form that it is mostly seen in our lives, and is of course very hardwearing. On a jacket the cloth is almost too "ungrateful" as the French would say, as it is too stiff to fall attractively or mold to the body. It is also extremely hot. Hardy Aimes, 'ABC of Men's Fashion'

Hardy knew goods and he nailed corduroy to the wall. I love the look of it but rarely wear my jacket because it's stiff and very warm. Having said that, it almost never fails to elicit a comment of praise by those mad about clothes. "Patch pocket and side vent on corduroy...most unusual." or, "Isn't it stiff and very warm" to which I reply, "I certainly hope so."

The goods are cheap so it warrants informal details. Unlike the '70s coat up there which is a better looking color and cut but loses footing with a zipper and flapped patch pockets (best left to the camel hair Polo coats).

I have been looking for that shade of green from the 'M' Magazine model for at least 20 years. I'm not sure if it's a color shift in the photo but that green does not seem to exist in corduroy or in nature. Maybe I need to dig around some velour cotele.


Unclelooney said...

I have one like the Esquire photo that my Dad bought at a Mens's shop in Dallas which I believe was called THE CAMPUS.
The shop was located by the SMU campus. I was bored in the store but I felt very collegiate. I was also surprised by the fact that in that neighbor that there were actually trees taller than five feet. DFW-The Russian Steppe with strip malls.

Unclelooney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jg. for FatScribe said...

yes, had the green corduroy in college, and it was a huge hit with my best gal (i even, gulp, have the Christmas pics to prove it somewhere). classic post ... thx for the info on the king's livery men.

those tricks said...

That IS a very nice shade of green.
Keep lookin'!

Anonymous said...

At first I thought the guy in the Esquire photo was holding a chainsaw- fairly unusual attire for cutting down a tree. But then I realized it might be one of those fold-up chairs you take to outdoor events.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, I'd call the color in your first frame "Blue Spruce," sometimes it went simply by "Spruce" -- definitely a color in nature based on the tree itself, silvery tone and all. But as for corduroy the fabric, the pinwale cord is much more forgiving than the wider wales in your photos, cooler to wear, a suppler hand, loses its shape while the wider wales wear like a sandwich board.

Not green, but nicely detailed: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200569604548#vi-content

Nice green, close to yours, but...: http://www.etsy.com/listing/47908869/vintage-70s-dark-green-mens-corduroy?ref=sr_gallery_10&ga_search_type=all&ga_includes=&ga_search_query=corduroy%2Bblazer&ga_order=price_desc&ga_page=1&ga_ref=related

Seller is calling this Olive, but I think I see some Spruce in there: http://cgi.ebay.com/HASPEL-COTTON-CORDUROY-OLIVE-GREEN-BLAZER-NWT_W0QQitemZ110644503028QQcategoryZ3002QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp3286.m7QQ_trkparmsZalgo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D3%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D6833206676248765566

Raining, wet, cold, miserable outside, so thanks for giving me a lap or two around the internet, I swear your jacket is out there somewhere.

Dallas said...

Clooney - believe you are referring to Culwell & Sons.


Pretty rough assessment of Dallas. But to each his own.

Brummagem Joe said...

"But then I realized it might be one of those fold-up chairs you take to outdoor events."

It's a shooting stick. Set it up incorrectly and you could have a pain in the cul de sac. Love cord for pants but hate it for jackets because it's too stiff. Why the heck would you choose it over a tweed or cashmere.

longwing said...

Each year I think about corduroy jackets but there's always a tweed beckoning.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to disappoint you, but the fabric in the first picture is not 'velours côtelé' but rather 'velours'...in other words, not corduroy but velvet.
Voilà !

tintin said...

Anon- That explains a lot. No wonder I couldn't find it in corduroy. Merde! 20 years down the drain.

My Affair with Michael Bastian said...

I enjoyed this post, thanks.

tintin said...

Flo- Not exactly what I'm looking for but thanks for the research. I understand I may have been looking for the wrong fabric.

Dallas- Amazing store no less.

Joe- It was cheap. Very cheap.

longwing- I would've pegged you for one of these.

Makaga said...

...could have sworn I read that the "Corde du Roi" story was just a made-up marketing campaign. Anyone else ever hear of that?

Brummagem Joe said...

Joe- It was cheap. Very cheap.

So are polyester playsuits.

tintin said...

"So are polyester playsuits"

I find them to be stiff and too warm.

Laurent said...


I also heard and read in some places that "corde du roi" is not the origin of the word but rather "cord" and "duroy" which used to be a "a coarse woollen fabric" (cf wikipedia).
Also I wanted to comment on "cul-de-sac" which is the slang for "dead end" in French. Being French, we do use it quite often to be honest.

Great blog!


Roger said...

The fabric was definitely first made in either the North of England or Wales; nothing to do with the French or French livery at all.