by Camilla Ridley
Corduroy has risen from humble workmanlike beginnings to the fashionable heights of vintage cool. It's status isn't just built on celebrity following but unique functional benefits that make it the perfect fabric to wear for winter
A versatile and warm Ridley London winter maxi skirt in sumptuous Burgundy cotton needlecord, warn here with a popular Alicia top in coral Eustacia Flower crepe de chine silk print
Wow, hasn’t the temperature noticeably dropped over the last few days? Suddenly we’re rapidly moving through autumn and into the winter months, and as the nights draw in, naturally we look to cocoon ourselves in softer, warmer fabrics. For those of you who like to keep abreast of the latest catwalk and high street the trends, you will no doubt have noticed that the fabric best associated with the 1970’s rock stars and retired Oxford Dons is having a bit of a moment again. Yes that’s right Corduroy is back and it's cooler than ever…or warmer as we’d probably prefer for this time of year. In fact both Vogue and influential fashion blog WhoWhatWear have picked it out in their top trends for this winter season. As the latter states: “Corduroy has unfairly gotten a bad rep. Sure, it's practical and sturdy and almost never considered provocative per se, but it has an undeniably cool vintage allure that lends itself well to autumn's laid-back aesthetic. This season, corduroy adds texture to skirts, trousers and even dresses and is no longer reserved for geography teachers.” We thought it would be cool…sorry warm…to take a look at this iconic fabric to understand what makes it so popular and enduring and show you how it’s best styled for this season’s most wearable trends.
Ridley London's vintage inspired Lyra shirt dresses come in a spectrum of sumptuous cotton velvets and can be individually tailored to flatter
Corduroy is known the world over for it’s velvety softness, exceptional warmth, and hard wearing durability. It also dries surprisingly fast. Today it enjoys an international image of being a British invention with strong cultural associations with bohemian creativity and anti-establishment protest, largely thanks to celebrity endorsement by the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Beetles, Bob Dylan and Pablo Picasso. While the modern corduroy fabric we know today started to be manufactured in19th century Manchester, it's origins actually date back to ancient Egypt in 200 BC with Futisan, a similar fabric to moleskin which was introduced to Europe in the16th century by Italian and Spanish merchants, and became fashionable in England's Tudor court. Fustian transformed into the corduroy we know and love in the 18th century, where the textile was used as a modern and practical choice of fabric in working garments for the lower classes. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of the word “corduroy” was in 1774. By the Victorian age, corduroy was being mass-produced in factories all over Europe and America, seen as the ‘poor man’s velvet’. Corduroy’s popularity continued into the 20th century, becoming well-known as a children’s fabric, and for military wear in World War I throughout Europe with Its popularity peaking in the 1970s. With its historic association with the working classes and impoverished artists, it’s interesting to see that this link isn’t necessarily being challenged in today’s fashion world, where corduroy is now often seen as vintage and chic.
The exceptional quality 100% cotton corduroy we use here at Ridley is purchased from Chapmans of Manchester, one of the oldest and most established Uk family textile company’s, renowned for their superior quality yarns since 1858. In fact Chapmans were the last weaving mill operating in the UK, finally closing in the 1990s. Today their famous heritage Brisbane Moss cloth is woven in Italy using the highest quality ethically sourced cottons, and latest technology to consistently produce their world renowned fabric. Chapman’s Corduroy carries the internationally recognised OEKO-TEX certification for dyeing, finishing, factory audit and recycled packaging and the company were awarded the Queen’s Award for Export in 2012.
Cutting edge Italian production facilities now produce some of the finest quality corduroy with greater sustainability
Here at Ridley we’ve tapped into the utilitarian DNA of the Corduroy fabric to create a capsule collection of shirt dresses and skirts that balances flattering feminine silhouettes with easy wearability and on-trend style. Although it has a luxurious softness to it, corduroy is definitely perceived as a hardwearing, utilitarian fabric, and this is reflected in the understated style of the individual pieces we’ve created. Designed to be really useful, winter wardrobe heroes that you can simply throw on, add boots or trainers, a sweater or a bomber and you’ll know look and feel great. After all, not all dresses have to be complex statement pieces. We live in more casual times, and often the dresses I love most are the simple shirt dresses I really live in from day to day. While all of our new corduroy shirt dresses feature easy belt ties, elongating maxi length skirts, flattering fuller sleeves, and a cut that’s designed to skim smoothing out and hiding any unsightly bulges, my tip would be to come in store and get one made to measure for you.
At first this idea might seem a little over the top for essentially a casual workhorse garment, and somewhat contrary to the utilitarian ethos and aesthetic of the corduroy fabric. But think about it for a moment, if you’re going to wear something a lot, I would argue that it’s reassuring to know that it absolutely fits like a glove. And comes in a tone that really flatters your unique natural colouring. This way you'll always step out looking amazing and feeling confident. The same goes for our tiered cord maxi skirts which can all be proportionally adjusted for your perfect length. Here at Ridley we don’t just take up a hem, because every garment is individually made to order, we’ll adjust the height of each panel so your garment retains it’s intended even proportions whatever the length. And speaking of corduroy maxi skirts, we’ve got some fabulous tonal tops in this season’s must have printed silks, as well as our unique hand knits by Virginia wool to complete the look, but could be just as easily be teamed with your favourite pair of jeans.
This season's Ridley London shirt dresses are also available in floral printed corduroy from Liberty of London, while our flattering corduroy maxi skirts come in a spectrum of seasonal colours and prints
The point is, it’s winter and we’re all looking for warm, comfortable, easy, versatile pieces, that can be instantly combined into workable outfits. In styles we know will always make us look and feel fabulous. That bring a bit of contemporary edge to our wardrobes, and hit that more casual mood of the season, just right. Those hero pieces we can fall back on and wear time and time again, that will be a great investment and go on forever. And in my mind, you couldn’t do much better than a made to measure corduroy shirt dress or a customised on-trend corduroy maxi skirt. Both modern classics, that won’t just see you through this winter, but winters to come. And that's got to make sense, especially in an age where a more conscious style of consumption is the watchword on all of the catwalks. What could be better for our collective fashion souls...Just ask a Geography teacher, a retired Oxford Don or even Mick Jagger!
Ridley London's new Autumn collection of made to measure corduroy dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and knitwear is available to purchase online and in Ridley's Barnes store. Celebrate your individuality this season with a unique piece that's individually crafted to flatter from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral or solid silks or cottons. Or call us to arrange a virtual fitting:
Ridley London, 82 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 0DQ T: 01730 823097