The shops are full of corduroy trousers. So, how do I make them work?

The bottom-enlarging trousers are all over the high street, but how do you pull them off, asks Frankie Graddon

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By Frankie Graddon on

Last Tuesday, during the morning news conference, a fellow Pooler turned to me and delivered the following statement: “F, corduroy trousers. Why? When? We NEED to talk about them.” I nodded, inwardly grimacing because – urgh, cords – and agreed that, yes, we do need to talk about corduroy trousers. Why? Because they are simply everywhere this season. And I don’t mean "everywhere" in an air-fairy, fashiony “both Prada and Erdem did them on the autumn catwalks” sort of way. I mean EVERYWHERE. On the high street. On Instagram. On real-life people on the street. Cord trousers, people – let’s discuss.

For those of you with an encyclopedic knowledge of The Pool’s fashion content (don’t all shout at once), you will have noticed that the subject of corduroy came up this time last year. With a Jarvis Cocker Britpop vibe, they were offered as 2017’s alternative to denim, with Mango’s pink wide-leg style becoming the high-street hit of the season. Twelve months later and, thanks to this autumn’s focus on all things 70s, cords are back at the top of the trouser agenda. How to wear them? In pink (again), red, white (yikes) and brown. Poo brown, of course.

I’d love to be a corduroy trouser kind of woman. A bit Meg Ryan in Harry Met Sally with a touch of Princess Di, the Balmoral years – fabulous. Throw on some Fair Isle and you have yourself autumn in an outfit. I’d even do the retro, 70s thing. Pop on a pair of cord flares, tuck in a plaid shirt and, hey presto, I’m a Charlie’s Angel. I even went into & Other Stories (currently a mecca of all things cord) to try a pair on. Guess what? They looked terrible. Less Farrah Fawcett, more Shaggy from Scooby Doo – the dumpy version. From the front, my thighs looked like sausages and, from the back, my arse looked the size of Cumbria. With VPL. Needless to say, I did not buy them.

Here’s the thing: corduroy trousers are not flattering. Comfy? Yes. Hardwearing? Absolutely. Flattering? Nope. Unless you are a 6ft avatar with legs up to your armpits and a small peach for a bottom, then they are guaranteed to make everything look wider than it really is. It’s a fact. Like anything velvet, cord adds bulk – especially corduroy of the jumbo variety (the clue is in the name).

Here’s the thing – corduroy trousers are not flattering. Comfy? Yes. Hardwearing? Absolutely. Flattering? Nope

Of course, the above might not be an issue for you. I mean, hey, if they’re good enough for Meg Ryan’s romcom phase, they’re good enough for us, right? However, if, like me, the idea of putting anything chunky in the same postcode as your backside is deeply unappealing, then my advice would be to dodge corduroy trouser like the plague. Instead, may I suggest employing cord in alternative ways – for example, a blazer?

Now, we’ve already discussed the benefits of blazers (to recap, perfect for in-betweeny weather, look great over a midi dress) and their structured shape makes corduroy a whole lot easier to deal with. There are lots on the high street, the best of which are Mango’s dusty pink version, Boden’s red single-breasted style and Ganni’s inky blue jacket. Wear instead of a leather jacket over a T-shirt and jeans or throw on over a jumper/midi skirt combo. Needle cord will look less bulky then thicker jumbo cord and go for a longer-length style that hits mid-thigh (cropped styles tend to look boxy). Stay away from anything with shoulder patches – too geography teacher.

Corduroy skirts are another way to go. While cord minis have a Mary Quant, Carnaby Street feel, my personal preference is for something mid-length and A-line. Try La Redoute’s navy skirt, which would work brilliantly with a silky shirt and boots – either long or ankle. Sticking with the A-line theme, Toast’s corduroy shirt dress would look great worn with aforementioned boots and a thin roll neck layered underneath.

If by some miracle I haven’t put you off corduroy trousers, then my one bit of advice is this: get your ankles out. Even just a hint of ankle will make the whole idea of them infinitely more flattering. A cropped style is the easiest way to go about this (don’t tell anyone, but I actually have a pair of cropped navy cords that aren’t entirely horrible). Frame’s Le High are the sort of shape you’re want to be heading for or try M&S’ version, which are joyously under £20.

Click here for the corduroy (and what to wear with it) edit


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