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What I wore this week: corduroy | Jess Cartner-Morley

Jess Cartner-Morley in pink corduroy
‘Corduroy is the postgraduate degree of the fabric world.’ Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

In case you’re wondering, the look I am going for here is east-coast-liberal-arts-lecturer-hosts-brunch. That is how I like my corduroy: a bit campus dreamboat, a bit arthouse cinema. Accessorised with a strong scarf game, and maybe an elbow patch; some reading material (either news or fiction but printed on actual paper) and deep conversation peppered with hand-gesture quotation marks.

In other words, nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn. No offence, Jezza, but I’m thinking more along the lines of Ali MacGraw in Love Story crossed with Diane Keaton in Annie Hall crossed with Tina Fey. There is a whole late-70s-staffroom piece that happens around corduroy in Britain that I choose to ignore, because I prefer what’s on my moodboard.

Corduroy is the postgraduate degree of the fabric world. It adds letters after your name. It makes you look smart, in the brainy sense. Even when it is in fashion, like it is now, it looks more high-minded than fashion-victim. At least, that’s how it works in my head. The trouble with what you wear, of course, is that other people see it, too. And judge it according to what’s in their heads, which can sometimes be quite different. (I know! So meta today. It’s the corduroy talking.)

You may have noticed that I am wearing not just corduroy, but pink corduroy. An unexpected colour is one way to nudge people into realising that you are wearing corduroy in a soulful-and-cultured sense, not in the grumpy-and-outdated sense. Black looks great, cream is fabulous. If you must do brown, make sure it’s a rich butterscotch caramel; if you go for burgundy, make it crimson and regal rather than dingy uniform-shop blazer. Go up a size: when tight, corduroy has a tendency to lumpiness. It looks best when it is generous.

Also, go luxe. Wear with a silk blouse rather than a cotton shirt. Or choose a lush knit, instead of a scratchy cardigan. Cable knits, smooth textured merino or groovy ribs all work well. This is not the moment for Guccified maximalism: sleek and uncluttered works better. Robert Redford in his treacle-toned cord suit in All The President’s Men is never not a good look. George Clooney as the nattily attired Fantastic Mr Fox is the best of all. Corduroy may not be foxy. But it looks fantastic to me.

• Jess wears cords, £45, and polo neck, £24, both topshop.com. Heels, £175, lkbennett.com. (Chair, £395, grahamandgreen.co.uk.)

Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management.

This article titled "What I wore this week: corduroy" was written by Jess Cartner-Morley, for The Guardian on Friday 12 January 2018 01.00pm

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