Men’s fashion for those cold mornings

Men’s fashion for those cold mornings

Q. As I was freezing running from my car to my office this week, I decided I needed to buy/wear some trousers that are warmer. The problem is I’m not sure what is warm but also appropriate with business dress. Even jeans aren’t particularly warm. Are corduroys in style and can I wear them in the office?

A. If you work in an office where jeans are acceptable, then corduroys certainly are not too informal, since cords are a few steps more formal on the dressiness scale than jeans. The hierarchy of formality for trousers ranges from the most dressy, ones that are part of a suit, to the least dressy, jeans: they include:

  1. suit trousers
  2. wool dress trousers that you might wear with a fine blazer
  3. slightly heavier, more casual dress trousers that work with a bulkier sports jacket
  4. pressed cotton chinos/khakis that can be worn with or without a jacket
  5. narrow-wale cotton corduroy pants
  6. wide-wale cotton corduroys
  7. cotton cargo-pocket pants
  8. pressed jeans, and
  9. ripped jeans.

As to whether cords might be too casual for your office, they just might be. The best way to know is to check out what you see the bosses wearing, and follow their lead. I suggest you limit your choices to narrow-wale corduroys in a dark color, rather than wide-wales in a lighter color.

To explain “wales”: they are the vertical ribs that give the fuzzy, cozy texture to corduroy and make it perfect for cooler weather. The fabric comes in two forms: the standard narrow wale, where the ribbing can be nearly invisible, and the broader and more visible “wide-wale.” Narrow wale is dressier than wide-wale; both are durable and warm. Just as the fashion world thinks of linen as a seasonal summer fabric, corduroy is primarily worn in the colder months. Note: If it matters to you, it’s important to know that wide-wale corduroy pants visually make you look heavier; optically, they can add several pounds to your silhouette.

Cords currently are suitable for business-casual wear when paired with the right pieces. If you like the texture, the comfort, and the look, but are concerned that they may not be quite dressy enough, you can dress them “up” by what you wear them with.

Versatile corduroys work with or without a jacket. Though they’re quite casual when worn on their own with an open-at-the-neck, button-down collar shirt, they can take on a preppy vibe when layered with a sweater (sweaters and cords go well together). Or they can go in a different direction. Depending on the formality of the office, you can add a blazer or sports jacket and a tie. Ties that work especially well with cords include non-shiny silks, and wool or cotton knits.

Instead of corduroys, for a more sophisticated casual look, consider high quality wool dress trousers in a subtle herringbone tweed or small-checked pattern.

And for really cold days you might add long underwear made of lightweight, non-bulky silk or cotton. They’re easy to find at L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, or The Vermont Country Store. .

While corduroys are usually less expensive than wool trousers, this is not always the case. Gucci has a pair in relaxed-fit retro styling for weekend wear that sells for the illogical price of $1,400!

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