In Fall Our Thoughts Turn To Corduroy


I’ve been dreaming of corduroy. Of course, we’re in the middle of California’s real summer, the one we keep secret from the world. Temperatures are in the high 80s. Sunlight the color of ginger ale, seduced by ice cubes. But we all know that imaginary wardrobes are sometimes more fun than the real ones. And winter cometh.

Off I went. Got quickly distracted by sweaters in the fisherman genre, as Sturdy Gals are wont to do. Like this from Orvis, which is actually for a man, and I found it via To The Manner Born, but they don’t call it “boyfriend” for no reason. If you want to get all precise, J. Crew may still have some women’s shrunken knit cuties.

Orvis cotton sweater, fisherman style

Add these J. Crew bootcut cords, in dark cocoa. Garnet Hill has cords too.

brown corduroy

Next, fulfill a peculiar urge for chukka boots, by Clark, in chocolate. We sense a theme: hot beverages by the fire. Clarks make these with a shearling lining too, but that’s really unnecessary in California’s climate. Your cold, wet, slushy mileage may vary. And yes, I am over-compensating for maple leaves.

Chukka boots by ClarkFor some reason now I want to start tying back my hair with a purple ribbon.

Put it all together, and it becomes clear we’re talking retro. The real 60s and 70s, no matter what Rachel Zoe and her ilk may tell you. This I wore in 1969, aiming at groovy. This I might have worn to Princeton, in September of 1974, all unaware of new territory ahead. We’re unclear how clothes dredged up from teenage years will work on someone in her mid-fifties, but we’re thinking purple ribbon on a gray ponytail would be pretty cool, as we used to say, and we haven’t yet given upĀ  cool.

Just where the royal we came from, I cannot tell you. Perhaps corduroy does mean cloth of kings, after all.

50 Comments

  • 09/22/11
    7:39 am

    Reply

    Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita said...

    You would completely ROCK the purple ribbon! I know you can pull it off!

  • 09/22/11
    7:39 am

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    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    Purple and grey would look great together and gross grain ribbon is a classic.
    I think you should totally tie one on.

    I had desert boots in high school and remember that they had a squishy squeaky sole that made noise on the linoleum floors in the halls!

    Where does the Royal We come from???

  • 09/22/11
    7:40 am

    Reply

    sarah g said...

    i have to give this a big ole thumbs up, since both of my parents work for orvis. LOVE it!

  • 09/22/11
    7:42 am

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    Louise said...

    Chocolate brown and purple together sounds wonderful! I am hoping that by next fall, my gray hair will be long enough for a purple ribbon.

  • 09/22/11
    7:44 am

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    Jan said...

    The boots are VERY retro – I have an uncle who is a devotee of the classic suede Hush Puppies boot, and that is what they remind me of.

  • 09/22/11
    7:49 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    Oh, yes, the purple ribbon will be fab!

    I have a great photo of my Dad working on a location somewhere, in the early 60s, wearing (what we called chukka) desert boots. Retro-Hipsters would probably die over the whole outfit.

    Mine are bright pink Kate Spade!

  • 09/22/11
    8:15 am

    Reply

    Kerry said...

    You should wear the purple hair ribbon this November, and tell everyone that it is for National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Striking and useful, together.

    http://www.alz.org/news_and_events_nadam.asp

  • 09/22/11
    8:31 am

    Reply

    Marcela said...

    I used to wear boots like that to school, they were the ultimate fashion in Cordoba, Argentina, in the 80s.
    I love the pants and the gross ribbon. We are also experiencing high temperatures in Cyprus, the land where autumn starts in November and lasts for 2 months, before Spring and Summer come running fast again. And I am also dreaming about winter clothing :)

  • 09/22/11
    8:32 am

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    WorthyStyle said...

    Love this look. Cozy. The purple ribbon, I am totally a fan, just a touch of color.

  • 09/22/11
    8:45 am

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    Lara of Long Beach said...

    Love the richness of purple and brown together. And Clarks! I love Clarks! My Vermont Vista’s from Clarks just arrived yesterday and I’m tickled silly! These will be my go to shoes for walking all over Italy and Barcelona next year.

  • 09/22/11
    8:48 am

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    HijabEng said...

    Rock it, Lisa. You’d look great with the ribbon. And I heart those pants.

  • 09/22/11
    9:25 am

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    beautifuldreamer1066 said...

    Aha! I need a comfy, Sturdy Gal boot for a Christmas get away in the mountains and here they are all tricked out with a complete outfit attached! Wonderful!

    Silver hair looks stunning when adorned with jewel tones, and I know how you feel about color so hair ribbons may just be the way to go. It will be a streak of color that won’t shock you since you won’t be able to see it most of the time.

  • 09/22/11
    9:31 am

    Reply

    Maggie [The Freckled Citizen] said...

    The excitement and anticipation of Fall is almost better than the actual season… it’s not like this any other time of the year. We are all romantics when it comes to corduroy and boots.

  • 09/22/11
    10:30 am

    Reply

    Susan Tiner said...

    How I longer for weather cool enough to wear clothes like that.

    I can picture you at Princeton, walking pathways among fallen leaves. That campus is so beautiful in Fall.

  • 09/22/11
    11:06 am

    Reply

    DaniBP said...

    Yes to the purple ribbon in your hair.
    I just bought some corduroy for the first time in ages, perfect for fall walks.

  • 09/22/11
    12:02 pm

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    Fab At Any Age said...

    I really fancy a pair of cords this winter, I haven’t had a pair for years!

  • 09/22/11
    12:24 pm

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    Ida said...

    Corduroy is just starting to appear on the county set here mostly on the older males + brogues for their foot wear or the obligatory Hunters.
    Chukka/desert boots again I seem to remember was a male thing?

    Women need to be very slim to wear cord pants..I dislike corduroy jackets uugh

    Yes you could definitely carry off the purple ribbon.ida

    09/22/11
    1:47 pm
    HijabEng said...

    Respectfully disagree, I think women of any size can wear cord pants. It’s a fabric like any other. It’s the cut of a particular item that would make it appear more or less flattering on a woman of a particular size.

  • 09/22/11
    12:58 pm

    Reply

    Karen said...

    I actually own those Clarks boots, in that very color. I got them last winter, after having foot surgery, and they are wonderful. As soon as the temperature in Connecticut drops, I’ll break them out to wear with jeans and tweeds. I don’t have any cords, because of the extra pounds they appear to apply. Also no ponytail, but I’m sure yours will look wonderful dressed up with purple ribbon.

  • 09/22/11
    1:24 pm

    Reply

    kathy said...

    So strange, was going to email you about corduroy, but thought I had driven you crazy enough about the Tory Burch dress. I too have been thinking about corduroy, especially in a rich chocolate brown. But, the problem is I seem to do this EVERY season, and never end up wearing them. I haven’t figured out why, until this post came up. I think I’ve bought them thinking they’re a slight upgrade from denim, and so bought them quite fitted thinking I’d wear them with boots that had a heel, so I had these pants that were neither dressy or cozy. I already own several pairs of chukka boots, one pair from J.Crew that is 30 years old – I paint in them daily – and those are what I should have been wearing with my cords.
    So – your post distilled what I’ve been doing wrong with the corduroy – going to run out and buy a cozy and slightly baggy pair. Thanks again!

  • 09/22/11
    2:38 pm

    Reply

    Princess Freckles said...

    I love courds too! And pruple ribbon! Classics.

  • 09/22/11
    4:36 pm

    Reply

    Rubiatonta said...

    I think certain things from our (possibly misspent) youth can be resurrected, but with an eye to what’s classic. You’re right on the mark with these picks.

    Since my freshman year wasn’t until 1979, I have rather more unfortunate fashion skeletons in my closet… though I have been wanting to knit myself a Fair Isle yoke sweater. (Or maybe a Bohus, which is cooler and warmer all at the same time!)

  • 09/22/11
    5:59 pm

    Reply

    AnAmericanGirl said...

    A purple ribbon on a gray pony tail totally rocks! Although I try my best to avoid that which I wore in my youth (leggings immediately come to mind) the *idea* of it is rather appealing. A beribboned pony is perfect!

  • 09/22/11
    6:01 pm

    Reply

    AnAmericanGirl said...

    An addendum: unlike Northern Ca. one cannot wear cords in Florida much as one might like to.

  • 09/22/11
    7:58 pm

    Reply

    wilhelmina said...

    I have a closet full of corduroy pants right now. My latest addition is a plum pair. In the ’70′s I wore corduroy skirts in addition to corduroy pants. I remember I had pink pinwale corduroys for spring that I loved. That sweater…I bought a similar one – a man’s – at J. Crew for myself a few years ago. Talk about “boyfriend.” Maybe it looks weird, but it feels SO good.
    And purple and chocolate I love.

    Now if it would only cool off around here…sigh…

  • 09/22/11
    8:37 pm

    Reply

    Linda said...

    You know, the upcoming date 11/11/11 is (tongue lightly tucked into cheek) National Corduroy Day, and you will be stylishly ready. Carpe felicitatem.
    I wore those desert boots as a teen-going-off-to-college, and they are the same boots my daughter chose to take for her recent semester abroad in morocco. I wonder how she’d feel about me wearing them, now that it’s her look.

  • 09/22/11
    9:06 pm

    Reply

    Marilyn @ Pink Martinis and Pearls said...

    Hello missy! I love your retro look you put together. It makes me feel cozy because it’s all-too familiar. I didn’t own chukka (we called them desert boots) but I did have a pair of wallabies which also gave a slight wedge effect. I am happily reliving the 60′s and 70′s via Sirius radio and am almost trying to find far away places to drive to on the highway of my childhood and teen years. More please. :)

  • 09/22/11
    9:07 pm

    Reply

    toad said...

    Thank you so much for the nod. Personally, I prefer moleskin to corduroy. I could never remember the cord rule. Is it plus size, many wale, Small size few? Or the other way round? Makes a difference I think.

  • 09/23/11
    3:05 am

    Reply

    Tabitha said...

    As I spend about 7 months of the year in boots and cords, I have to say I really loathe boots and trousers weather, it will be May before I can wear a ballet pump again or an elegant cropped trouser with a heel.
    We have rule in this house on October the first – the cords come out!

  • 09/23/11
    4:12 am

    Reply

    Paula said...

    Hi Lisa! By looking at those photos I know those clothes including the shoes would make me look 10 pounds heavier, heavy knits and the cut of the pants have the same effects as mascarpone and rocky road ice cream.

  • 09/23/11
    5:44 am

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    Yes to all of it! Talbot’s have some really good colours in cords, too. To me, cords look best in rich colours, no sad mushroom or linty navy.

    Since you’re in fisherman mode, how about
    http://www.eric-bompard.com/lang-en/crew-neck-pullovers-/274-ras-de-cou-torsades.html

  • 09/23/11
    6:15 am

    Reply

    Karena said...

    Lisa, I just wore my brown pin-wale cords the other day with a long sleeved Tee and black, cream and brown print scarf!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

  • 09/23/11
    6:27 am

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    Corduroy and fall just go together, in rich colors, no muted pastels. I have a cousin of those boots, with the shearling lining. I live in them all fall, usually beginning in October. They may not survive the move south, too much warmth and all that, and may need to be replaced with their less furry cousins.

    I love California in September, even though summer is not my favorite season, generally.

  • 09/23/11
    6:33 am

    Reply

    kathy said...

    I love Duchesse’s link to that gorgeous sweater. Would be a nice, feminine touch to the cords. I too worry that corduroy adds about 10 lbs. Any thoughts on that?

  • 09/23/11
    8:02 am

    Reply

    materfamilias said...

    I’ve got my new fall cords (skinny cognac J-Brand) ready to go, and it’s almost cool enough to wear them. . . . And remembering a deep navy wide-wale corduroy skirt, fabulously deep side-seam pockets, midi-length, that fastened down the front with big navy buttons, waay, waaaay back, when midis ruled. . . and a pale mint pair of high-waisted wide-legged, midi-length culottes. . . Thanks for the reminder . . .

  • 09/23/11
    8:29 am

    Reply

    pigtown*design said...

    Have you seen the cord-arounds? the wale is horizontal instead of vertical. now those, i wouldn’t wear!

  • 09/23/11
    9:47 am

    Reply

    Marsha @ Splenderosa said...

    I got to wear all this good stuff on our cruise, which might be the closest we come to Fall or Winter here in Houston. Love you……

  • 09/23/11
    10:07 am

    Reply

    mary jo said...

    Those shades of cocoa are just divine, although I try to stay away from brown myself, reading your post I’m warming to it’s appeal. It’s funny Lisa, I was just reading an interview with Henry Rose, who will be stopping by trustyourstyle next week, he’s the tailor for lots of royal types and he refers to very narrow corduroy as being like velvet and what the royalty traditionally wore for their hacking jackets. Love the purple ribbon!

    xo Mary Jo

  • 09/23/11
    11:15 am

    Reply

    ms Givens said...

    I love men’s sweaters. I bought 2 men’s suit jackets last weekend. I am a 36XS. :)

  • 09/23/11
    4:19 pm

    Reply

    Patricia said...

    The J. Crew bootcut cords are actually very flattering. The fabric isn’t bulky and the flare balances the hips – they are the only cord I like. I have them in brown and ivory, but that purple is awfully pretty too.

  • 09/24/11
    5:09 am

    Reply

    Sylvie said...

    What a classic and perfect ensemble! Would one wear peds, socks or tights with during the super cool days of fall with this. Also, may I suggest a small silk patterned hair tie. Or perhaps a silk covered scrunchie (I know you have an affinity for those.)Something with navy, burgundy, and carmel tones perhaps. France Luxe never disappoints – http://www.franceluxe.com/c/fabricponies_prints/fabricponies_prints.html.

  • 09/24/11
    1:10 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Stephanie – So I guess the only question is, grosgrain or velvet?:)

    Hostess – That is a great pun. And I have NO IDEA on the royal we. Might be the purple?

    Sarah – They do? Even more reason to be a fan of that sweater.

    Louise – I have to think it will be. I’m so enjoying having a ponytail again.

    Jan – I agree, Hush Puppies came right before the desert boots, I think.

    Patsy – Of course your chukkas are bright pink Kate Spade!

  • 09/24/11
    1:11 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Kerry – I didn’t even know that. Maybe the universe is speaking to me in its mysterious ways. Thank you for letting me know.

    Marcela – I like it even better to think these were fashionable in Argentina at one point.

    Worthystyle – Especially where I can’t really see it:).

    Lara – Vermont Vistas. Must go look.

    HijabEng – Thank you! I love the idea that such a classic, New England preppy outfit could be rocked in the first place:).

    Beautiful Dreamer – Yes. I like you pointing out that I wouldn’t be able to see it. Do you like the sound of the boots with a shearling lining?

  • 09/24/11
    1:12 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Maggie – Even when we live in California where we barely see a need for boots…

    Susan – Yes, the Princeton campus is gorgeous, and the leaves do crackle underfoot wonderfully.

    DaniBP – If we are aligned around cords and purple ribbon I have newfound confidence in my choices:).

    Fab At Any Age – Where will you look?

    Ida – Interesting. In California I guess we are all the country set:). It’s an environment with pretty robust class mobility, and recent agricultural heritage, so farmers might be farmers or they might be internet millionaires:).

  • 09/24/11
    1:12 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Karen – Aha! Testimonial! I love that. Thank you. But cords and extra pounds? That is something I had never thought of. For the little narrow wales?

    Kathy – We should just share closets, no? Cosy and baggy cords, nom.

    Princess Freckles – Thank you!

    Rubi – Hehe. I had a Shetland sweater in many colored striped. Fall of 1977. We were all victims:).

    AnAmericanGirl – I suppose we do best to suggest our youth, rather than relive it. No? And I can only imagine Florida’s climate…

    wilhelmina – Plum! Plum! Plum! Sounds wonderful. And I remember the cord skirts of the 70s. Big pockets. Buttons.

  • 09/24/11
    1:12 pm

    Reply

    Lisa Porter said...

    “Sunlight the color of ginger ale, seduced by ice cubes.”. Oh my God you have a wonderful way with words. I have to use that sometime somewhere. Will be sure and let you know! I’m actually still hanging on your last post. I loved 8. It was a very good year.
    I also remember October in so cal. We were always swamped with company during the summer so by then it was nice to have our beach back!

    Thank you Lisa for stopping by and commenting. I’m doing my best to get back in the swing of things and it’s really good to hear from you! Love the profile pic with your glasses!
    Fondly,
    Lisa

  • 09/24/11
    1:12 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Linda – No way. Oh my gosh. I just looked it up and you are right! I say wear those boots. Our daughters don’t get to be the boss of everything:). You’ll look great.

    Marilyn – Wallabies. Oh yeah. And boys with wavy hair had pyramid head:).

    Toad – My pleasure. I am going to have to experiment with this corduroys add 10 pounds theory. I have never noticed.

    Tabitha – Scotland counts as a special circumstance. By the way, have you seen that Pixar is coming out with a Scottish heroine movie next year? We’re all gonna be rolling our brogues around.

    Paula – Huh. Mysterious.

  • 09/24/11
    1:12 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Duchesse – Talbots has them too? Wonderful. And definitely no sad mushroom. No sad mushrooms anywhere in life. The Bompard is gorgeous – just might be too pricy for the fading family fortune right now. Do they include more product detail anywhere? Length, sizing, etc.?

    Karena – I just love having wardrobe buddies all over the country!

    Mardel – I can see you in richly colored cords and those boots. I hope you are doing well with your move.

    Kathy – I just have never noticed that with cords. Of course, I wear the pinwale ones, but I don’t know if that explains it or whether it’s my occasional obliviousness.

    Mater – Can’t way to see the cognac cords. Will you wear those great aqua stones with them? Yes! That cord skirt is EXACTLY what I remember.

  • 09/24/11
    1:13 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    pigtown*design – Uh, um, me neither:).

    Marsha – Ah, cords and Alaska.

    Mary Jo – Will be reading Henry Rose closely:);.

    ms Givens – Ha! I don’t know my size in men’s clothes, except XS.

    Patricia – Oh, great! Thanks for the info. Purple is calling to me, oddly.

    Sylvie – Thank you very much. And yes, I buy all my hair stuff now from France Luxe – I think I could do the solid color in plum.

  • 09/25/11
    3:31 am

    Reply

    Amanda said...

    I love the idea of the purple ribbon on your hair, I think it will be beautiful. Funny how you would still find young crowds wearing corduroy with a “cool” alternative vibe, at least that’s how it was for me, umm 8 years ago or so. And I am still a big fan of the material. I love that it was hip back in the late 60′s .I have long dreamt to have livded in that time, the idealism, the revolutions. For some reason our generation does not quite believe so strongly that the world can change and I want to believe it that strongly. Also I love the chocolate boots, remind me of Kickers.

  • 10/02/11
    2:40 pm

    Reply

    John said...

    I love this! This was indeed the look of the “real” 1970s, not the cartoonish, “Pet Rock” vision we’re often sold. And lest anyone think it was exclusively a “hippie” look, don’t forget the other end of the decade, when those corduroys were paired up with Fair Isle sweaters and oxford shirts as often as not.
    I say rock them with pride!

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