During the earth-friendly 70’s, fabrics that were outdoor tough and earth-tone-colored were preferred over plain, understated fashions. Corduroy pants were a decade favorite for their rugged look and durability. Wide wale, thin wale, corduroy or cords, they were the only way to go.
Corduroy is a ridged velveteen made of a dense cotton weave. Wide wale was considered ‘dressy,’ because the wide stripes allowed more shine to reflect on the furry nap. Thin wale, which consisted of rows of tiny ridges, was more solid and better for casual wear.
Once the cloth of kings, this ‘corde du roi’ came into heavy use by agricultural laborers in the 19th century because of its durability. The fabric remained a utilitarian favorite, but in the 1970’s, corduroy surpassed even denim in popularity.
The 70’s cords were mostly in earth tones: brown, beige, green, navy and deep burgundy for the colorful kids. Cords were body conscious, as they snugged against every curve of the body. They were groovy when worn with crepe-soled Wallabees or a pair of Nike sneaks. Cords returned to the scene in the early 90’s when grunge raided the thrift stores and rediscovered the plush fabric of corduroy and velour, and many a young boy’s church slacks are still made with the ridged fabric. If it makes you feel any better, kids, try pretending it’s still exclusive to kings.
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