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As the 1970s continue to reenter out wardrobes with new looks and retro styles reemerging, having the right pieces to complement these trends becomes key. Corduroy shorts—a staple of the 70s—are back in a big way, with plenty of people taking the summer to ditch their denim and embrace a fabric with a more eclectic, even cozy, vibe for days spent in the summer sun.
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“We’ve really seen the customer interest in cord shorts skyrocket in the last 12 months,” says Justin Reese, associate buyer for men’s shorts at Urban Outfitters. “The cord short is a throwback to that period, when styles from the 70s and 80s were seeing a rebirth.”
Both visually and to the touch, corduroy has a unique texture and sense of depth other materials don’t necessarily have. It’s malleable in terms of outfit creation. Styles these days also ditch blacks and browns. Today, corduroy shorts can be found in a slew of classic shades in addition to lilacs, greens and pinks. “That flexibility is what draws customers in, the ability to dress this up and down and have a truly versatile short.”
What Experts Say
“Menswear is seeing a reverence for the eighties right now and corduroy shorts fall right in-line,” says Todd Snyder. “There is a sense of nostalgia for that famed broken-in beachy style and brands are now offering updated takes on the style that meet the customer in new ways.”
Despite notions of pairing the ribbed cotton pants with pilling sweaters by a fire, finer cords work any time of year. “While it is a traditionally cool-weather fabric, know that an extra soft, fine wale cord is versatile and pairs nicely with other summertime staples like cotton pique, linen and rayon,” Snyder adds.
Rocking the corduroy short isn’t hard, either. “Style with a staple t-shirt for a get-up-and-go daytime look, or switch things up with an open reverse shirt in lightweight natural fabrications for all-out summer steeze,” says Nick Eley, Menswear Head of Design at ASOS.
Note that the brown, straight-leg look isn’t all the material has to offer. “This season, there’s a mix of cord short styles in sun-bleached pastel hues with cargo pocket details and elasticated waists, giving downtime looks a new season refresh,” Eley says. Pinks and blues should be considered the norm in 2023. And, while cargo shorts have been seen in recent years as a fashion don’t, it seems they could be making their way back in men’s fashion this year.
Katin Local Cord Volley Short
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These Volley Shorts from Katin have the three C’s when it comes to the perfect pair of men’s corduroy shorts: cool, casual, and comfort. As constant summer basics year after year at Urban Outfitters and other retailers, these shorts have placed themselves on a pedestal. Made with 98% cotton and 2% spandex, these cozy throw-ons help create an easy outfit that bends to your needs. Colors are typically available on the muted side, including mostly greys, browns and blacks. In some cases, blues and brighter oranges are also available. With a length that hits just above the knees, these cord shorts have a modern element to them that peaks good looks in 2023.
Todd Snyder Corduroy Weekend Short
Todd Snyder has menswear down to a science, something proven by the brand’s Corduroy Weekend Shorts. With both a 5” and 7” option for length in addition to handsome jewel tones designed for both a casual and dappered-up approach, these stand out for a playful yet sophisticated look they’ll bring to summerwear. While corduroy shorts might feel inherently “hip”, these are available for the kind of guy who doesn’t want to look too much like the average Gen Zer strutting down the sidewalk. They have a level of wisdom a lot of corduroy shorts do not have.
THE TIMELESS CUT
WDIRARA Beach Shorts
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These stand out because they fit in. Using that classic brown corduroy color, these beach shorts are essentially just cropped corduroy slacks. They look best on anyone semi-fearful to go above and beyond with their style. For any kind of guy that isn’t interested in playing around with color, these corduroy shorts are perfect. They’re not the coolest when compared to the rest of the styles depicted below, but they do have that classic sense of coolness that borderline says, “I invented cool.” Hot Take: These would probably go HARD on Grandpa.
BEST OPTION FOR COLOR
ASOS DESIGN Wide Shorts in Tie Dye
Color, color, color. Traditionally, corduroy patterns are made with rather mundane hues. Blacks, browns, greys, tans. Only recently have brands chosen to go a little wilder with the look, which is where these pink tie-dyed corduroy shorts come into play. More playful styles and colors are most certainly in with men’s fashion. That being said, they’re cool—they just might be a little out there. In short, these have Lollapalooza written all over them.
BEST FOR SKATERS
RVCA Escape Elastic Corduroy Shorts
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Skate and surf culture has a massive hold on modern men’s fashion, including corduroy shorts. RVCA is heavily influenced by Californication mixed into the street-to-ocean board-riding vibe and their cord shorts are a direct example of that. Skaters, surfers, off-snow skiers and snowboarders, scooter-riders, rollerbladers, bikers, the list of corduroy-wearing riders goes on.
BEST FOR CASUAL LOOKS
Madewell 5 1/2" Corduroy Everywear Shorts
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With more of a baggier, unworried shape, Madewell’s Everywear Shorts have a fluffy shape to look great on any dude’s legs. They’re made for pairing with just about anything to keep a summery, “IDGAF” kind of vibe. College crews, polo tees, open button-downs, ratty t-shirts and whatever else is sitting at the top of the laundry basket. These are built for just about anyone. Sizes run from XS to XXL to fit a multitude of body shapes. Additionally, the shape of the shorts itself isn’t much of a hugging type, ensuring folks of all sizes can catch the same vibe.
BEST THICK CORD
Rhythm Cord Jam Short
Most corduroy shorts seemingly have the corduroy design in close proximity to one another, meaning lines on the material are very close together. These corduroy shorts separate the lines a little bit, creating more space between each. This gives a unique corduroy look that’s relatively unseen in modern options. Someone looking for a pair of corduroy shorts that go a little more out of the box without feeling too crazy should embrace this pair. Colors are a little more exciting and the fabric isn’t like traditional corduroy, but there is no element of shock here that might be seen in something from ASOS.
BEST EMBROIDERED LOOK
ASOS DESIGN Slim Shorts with Peace Embroidery
In a bright seafoam green coated in embroidered white peace signs, these stand out from every other pair of corduroy shorts available to the general public. Yes, even in comparison to those tie-dye ones. It doesn’t get more in-your-face than an embroidered pattern on men’s shorts. Like a few of the other options here, these are built for people that aren’t afraid to stand out from the crown. Or someone with a message to send.
Urban Outfitters Washed 6W Corduroy Volley Short
Urban Outfitters has effectively done the most with corduroy in recent times. This is the brand that’s been selling Katin for years prior to creating their own pair of corduroy shorts seen here. Using Katin at its forefront, these shorts don’t necessarily stand out aside from that one lilac color that’s hard to stop looking at. They’re baggy, casual and comfortable for summer style. The lilac color is made specifically for folks that want to be seen. Pair this funky hue with a classic white tee or go above and beyond and mock the rainbow head to toe.
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