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The very existence of corduroy shorts is…weird? Corduroy is a fabric typically reserved for fall, while shorts are a distinct summer item — the fabric seems at odds with the style. But as we slowly enter the beginning of fall, corduroy shorts suddenly seems like an ideal choice for the often awkward, in-between weather, with their ability to simultaneously capture the essence of a multitude of seasons. They’re the perfect compromise, appealing to both those loathe to give up the summer and those eager for the season’s change to arrive.
If you remain unconvinced and are left imagining a heavy, burdensome short that constricts rather than allows for movement, it’s worth noting that the original adopters of corduroy shorts were Californian surfers of the 70s. OG brands like Ocean Pacific (pictured below) and Hammies were favored by surfers for their ultra short, ultra high-waisted offerings. Surfers even went so far as to praise them for their comfort and flexibility, so whatever preconceived notions you might have regarding corduroy shorts, consider them debunked.
While today’s corduroy shorts have gained some length (not so much on this list, but you understand) and considerable room in the leg area, there remains an inherent ’70s-ness to the shorts, something much sought after in this decade-obsessed day and age. Maybe you’ve always fancied yourself a surfer but find yourself in a landlocked state, or maybe you’re just terrified of the ocean. All you need is a pair of corduroy shorts — and maybe the beginnings of a sick ‘stache — to look and feel like you’ve stepped out of a Bruce Brown film. Pair with a terry cloth polo, oversized oxford or rugby a la the guys (and girl) above to offset the laidback vibes of the shorts with something slightly preppy.
So if you now find yourself slightly less repulsed by the idea of shorts made of corduroy, and maybe even a little curious to try them yourself, below are 15 pairs for indulging your inner surfer. Hang ten or whatever.
Best OG Shorts: Banks Journal Big Bear Walkshort
If you really want to stay true to the corduroy short’s origin, these Walkshorts by Banks Journal are pretty close to the real deal. The patch pockets are reminiscent of those found on Hammies or OPs, but they feature a few extra inches of length so you won’t feel totally exposed. Plus, the half-elastic waistline means they’ll be all the more comfortable.
Best Preppy Shorts: Brooks Brothers Strech Cotton Wide Wale Corduroy Short
If the Strech Cotton Wide Wale Corduroy Short look like something right out of a Brooks Brother’s catalog, it’s probably because they’re literally right out of a Brooks Brother’s catalog. Clocking in a crips 5.5″ and finished with signature oxford-cloth lined pockets, they’re as far from surfer as cord shorts are going to get. We kind of dig it.
Best Athletic Short: Vuori Optimist Short
The optimist short is a rare breed, even among corduroy styles; designed by IH-approved Vuori, the fit, feel and flex of these two-way stretch, super soft bottoms are more akin to a workout short than your typical surfer fair. Still, they’re a joy to wear around, especially considering the side seam and back welt pockets (and the signature Vuori drawcord).
Most Versatile Short: Rhythm Corduroy Jam Short
Much like Vuori’s sporty offering, sometimes you want the feel and comfort of an athletic short without the look of one. Rhythm’s Corduroy Jam Shorts are ideal for when you want to be comfortable but not too casual — the drawstring waist lends them the feel of your favorite loungewear while the corduroy fabric helps to elevate them.
Best 5″ Short: Todd Snyder 5″ Washed Corduroy Weekend Short
If you’re familiar with Todd Snyder’s best-selling Weekend Shorts then you’ll want to check out the designer’s corduroy version of the silhouette. Made from an extra soft, fine wale, they’re versatile in their ability to either be dressed up or down, the corduroy giving off a more polished appearance that’s balanced out by the casualness of the drawstring waist. We’re partial to this Willow colorway, ideal for the summer to fall transition.
Best Lightweight Option: Outerknown Seventyseven Cord Utility Shorts
It’s only natural that the brand from surfer Kelly Slater would have their own version of cord shorts, and they’re another pair that pay homage to the shorts of yesteryear. Outerknown sourced a lightweight corduroy for their Seventyseven shorts that’s soft, breathable and made for all-day wear. Besides, we’re willing to bet you don’t own a pair of cosmo pink shorts.
Best “Hybrid” Short: RVCA Escape Corduroy Shorts
As much a pair of athletic shorts as they are corduroy joints, the escape short’s drawstring and slant side-seam pockets feel fitting from surf label RVCA, as does the low-key black colorway. While we don’t recommend swimming in cord shorts, these make it seem almost okay to catch some waves, wide-wale style.
At first glance, one might not notice these shorts are corduroy, but that’s what makes them so appealing. The fabric will appear much richer and almost velvet-like, distinguishing them from yet another pair of drab olive shorts. The 5″ inseam doesn’t hurt either.
Best Casual Short: Birdwell Cotton-Corduroy Shorts
A navy short is a closet essential, but why should you opt for a boring pair? Add a little bit of variety to your wardrobe with these Birdwell cord shorts, for when you’re feeling fancy.
Best Wide-Wale Short: Rowing Blazers Ultra Wide-Wale Corduroy Shorts
Handmade to order in Portugal from pure Italian corduroy, Rowing Blazer’s Wide-Wale Corduroy Shorts feel more like a bespoke suit than they do a pair of summer pull-ons. That being said, these midrise shorts wouldn’t look out of place on the Nantucket boardwalk…on a Kennedy, maybe. Pair with an oversized oxford and boat shoes, and voilà! The perfect late summer ‘fit.
Best Long Short: Carhartt WIP Flint Corduroy Short
Keeping in line with Carharrt’s workwear roots, the brand’s Flint Corduroy Shorts are made from a durable but classic cotton corduroy and feature a utility pocket on one side, with the golden ratio branding at the back.
Best Toss-On Short: Wallace and Barnes 6″ Corduroy Short
The Wallace and Barnes 6″ Corduroy Shorts may be inspired by traditional workwear, old military uniforms and classic outdoor gear, by they are not, in fact, a 25-year-old “influencer” holed up in Bushwick. No, they’re the real deal; with an elastic waistband and a roomy 6″ inseam, they can take you virtually anywhere.
Best Hiking Short: Taylor Stitch Trail Short
If you needed further proof that corduroy shorts work as a concept, just check out Taylor Stitch’s Trail Short; woven from a heavenly 8.5-oz organic cotton micro cord, the retro bottoms are light enough to put in the mile and will wear in beautiful while doing so.
Best Utility Short: Battenwear Local Shorts
What do we like about the Battenwear corded bottoms? One word: pockets. Side patch pockets with double stitch durability, a front “coin pocket” with zipper hardware, a snap-closure back pocket — whatever you need to shove in your pockets for later, we guarantee the Local Shorts can handle it.
Best Patterned Short: Billionaire Boys Club Scavenger Patch Corduroy Shorts
What can we say; we’re a sucker for patched perfection, especially when corduroy is involved.
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