Five Modern Takes on a ’90s Classic: Corduroy Shorts

A reinvention has done this prep staple well.

July 12, 2018 2:52 pm

The year is 1999. Smash Mouth’s “All Star” is blaring out of every open window in America. And you, my friend, are probably wearing cord shorts.

Once a prep staple and — more recently — a truly heinous flag-bearer for everything that was wrong with late-’90s/early-aughts  menswear, the corduroy short has never been an inherently ugly garment.

In its favor: comfort, the visual appeal of some texture and a color range that tends toward more subdued, natural tones than you find with Nantucket chinos or Mediterranean flat-fronts. They’re also more robust than your average shorting material, which is probably why they’ve long been a favorite of skateboarders. In other words, they nail California casual in a way that other short styles — boardies excepted — don’t.

Things just went astray when wide wales and below-the-knee cuts inexplicably replaced clothes that actually look good on human bodies.

But a couple decades on, men’s labels seem to have recovered from their PCSD, and the cord short is back with a vengeance. Classically styled with 5-9″ inseams and typically sporting large-format patch pockets, the five options below will give you just the right amount of vintage panache you need to jump back on the bandwagon.

Birdwell Beach Britches Classic Corduroy Short | $79

Insight Coastal Cord Short | $69

Bonobos Fatigue Cord Short$88 $78

Marine Layer Westlake Short | $78

Howler Brothers Cornerstone Short$65 $45

Note: If you buy through the links in the article, RealClearLife may earn a small share of the profits.

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