It’s an Indiana Thing! The History of Corduroy

Posted on December 18 2019

Senior Cords Mens and Womens

Everything old is new again, and we’re delighted that corduroy is trending again! Considering what we know about corduroy history, we’re not completely surprised. At A Corner Cottage, Too, we are long-time fans of this timeless fabric, a favorite for skirts, pants, shirts, dresses, and more. Read up on corduroy history to find out how this amazing and beloved fabric has withstood the test of time.

Senior Cords Shirt Example

Corduroy History Basics

Corduroy is a fabric that has a raised, ribbed wale that gives off the appearance of “cords” of fabric. The word corduroy was taken from the French translation of the “cloth of the King”, or corde du roi. Durable, yet soft and luxurious, corduroy actually hasn’t changed much in over 300 years. That beloved corduroy button skirt of yours? Chances are its very similar to garments worn in the French court a few hundred years ago.

Senior Cords Pants Corduroy History

Corduroy Comes to Indiana

Eventually, this yellow kingly cloth became the leading fashion trend for Indiana Purdue University senior students in 1904. The students had pants made from corduroy cloth and the cords became artistic canvases. The students used their garments like a wearable yearbook, and the pants became as individual as the students wearing them. Personalities were hand-painted with the name of their school, sports teams, bands, clubs, boyfriend’s names, girlfriend’s names, school mascots… Think of it like our modern-day ideal Pinterest Board. As all trends do, this one spread like wildfire and customizable corduroy pants were adopted by countless Indiana high schools.

Corduroy Button Skirt Tan

Cords with a Twist

Ladies were able to personalize a little bit of corduroy history for themselves with a distinctly feminine twist. Eventually, senior cords became jumpers and skirts for girls, not unlike the corduroy button skirt styles we know and love today. Worn on “Spirit Days” (usually Fridays for Game Day), the fashion statement brought a sense of community and school pride.


Corduroy Button Skirt with Blazer

A Piece of Indiana History

As time went on and smaller rural schools consolidated in the 1970s, the senior cords tradition seemed to fall by the wayside. You may still come across some of these priceless looks in vintage yearbooks, or if you’re lucky, in the closet of a relative. Sometimes we ask our customers if they had senior cords as a part of their fashion history. Many of them haven’t ever heard of this little bit of corduroy history, but every now and again, we see a customer beaming as they remember the tradition and all of the memories that go along with those priceless days of their lives.

If you love corduroy and other classic women’s clothing, we invite you to explore our selection of timeless, cozy women’s fashion at A Corner Cottage, Too.


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