Corduroy is lustrous and soft. It is also durable and wears and washes well. Corduroy is a fabric that is made with fibers twisted together.
When these fibers are woven, they run parallel to each other. This results in raised ribs, or wales, that run lengthwise. Corduroy can be made from cotton, rayon or other fabrics.
Corduroy can also come in many weights and sizes. The wales can be deep or shallow, thick or thin. The size of the corduroy is determined by the numbers of wales per inch, and corduroy that has a lower size number is thicker than corduroy with a higher number. If corduroy has wide ribs, it's called wide-wale corduroy. If the ribs are narrow, it's known as pin-wale corduroy. The standard size is 11 wales per inch. Corduroy can also be found in solid colors or patterns.
Corduroy is popular for skirts, trousers, jackets and children's clothes. It's also used for blankets, window dressings and upholstery. Corduroy for upholstery and drapes is cut wider than corduroy for clothing.
Folklore has it that the name comes from the French "corde du roi," meaning the king's cord. Corduroy is also called Manchester cloth, corded velveteen, pin cord and elephant cord.