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Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Corduroy, the traditional English fabric commonly associated with stuffy, bespectacled professors, gets considerably less square this season. More preppy and polished than straight-laced conservative, the cord jacket offers a cool alternative to the conventional blazer. Here's how to take it from classroom to cubicle.

1. By nature, corduroy skews rather casual. And while designer John Varvatos (above left) gave it a decided rock 'n' roll feel, you'll want to play up its refinement with a crisp shirt, tie and trousers.

2. Choose corduroy jackets in darker, more formal colours, such as black, navy and grey, for a professional look. Camel or brown shades are more appropriate for the weekend.

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3. Modern takes on the fabric are tailored and fit closer to the body. As for those dusty elbow patches, leave them in Mr. Rogers' neighbourhood, where they belong.

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