Velvet Fashion Trend Guide
The ‘90s revival means that the velvet fashion trend is back. This sumptuous fabric can be elegant and luxurious, but it doesn’t have to be – velvet fits well into casual looks, especially if you want to give them a fashionable twist. Velvet fashion comes in shapes and sizes, but a velvet dress might be your most prudent purchase when it comes to creating standout party looks.
With that being said, why limit yourself? There are many other awesome ways to wear velvet, and we’ll cover all of them. We want to help you wear velvet fashion from day to night, with some of the chicest velvet dresses, tops, jackets, and accessories that you can buy online.
With so many different types of items, we’ll help you figure out how to wear velvet for any occasion, with a very thorough velvet fashion guide. To finish things off, knowing how to maintain and clean velvet clothes is key, so we’ll give you directions for dealing with stains as well as how to hand- and machine-wash velvet garments safely.
A Look Back at the History of Velvet Fashion
Velvet is a luxurious and soft fabric that was historically made of silk, though these days it is most commonly made of polyester and similar synthetics (occasionally blended with a touch of silk). What distinguishes velvet is not the type of fiber, but the way in which the fabric is woven. Velvet is a tufted fabric that is made on a special loom that weaves two pieces of the material in tandem. The two pieces are then cut apart, which creates the pile effect (loose tufts, almost like a fur) that makes velvet so soft to the touch.
The origin of the velvet
Because of the difficulty of producing velvet, the fabric has always been quite expensive, and therefore associated with royalty. The very first pile weave fabrics, sort of precursors to velvet, were crafted in Egypt circa 2000 BCE out of silk and linen.
However, these fabrics didn’t much resemble today’s velvet. It was 1600 years later that fabrics with an uncut pile were developed in China, which were much more similar to the fabric we know today. These early versions of velvet were cruder, with shorter piles.
The next period when we see velvet gain popularity is during the 8th or 9th century, in the Iraqi court of Harun Al-Rashid during the Islamic Golden Age. It was then brought to Al-Andalus, i.e. Muslim Spain, by the singer Ziryab, and from there its spread through the royal courts of Europe in the next few hundred years was inevitable.
In the Middle Ages, Cairo was the main exporter of velvet fabrics, which were traded all over Europe but were particularly popular in Venice, Italy. That is, until weavers in Italy started producing their own velvet, leading some sources to mistakenly credit Italy with the first velvet production.
The Evolution of Velvet
From the 12th to the 18th centuries, Italy was the center of velvet production, exporting the fabric all over Europe. By the Renaissance, velvet was used for various kinds of items, including clothing, wall hangings, upholstery, draperies, religious vestments, and more.
Because of the difficulty creating it, velvet was associated strongly with royalty. Families like the Medicis were the main buyers, commissioning ornate velvet pieces adorned with the family crests. Velvet maintained its opulent status all throughout the Renaissance and the Napoleonic era.
With the industrial revolution and mechanization, velvet production became much easier and less laborious, and so the costs of the fabric went down. Despite this, velvet fashion managed to keep its luxurious reputation and was still associated with the wealthy.
This lasted into the 1920s, when velvet became the popular fabric of choice for evening dresses and shawls. This fabric also had its place in the ‘50s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and even during ‘90s grunge. You might recall Winona Ryder famously wearing a slip velvet dress on the red carpet in 1993!
The ‘90s revival is the main reason for this article, as velvet fashion is back along with many other grunge-era staples. In recent years, we’ve seen designers as diverse as Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, and Roksanda send models out in all kinds of velvet garments, so it is safe to say that the velvet trend is going strong. How are you displaying it?
How to Wear Velvet Fashionably
Whether it’s about a small piece of velvet accessory or a Victorian-inspired velvet dress, it’s really important to know how to wear velvet not to make it look cheap, but instead bring out the royal luxury in it. Everything starts from learning how to pick velvet pieces and make them appropriate for every occasion.
Tips for Choosing Velvet Fashion Items
• When choosing velvet fashion items, first consider when you would like to wear them. Velvet is more delicate than many other fabrics, so it is best to choose items that you won’t have to wear on rainy days or that won’t have to interact too much with your environment.
This means that velvet is a great fit for elegant dresses or jackets, but it doesn’t make sense to own velvet boots you might want to wear on rainy days or velvet pants you’d like to wear for running errands. Basically, think of velvet as a “sometimes fabric” that you won’t wear on very active days.
• When looking at larger items, opt for velvet in darker jewel tones. Since we are heading into a season that includes a lot of lighter colors and pastels, look for velvet accessories in those colors instead of large garments like dresses and jackets.
• Since velvet has a more textured, shiny finish, some women worry that it will make them appear larger than they are. While we’re generally of the opinion that this is not worth fretting about, you can mitigate the concern by opting for darker velvet fashion items or by choosing outfits that are a little tighter fitting.
• Consider the kind of velvet you’re choosing: polyester velvet is easier to maintain, while silk velvet is undeniably more luxurious (and expensive!). You also have the option of crushed velvet, especially if you’re aiming for that ‘90s pre-goth look, or a stretchy velvet fabric if you’d like a figure-hugging look.
• Velvet is not a fabric that goes unnoticed, so be ready to stand out!
General Rules for Wearing Velvet
• While velvet is generally considered an autumn fabric or a fabric for winter holiday dresses, it is actually extremely breathable so it is a great choice all year round. Don’t feel restricted to outdated traditions when deciding whether you should or shouldn’t wear velvet fashion.
• Velvet has a very particular texture, so it is best not to overdo it. Stick to one velvet item per look, especially when it comes to bigger items. You might be able to get away with smaller touches, like a pair of velvet shoes along with a pair of velvet shorts, but nothing beyond that.
• Avoid pairing velvet with fabrics that have an overly similar finish like corduroy, velour, and velveteen.
• Velvet can look nice with small, localized prints or with large prints, but small, busy prints will clash against your velvet fashion items.
Velvet Fashion for Daytime
• Velvet separates are excellent for daytime, since they add a unique touch to an outfit without taking over the whole look.
• One of the fun ways of wearing velvet is pairing it with hyper-casual items. You can wear a velvet blouse with a pair of distressed jeans, a velvet skirt with crips sneakers, or any other unique combination you might have in mind.
• In general, pair your velvet separates with separates in the following fabrics for a more casual feel: denim, wool/ knitwear, and simple cotton.
• You can have fun with color when it comes to wearing the velvet trend in the daytime. This can mean mixing velvet items with their more colorful monochrome counterparts (think a deep blue velvet with a neon blue item), or neutral black velvet with your favorite bright shade.
Velvet Fashion for Nighttime
• Velvet’s sumptuousness means that it is an excellent fabric for luxury evening wear. Even a simple velvet garment seems more expensive and ornate strictly because of the soft, shiny fabric.
• A velvet dress is an easy evening wear choice, but velvet jumpsuits and separates can also work, especially for semi-formal occasions.
• Velvet has a powerful texture, so when styling it, remember that less is more. Stick to delicate jewelry, and simple textures on accessories like shoes, jackets, or shawls.
• If you’d like to wear velvet separates like a skirt, top, or trousers for an evening look that is not overly dressy, you can safely combine them with elegant yet delicate fabrics like satin, chiffon, or lace.
Velvet Fashion for the Office
Velvet blazers, pants, skirts and even dresses can all work well at the office, as long as you style them appropriately.
• Treat a velvet blazer as you would a patterned jacket or blazer. This means you can combine it with the same kinds of items that you would any other blazer, but avoid prints or extreme textures.
• A velvet dress worn at work or for business casual situations should not be overly tight or revealing. If it is on the shorter side, pair it with opaque tights, while if it is a sleeveless or backless design, pair it with a simple, solid colored jacket or blazer.
• If you’re feeling brave you can wear a velvet suit set with a plain button-up shirt or silk blouse and a pair of sleek patent pumps.
• If you only want a touch of that glamour, a pair of velvet shoes can complement a typical business casual look nicely.
How to Wear a Velvet Dress
• Velvet dresses are almost always going to be on the more glamorous side, especially if they have a lot of length either at the skirt or the sleeves.
• A shorter velvet dress can be worn more casually or for club and party looks.
• For a casual look that embraces the slight ‘90s vibe velvet has, wear a short, simple velvet dress with a sweatshirt tied around your waist, a choker, and a pair of either high top sneakers or combat boots.
• Generally, let your velvet dress be the star of your look, and avoid pairing it with anything too ostentatious.
Styling Velvet Tops
• There are all kinds of velvet tops and blouses, including very delicate, loose ones and more ornate or tight ones. No matter what kind you choose, let it be the star of your look.
• Velvet camisoles can look wonderful with any simple combination of pants and jacket. You can do more casual with jeans and a cotton cardigan, or do something more professional with black trousers and a beige blazer.
• Ultra-feminine or embellished velvet tops are having a moment right now, especially against more masculine boyfriend jeans.
Velvet Jacket Styling Tips
• A velvet blazer is the easiest way of doing velvet in the office, since it instantly adds glamour but pairs well with traditional office clothes.
• You can opt for a jewel-toned velvet jacket or blazer, and let it be the main point of interest in your look.
• Alternatively, you can wear a black velvet jacket as a way of toning down a more colorful outfit.
• Layer a velvet jacket over a simple T-shirt and boyfriend jeans outfit, and turn something super casual into chic and a touch more elegant.
• Classy velvet jacket looks can involve wearing it over cotton pants and a white button-up, a solid black dress, a silk top and a cotton skirt. Take these ideas as inspiration and run with them to come up with your own velvet outfits!
• Long velvet jackets are truly unique items that are better for parties or daywear. Fashionistas are wearing them with more casual looks, usually with skinny jeans, but they could look very cool worn over a mini dress.
Tips on Wearing Your Velvet Pants
• When wearing velvet pants, it is better to stay away from overly embellished tops or jackets. Keep things simple, and let the pants be the main point of interest in your look.
• Velvet pants are usually tailored in a professional enough style, so you can absolutely wear them to the office. Pair them with a simple blouse (preferably tucked in) and a pair of sleek flats or heels.
• While they might seem soft and comfy, avoid wearing velvet pants to most casual occasions, as they can get damaged easily and you can end up with bald patches, especially around the seat of the pants.
Embrace Velvet Skirts and Shorts!
• Velvet shorts and skirts these days are normally cut with a high-waisted fit, so tuck your top into the waist of your shorts or skirt. This will look more modern, and will help to emphasize your waist.
• A velvet skirt is a classic choice for business casual wear, but you can also get away with wearing velvet shorts at the office! Wear them with opaque tights and a button-up shirt tucked in, and you’ll be golden. A blazer could also elevate the look.
• Get creative! Since velvet is a heavier fabric, both velvet skirts and shorts can work well with long-sleeved and warmer items like knit sweaters, sweatshirts, thick socks, and layered jackets.
Adding in Velvet Shoes and Accessories
• Velvet accessories like shoes, bags, chokers, and headbands are a great way of introducing velvet into your look without having it take over or overwhelm. Consider trying them out if you’re not ready to fully embrace the velvet fashion trend.
• Velvet shoes and boots look a little bit like a fancier, shinier form of suede, so keep that in mind when approaching these items.
• As with any pair of attention-grabbing shoes, you want to make velvet shoes the focal point of your outfit, and not have them fight against other things you are wearing. It is much easier to wear velvet shoes with simple items than it is to wear them with busy patterns.
• Be mindful of when you will wear velvet shoes or accessories – they don’t tend to do well with water, so they are best avoided on rainy days.
• Velvet heels can be super luxurious, though if you opt for platforms you’ll definitely also have a bit of a ‘70s vibe going.
How to Clean Velvet Shoes and Clothes
Because of all of the cut piles, velvet is a much more delicate fabric than many others. Many velvet clothing items are labeled dry clean only, in which case you should follow the instructions on the label and leave cleaning to the professionals.
In other cases, especially with more hearty polyester velvet or in cases where you are only dealing with a small stain, you might be able to do clean-up on your own at home. If you are a velvet fanatic, it might be worthwhile for you to invest in an at-home dry cleaning kit. This way you can regularly clean your velvet fashion without having to worry about expensive dry-cleaning bills.
Spot Cleaning Velvet Shoes and Clothes
• Spot cleaning is especially important for velvet accessories, or for when velvet polyester clothes get stained at an event, especially when the stain is too small to justify a trip to the dry cleaner’s.
• Resist the urge to wipe away a spill the moment it happens – you’ll just end up pushing the contaminant deeper into the fabric. Instead, shake it out to remove as much of the offensive liquid as possible.
• Once the stain is dry (but preferably still fresh), mix a tiny amount of gentle detergent in a bowl with water.
• Alternatively, you can mix together lemon juice with a bit of baking soda, and let the mixture foam up.
• Dip a very soft toothbrush in the cleaning mixture, and very gently brush it against the velvet.
• Let it sit for a few minutes, and then use a clean, dry cloth to wipe away the detergent or lemon juice and baking soda mix.
• Dry the area you’ve just cleaned with a microfiber cloth or a firm paper towel. Press the cloth or towel against the velvet in a blotting motion to remove all the excess liquid.
• If the stain remains you will have to take your velvet shoes or clothes to a professional cleaner.
• To remove dust and dirt from velvet shoes, let them dry completely if they got wet (which you should try to avoid not to spoil them). Use a soft toothbrush or a piece of clean cloth to wipe away the dust and dirt.
• To maintain the new look of your velvet shoes, you can use a soft brush to gently brush them every time after wear, making sure you don’t do this too aggressively to spoil the velvet.
Hand-Washing Velvet Clothes
• Hand-washing is the gentlest way to wash velvet items that can handle a full soaking – i.e. items made of polyester rather than silk.
• Fill your bathtub or a large plastic tub with lukewarm or cool water, and just a bit of gentle hand-washing detergent.
• Submerge your velvet item in the tub, and gently swirl it around in the water for a few minutes.
• Be careful not to rub, scrub, or twist the velvet garment, as this can damage it or stretch the fabric.
• Once you feel that the velvet is clean, drain the tub, and fill it back up with cool water.
• Push your velvet item up and down in the cool, clean water until all the suds and detergent residue come out of it.
• If you think you used too much detergent, you might want to empty and refill the tub again, and repeat the “up and down” process to get out all of the detergent.
• Once your garment is totally clean and detergent-free, find a clean space where you can either lay it out or hang it up to dry. Never dry velvet in the dryer, as this can seriously damage it.
• Avoid using clothing pins or folding the velvet over a drying rack, as this can mark or cause creasing to the fabric.
Full Cleaning in Washing Machine
• Before putting your polyester velvet clothes in the washing machine, place them in a mesh bag, especially if you will be washing them along with other items. The mesh bag will protect the fabric from creasing or getting matted.
• Velvet, no matter the fiber it’s made of, should always be washed in cold water on a gentle cycle.
• Stick to delicate care detergents, as they will be less damaging to the fabric.
• Once finished, never put velvet fashion items in the dryer! Also avoid hanging them with clothing pins, as the pins will leave a mark behind. Instead, hang them on a clothing hanger to dry, or lay them flat in a clean, dry place.
Maintenance and Caring for Velvet Items
• One way of keeping all kinds of velvet items looking fresh is to use a cloth brush on them on a regular basis. This especially applies to more rigid constructs like velvet shoes and blazers. The brushing will keep the pile going in one direct and will prevent matting or bald spots.
• Always hang velvet garments, as folding them will cause creasing that will be very hard to remove.
• If your velvet item does end up with some creasing, don’t iron it. Instead, use a steamer on a low setting, and use it at about 10-cm away from the item.
• It’s better to start off by protecting the velvet shoes from stains in advance. The ForceField Protector Waterproof & Stain Resistant Protectant Spray from Amazon is one of the shoe sprays that work for delicate fabrics like velvet, and it will do an excellent job of repelling water and preventing damage to your velvet shoes.