Velvet is a luxurious fabric that evokes elegance and sophistication. Though velvet may seem intimidating to incorporate into your wardrobe, it can add richness and depth when styled properly. Here’s how to find comfort in velvet fabrics and make them work for you.
The History of Velvet
Velvet has a long and storied history, originating in the Far East over 2000 years ago. The lush, thick pile was long associated with nobility and royalty across medieval Europe and Asia. By the 18th century, advances in weaving technology made velvet more affordable and accessible. Today, velvet remains a fabric synonymous with luxury, preferred for elegant eveningwear and formal occasions.
Key Milestones in Velvet History
- 13th century – Marco Polo returns from his travels in Asia bringing velvet to Europe. Velvet becomes a symbol of status and wealth.
- 16th century – Weavers in Italy, France and Germany improve production methods, making velvet more widely available.
- 18th century – The Jacquard loom is invented, allowing intricate velvet patterns to be woven.
- 19th century – Velvet transitions from solely formalwear to interiors and upholstery as production costs drop.
- 1920s – Velvet surges in popularity, favored by designers like Chanel for its rich look.
- Today – Velvet is woven from diverse textiles like cotton, silk, synthetics making it a versatile, accessible fabric.
The Luxurious Qualities of Velvet
Velvet is recognizable by its distinctive short dense pile that gives it a smooth luxurious finish. Here are some key qualities that set velvet apart:
- Soft and plush – The thick piled surface feels indulgently soft to the touch. Brushing your hand across velvet evokes a sense of comfort and warmth.
- Shimmering appearance – The way velvet reflects light creates an eye-catching, almost iridescent effect as the fabric moves. The sheen adds striking visual depth.
- Fluid drape – Velvet has a fluid, sensual drape as it cascades over the body’s contours. The fabric elegantly flatters different silhouettes.
- Rich color saturation – Velvet absorbs dye exceptionally well, allowing it to retain vivid, saturated hues. Black velvet, in particular, has an intense depth of color.
- Textural interest – From crushed to devoré, different finishes add appealing textural dimensions to velvet. For example, crushed velvet has a rumpled look.
Finding Everyday Comfort in Velvet
While velvet can feel dressy, there are easy ways to wear it more casually:
Opt for Velvet Accents
Velvet details on things like jackets, tops or skirts allow you to tap into velvet’s elegance without going overboard. Accent pieces feel special but remain versatile.
Choose Pieces with Stretch
Many velvet fabrics now incorporate stretch, making them more flexible and comfortable for daily wear. Stretch velvet works well for form-fitting items like leggings.
Go for Washed Finishes
Washed or treated velvet has a softened hand that removes some of the formality. These pieces drape easily and pair well with jeans.
Mix Textures Thoughtfully
Combining velvet with contrasting textures prevents outfits from feeling overly formal. For instance, pair a velvet skirt with a casual knit top.
Select Rich Fall Hues
Deep shades like emerald, plum and sapphire make ideal colors for velvet transitioning into fall. Darker velvet feels luxe but not out of place.
Styling Velvet for Maximum Comfort
With the right styling choices, velvet can be quite easygoing:
Balance Oversized and Fitted Silhouettes
An oversized velvet top or jacket feels more relaxed paired with tailored trousers or a slim skirt. The contrast creates an effortlessly chic look.
Choose Layers Wisely
Thin velvet is ideal for layering under jackets and coats. Avoid bulky sweaters or shirts under velvet as excess volume can seem overwhelming.
Pair with Denim
Jeans, especially dark washes, beautifully temper velvet’s formality. Tuck a velvet blouse into skinny jeans for an elegant yet casual outfit.
Stick to one color family like pairing a burgundy velvet skirt with merlot tights and ankle boots. Monochrome outfits have an understated sophistication.
Add Lightweight Accessories
Delicate jewelry, like thin gold necklaces or dainty earrings, balances velvet’s richness. Avoid chunky accessories that compete with the lush fabric.
Caring for Velvet
Follow these tips to keep velvet looking its best:
- Avoid overly hot irons and steam which can crush the pile. Lightly steam velvet inside out instead.
- Use a fabric shaver or lint roller to remove dust and lint which cling to the pile.
- Spot clean spills immediately with a damp cloth, avoiding vigorous rubbing which can damage the pile.
- Turn velvet garments inside out before machine washing on a delicate cycle. Hang to dry.
- Use a velvet brush to gently restore the pile if crushed. Brush light-colored velvet along the pile. For dark velvet, brush against the pile.
- Store velvet properly folded in breathable fabric bags. Hangers can stretch out the shoulders.
Velvet deserves its reputation as a luxurious fabric, but with the right approach, it can also have a place in relaxed everyday wardrobes. Follow these tips on fabrics, styling, fit and care to find your own personal comfort zone in velvet. Embrace velvet accent pieces, mix textures and colors creatively, and care for the fabric properly. With versatile styling, velvet loses its formality and becomes an easy, everyday indulgence.
- How did velvet originate and evolve over history to become synonymous with luxury?
Velvet originated in the Far East over 2000 years ago and was brought to medieval Europe by Marco Polo in the 13th century, where it became associated with nobility and royalty. As weaving technology advanced in the 16th-18th centuries, velvet production increased, making the fabric more affordable and transitioning it from solely formalwear to wider fashion and interior use.
- What special qualities make velvet such a unique, recognizable fabric?
Velvet is recognizable by its distinctive short, lush, dense pile that gives it a soft, plush, shimmering appearance. It has a fluid drape and retains vivid saturated hues. Different finishes like crushed or devoré add appealing textural interest. Overall, these special qualities give velvet a luxurious, elegant look and feel.
- What are some tips for wearing velvet in casual, everyday settings?
Opt for velvet accents instead of head-to-toe looks. Choose velvet with stretch for comfort. Pair velvet with textures like denim to make outfits more casual. Stick to relaxed silhouettes, monochrome outfits, and delicate accessories. Rich fall hues can work for daytime velvet.
- How can you care for velvet clothing to maintain its beauty?
You should steam velvet inside out on low heat, use fabric shavers to remove dust, and spot clean spills immediately. Always wash velvet on delicate cycles inside out and let it hang dry naturally. Use a velvet brush to gently restore crushed pile and store velvet properly folded in breathable bags, not hung.