You don't have to be in the holiday spirit to wear velvet. Dozens of designers -- think Anna Sui, Alexander Wang, Zac Posen, Nanette Lepore and Ralph Lauren to name a few -- sent the supersoft, luxe fabric down their runways.
"Velvet really speaks to luxury and it is just classically understated," Gregg Andrews, fashion director at Nordstrom, tells StyleList. "It has this amazing plush texture to it, yet it's not ostentatious. It has this lovely subtle sheen, but it doesn't draw a whole lot of attention to itself."
Stylist Bridgette Raes, author of "Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want," agrees, saying velvet is dressy, but still looks warm and winter appropriate.
"The beauty of velvet is there really is something for everyone," she tells StyleList. "It's all in how you style it, the colors you choose and the silhouettes in which you choose to wear your velvet."
Andrews says some people used to associate velvet with being very old-school, "a little bit Grandma."
"But now, because it stretches, you can get great body-conscious cocktail dresses in velvet," he says. "You can get all of these panne velvets and these crushed velvets that look really boho and have almost a hippie chic to them because they're very soft, they're very fluid. Velvet can be very sensual because of its tactile nature. ... Velvet is not always a heavy upholstery fabric."
So how do you make velvet look new and not like it belongs to Granny? We asked our experts to offer tips on what to wear the fabric with, how to accessorize it and how to make it look chic, not cheap.
Invest in a jacket: "Every woman should have a great velvet jacket in her wardrobe," Andrews says. "She can wear it almost like a tuxedo jacket with a ruffled blouse or very crisp white shirt. But she can also take a velvet blazer and team it with jeans. ... When you take velvet and you team it with denim or you team it with a menswear-inspired fabric like a tweed, it's that high-low unexpected mix that makes it look really new."
Beware of velvet pants: "Velvet pants are lovely, but you need to be careful about the friction caused between the legs when walking," Raes says. "It can ruin the nap of the velvet."
Beyond black: "Velvet is fantastic in rich gem tones," Raes says. "This winter, with all the reds, plums and pinks, velvet is a perfect fabric for those classic brights."
"This year, we saw a lot of steely gray velvet that looked really beautiful," Andrews says. "When it's in that gray tone, it almost has a metallic-like quality to it. Gray looked exceptionally new and really fresh. I can't recall seeing gray velvet before. (Also look for) navy-blue velvet, velvet in a berry tone, in a wine or cranberry shade."
Accessorize it: "I think velvet has a dressier, more refined look, so I love dressier, more vintage looking accessories," Raes says. "Imagine a great string of pearls, some vintage Art Deco jewelry, big rings, marcasite and strands of long necklaces."
"Velvet is rich and it makes a pretty strong statement on its own," Andrews says. "So, a simple string of pearls, a simple pendant on a chain. Keep the accessories simple."
Pair it with other fabrics: "We're talking about a contrast, whether you're wearing velvet in a new high-low way or you're wearing it in a more traditional sense, where you're teaming velvet with satin," Andrews says. "Or you're teaming it with something very delicate like lace, or transparent like an organza or a chiffon. You're contrasting that thick, plush texture against something else, and that's really what makes velvet work, whether you're going to go more traditional or wear it in a new, more contemporary way."
"I think silky, sinewy fabrics are pretty when worn with velvet, but velvet also looks great with jeans or tailored clothing," Raes says. "Picture a tuxedo pant with a velvet blazer or a velvet skirt with a silky top, for example. Additionally, a great stand-alone velvet blazer can really elevate the look of a pair of jeans and a basic button-down shirt."
Look luxe, not cheap: "What makes velvet rich is the pile -- it's the depth of that pile and how thick and how plush it is," Andrews says. "It's also how it feels to your hand. It should be very silky-smooth. You don't want the backing of the fabric to feel stiff or coarse."
"There is extremely expensive velvet and extremely cheap velvet," Raes says. "Usually, very expensive velvet is made from cotton and very cheap velvet is made from rayon, along with varying qualities in between the two. This is not to say that you can only wear cotton velvet, but really look at your velvet, and if it looks cheap, then it will look cheap on your body, no matter what you do to it. ... What you wear with your velvet is equally crucial. The worst thing you can do is choose a cheap velvet, in a cheap color, and then partner it with cheap accessories. You're better off wearing something else."
Formal affairs: "A velvet suit, whether it's a pantsuit or a skirt suit, is going to be very dressy and is going to be in the same genre as a tuxedo for a woman," Andrews says. "If you're going to do that, you need to keep your underpinning, your accessories, really simple and let it just be about this beautiful fabric that you're dressed in head to toe. ... Let all that beautiful velvet be the focal point."
Baby steps: "If a woman is thinking about velvet, she should think about velvet accessories if she's not ready to commit to a velvet blazer or a velvet top," Andrews says. "We are seeing velvet shoes, some stretch velvet boots -- even a velvet scarf is a great way to add a touch of luxury to an outfit without going over the top."
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