Since the beginning of its popularity in the 14th century, velvet has traditionally been associated with luxury, royalty, and a softness of touch. To call velvet a single fabric is a bit of a misnomer, because it is actually a type of weave that can be done with many different fibers in many different styles. Nonetheless, all varieties were untouchable and inaccessible to the common people of these earlier centuries—typically, silk was used in this type of weave, making the "velvet" textile we know historically far too expensive for anyone lacking a royal bloodline.
Today, velvet is most commonly made from cotton fibers and sometimes from a mixture of rayon and silk. While this substitution makes velvet more accessible for common people with non-royal incomes, aside from some velvet-trimmed holiday dresses I wore when I was five or six (and don’t get me wrong, I looked forward to wearing those all year), or vintage resurgences of 1920s style with increased velvet production in the industrial revolution, velvet seemed to have taken a backseat in the common wardrobe after the 1990s.
Enter Paris Fashion Week 2016, where several designers included velvet pieces in their collections. Stella McCartney's pantsuit, this striking plum Dries Van Noten dress, and the textured, soft pink Alberta Ferretti suit established the most festive trend of this fall and winter.
Lucky for us (and thanks to these designers, among others), we can walk into almost any store this season and find any article of clothing in plush velvet textures. Whether the occasion calls for getting dressed up with everywhere to go, taking an outfit from boring to slightly less so, or even for simply lounging around, the fashion industry has a growing selection of velvet pieces in an array of different hues ranging from sweet and soft pastels to intense and sultry jewel tones.
Holiday parties wouldn't be complete without festive apparel, and this year, high street fashion brands with stores here in Ann Arbor have turned to velvet for both trendy and traditional holiday dresses.
In Michigan, braving the cold can be a struggle when it comes to fashion: cute doesn't always mean warm. However, with velvet shoes (such as these regal booties), dressing up a cozy, monochromatic outfit can be simple.
Whether plain and simple or with an added brooch, chokers in any color add an air of sophistication to any outfit, in any color.
4. Tops and Body Suits
Flowy, off-the-shoulder, turtleneck, crop tops, patterned - there's a top suited to anyone and everyone, and now they all come in velvet (including 90s, little-black-tank-top replicas.)
Finally, for those cold winter nights best spent with a good book and hot chocolate, why not choose those in a velvet weave?
Clearly, we have emerged on the other side of the 14th century with equal access to all kinds of velvet; 2016 is embracing the idea of velvet for everyone. It's trendy yet understated, dressy yet comfortable. The choice is now up to us to decide which pieces delight us most this fall and winter.