Historically only royalty and the ‘one percent’ could afford to wear (and decorate with) velvet. Happily, over the years, velvet has become available to all of us, thanks in part to trade, but also to advances in weaving techniques and eventually mechanization during the industrial revolution.
Velvet actually refers to the structure of the fabric, a woven pile, not the fiber, like cotton or silk. Not to be confused with its decidedly un-chic knit cousin velour, which would be unflattering on Gigi Hadid. (Please don’t wear this.) Examples have been found dating back to 2000 B.C. in ancient Egypt, providing the foundation of the close correlation between velvet and the nobility. Many historians claim that the earliest production of velvet was in Palermo, Italy, though there isn’t much evidence to support this, as there is documentation showing heavy trade to Italy from the East, another velvet hub, as early as the 9th century.
This fall, we’re seeing velvet in everything from suiting to shoes. The fabric has a beautiful drape but depending on how it’s used, it can also offer a sharp shoulder with a high gloss sheen, thanks in part to the silk it’s traditionally woven with. Rich jewel tones add to the elevated feel this season. A perfect day to night transition piece, don’t be afraid to pair a wide leg velvet pant with a t-shirt, or skinny jeans with a velvet pump. Velvet just feels right right now. Here are some recent favorite finds.