Before The Fashions began, I was chatting with some colleagues when the subject of velvet was broached. My boss, eminent fashion editor and self-confessed Henry VIII fan said it horrified her, that while it looked fine on the man who ate himself to death, appropriating it in 2013 just makes you look, well, a bit Tudor. Or like you’ve just stepped out of a Game of Thrones set, which, she said, she’d rather not.
Ah but no, said the Beauty Editor, velvet is expensive looking, and stylish. But who wants to look like they’ve tried, came the Assistant Editor, her eyes widened in panic. I agreed, silently. She continued, if it’s actually expensive but fair enough, but brushed velvet just isn’t on – I hope it isn’t ‘a thing’. When it came to me, what did I think of velvet I could only say that, honestly, I’m quite partial to a pair of velvet shoes. They’re quite cute, and cute is, often, what we aim for. Or what I aim for.
But the reality of velvet shoes does not match up to the fairytale. They’re no good in most weather; a dark pair – you can’t really do pastel velvet, seems to contradict itself somehow – doesn’t go work tights, so it’s black opaques and jeans for the Lady in Velvet. The only weather they do work in is grey and dry. Recently there have been some truly great pieces of velvet footwear out and about. Last year, Topshop did a splendid pair of midnight blue ankle boots – Opening Ceremony also have a pair, and Kurt Geiger splashed the soft stuff too.
The reality of velvet is a little comical, and geeky if you’re into books, which I am. Shakespeare used it as slang for syphilis in Measure for Measure, but then Christopher Kane threw it down the runway for the current season. I am conflicted, utterly. And then I remember that my friend owns a splendid pair of velvet shorts, and I’m always envious of how warm she looks. But then there’s the Katy Perry visual, and I’m back to square one. There is no definitive answer to the velveteen problem.
If you are into velvet – and not the contagious disease kind – then there are some pieces hanging about on the high street that you can snuggle into. You can go all out, in a jumpsuit (see ASOS for the best ones) or just sprinkle it in with a scrunchie – strangely cool again – from River Island or Topshop. A velvet bag seems to make everything a little more wintery, and nods to a trend without getting all caught up in Tudor England; there are, as ever, hundreds of them milling around already.
So it’s up to you, as ever. This word ain’t law, y’all. I am on the fence. But I will admit that I tried on the adorable velvet t-bars in Topshop. And then I thought what would happen if I went outside. Wet velvet is simply as skin-crawlish as the word ‘moist’ out of context. Perhaps that will make up your mind.
Click through the gallery for my shoppable velvet picks.