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Catching Rae

Parsing Trends: Is Velvet Right for You?

From left to right: Akris, Bottega Veneta, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Roberto Cavalli (via   Vogue  )

From left to right: Akris, Bottega Veneta, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Roberto Cavalli (via Vogue)

Last week, we discussed why every piece that you wear is a statement piece that says something about you - even if it happens to suggest something as simple as conventionality. Today, I want to move on to the ready-to-wear trends and utilize my 9-point checklist to help determine what some of this season's biggest trends mean to you and your closet.

We'll start with velvet. 

Velvet is a soft, dense fabric that dates back to 2000BC in Egypt and was originally only available to nobility. It's also became more of a staple fabric in the medieval era and renaissance, and then was made more widely availably by Dutch techniques around 1900. 

With that in mind, let's put the velvet trend through the wringer... we're not only looking for a description of each attribute, but also a few feelings and associations that spring to mind. For this exercise, we're using the types of velvet that appear in the 2016 Ready-to-Wear runway shows.

  • Hue (color mix) - This season it's appearing in jewel tones and neutrals. This makes me think of treasure, adventure, pirates, fairy tales, and mystery.
  • Value (how much black/white in the color) - Usually pretty deep. Luxurious, jewels, robes, royalty, expensive dye.
  • Saturation (how much gray in the color) - This season I mostly see highly saturated velvets. This makes me think of richness, opulence, bounty, bold personality, strong flavor.
  • Contrast - A variety of color pairings are shown, so this is up to the wearer. This means it's versatile and individual.
  • Fit - The current look is on the looser side, but not baggy. Looser clothes feel more relaxed, liesurely, less formal, more conducive to movement and action.
  • Hand (how stiff or slinky) - Runway velvets drape well. Soft drape is also relaxed, comfortable.
  • Weight - Velvet is on the heavier side of the spectrum. Heavier fabrics make me think of warmth, quality, expense, formality.
  • Luster - Velvet's innate sheen reminds me of liquid, metal, gemstones, money, jewelry.
  • Texture - Soft and plush textures feel dressy and luxurious. It reminds me of fur, holidays, and blankets.

In my brainstorming session above, the common themes that appear are ones of luxury, bounty, exclusivity, luck, and leisure. If these kinds of things support your personal style statement and further the message you'd like to send to the world, then the trend will probably work well in your wardrobe. It doesn't have to be the total sum of your style statement (because you probably won't wear head-to-toe velvet like these runway models), but it should resonate with how you want to be perceived within your sphere of influence. 

It's also important to do this exercise for yourself! You might strongly associate velvet with an unhappy experience, a particular person you dislike, or something else that turns you off to the trend in ways you didn't expect. Breaking the trend down into all these attributes and evaluating them separately will help these issues come to the fore - before you buy into the trend.