by Sandy Waterman
Velvet is all the rage again this Christmas but it's not just a festive favourite. Shop smartly and you'll find a stylish staple to see you into the new year and beyond.
Blogger Deborah James aka Bowelbabe in our versatile tailored amelia velvet tunic dress
With a string of festive events and carol services to attend, not to mention new years’ eve…we’re looking to nail down a look that is both versatile and chic without resorting to the obvious spotlight seekers of sequins and the LBD. 2017 has been the year to shake things up and unlike any other time- less is significantly more. As Jayne McFarland, mistress wardrobe for The Times writes:
“Draconian dress codes are officially out.” Jayne McFarland, The Times
This holiday we’ll be working the room in velvets, because their lustrous sheen and warmth create a more sophisticated elegance that drapes well in classic finely fitted designs. Traditionally associated with the both the holly and the ivy, this opulent fabric works beyond the season thanks to the richness in colour, an effect of the fabric texture- just ask David Lynch and the late great Prince. And from the catwalk to the red carpet we’ve been noticing a resurgence of velvet from updated tuxedo suits to wrap dresses.
From catwalk to red carpet velvet has made a huge resurgence this season. (clockwise from top left) Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Ralph Lauren, a re-structured velvet trouser velvet suit in electric blue by Monse, Rita Ora in Tom Ford, a long maxi shift dress by Cédric Charlier in sulphur.
But be warned, velvet can be a tricky and unforgiving fabric to wear. Get it right, and you'll find a stylish staple that will make you look and feel your very best for seasons to come. So for evenings of mulled wine and mince pies and beyond, we’ve lined up some smart tips for shopping velvet and a selection of stylishly sumptuous velvet looks for you from our AW17 collection
Tip 1 - All velvets are not created equal
"But it's velvet!" I hear you exclaim. Well not quite. Many different varieties and qualities of velvet exist and are in use out there. And while materials technology has recently delivered some amazing cost effective alternatives, for that really deep lasting velvety sheen and proper garment durability, you can't beat high quality silk velvet. To increase practicality and affordability, silk velvets have evolved to composite mixes including silk rayon or silk and viscose mixes. For a good quality silk velvet look for that special silky sheen and percentage ratios of at least 18% silk within the mix. All Ridley velvet and devore velvet tops and dresses are made from the finest silk velvet, especially sourced for its extraordinary lustre and luxuriously soft feel. We only use long pile grade silk velvet which delivers the highest quality of finish and is noticeably softer to the touch.
A simple solid velvet dress, our Amelia dress, gives a gentle nod to 70’s fashion with its relaxed tunic silhouette. Draping this style with a fabric that is normally reserved for constructed looks is a trend we expect to continue beyond the holiday season and into the colder winter months. The versatility of this dress is in the deceptively simple style enabling it to be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Wear with boots and accessorise to create a casual look or heels to easily transform this dress to suit a more formal occasion. Versatility and fit are the vital components to this key wardrobe piece.
Tip 2 - Pile Direction
It sounds simple, but you'll be amazed at the amount of designers and labels that overlook this fundamental. At Ridley, we always ensure the grain of our velvet garments runs from the bottom to the top, essentially from the floor upwards. This gives a far more luxurious sheen to the piece, ensures that the fabric doesn’t mark when you sit and increases durability. Grain direction is easy to spot. The garment should feel smooth to the touch if you brush your hand up the garment with the grain from bottom to top.
Stylist Laura Parkes loves our tailored velvet devore stella coat. While Kate Moss dresses down her devore velvet duster coat for a totally cool, relaxed daytime look
Making an unforgettable entrance to any drinks party, our Stella Coat is a favourite of fashion directors and bloggers. The full length with faux fur collar balances the embossed texture of the rich velvet in deep ash and a gentle cinching at the waist creates a striking silhouette. The long cut flatteringly elongates, while individual tailoring ensures that it flatters every figure. Fitted correctly- every woman wearing this coat will look a million dollars. A velvet coat isn't limited to evenings out. Follow Kate Moss and slip on trainers for a day to day chic bohemian look.
Tip 3 - Garment Hang
Thirdly, look at the way the garment hangs. To get the most out of this opulent fabric it’s essential that the garment fits properly and hangs in a way that emphasizes each wearer’s unique assets. Silk velvet is an ideal fabric to use on fluid styles, as it’s richly reflective properties help to emphasize movement and body shape. We individually make every Ridley garment to order which enables us to advise customers on their choice of garment style and fabric colouring to suit their body type and colouring. We then individually tailor each garment to suit ensuring it fits, hangs and moves perfectly.
Of course we all need a blouse that can transition from day to evening. In silk velvet devore, the Tamara top adds a touch of glamour to a pair of jeans or black pencil skirt, making it the perfect piece for both the office and weekend. This top uses the sheen in the velvet weave to reflect 2 reds both separately and together to create a visual splendour that is bang on trend with ruched neckline and raglan sleeve.
Stylist Laura Parkes in our new tailored devore velvet laura blouse and lavinia maxi dress
Tip 4 - Its in the details
Finally look at the construction details, the finish around seams and the way any fabric overlaps sit together. Ideally the seams of velvet garments should be as flat and unobtrusive as possible promoting a seamless fluidity within the garment while ensuring strength, comfort and longevity. Often seams on mass produced velvet garments can be crude with chunky overlaps, undermining the delicate fluidity of the piece. At Ridley our experienced seamstresses sew all of our garments upwards using a slight 70/10 ballpoint needle and fine Gütermann thread. By matching the direction of the velvet grain, we can deliver a smoother more intricate stitching pattern which provides enduring strength and an invisible joint. This not only makes the garment more comfortable to wear, but crucially it delivers a seamlessly fluid movement right across the whole piece. Literally bringing the garment to life and lending the wearer that shimmering superstar quality. For our cuffs and collar details we use specialist over-locker techniques which again deliver flatter, stronger seams and a higher quality of finish.
With it's rich, flattering sheen and luxurious softness, it's no wonder that velvet continues to be a popular choice for this time of year. But there's no reason why this fabulous fabric should be limited to the festive season. Just glance at the fashion press and you'll see that velvets popularity is predicted to last into spring and beyond. And with the right tailoring and fit you'll find a 'go to' garment that will help you look and feel your very best for seasons to come.
Find out how we can help you to make the most of this elegant fabric for your requirements. Call us and make an appointment with one of our expert personal stylists and see our full collection.