The Velvet Trend: How to Wear It without Looking Like a ‘90s Flashback

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Wardrobe Oxygen: How to wear the velvet trendIn 1997 I had two long-sleeved velvet bodysuits – one was a garnet color with a mock turtleneck; the other was royal blue crushed velvet with a scoop neck. I’d pair them with baggy Calvin Klein jeans that were pretty much held up with my hip bones and bum, and on my feet were some well-worn Doc Martens.

When I saw velvet was back in style this season I groaned. Donna Martin graduated and so did I, from wearing velvet bodysuits. I have no desire to recreate the ‘90s even if it’s on trend. But the more I see how velvet is being styled this year, the more I’m digging it. Nordstrom asked me to share with you fall trends and I’ve been so impressed with velvet this fall I decided to feature it. While you won’t find me in a crushed velvet mock-neck body suit, you may find me in some of these wearable velvet trends:

The Velvet Jacket

This summer I attended a fundraising gala for a local theater. It was an Art Deco theater and guests were encouraged to dress in period fashion. My friend showed up in the most glorious beaded and embroidered black velvet long jacket/kimono/cocoon and I couldn’t stop drooling over it. She told me it’s one of the most versatile pieces in her wardrobe; style with a simple dress or pants and you’re ready for a cocktail party, the theater, and yes, a ‘20s inspired costume gala.

This jacket from Eileen Fisher isn’t as blingy but achieves the same effect as my friend’s jacket. But a jacket doesn’t have to be long and drapey to be this versatile. A tux-inspired velvet blazer can create a Le Smoking with cigarette pants and a silk camisole yet dress down with a tee and jeans. A cropped military-inspired jacket looks equally chic with a full taffeta midi skirt as a pair of fluid work trousers. A longer velvet jacket can take your work sheath from desk to drinks and work over skirts from mini to maxi and trousers of all leg widths.

Velvet is a great fabric for more casual jacket styles too. In such a fabric, a bomber or denim-inspired jacket can replace a blazer for a more creative workplace or can make a simple tank and jeans a chic ensemble for a night out.

Shop Velvet Jackets:

This is a trend where you can dig into the dark recesses of your closet or hit your local thrift store to score some fabulous velvet jackets with a history. To keep them looking modern, consider having them altered to narrow the sleeves and maybe the torso. Style with modern touches like crisp narrow trousers, pointed-toe boots, and structural bags.

The Velvet Boot

This season’s short boot makes a statement. Metallics, embroidery (my personal fave), studs, and yes velvet. In fact you can often find all of these in one statement boot.

How to style a black velvet ankle boot three ways - wardrobe oxygenShop Similar: velvet boot | sweater dress | tights | turtleneck | kick flare jeans | blazer | skinny jeans

A statement boot is a great wardrobe addition because it can make your current wardrobe look fresh and on trend. There’s sure to be a silhouette that appeals to your personal style. Chelsea boots, slim heels, block heels, granny boots, and yes those ‘90s staple the Doc Marten are available this season in velvet.

Shop Velvet Boots:

Style such a boot with tights and skirts of all lengths. It looks great under straight and bootcut jeans or slipped over jeggings or leggings and cuffed boyfriend jeans. If your office is more relaxed, it’s a fun way to add interest to work trousers. With a statement boot, don’t worry about matching. With a black base, treat them like solid black leather boots and pair with most anything in your closet.

The Velvet Dress

This is a category where you can easily go into grunge territory. There’s a lot of dresses on the market this season that give me flashbacks to college dated parties. But luckily there’s also a bunch that are beautiful, modern, and very wearable.

Shop Burnout Velvet Dresses:

My favorite way to wear the velvet trend this fall and winter is with burnout velvet. Burnout velvet is unique and elegant and will look chic even after the velvet trend has faded away. It’s artsy, it’s romantic, it’s goth, it’s elegant. It’s usually stretchy and it can make a swing or a-line style look after five. A burnout velvet dress can be worn to all the weddings, cocktail parties, and holiday fetes on your social calendar for the rest of the year.

Tips to Keep Velvet Looking Modern this Season:

If your style is ‘90s, balance it with modern makeup and accessories. Don’t pair your velvet fit and flare dress with chunky Mary Janes and brown lipstick. Keep the look crisp and chic with elegant shoes, a fresh face, sleek hair and by all means do not wear a velvet choker with it!

  • Embrace velvet’s texture. Mix textures: velvet with chiffon, silk, distressed denim, cashmere, leather. Go luxe instead of goth.
  • Tone down the sparkle. Velvet has its own sheen and doesn’t need a lot of bling. A red lip, a slim heel, a simple clutch and you’re ready for your formal affairs. Keep the sparkle for more matte of fabrics.
  • Blend high with low. A velvet blazer can look downtown chic with boyfriend jeans. Pair a velvet skirt with your favorite tee shirt knotted at the waist. Style velvet jeans with Chucks. This is an especially good rule with vintage and vintage-inspired velvet pieces that may look too precious or stuffy otherwise.
  • Don’t style velvet with velvet. While it may seem like aa good idea to style that velvet dress with your velvet T-strap heels, this is velvet overkill. Velvet makes a big statement, and does best when tempered with other materials. For dressy occasions, consider shoes in a matte silk or crepe so they don’t compete. Style a velvet skirt or trousers with a cashmere turtleneck or crisp white shirt; pair a velvet jacket or blouse with wool tuxedo pants or a silk faille midi skirt.

Thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. I’m psyched about so many trends this season and it has been fun being able to dig in to a few and show you how to make them wearable for all!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I’ve been a sucker for velvet forever! I’ve picked up a few great vintage pieces in consignment shops in recent years. My favorite is a long a-line skirt (almost to my lower calves) in a gorgeous shade of dark sage/olive green. It’s got a label from a Texas company. It has amazing shimmer and drape. Fun to wear partly because the fabric drapes and swishes as I walk and also people love seeing it. And now it’s on trend….

  2. Haha, I laughed at your Donna Martin sentence.
    I admit to having 2 velvet jackets that I have not worn in a while… it’s time to bring ’em back into rotation however I am wondering if they will look dated as they hit right on the hip bone and I think current ones are a bit more long..

  3. Great ideas here! I do love velvet- it all started with a black velvet jumpsuit I wore to a roller skating parting as a 9 year old. It laced up the front with a red embroidered ribbon!

  4. Oh, I love velvet with a passion. I wore it in the 80s, and in the 90s, and I’m always thrilled when it comes back. It can be cheap and nasty looking, so I shop really carefully … I had a pair of Paige black velvet jeans that I only relinquished when they almost fell apart.

  5. There is no shame in velvet. It comes in and out a lot and it adds such nice texture. I guess there might be shame in owning a picture of Elvis on velvet. But not to me, to each her own.

  6. In my case, I’d look like a 60s flashback! When I was in high school, we (boys and girls) would hitchhike (!) into San Francisco and buy velvet jackets at the thrift stores. You’d wear them with jeans and boots. I still am a big velvet fan, but don’t have any at the moment. Maybe it’s time to replenish the wardrobe…

  7. I think velvet is nice for a Winter party dress. It’s festive, but a little heavier so you can wear it without a jacket or sweater and still be comfortable.

  8. I am so ready for the velvet trend as i have two jackets I bought a few years ago and added floral brocade velvet tops last season. For this season i lucked out and found some pants on off season clearance. I am ready, now if we could just get out of the 80’s temperatures, so I can indulge! These pieces are fantastic and i am seriously drooling over the boots.

  9. Great ideas for updating. I’m going to try my short-sleeve velvet fit-and-flare dress with a denim jacket. I would love to add those embroidered velvet boots to my wardrobe!

  10. I appreciate your delineation of what looking like a 90s flashback would be. I lived in Maine during most of the 90s, so I think of them as plaid shirts–basically, the LL Bean catalog.
    I love velvet….

      1. and Saco is swankier than Biddeford….I lived in Portland. I saw plenty of LL Bean at the opening night of the symphony, the opera, weddings…

  11. I like clothes, I do, but I’m really a shoe whore. Those low-heeled, black velvet with the yellow embroidery? Screaming my name. I don’t remember wearing velvet in the 90s but definitely had a velvet paisley, autumnal colored blazer in the 80s.

    Oh, wanted to let you know I got my Amlactin shipment today. 3 different products with each in 3 different sizes. I am set for winter!

  12. Hi Allie, I would also point out that Talbots has a lovely velvet blazer this season. I have no affiliation with the brand, but I really like the quality and the broad range of sizes available.

      1. That photo of you in the blazer is one of my all-time favorites of you! I hope the jacket IS in the attic 🙂

        1. Ditto, but in the post you say it’s an Ann Taylor blazer. Anyways, I’ve been eyeing that Talbots’s velvet blazer for a while and they recently had a 40% off any one item sale. When I took my measurements the chart said I needed a size 22 (normally an XL) so I went into a store to try on similar jackets. Ended up getting a size 14. Anyway, did you know if you order using the red phone in the store you get free shipping?!!?? Ordered the black – wish they had a hot pink like yours.
          — Suzanne

  13. I look to Ralph Lauren for ideas on styling velvet. He seems to have a lot of velvet in his runway shows and it’s fun to adapt it to my modest price point. He’s shown cream or white fisherman’s sweaters with black velvet pants … like your suggestion and one I can easily replicate without runway prices. I also have a Chinese reversible black velvet/gold silk jacket I can think of several ways to wear and might even try with casual jeans (dark rinse) as per your suggestion.
    I have a dressy capsule in my closet I can use either to dress up or mix with my everyday style capsule. I’m including velour and velveteen in the velvet category.

      1. Yes this is sponsored, and a big reason why I like working with Nordstrom. They give me a ton of leeway to write about whatever I want, as long as it (naturally) features only their products. Considering I’m a major Nordy’s fangirl and was before I even was a blogger, it’s not hard to incorporate their products and make it feel organic to the blog! Glad you liked it!

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