Velvet: The Softer Side

Looking back on fashion history, there have been several types of fabrics that have been introduced, but perhaps none has been as coveted as velvet.  It has been deemed a luxurious material that was once very exclusive, but in modern times, has made quite a splash in the clothing industry.

What makes “velvet” velvet?  Common misconception is that this fabric is classified by its content.  However, the truth of the matter is that it is given its name because of its pile weave, which produces loops on one side of the material while the other side remains plain.  What makes this fuzzy fabric stand out in the crowd of pile weave material are the cut loops that create a soft texture across an entire surface.  Other fabrics with loops are not always cut and do not cover the entire area, thus distinguishing velvet as one of a kind.

Velvet Pants:

Velvet Pants

Within the realm of velvet, different types exist, based on the fibers the material is made from.  Common fibers used for velvet are cotton, silk, and rayon and the result of each yields a bit of a different result.  For example, the strongest and most solid type of velvet is derived from cotton and possesses a soft sheen.  Rayon velvet is slightly lighter than cotton and gives off a shine.  And on the other end of the spectrum is silk velvet, which is the most costly and elegant of the bunch.  This type boasts of a soft drape and a bright, shimmering appearance.  Sometimes the fibers are also mixed.  Bottom line is that a variety of velvet exists fitting for any occasion.

Throughout history, velvet has been used in clothing to indicate status and often, only royalty and nobility were allowed to wear it.  The fabric was also known to be dyed with rich, deep colors.  Because of this, velvet was extremely expensive and was out of reach of the middle and lower classes.  While velvet is more common today, it still tends to be used to show status to a certain degree.  Silk and rayon velvet are still put into play for flowing gowns and evening dresses while cotton velvet is seen in vests, coats, and shirts.

Velvet Bodice:

Velvet Bodice

As velvet is easily accessible and affordable today, it is something to truly be thankful for, as this was not always the case.  To see our collection of velvet attire, check out http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/.

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