Velvet is a material full of contradictions; its style credentials are often dependent on the season, trend and even the garment. For example, opt for slim-cut velvet black trousers and you get called refined, if not ‘Old Hollywood’. Yet combine too many colours, select a looser cut or choose crushed velvet, and you end up being compared to a washed-up circus clown – or hear Austin Powers jokes for the rest of the evening.

It’s a true statement material that takes no prisoners. Velvet’s luxuriousness, smooth and soft texture and slight sheen will draw attention in any situation, but only if it’s worn correctly. With this in mind, a little – a simple accessory or considered block-coloured piece – often goes a long way on the style spectrum.

On The Runways

Although there’s something classic about velvet, it frequently gets lumped in the womenswear realm of fashion, along with the likes of chiffon, lace and silk. However, menswear had its head turned back in 2012, with the fabric prominent within many high fashion AW12 runway collections.

Instead of being a fleeting, single season trend, velvet has since developed into a modern wardrobe staple that is perfect for party season – its refined and eye-catching nature cannot fail to make an impact at any event you choose to wear it to.

For AW13, high-end collections such as Etro, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana have utilised the material liberally, pairing it with everything from leather bomber jackets to floral blazers; within this context, it has become the new ‘neutral’ piece.

The question for the style-conscious gent, then, becomes: “How much of an impact do I want to make?” That, of course, is entirely up to you. Runway pieces range from simple block-colour ties to plaid print velvet suits, with various cuts and embellishments filling the vast space in between:

To help you take the look from the runway to the high street, below we break down four key ways you can begin to integrate velvet into your own wardrobe for party season 2013…

Accessories: A Slight Pop
The Look

A velvet accessory’s impact and effectiveness are akin to handbags in womenswear: a perfect complement and a visual draw, but one that could soon become too distracting.

Whilst velvet clutches haven’t turned into a menswear trend (yet), the material in various solid-coloured forms pervades through Oxford shoes, dress slippers, waistcoats, ties and pocket squares:

  • Topman Wine Velvet Bow Tie
  • Topman Turquoise Velvet 5cm Tie.
  • Oliver Spencer Velvet Bow Tie
  • Asos Slim Fit Waistcoat In Velvet
  • River Island Cobalt Blue Velvet Waistcoat
  • Ted Baker Longley Pattern Velvet Waistcoat
  • Asos Tassel Loafers In Velvet
  • H By Hudson Souk Velvet Dress Slippers
  • Stubbs & Wootton Velvet Slippers
How To Wear It

Depending on your personal style, velvet might only be appropriate in small doses. If this is the case, a single accessory in a solid, neutral shade makes a subtle and refined statement.

Consider a pair of solid black/navy Oxfords or dress slippers, or enhance your straight-and-narrow work wardrobe with a tie, waistcoat or pocket square in forest green, brown, blue or burgundy.

The Blazer: More Versatility
The Look

Whenever a new material, pattern or even cut turns into a trend, a man glancing at his current wardrobe staples often asks, “How can I incorporate this without buying a whole bunch of other pieces?” For certain looks, especially in the present, the blazer offers the greatest degree of versatility.

A timeless, dark coloured version seamlessly pairs with any existing crisp white shirt and neutral trouser combination, yet it will also help dress up your classic indigo denim whilst complementing a wide range of other patterns/textures:

  • Topman Black Velvet Blazer
  • Ted Baker Rudulf Herringbone Velvet Blazer
  • River Island Purple Velvet Blazer
  • Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Velvet
  • Reiss Philip Single Buttoned Velvet Blazer Burgundy
  • He By Mango Velvet Premium Blazer
  • Ted Baker Imagin Velvet Suit Jacket
  • Bellfield 2 Button Jacket In Velvet
  • Richard James Hyde Slim-fit Velvet Blazer
How To Wear It

Two current statement trends, colour and velvet, create all types of stylistic possibilities. At a base level, opt for a solid black, navy or burgundy slim-fit blazer and then experiment with hue and/or pattern mixing from there.

Designers from Alexander McQueen to Dolce & Gabbana and Etro have taken the velvet blazer up a notch this year with contrast piping, patterns, embellishments and varying degrees of bright colours – all of which will offer an instant upgrade to any go-to blazer, shirt and trouser/jean/chino combination you regularly wear.

Just make sure that you anchor your choice of velvet blazer with simple, neutral pieces – there is no room for another statement item within your outfit.

Trousers: More Restrictions
The Look

Much like blazers, trousers are given a welcome injection of sophistication and character by velvet. Even an ordinary slim-fit pair of black trousers are given an upgrade that’s simultaneously modern whilst still classic and refined.

At the same time, cut plays a huge part in how well a man wears velvet trousers. If too loose, the trousers mirror velour tracksuit bottoms, albeit a more premium take than is prominent within certain subcultures on the high street. Too tight, on the other hand, and they begin to look like something you might spot on an ageing rock star still attempting to keep his career relevant.

  • Bellfield Trouser In Velvet
  • The Kooples Sport Regular-cut Velvet Jeans
  • New Man Brown Stretch Velvet Slack Chinos
  • Etro Relaxed-fit Check Velvet Trousers
  • Topman Black Velvet Skinny Trousers
  • A.p.c. Petit Standard Slim-fit Velvet Trousers
  • Noose & Monkey Skinny Velvet Suit Trousers
  • Massimo Alba Alunga Cotton Velvet 5 Pocket Trousers 164718
  • Massimo Alba Regular-fit Velvet Trousers
How To Wear It

Unless you’re looking to make a colourful statement, sticking with neutral, darker tones like black, navy, brown or eggplant enhances what’s essentially a wardrobe staple.

Select a modern cut that’s appropriate for work and still casual enough for a night out: ideally, a slim-fit that’s not too tight around the thighs and calves. This way, that pair of velvet trousers becomes a step up for your wardrobe, rather than a piece that doesn’t quite work with what you already have.

The Suit: Only For The Most Experimental
The Look

Head-to-toe velvet? It’s one look with two possibilities: smooth and suave, or unnecessarily retro.

Like trousers, cut and colour define the style more than the material itself. Specifically, as plenty of vintage velvet suits circulate around the internet and second-hand retailers, opting for an older cut sets you back a few decades – great if that’s your intention, but more of a faux pas if it’s not.

At the same time, colour is equally definitive. Because both a bright shade like cobalt or red and a material like velvet make strong statements, it’s advised to choose one or the other:

  • Etro Contrast-collar Velvet Suit Jacket
  • Etro Straight-leg Velvet Suit Trousers
  • Bellfield 2 Button Jacket In Velvet
  • Bellfield Trouser In Velvet
  • United Colors Of Benetton Velvet Print Jacket
  • United Colors Of Benetton Velvet Print Trouser
  • Topman Black Velvet Blazer
  • Topman Black Velvet Skinny Trousers
How To Wear It

Much like for trousers, velvet enhances standard solid-colour tailoring.

Essentially, to own a suit that lasts longer than just this season, select a more form-fitting cut and a neutral tone that pairs well with classic white, blue or patterned dress shirts.

Then simply combine with your existing shirt and tie combinations – try not to over-think it and make sure you wear with rock-solid confidence.

Velvet Lookbook Inspiration

unknown h&m winter 2012 he by mango winter 2013 avva aw12 he by mango aw12 unknown topman smart 2012 primark winter 2013 mr porter acne collection 2012 joop aw11 unknown river island xmas 2013 drykorn aw13 reiss prepare to party 2012 ted baker aw12

Final Word

Last year, velvet had all the markings of a flash-in-the-pan look – one that could easily disappear after a season.

Yet with celebrity icons continuing to show up on the red carpet in velvet suits and the material giving your basics a glamorous edge, it’s a trend that has quickly turned into a sophisticated alternative and less of a novelty; a material that, purely through texture, sets you apart from the crowd.

Make sure you let us know your thoughts on velvet, and whether you would ever consider adding it to your wardrobe, in the comments section below…