How to dress like a grown up: Vamp it up in velvet brights this winter

How to dress like a grown up: Vamp it up in velvet brights this winter

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Vamp it up in velvet brights this winter

  • Shane Watson shares advice for embracing this season’s velvet trend 
  • Suggests swapping your LBD for a jumpsuit and leaving the diamante at home
  • UK-based fashion expert takes inspiration from Gwyneth Paltrow  

We need to talk about velvet. It is the season when the shops are flooded with it, but the rules — for those of us who’ve been wearing velvet every winter since the 1980s — have changed.

Not to be alarmist, but your old fall-back velvet could well be a toxic health hazard. There are always exceptions to the rule. I bet you can find a picture of Jane Birkin looking gorgeous in a black velvet tuxedo, or Carla Bruni dazzling in a column dress. But assuming you are old enough to have young adult children, keen to look good (and keen to avoid looking like you’ve been rootling in your mothballed 1980s wardrobe), it’s a good idea to set aside everything you thought about velvet and start again.

This is where to go from here:

  • Say goodbye to black. Last month I gave everything black, apart from a pair of palazzo-style trousers, to my twenty-something stepdaughter. I didn’t even bother to try any of it on. I just knew that as of now black feels too dreary.

Shane Watson shared advice for embracing this season’s velvet trend at any occasion. Pictured: In Gucci mark II: Gwyneth

It can still look good alongside lashings of colour, but after all those years of wearing it head-to-toe in party season, I feel like I’ve done it. My stepdaughter glows in it, I look . . . drained and six years older.

Apart from looking brighter, you’ll get twice as much wear out of navy. Switch to a dark blue blazer like Me+Em’s cotton velvet boyfriend one-button jacket (£325, meandem.com) and you’ll be wearing it with a cotton shirt and jeans now and right through to summer. Just ask Kate Moss, who was wearing hers at London Fashion Week in September with bootcut jeans.

  • Meanwhile, the brighter- coloured velvet blazer has emerged as this season’s after- dark quick fix. You can sling it on over a silk shirt or camisole and wear it with black trousers (velvet if you want) and you’re all set. Cefinn does a cotton velvet blazer in forest green (£390, cefinn.com), while Me+Em’s comes in mustard (see opposite). But my favourite is Zara’s emerald green blazer (£89.99) and matching straight tab front trousers (£59.99, zara.com) — more on velvet trouser suits in a bit.

I’m wearing the jacket now with a black silk shirt (old habits die hard) and black jeans. And when the party mood ramps up, I’ll wear it as a suit and switch to a lace- trimmed camisole, or a pink or oyster satin pussy bow-tied blouse. Easy.

  • The secret of looking fresh in velvet is strong colours — red, green, navy blue or burnt orange — worn with a sliver of black or clashed with pink or sky blue. This looks far more modern and glamorous than softer colours. As of now the eau de nils and sage greens are just too dowdy.

VELVET: THE NEW RULES 

  • Switch black for navy
  • Swap your LBD for a jumpsuit
  • Get a green trouser suit
  • Leave the diamante at home
  • Make it sharply tailored. Even more important than colour is a crisp cut, which is why the slick, retro trouser suit is back. Gwyneth Paltrow recently wore a new version of the red velvet Gucci trouser suit she wore back in 1996. Hers is part of Gucci’s Spring 2022 collection — so take note, a velvet suit is not just for Christmas. It’s available from Matches Fashion (matchesfashion.com), but be warned the jacket alone is £2,000.

For something similar, try Zara (see above) or Massimo Dutti, which does a jewel green jacket and ankle-swinger trousers (£169 and £119, massimodutti.com) or Cefinn, which has green cropped trousers to match its blazer (£230, cefinn.com). It’s also worth noting that Gwyneth wore her red suit at night, but kept it simple with a blue, man’s shirt.

  • Don’t dress velvet up like Oscar night. Another reason black doesn’t work as well is because the way to wear velvet now is not blinged up with skyscraper heels and diamante, but with a mid heel and earrings. We should be wearing velvet in the day, too — cotton velvet, not silk.
  • Ditch the LBD for a jumpsuit. I’m a sucker for a velvet jumpsuit at this time of year, but the truth is nothing works as well as black when it comes to velvet jumpsuits, unless it’s Nrby’s Pip belted jumpsuit in navy blue silk velvet (£250, nrbyclothing.com). Note Nrby also does a simple V neck, midi velvet dress in dark blue or raspberry pink, and cropped, wide-leg trousers (£250 and £150, nrbyclothing.com). If you’re a velvet fan, start here.

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