How to Wear Velvet without Looking like a Fairy Princess

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Velvet—the fabric that instantly connotes wealth and elegance. As beautiful and soft as velvet is, it’s easy to deck yourself all out in it, but that’s also a common fashion error. There are right and wrong ways to wear it. Here’s how to get it right:

*Never wear velvet head-to-toe: The surest way to kill the glamour of velvet is by overdoing it. Keep your velvet to a minimum. If you wear a velvet jacket, for instance, that should be the only piece of velvet in your outfit. The only exception to this one-piece rule is with tracksuits, but even then you should mix in other fabrics. Wear a plain cotton tank under the tracksuit and simple sneakers.

*Always mix velvet with a less girly fabric: Velvet is inherently a very feminine fabric, which is why wearing it from head-to-toe will make you look like a fairy princess (which really is only appropriate for Halloween). Balance out the femininity with more gender-neutral or masculine fabrics, like leather and denim. Try a leather bomber over a velvet peasant top and jeans with embroidery in the same color as the velvet for a foolproof outfit. You can also try, for example, a denim jacket with a rib tee and a velvet skirt.

*Keep jewelry simple: Clean shapes and classic cuts are ideal companions for velvet. Plain silver hoops, gold chains, copper bands, and other timeless, non-trendy pieces look great with velvet anything. If you do go for something more ornate, limit yourself to one signature piece in the entire outfit, instead of several unusual pieces. For instance, if you decide to wear your great-grandmother’s birdcage-shaped locket necklace, it should be the only piece of jewelry you wear with your velvet turtleneck or velvet lounge pants. Your ears, fingers, and wrists should be bare.

*Avoid matronly velvet dresses: Velvet cocktail dresses are chic—long-sleeved, long-skirted velvet dresses are not unless they have a sexy back or slit somewhere in the skirt. Since velvet is such a formal fabric, be sure to show a little skin to avoid looking old-fashioned. You can then experiment with the neckline to find what’s right for you: a V-neck, U-neck, scoop neck, square neck, turtleneck, or something else. Again, if you go for a long-sleeved velvet dress, then the skirt (or back) should be more revealing. The reverse is true, as well. If you go for a long-skirted velvet dress, then the sleeves/neckline should be more revealing.

If you can’t afford the price of velvet, go for convincing substitutes in polyester or rayon. Many people can’t even distinguish between the two, anyway—why should you have to tell them it’s not the real deal? Regardless of what fabric you actually choose, the luxurious look of velvet is one you won’t want to miss out on!

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