A holiday wardrobe needs velvet

velvet
Velvet jumpsuits, dresses, and skirts -- all for the taking this holiday season.

Every few seasons, a style perennial gets elevated to a must-have.

Trendlet

This year, it's old, reliable velvet. Look for the plush fabric as an A-line skirt, palazzo pant, or the coveted alternative to the little black dress - the strapless jumpsuit.

Where does it come from?

Chinese artisans figured out, before the common era, how to weave silk into a short-pile fabric that was incredibly soft and reflected light like a jewel.

Over the ensuing centuries, couturiers of royal courts, especially in cold climates, treated it as the go-to fabric. During the Renaissance, gold and silver were woven into velvet for religious and political leaders.

With mass production of clothing and textiles in the early 20th century, velvet moved beyond the aristocracy. Chanel and the Callot Soeurs were among the first companies to mix it into ready-to-wear - think patchwork velvet and silk flapper dresses. In the 1930s, entire evening gowns were fashioned from velvet, and during the 1940s and '50s, we started to see it in accessories like hats and T-strap pumps. Funky velvet bell bottoms with matching blazers appeared in the 1970s. In the following decades, you'd be hard-pressed to go to a holiday party without seeing a velvet cocktail dress.

During the 2016 shows, many a fall collection, including Phillip Lim and DKNY, featured a velvet something or other. Considering the way fashion is blending looks from the glam 1930s and disco 1970s, it makes total sense.

Who is wearing it?

The style regulars: Jessica Chastain, Elizabeth Olsen, Kylie Jenner. And any man, woman, or child who may choose to effuse holiday sparkle.

Would Elizabeth wear it?

I am so on the lookout for a velvet jumpsuit. But this is my rule: Velvet can be worn only from Nov. 1 through Valentine's Day. Clutches must go away after March 1. Let the velvet closed-toe pumps go after March 1, too, but your open-toed shoes are seasonless.

Should you wear it?

I can't think of a reason not to. But if that all-velvet jumpsuit is too much, opt for the clutch. It's cute, and who can resist the soft touch?

Free People velvet jumpsuit, $350, www.freepeople.com.

ewellington@phillynews.com

215-854-2704

@ewellingtonphl