When I think of velvet suits, I think Mick Jagger. So does my mum.
“Mick and the band were the epitome of taste and style in the 60’s… and 70’s for that matter,” she reminisces.
The velvet suit, we both agree, was rather symbolic during that time – the outfit representing defiance against conservative dress and mainstream expectation.
The meaning of the velvet suit had obviously changed by that point – if velvet was once seen as a symbol of regality and opulence during the height of the Renaissance period, it had shifted in the 60s to represent a rebellious rock ‘n’ roll-esque glamour.
Outlandish garments like the velvet suit, worn by prominent male icons, arguably pervaded a sense of youthful counterculture and anti-establishment in those days. After all, here were men in the public eye playing with colour, texture and vibrancy in a way that exuded flamboyance and challenged gendered expectations surrounding dress code.
Since then, the velvet suit has held a special place in history’s house of fashion, but how has it managed to hang around?
View this post on Instagram
The velvet suit’s longevity can arguably be attributed to current-day influential figures adopting the garment as their staple brand. Mick Jagger-clone Harry Styles, for example, has been important in bringing historical fashion back into 2019 popular culture consciousness, particularly when considering his young fanbase, as well as highlighting the ability to reinvent and recycle fashion throughout generations. Through his suits, Styles nods to an older time, sporting looks that ride a playful flamboyance and capitalise on trendy nostalgia.
Importantly, figures like Styles have been influential in highlighting the possibility that exists in male formalwear beyond a conventional suit.
In a rigid space such as men’s formalwear, which often encourages men to conform to strict aesthetic guidelines, velvet suits will always be a bit subversive, and perhaps that’s the charm. Velvet adds an element of eccentricity within often-bland confines – a slight playfulness inside a realm of historical monotony.
It’s a beautiful melting pot of masculinity, femininity and experimentation. That’s timeless.
It’s this mentality that has arguably cemented the velvet suit as a staple garment throughout history and has propelled men’s fashion labels to continue showcasing some incredible velvet offerings in today’s climate. M.J. Bale’s velvet suits from their new Opera collection, for example, carry the velvet suit torch into 2019. Their latest pieces signify bold updates to classic attire, helping us celebrate life’s big moments. Check out the rest of their velvet and soft water-repellent corduroy statement pieces here.
At the end of the day, clothing is a form of self-expression – when meeting someone, clothes are arguably the first signifiers we have to form an impression – and velvet will always provide the ability to express oneself unconventionally or to go against the grain, ever so slightly.
In a world full of polyester and cotton, be velvet.Image: Instagram: @tchalamet / MJ Bale