Here at Bitches Who Brunch, you’d be forgiven for thinking our favorite of the five senses might be taste. After all, what’s better than the spicy bite of a Bloody Mary or the tart, acidic hit of mignonette and lemon juice as you slurp down your twelfth oyster at happy hour? I’m so glad you asked. It’s the tingle your lips get from that Bloody Mary’s spice-rubbed rim. It’s the jolt you feel as that oyster glides across your tongue and slips down your throat. In a word: touch.
The power of touch can be a determining factor in romantic attraction (the teenage angst in “Touch Me” from Spring Awakening is almost unbearably palpable). The absence of touch can drive single people mad. Some studies say its presence can help ease the suffering of the elderly. Its comfort is one of the reasons animals groom each other and sleep in piles.
And on a more superficial level, touch can be a determining factor in how you choose to outfit yourself. When you touch a fabric, you call its feel “the hand.” If you like the hand of a fabric, how it feels to pull a silk robe across your skin, you’re more likely to wear it, right? And that brings us to today’s topic—velvet. And what a comforting, smooth hand it has.
(Speaking of which, I must give props to Priv, the on-demand salon services app that sent a hairstylist to my apartment the morning of this shoot, helping to smooth out my hair with an excellent blowout and smooth out my morning since I wasn’t running all over tarnation trying to get to the salon and the shoot and brunch.)
Imagine having a stressful day and flinging your hands against your thighs in frustration. I assume everyone does this. What would you rather feel, the cold slap of leather, the rough rebuke of denim, or the giving warmth of gentle velvet? I know my answer, and it’s one of the reasons I snapped up this velvet slip dress from Uniqlo as soon as I saw it online.
The dark ice blue isn’t a regular color choice of mine, but this tee-and-dress combo was pretty much exactly how Uniqlo styled it on the website, and I was short on imagination at the time, so I went for the look almost exactly as it was shown to me because I liked it so much. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel so much as locate it and put it on so I can go to work.
The dress itself is very versatile. I wore it in Los Angeles during a heat wave without a stitch of clothing underneath. But now that winter is coming to New York City (I assume—it’s 60˚F at the moment), the dress lends itself to layering as well. A white tee works, like I’ve done here, as would a black turtleneck or long-sleeve bodysuit.
Since the color was on the delicate side (at least compared to my go-to hues: black and navy), I decided to pair it with some equally delicate jewelry by A.M. Thorne, a New York–based jewelry line by my lifelong friend and talented jeweler Ashley Thorne. She focuses on minimalist designs and makes everything using 14-karat gold right here in the city. I’m obsessed with all of her work.
In a more maximalist move also atypical of my usual fashion routine (I guess I was feeling a little extra this day), I paired the velvet slip dress with a patent coat with a blue faux-fur collar from the Who What Wear collection at Target, a piece I’d been eyeing for months after seeing it on Instagram. (Full disclosure: I work for the company that designs this clothing line, Clique Brands.) It’s the perfect statement piece to throw on as you head out on the weekend, and the fur collar is great to flip up and nuzzle in to protect yourself from the midnight chill as you make your way around town.
Also fun? Eye candy in the form of the pop of red Gizmo bag from the Spanish brand Tissa Fontaneda, whose Nappa bubble bags are “reinventing the handbag,” at least according to British Vogue. My mom recently bought mine while she was in London, so shoutout to the generous Dr. Adrienne Childs for the plug. The Gizmo is a great everyday crossbody, and when I wear it I can’t help by reach down to feel the soft bubbled leather every now and then.
Texture on texture on texture and bold color are two maximalist credentials that can work inside a minimal framework if styled correctly. The key lies in sticking to simple silhouettes and similar colors. Here the blues work together, as does the black of the jacket and the velvet spider Zara mules (a fun indulgence I bought on a whim during a lunch break—just give me all the velvet).
If you remain unconvinced because velvet conjures up memories of the holiday dresses your grandmother forced you to wear as a child, I’ve got a test for you. Go try on a velvet dress and run your hands down your silhouette—better yet, have your S.O. (or Tinderoni du jour) run their hands over it. I think you’ll see what I mean. Scratch that, you’ll feel it.
Shop my picks and similar pieces to get the velvet touch and the rest of the look for yourself below. Stay smooth, Bitches.
All photos by Steven Jackson.