velvet dresses 80s

Velvet Dresses

80's Tops Jul 19, 2022

If you were around in the 1980s then you’ll probably remember the velvet dress. By the early 1980s, the shaggy hairstyles and pastel clothing that were popular in the 1970s had given way to a much sleeker, more sophisticated look.

80s velvet dress
80s Fashion Trend: Velvet Dresses

Fashion trends were inspired by movies like Flashdance and the television show Dynasty, with big hair, extravagant makeup, jewelry, and bold colors.

Thus it’s no surprise that one of the most popular fashion trends of the early 1980s were velvet dresses with lots of texture and unique designs. So why exactly were velvet dresses so popular in the early 80s?

History Of Velvet Dresses

During the 1980s velvet dresses were often seen worn by the most iconic women of the day. It was a throwback nod to royal fashion of the past, and the elegance of the fabric made it a popular choice for an outfit at some of the most prestigious events of the time.

brooke shields red velvet dress
Brooke Shields In A Red Velvet Dress In The 80s

However despite being an 80s fashion trend, the popularity of velvet dresses dates back to the late 13th century when they appeared in Italy and Spain. It has since then been considered a luxurious fabric because it was only worn to exhibit wealth or for special occasions. The mass production of velvet dresses started in Italy, including Genoa, Venice, and Florence. In these regions, velvet was used as bed curtains and cushions due to its thickness and softness.

During the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I (Queen) of England banned wearing any clothes made out of fabrics other than silk or wool so that she could keep all the textiles in her country. Velvet became more popular during this time because people believed that only wealthy people could afford it due to its costliness and scarcity.

queen elizabeth I velvet dress
Queen Elizabeth I Is Thought To Have Been One Of The First To Popularize Velvet As A Fashion Item

By the 17th century, velvet had become a fashion trend among aristocrats and royalty. Women wore them as everyday clothing which usually consisted of a fitted bodice with skirts that were wide at the hemline, giving off an A-line shape. These outfits were typically embellished with pearls or gold embroidery to show status. By 1890, Queen Victoria of England began using velvet on her coronation robes, making it acceptable to wear throughout society.

18th century velvet dress
In The 17th And 18th Century Velvet Was A Popular Fabric Worn By The Ruling Class

Velvet dresses were worn by rich and royalty people because it was very expensive to produce. Velvet is made from silk, which was a luxury material in the 18th century. However these days silk is much cheaper to produce with modern technology, and now it’s no longer a material only accessible to the wealthy.

These days the fabric can be mass produced and still has a velvety texture that’s comfortable to wear. It doesn’t need much care but has to be dry-cleaned instead of washed at home. The dress is usually lined with cotton or linen. It can be heavy and will not fall into graceful folds as it does on fashion models because of its weight.

In the early to mid-1980s, many popular celebrities like Princess Diana and Joan Collins started to appear in public in velvet dresses. Typically these were worn to formal functions or award shows, and since these events were usually televised, the world got a glimpse of the elegance and style that a velvet dress could bring.

joan collins velvet dress
Joan Collins Seen Wearing A Maroon Velvet Dress
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Velvet dresses however weren’t just limited to celebrities and the rich, again by the 20th century the material was much cheaper to produce, and thus widely available to the public. Any woman looking for a nice dress to go to a party, or just a night out on the town, could find a velvet dress in their budget by the 1980s.

velvet dress 80s
Velvet Dresses Were Sometimes Combined With Other Fabrics To Create A Contrasting And Nuanced Look

Velvet dresses had that special “wow factor” making them perfect for those who liked to stand out in a crowd. They come in long, short, and sleeveless styles and are available in different lengths depending on how conservative you want your look to be.

Is The Velvet Dress Still Popular?

Yes, velvet dresses are still in style today. Many brands offer velvet dresses that come in a variety of colors and styles. Due to their warmth and elegance, velvet dresses were perceived as one of the most popular trends during the 80s. It is also often worn with black tights, or pantyhose and boots for a more formal look, which is perfect for wintertime events.

Celebrities still often wear velvet dresses to formal events today. The timeless elegance and royal feel to these dresses make them a perfect choice for any high end event.

lady gaga velvet dress
Lady Gaga Wearing A Red Velvet Dress

Velvet Dresses are fashionable, comfortable, and stylish. People still wear them today because they are versatile in the sense that you can dress them up or down. So if you’re ever looking for an easy outfit to put together, think about getting a velvet dress. You’ll look great while also paying homage to a great 80s fashion trend!

Browse Velvet Dresses On Amazon Here