Style Glossary: They’re Different – Velvet, Velveteen, and Velour

As summer slowly draws to a nostalgic close, we can’t help but think of ways to incorporate some of fall’s projected trends into our closets. I’m especially excited to embrace velvet, which no longer carries a connotation of head-to-toe track suits or prepubescent holiday dresses.

Thanks to Alexander Wang, Dolce & Gabbana, and other designers’ youthful spin on the plushly padded textile, velvet is reinventing itself as a posh necessity for fall, and rightly so! The soft-to-the-touch surface of velvet’s dense pile exudes sophistication, whether you’re wearing it as a one-piece swimsuit, elegant top, or formfitting dress.

Before devoting my love to all-things velvet, I often used the terms velvet, velveteen, and velour interchangeably. However, knowledge is power, and with that I give you a brief breakdown of how each textile is different, despite their common prefix:

  • Velvet is a luxurious, woven, typically polyester-blend textile with a cut pile.
  • Velveteen is essentially “faux velvet,” usually made from cotton.
  • Velour, like velveteen, is typically a cotton-blend textile, one that’s quite plush and always knit, most often used in upholstery.

What trends are you looking forward to for fall?


About Annie

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  1. Avatar
    Jiyati 08/10/2010 at 5:10 pm #

    i’m desi (and in this case i’m from india) so i’m pleasantly awaiting to wear more of the maroon velveteens that’ve been locked away in my closet for centuries… but on the topic of trends i’m looking forward to, trench coats are right up there with velour! 😉

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    Lulu 08/10/2010 at 5:16 pm #

    oh wow i had no idea they were so different. i mean, i thought they were kind of different but never knew how. i used to have a short sleeved red velvet mini dress with a mock turtleneck that i wore EVERYWHERE (with my red doc martens, mind you) as a child and now i’m kinda missing it. even though i’d probably only be able to fit my art into the dress and my big toe into the boots. oh well. i can lust after these velvet items now! =]

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    Lulu 08/10/2010 at 5:16 pm #

    whoops, *arm

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    amaturecouture 08/10/2010 at 8:44 pm #

    i love the one piece and the bolero!!! lahveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee it!!!


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    retroghoul 08/10/2010 at 11:09 pm #

    love retro!

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    vicki 08/11/2010 at 7:42 am #

    Love velvet!! cant wait to embrace the new autumn trends! loved the feature on your modcloth staff and their fav pieces!! loved seeing the girls behind the company! would love to see an interview with one of them about their job roles? 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Sarah 08/11/2010 at 9:43 am #

    omg that velvet swimsuit! love it!

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    Roger 02/18/2015 at 10:03 am #

    Velvet is not ‘typically polyester blend’ at all! Real velvet is made from silk.

    • Avatar
      Ashley 08/04/2019 at 8:53 pm #

      No Roger, we don’t live in pre-modern times. “Real” velvet is most commonly (read: most often, most prevalently) made from polyester. What you’re talking about sounds like elitism not the reality of the fabric. Velvet is essentially a product of the way the fabric is made. Even very high end/ luxurious velvets are not only silk, but are also mohair and other wools. Velour is a velvet-like fabric that is made so that it has a natural stretch but looks like velvet (long pile, knit instead of weave-as mentioned above). Velveteen is another velvet-like fabric that is usually made from cotton and has a shorter pile (length of the fibers that stitck up off the fabric). Like the pile of carpet, these fabrics are differentiated by the length of the pile. 80s/90s shag carpet (about a 1 inch pile) is the best (carpet) comparison to velvet, both are plush and soft, with shorter pile carpet (less plush) being like velveteen is to velvet. So the synthetic fiber velvets are real velvet unless they are also a knit instead of woven, making them velour not “fake.”

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