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This Winter Fabric Is Making Its Summer Debut

Would You, Could You, Wear Summer Velvet?
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Story by Elana Fishman

When I first moved to New York City 11 years ago, it wasn’t the promise of endless West Village brunches, Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, or nights out in the Meatpacking District that excited me most. (Although all three were key motivating factors — after all, it was 2005.) Rather, it was the fact that after spending the first 18 years of my life in season-less, sunny South Florida, I finally had a reason to fill my closet with gorgeous camel coats and nubby knit scarves.

I had never experienced a real winter before, but I’d watched Love Story enough times to know that the season offered plenty of exciting new outfit opportunities — ones that surely outweighed the nuisance of numb extremities and trudging through dirty sidewalk slush. Right?

Not exactly. Winter, no matter how stylish Ali MacGraw made it look, is the absolute worst. But for as much as I loathe the cold weather, I still love the look and feel of cold-weather fabrics and silhouettes.

Luckily, fashion has been gradually moving in a more season-less direction over the past few years, with retailers now casually throwing around objectively absurd terms like “summer sweaters” and “fall florals” — and I, for one, am here for it.

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Photo: taylorswift.updates Instagram
So imagine my delight when I spotted a photo of Taylor Swift (my personal style muse for all seasons) out for date night with Tom Hiddleston last month, wearing a black velvet minidress from Bec & Bridge’s upcoming fall collection. The high on that particular day in Los Angeles? 89 degrees. And yet, thanks a midriff cutout and the fact that Swift paired it with flat sandals, it somehow worked.

Another celebrity who considers the touchable fabric to be totally season-less? Hailey Baldwin, who wore a green velvet Vatanika dress with spaghetti straps in the middle of a Manhattan heatwave back in June, pairing it with delicate gold necklaces and black ankle boots.

Fellow model Stella Maxwell is a fan of the soft stuff as well, having braved a 92-degree New York City day in a blue velvet minidress and matching heels just last month.

But no celebrity’s welcomed summer velvet into her wardrobe quite as enthusiastically as Kendall Jenner, who’s worn everything from bralettes to boots covered in the fuzzy fabric — all in hot weather, and often accompanied by a coordinating velvet choker, arguably the Kardashian-Jenner equivalent of the Planeteers’ superhero-summoning rings.

Now, if the mere idea of slipping into velvet on a scorching summer day is enough to make you sweat bullets, you’re not alone. (In fact, most of the Racked editors I polled would agree with you). But as long as you opt for a plush piece with summery design elements — think spaghetti straps, cutouts, lace paneling, or a high hemline — you won’t feel stifled.

What’s more, velvet hides perspiration far more effectively than, say, silk, or even a light-colored cotton. And best of all, most modern velvet garments — i.e. ones made from a polyester or rayon blend — can be washed by hand or even thrown in the machine on the gentle cycle. Call me crazy, but I’d rather be wearing an — ahem — absorbent and easily washable summer dress than one that shows every last spot of sweat and requires a pricey trip to the dry cleaner after each wear.

Above all, though, velvet is just so. Damn. Soft. Truly, it’s comparable to sweats or leggings in terms of comfort — but unlike activewear, velvet won’t make you look schlubby at a party. Just think of it as athleisure’s stealthily fancy older sister.

The World's Biggest Disney Store Is More Interested in Selling You an Idea Than a Toy
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When China’s first-ever Disney Store — the largest store to date — opened last May, it was on par with Backstreet Boys dropping by TRL in the late ‘90s. Between heavens-bound skyscrapers in the Lujiazui financial district area of Pudong, Shanghai, the line snaked back and forth for over one mile with customers waiting eight hours for the doors to open. The line grew so long that the store essentially closed one hour after the first guests entered due to overcrowding concerns, capping the line with timed wait signs creeping up past two hours. Minnie and Mickey made an appearance, of course, and those who did make it inside clocked at least a couple trips’ worth of time to the actual park which, when it opened this year, would be an hour away by train.

Having heard how crazy opening day was, I wondered for months how eye-poppingly big could this Chinese Mickey mecca could truly be. So, of course, when I traveled to the opening of Shanghai Disneyland Resort, I had to make a pit stop at the flagship Shanghai shop to see it myself.

The store takes up 54,000 square feet, which the The Los Angeles Times smartly equates to "about a third of the size of a CostCo". Only there are no $1.35 cones of soft-serve, no endless aisles lined with five-pound containers of snack mix, and not even any shopping carts, because no one will be buying more than they can carry. There just isn’t that much in the store. The shop itself feels confoundingly small, offering a curated selection of keychains, jewelry, school supplies, and on display up front, a variety of Tsum Tsums, the small, stackable pellet-shaped character plush for which the obsession among collectors is likely to soon reach Beanie Babies-status.

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A selection from the editors at Racked
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