Burberry Prorsum a/w12

The most tactile of fabrics comes into its own for the party season – just be sure to avoid cheap imitations, says Lee Holmes

With the festive party season well and truly underway, velvet, in all its many shades, is the go-to fabric. Cycling Olympian Bradley Wiggins, who was dressed in a double-breasted velvet suit by tailor Mark Powell for the Sports Personality of the Year awards on Sunday night, proved that this most glamorous of materials can garner gold-standard fashion credentials too.

Once the fabric of royalty and cardinals, even today velvet requires a dash of panache and a dollop of bravado to be carried off with aplomb: something that Wiggins clearly has in spades. But what about the rest of us? Well, if you too are going to an awards ceremony or dinner dance, then it's perfectly acceptable to wear a velvet tuxedo. With the right lighting – and cocktail list – that old-school Hollywood glamour is yours for the taking.

Even if you don't have a swish party to attend, but the holiday spirit has you firmly by the antlers, then upgrade your ordinary blazer for a velvet jacket. It'll liven up the office Christmas drinks for sure, acting as a conversation piece; colleagues will approach, anxious to discover whether you're a devoré or crushed velvet kind of man. Strangers even, may want to stroke you, or your clothes at least.

But if petting in public places sets your teeth on edge, then concentrate on the details; a jacket with a velvet collar or a cardigan with a velvet trim will suffice. As would a velvet bow-tie worn with a more traditional tuxedo suit. Failing that, stay at home and treat your feet to some velvet slippers – pipe-smoking optional.

Whatever your gameplan, you must spend lavishly. Remember gentlemen please, that scrimping on the quality of your velvet and opting for velour, or worse, velveteen, just isn't getting into the spirit of things.