What is Velour?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Velour is a fabric that is similar to velvet, with a thick, soft nap that makes it luxurious to the touch. Unlike velvet, however, velour is a knit, which changes the properties of the fabric rather dramatically and makes it highly stretchy. There are many uses for this fabric, including upholstery, clothing, cloth diapers and pillowcases. Many fabric supply stores carry velour in an assortment of colors and in large quantities.

Some velours can be dried in a clothes dryer on low.
Some velours can be dried in a clothes dryer on low.

Characteristics and Uses

This fabric's ability to stretch is why it is often chosen for workout and casual wear, because it will give easily with the movements of the wearer. Velour typically is made from cotton, which makes it very plush, easy to care for and affordable. It might also be made from artificial materials, such as polyester, depending on the manufacturer and the intended use. Extremely elastic fibers are used by some manufacturers to make it especially stretchy and flexible.

In upholstery applications, this fabric is found on couches, on car seats and in drapery. The fabric is often used because it is more giving than velvet and less likely to become damaged through hard wear. It also is relatively easy to care for, especially when compared with velvet. When velour is used as upholstery, it might be treated with flame-resistant compounds or made from a flame-resistant thread to increase safety. This is especially important with drapery.

Different Opinions

Some consumers think of velour as a luxury fabric because it is extremely soft to the touch and often has a faint shimmer that is caused by the nap's fluctuation as it moves, reflecting ambient light. Other people might choose to classify this fabric as a cheap and sometimes gaudy imitation of velvet because it is often dyed in various colors. The similarity to velvet is often exploited to make luxurious looking clothing for a low price, especially in the theater industry. These fabrics are very different from each other, however, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Careful Cleaning

The best way to care for velour is washing it in cold water with similar colors. In some cases, this fabric can be put in an electric clothes dryer on a low setting, but in other instances, it should be dried flat to avoid damaging the nap. Velour furniture can be cleaned with vacuum attachments or professionally cleaned it if becomes stained or damaged. Dry cleaning also is an option, although dry cleaning can sometimes distort the nap of the fabric, causing it to look rather peculiar and feel uncomfortable.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@ FrameMaker- I would have to disagree with your opinions about velour. I wear velour pants to yoga because the elasticity allows for full body movement. I also wear velour with things like tee shirts, or tank tops. I think you can wear velour with other fabrics you just have to be tasteful in matching those fabrics.

I would not wear a velour pullover or track jacket with anything but matching velour pants, but velour bottoms can go nicely with cotton tops, etc. I just recommend matching a slim fitting top with flowing velour bottoms, and keeping colors subtle to offset the sheen of velour.


Velour seems like one of those fabrics that go in and out of style quite often. Today, velour tracksuits are out of style with the younger population, but just a few years ago, velour was in. Velour is such a shiny fabric, that it is sometimes a little too flashy to be stylish. The texture also makes it hard to match with anything else but velour.

Velour also draws attention to unshapely features, so men or women who are self-conscious may find it hard to wear velour in a public setting. In my opinion, velour is often best for loungewear, and sleepwear in colder climates. The fabric is comfortable, but it is hard to pull off in an outfit.

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