Fashion Social

Mini Fashion Dictionary: Quick Terms to Know

By: Ruth Jordan

Every felt like you were out of the fashion jargon loop, worry no more! Here are some basic fashion terminology you can throw around in you next fashionista chat:

  • A-line: Style line for apparel in which the dress fits at the shoulder or the skirt at the waist and gradually flares out to a wider hemline, causing it to resemble the letter A. 
  • Appliqué: Cutting shapes from textile fabrics and attaching them to another fabric or garment in order to decorate the base material. The ornamental fabrics are most often sewn to the base fabric, but may also be attached with adhesive.
  • Aso Ebi: Clothes worn at ceremonies by friends and family of the celebrants to show solidarity
  • Aso Oke: Intricately woven fabric used for ceremonial garments.
  • Androgynous: A look that is neither strongly feminine or masculine, usually used interchangeably with ‘unisex’ but that is incorrect.
  • Bespoke: A made-to-order garment, tailored specifically to the customer’s measurements and specifications. 
  • Body: (1) adj. Used to describe any item of clothing that fits the body closely (example: body suit, body clothes) or jewelry worn on various areas of the body (i.e. body jewelry). (2) n. The feel of fabric that is flexible but also solid and compact.
  • Embroidery: Ornamentation of a fabric by using any of a wide variety of decorative hand or machine stitches in the same or a contrasting color. 
  • Espadrille: Casual shoes normally made of cotton or canvas. Toms are a popular example.
  • Eyelet: Eyelets are a small hole or perforation that is used as a fastening, with a cord or hook. Usually the eyelet is set with a metal, cord or fabric ring.
  • Fabric: Fabric is the canvas on which fashion creates. Fabric is the base of any outfit and  ranges from cotton to organdie, silk to georgette, pannier to jersey, tweed, velvet and more.
  • Fashionista: Used to describe a person in the fashion industry with a lot of personality and sometimes celebrity status.
  • Faux: A counterfeit of the original product.
  • Faux pas: Something you should never do, also meaning major no-no. Wearing crocs out of your house is considered a faux pas.
  • Front row: Where all the fashion higher ups sit to judge the looks from a new fashion collection.
  • Gele: Traditional Yoruba head gear for women that has become a modern fashion statement. Your gele will take your outfit from a 7 to a 10!
  • Haute couture: Exclusive, custom-fitted high fashion clothing made for individual customers from high quality, expensive fabrics.
  • Iridescent: The property of a fabric that appears to change colour as it catches the light.
  • Kitten heel: A short slender heel, usually just 1.5 or 2 inches high that should never be worn or seen. The definition of a faux pas. 
  • Lamé: A type of fabric woven or knit with thin ribbons of metallic yarns.
  • Lapel: The part on each side of a coat or jacket immediately below the collar which is folded back on either side of the front opening.
  • Look book: A collection of photographs compiled by a designer to present their complete collection for buyers and the press. 
  • Ombre: Describes when a colour fades in stages from deeply saturated to nearly white.
  • OOTD: Often used as a hashtag (#OOTD) an acronym that stands for ‘outfit of the day’.
  • Peplum: A short flared, gathered, or pleated strip of fabric attached at the waist of a woman’s clothing to create a hanging frill.
  • Pop-up shop: A temporary store, either stand-alone or within another store; could be hosted by a boutique, a brand, a gallery or an online store.
  • Quilt: When two or more layers of material are sewn together to make a thicker padded material, often creating a diamond pattern of seams throughout the fabric; for example, the classic Chanel quilted handbag.
  • Resort collections: Shown in late spring, these collections show clothes appropriate for holidays in warm climates.
  • Ruche: Gathers created in clothing by pulling fabric between 2 or more lines of stitching.
  • Runway: The fashion stage where new collections are showcased.
  • Sample size: Clothing items made for the models on the runway. Usually varies from UK sizes 6-8, and US 0-4.
  • September: The beginning of a new fashion season, and the new year. It is the biggest and most important month in fashion’s calendar. 
  • Tapered: When the shape diminishes or reduces in thickness at one end of the piece of clothing.
  • Unitard: A skin-tight garment that covers the body from the neck to the wrists and ankles.
  • Velveteen: Velveteen is essentially ‘faux velvet’ usually made from cotton.
  • Wife beater: This doesn’t mean anything violent, it is the slang phrase for a vest or tank top, typically white in colour. 
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RuthOliviaJ is a senior in the Business & Technology of Fashion BA program at New York City College of Technology. Her goal is to continue her career in the fashion world by becoming an e-commerce developer, as well as being a fashion travel blogger.

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