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Fashion Glossary

Fashion has a language of its own. Here in detail, a guide on the essential terms for those who want to be always up to date on upcoming trends, from Acetate to Zipper.


Acetate: based on cellulose and classified as a chemical fiber textile or semi-synthetic, acetate is sometimes mixed with silk, wool or cotton to make it stronger. Acetate often takes the place of other shiny, soft and luxurious fabrics .

A-line: created by Christian Dior. A-line describes a dress or a skirt shaped in cutline like the letter A.

Argyll (also Argyle): often seen on woolen sock and sweaters, this diamond pattern was named after an area of Wester Scotland.

Armani Sleeves: turned-up sleeves created from two different fabrics.


Ballerina lenght: hem lenght that falls just above the ankles

Balloon Skirt: wide skirt hemmed to curve inward at the knees. Fashionable in cocktail dresses until 1958, enjoyed a revival in the late 1980s and again as part of the late 1990s retro look.

Balloon Sleeves: created in 1890, this very full sleeve is held in blace by a cuff at the wrist. later revived by Nina Ricci.

Batwing Sleeves: set deep and wide in the armhole, this sleeves tapers toward a tight wrist.

Bias Cut: a technique of cutting across the grain of the fabric, introduced in th 1920 by Madeleine Vionnet.

Blouson: a style (such a dress, blouse, or jacket) having a full bodice gathered or pleated into a close-fitting waistband.

Boat neck: also known as a boatneck, this is a collarless boat-shaped neckline that runs from shoulder to shoulder

Bodycon (from body conscious): denoting a very tight-fitting style of clothing.


Camel hair: soft, short undercoat of the camel from which a soft, woolen fabric is made.

Capri pants: narrow, 3/4 lenght ladies’trousers with a small slit at the side of the hem. Created by Emilio Pucci in the 1950s, capri pants were inspired by trousers worm by Italian fishermen.

Cashmere: the hair of the Kashmir goat is used to make a soft light wool,.

Cocktail dress: a short dress, often with a low neckline. Suitable for a variaty of occasions when worn with a bolero or a short jacket, this dress dates back to the 1940s.

Color blocking: contrasting expanses of color on fabric give clothes a graphic quality, as in Courreèges designs.

Cowl neck: this wide, cylindrical piece of fabric tubing is attached to the neck of a garnment.

Cut-out: an area cut out of a garnment


Dolman Sleeves: cut as an extention of the bodice, this sleeve was probably copied from a Turkish robe. Emanuel Ungaro created an angular version known as the Ungaro dolman, 1968

Distressed:An area of fabric that has been artificially aged or worn. Commonly used on denim. 


Epaulet: originally designed to prevent slippage of a shoulder-slung rifles and leather a symbol of rank, this shoulder piece gives a military touch to clothes. It first appeared in female fashions in 1930s.

Embroidery:Method of decorating fabric with designs stitched in coloured thread or yarn. 


Flapper dress: fashionable in 1920s, this dress featured nattow shoulder straps and a low waist, often tied with a scarf or a belt.

French cuffs: double cuffs. These double cuffs are folded back and fastened with cufflinks or fabric knots.

Fishtail:A fan shaped addition to the train of a dress, popular in evening gowns a fish like train follows behind the wearer. 

Fit and Flair :Refers to a dress style characterized by a form-fitting Bodice with a skirt which flairs out towards the hemline, often with pleats or folds. 


Godet: sewn intoa skirt, this triangular piece of fabric is designed to proced fullness.

Gingham: A lightweight cotton cloth, usually checked. Typically combines white with red, blue, or green. 


Halterneck: top or dress with straps tied at the nape of the neck to leave the back and shoulders exposed.

Herringbone: produced by a broken twill weave and often emphasized with yarns in a variaty of colors, this diagonally lined pattern resembles the skeleton of a herring.

Houndstooth: traditional small sheck pattern of two colors, often black and white.


Jabot: used to cover button on dresses or blouses, this decorative ruffle became popular with women, from the late nineteeth century until the late 1950s, and then became fashionable once more in a modified form in 1980.

Jersey: a knitted fabric that feels soft to the touch and is piable without losing its shape; first introduced in haute couture by Coco Chanel in 1916-17.

Jumpsuit: one-piece pantsuit usally made of an elastic material such as jersey and with long or short legs. introduced in the 1960s.


Kimono Sleeves: as in the Japanese kimono, this is a straight sleeve that is joined at right to a garment.


Lamè (or Lurex): fabric that is interwoven with metallic threads

Lapel:The two triangular pieces of cloth that extend from the collar of a suit jacket. 

Little Black Dress (or LBD): is a black evening or cocktail dress, cut simply and often quite short. It is considered essential to a omplete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers. Audrey Hepburn, aka Holly Golightly, made him famous in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The dress worn in the film, created by Hubert de Givenchy, was sold at Christie’s auction for £ 467,200 in 2006.


Mandarin (or Chinese, or Nehru) collar: stand-up collar that is open on the front

Maxi Skirt: ankle- or floor-lenght skirt popular around 1970.

Midi Skirt: calf-lenght skirt; altrough this term is no lnger in use, the lenght itself has ben dominant since 1973

Mini Skirt: a very short skirt, with the minimum distance beetween hem and knee being 4 inches.


Nautical style: leisure and sportswear style, usually in navy blue and white, and modeled on naval uniforms.

New Look (Corolla Line): world-famous-silouhette created in 1947 by Christian Dior. Very feminine, with narrow, rounded shoulders, narrow waist, emphasized bust and wide, calf-lenght skirt.

Nylon: patent in the U.S. in 1937 and initially used in the manufacture of hoisery and underwear.


Optical art: art style typified by abstract, geoetric pattern and bold colors, especially black and white; a major influence in 1960s fashion.

Oversized look: garments or accessories that appear several sizes too large: fashionable in the 1980s.


Paletot: single- or double-breasted coat with patch pockets and lapels.

Passamenterie: generic term for all kinds of garment (and furnishing) trimmings, essential, requirements for Coco Chanel’s suit.

Pencil line: Figure-hugging style created by Christian Dior in 1948, whereby the skirt is cut from the hips in one straight line.

Peplum jacket: short tailored jacket with flared flaps of flounces sewn into the waist

Peter pan collar: rounded, small flat collar

Plissé: term used to describe pleats that are pressed into fabric.

Polka Dots: is a pattern consisting of an array of large filled circles of the same size.

Puff Sleeve: gathered above the elbow, this is a baloonlikeshort sleeve

Puffball, or pouf skirt: created by Christian Lacroix in 1980s, the skirt is doubled over the hemto create a puffed appearance.


Ranglan Sleeve: a sleeve extending from the neckline to the wrist.

Rayon: a name for viscose used between the early 1950s and 1970s.

Rendigote: tailored long jacket or coat, usally flared toward the hemand often with a swirl collar. it can be worn with or without a beklt.


Shantung: irregular, less shiny silk; handwoven.

Sheath dress: usally knee-lenght classic dres, collarless and close-fitting, straight and cut from a single fabric piece, with a round or oval neckline; also an evening dress with shoulder straps and decotellage; popular in 1920s, in the 1960s it became known as the “Jackie O. Dress” (after Jacqueline Kennedy).

Shift dress: loosely falling, unstructred classic style of dress especially fashionable during 1920s and mid-1960s.

Smock: Narrow straight dress with front, back, and sleeves secured to a yoke collar.


Trapeze line: silouette of coat or dress with narrow shoulders and a hight waist (or no waist at all) flaring out toward the hem. Yves Saint Laurent presented his Trapeze line in 1958, and it remained popular throught the 1960s.

Tweed: rough-textured woolen fabric in a variaty of colored patterns: used especially for suits and coats. Tweed has become an essential element of the Chanel style that Mademoiselle Coco borrowed from the male wardrobe


V-neck: neckline with an open yoke coming to a V shape midway down the bodice.

Vichy check: checked pattern that is like gingham but with larger checks

Viscose: synthetic fiber made of cellulose.


Zipper Pull: Refers to a metal accessory that allows for the opening of a zipper; usually in various shaped and sizes.


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