Know your Fashion and Get What you Want: Part 1

In the fashion field there are a lot of terms that are used extensively in the industry to communicate certain facts about a design, fabric or look.  The more you know about these terms and what they mean the better able you will be to communicate what you want and the look you are aspiring for.  In the next few blogs we’ll untangle the world of fashion terms and put you on the same page with designers so you can buy with confidence and look terrific for work or play!

Acetate: is a cellulose based textile that is dry spun and blended with other fibers to produce sheen in fabrics.

A-line skirt: is a skirt that is fitted at the hips and gradually widens towards the hem, giving the impression of the shape of a capital letter A. This also applies to dresses and coats that have similar shapes.

Ascot: There are two types of ascots 1) the ascot scarf, which is a square of silk loosely gathered around the neck and, 2) the ascot tie, common in menswear has a pleated neckband and is worn either under or over the collar.

Bell-shaped silhouette: A silhouette made popular by Christian Dior in the 1950’s that includes a full skirt and sleeves making the waist appear tiny.

Bermuda shorts: also known as walking shorts or dress shorts, are a particular type of short pants, widely worn as semi-casual attire by men and women. They got their name from their popularity in the country of Bermuda. The hem can be cuffed or un-cuffed, and land about one inch above the knee.

Blazer: A blazer resembling a suit coat cut more casually sometimes with flap-less patch pockets and metal buttons. Historically a blazer’s cloth was usually durable (14oz.), because it was an outdoor sports jacket.  Blazers are often part of a uniform for airline pilots or someone on a rowing team.

Boat-neck: also called a bateau neck, refers to a wide neckline that runs horizontally, front and back, almost to the shoulder points, across the collarbone. It is traditionally used in nautically inspired sweaters and knitwear and was originally derived from sailors’ blouses or sweaters, often with wide navy and white horizontal stripes. The wide, plain neck was said to facilitate quick removal if a sailor were to fall overboard.

Bomber jacket: is a garment originally created for pilots, which eventually became part of popular culture and apparel.  It is long sleeved, lands at the waist and commonly has a zip closure.

Boot cut leg: Pant legs that are tapered to the knee and loosens around the ankle to accommodate a boot.

Brocade: a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in colored silks and with or without gold and silver threads. Brocade is typically woven on a draw loom. It is a supplementary weft technique, that is, the ornamental brocading is produced by a supplementary, non-structural, weft in addition to the standard weft that holds the warp threads together. The purpose of this is to give the appearance that the weave actually was embroidered on.

Button-down collar:  Button-down collars have points fastened down by buttons on the front of the shirt and were originally introduced by retailer Brooks Brothers in 1896.

Chalk-striped: A series of threads, not just one thread, used to create a stripe that resembles a stripe that is drawn with tailors chalk or rope.  The width of the stripe varies while it is always wider than the pin stripe.

Chanel jacket: A style of jacket originally designed by Coco Chanel.  The jacket has a box silhouette with three quarter length sleeves and is weighted on the bottom by a chain that is sewn is the hem.  The jacket is collarless, lands at the high hip, with simple closures at the center.

Chiffon: a fabric made from cotton, silk or synthetic fibers. Chiffon can be dyed to almost any shade desired, but if it is made out of polyester it can be difficult to dye. Under a magnifying glass it resembles a fine net or mesh which gives chiffon some see-through properties and is primarily found in evening wear.

City shorts: Women’s pants that are usually cuffed and land at the knee or no more than three inches above it and worn for the office when jackets are optional is an accepted mode of attire.

Clothes Valet: is an item of furniture where clothes may be hung and aired out. Typical features of valets include trouser hangers, jacket hangers, shoe bars, and a tray organizer for miscellaneous, day-to-day objects like wallets and keys.

Cotton Twill: Also referred to as Chino, is a twill fabric, originally made of 100% cotton. Today it is also found in cotton-synthetic blends and common among such brands as Dockers.

Convertible collar: a collar that is the part of a shirt, dress, coat, or blouse that fastens around or frames the neck. Among clothing construction professionals, a collar is differentiated from other necklines such as lapels, by being made from a separate piece of fabric, rather than a folded or cut part of the same piece of fabric used for the main body of the garment.

Cordovan:  A shade of burgundy and rose.  The term was first coined in Spain

Cowl neck: a high loose-fitting turnover collar used especially for sweaters and women’s blouses.

Crew Neck: a type of shirt or sweater that has a round neckline and no collar.  Often worn with other layers the crew was originally developed in 1932 as an undergarment for football players.

Cropped Jacket: Worn primarily by women as a short version of a jacket that lands above the waist but below the breast.  Cropped jacket styles vary from dressed up and form fitting to very casual depending on the fabrication and style detail.

Cropped pants: Usually worn by women and are pants that land below the knee about midcalf.

Cummerbund: a broad waistband usually worn in place of a vest with men’s dress clothes and adapted in various styles of women’s clothes.

Day dress: is a garment consisting of a skirt with an attached bodice (or a matching bodice giving the effect of a one-piece garment) worn during the day such as sun dress or shirtwaist dress.

Double Wrap Belt: A belt that is designed to go around the waist twice.

Drop Waist Style:  A horizontal waistline that falls near the level of the upper hips. This balances the upper and lower body (for those that are short waisted) and adds the impression of height by lengthening the torso.

Gabardine:  is a tough, tightly woven fabric used to make suits, overcoats, trousers uniforms, windbreakers, and other garments. The fiber used to make the fabric is traditionally worsted wool, but may also be cotton, polyester, or a blend. Gabardine is woven as a warp-faced steep or regular twill, with a prominent diagonal rib on the face and smooth surface on the back.

Gathered skirts:  Full skirts, also known as dirndl skirts.  The term dirndl originated in Austria and Bavaria and described an everyday dress with apron.

Gladiator sandals: a flat sandal that laces up the calf ending mid calf or right below the knee

Glen Plaid: is a woolen fabric with a woven twill design of small and large checks also known as a Bankers Plaid because of the frequency of bankers wearing the pattern. The pattern has been introduced to cotton shirting and other non-woolen fabrics as well.

Herringbone pattern:  describes a distinctive V-shaped weaving pattern usually found in twill fabric. The pattern is called herringbone because it resembles the skeleton of a herring fish.Herringbone-patterned fabric is usually wool and is one of the most popular cloths used for suits and outerwear. Tweed is often woven with a herringbone pattern.

Houndstooth: The houndstooth check is made with alternating bands of four dark and four light threads in both warp and filling or weft woven in a simple 2:2 twill, two over – two under the warp, advancing one thread each pass.The pattern can be large or small depending on the needs of the manufacturer.

Jegging are leggings that are made of denim and Lycra spandex to look like tight denim jeans.

Jewel neck: This neckline is round and sits at the base of the throat. It is also called the T-shirt neckline.

Linen: is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather.


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About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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