The Fashion Terms You Need To Know

Ever wondered what fashion’s most commonly used terms, phrases and style names refer to? From peplum to French tuck, here’s an A to (almost) Z glossary…

A is for…Appliqué

Particularly prolific in couture, appliqué is a technique which involves delicately sewing a piece of fabric on top of another. The result is often decorative and eye-catching.

B is for… Broderie Anglaise

Pretty and feminine, broderie anglaise is a fabric typically characterised with cutwork detail and embroidery. It was particularly prevalent in England in the 19th century, hence its name, and enjoyed a resurgence in the 1950s – Brigitte Bardot, in fact, wore a broderie anglaise and gingham dress to her 1959 wedding to Jacques Charrier

Bouclé

Bouclé refers to both the yarn and the textured, tweed-like fabric created and popularised by Coco Chanel. Chanel realised the functionality of bouclé in the 1930s, using it to create her now classic jackets – which made the fabric synonymous with the couture brand. Bouclé is, of course, not unique to Chanel, with other French brands like Sandro and Maje also using it regularly.

C is for…Cut on the bias

Meaning ‘to be cut on the grain’, bias cut fabric involves placing the pattern at a 45° angle, as opposed to following the straight-line weave of the fabric. The result is a more fluid, elasticised garment that accentuates the curves of the body, with a more flattering finish.

D is for… Demi-fine 

Bridging the gap between costume jewellery and often eye-wateringly expensive fine jewellery, demi-fine offers wearers the opportunity to enjoy pieces made with gold, silver and semi-precious stones at a more affordable price point. Pieces are often gold-plated, using substitutes like Cubic Zirconia instead of diamonds.

E is for... Epaulettes

Taken from the French word meaning ‘little shoulders’, epaulettes were traditionally ornamental shoulder decorations on military jackets, denoting the wearer’s rank. These days, however, epaulettes can refer to any kind of shoulder detail, from 80s-padding to embellishment.

F is for…French Tuck 

As fans of Netflix’s Queer Eye will know, the French Tuck is nothing new. Think of it as an easy, more laissez-faire approach to tucking in a top or jumper – a technique fashion girls have used for years. Simply fold the front of your top into your trousers or skirt, leaving the back untucked and loose. To nail the look, make sure you loosen up the tuck in the front so it’s not so severe – it’s particularly useful with knitwear, where tucking all the way round can look bunched and awkward.

G is for...Gold Vermeil

Pronounced ‘ver-may’, vermeil is a form of plating that layers gold over sterling silver. The difference between traditional plating and gold vermeil, however, is that vermeil must be plated on sterling silver (as opposed to brass or other materials), and the gold must be more than 2.5 microns thick. Most fashion and costume jewellery is usually less than 1 micron thick as standard, so gold vermeil offers a higher quality, more durable finish.

H is for… Haute Couture

Translated literally from the French, ‘haute couture’ indicates the highest form of dress making. Pieces are made by hand from start to finish, often using extremely delicate techniques with the highest-quality, expensive fabrics. 

I is for… Inseam

The seam that runs down to the ankle on the inside of a trouser leg. Trouser lengths are measured on the inseam, so if in doubt when ordering online, this is the measurement to take note of.

J is for… Jacquard 

A particular type of woven fabric used to create elaborate patterns, such as florals and birds. Created using a device called a Jacquard loom that was invented in the 1800s, the fabric can comprise multiple materials, such as cotton, polyester, silk and acrylic.  

K is for… Knife Pleat

A precise, permanent fold in fabric used most often in skirts and dresses. Designer Issey Miyake popularised the technique in the 80s, leading to the eventual launch of the brand ‘Pleats Please’.

L is for… Lamé 

Pronounced ‘lah-may’, lamé is a high-shine fabric, woven or knitted using thin strips of metallic fibre. It’s typically gold or silver, but sometimes appears in copper, too. 

M is for… Monochrome 

Most people think this refers only to wearing both black and white, but monochrome technically refers to wearing just one single colour. Broken down, the word derives from the Latin ‘mono’, meaning one and ‘chrome’ meaning colour. 

O is for… Oversized 

When a garment is designed to fit deliberately on the larger side, without the need for the wearer to opt for a bigger clothing size to achieve the desired effect. 

P is for... Peplum 

Traditionally, peplum refers to an additional strip of fabric attached to the waist of a top, dress or jacket to create a skirt-like frill or flounce. However, peplum detail can also apply to both skirt and dress hemlines, and usually works to balance out an otherwise slim fitting garment.

Paper Bag 

Emulating the gathered opening of a tied-up paper bag, this term usually applies to a high-waisted pair of jeans or trousers with a belt. Thanks to its cinched-in waist, the surplus fabric above the belt is ruched, creating the ‘paper bag’ effect.

Q is for… Quilted 

A padding technique where down, or another a synthetic filling, is encased between two sections of fabric and sectioned off into diamond shape pillows with stitching.

R is for… Raglan 

Raglan refers to a sleeve created with a continuous piece of fabric, without a shoulder seam. It’s most commonly seen in baseball-style t-shirts and bomber jackets. 

S is for… Seersucker 

A textured, puckered fabric popular during the summer months because of its lightweight nature. The name itself comes from the Persian phrase ‘shir-o-shakhar’, meaning milk and sugar, which represent the alternating textures. 

T is for… Tapered Leg

A trouser style characterised by a loose fit through the thigh, that becomes progressively narrower towards the ankle. 

U is for… Utilitarian 

Utilitarian encompasses clothing that would, originally, have served a functional purpose – this includes pieces like boilersuits, overshirts and combat trousers. 

V is for…Vent 

A piece of clothing made with a split to allow for movement or provide additional design interest. They’re often seen in blazers and, more recently, in split hem trousers. 

W is for… Welt Pockets 

A pocket created without a flap or patch that creates a more minimal, fuss-free finish. 

Y is for… Yoke 

A section of a garment that is around the neckline on the front and back, which can sometimes be inserted as a contrasting piece of fabric to create interest. 

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