"Language of Fashion" Dictionary


Working in the industry we often have to speak the "language of Fashion" we have to know the different terminologies for many different items, that most people don't know about. There are so many out there, and might be referred to by other people as other names.

So, I thought I'd put together a small "dictionary" of just a few that I thought would be a good place to start for any person who wants to pursue fashion/clothing or a fashion student. Actually anyone interested in the knowledge of fashion.

All over - an embroidered, printed, or lace fabric with a design covering most of the surface (allover the surface). A design that is repeated across the entire surface of a garment. also known as a Rotary print

A-line - a dress or Skirt that is formed into the shape of an A, tight fitting at the waist and open at the bottom. This flattering silhouette is easy and comfortable to wear. It flares gently away from the body creating a soft, A-line shape. Fit for anybody.

Apparel - personal attire; clothing ; clothes ; garments ; fashions ; things one wears to cover the naked body.

Argyle - namely varicoloured diamonds on a solid background colour. pattern is made of diamonds in a diagonal checkerboard arrangement.

Avante garde - "unique crazy unwearable garments"

Binding - a narrow fabric used to finish raw edges. In sewing, binding is used as both a noun and a verb to refer to finishing a seam or hem of a garment, usually by rolling or pressing then stitching on an edging or trim.

Blouse - the word blouse is often utilized when referring to a women's shirt. An old definition that I found is as follows: a long loose over garment that resembles a shirt or smock and is worn especially by workmen, artists, and peasants; the jacket of a uniform; a usually loose-fitting garment that covers the body from the neck to the waist and is worn especially by women.

Body shirt - a close-fitting shirt or blouse; a woman's close-fitting top made with a sewn-in or snapped crotch.

Bodysuit - a close-fitting one-piece garment for the torso.

Bra Cups - the "padding" of a women's bra. cups have an underwire and fiberfill or foam lining molded into a specific shape.

Brocade - a rich oriental silk fabric with raised patterns in gold and silver. Cotton brocade often has the ground of cotton and the pattern of rayon and silk. Pattern is in low relief. Generally weaved in Jacquard and dobby. Rich, heavy, elaborate design effect. Sometimes with coloured or metallic threads making the design usually against a satin weave background. This makes the figures stand out. The figures in brocade are rather loose, while in damask the figure threads are actually bound into the material. The pattern may be satin on a twill ground or twill on a satin ground. Often reversible. The motifs may be of flowers, foliage, scrollwork, pastoral scene

Carded and Combed cotton - refers to the fiber preparation method of carding (brushing) and combing the fibers prior to spinning, in order to form a softer yarn which is best for soft knit items. Carding removes tangles in wool fibers. it is an important step in the processing of many textiles, ensuring that debris is removed while aligning the fibers to make them easier to spin. Combing is much more labor intensive. Fine toothed combs are used to straighten and align each individual fiber parallel to the direction of spinning AS the fiber is being spun. Unlike carding, combing cannot be done ahead of time. This produces a very smooth, very compactly spun yarn which is best suited for weaving.

Camisole - Historically, referred to jackets of various kinds. In modern usage a camisole or cami is a loose-fitting sleeveless women's undergarment which covers the top part of the body. A camisole typically has thin "spaghetti straps" and can be worn over a brassier or without one.

Chambray - made of Cotton. Weave: Plain weave or dobby designs on a plain-weave ground. Made with a dyed warp and a white or unbleached filling. Both carded and combed yarns used. Has a white selvedge. Some woven with alternating white and coloured warp. "Faded" look. Has very soft colouring. Some made with stripes, checks or embroidered. Smooth, strong, closely woven. Wears very well, easy to sew, and launders well. If not crease resistant, it wrinkles easily.

CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black; the colours used when printing process colour (often referred to as 4-colour process). These are special pigment colours of ink that are very transparent. CMYK is used where a photo realistic look and many colours are required. The blending of these 4 primary colors can generate the effect of several other colours.

Couture house - Fashion designer house.

Couture - the art and practice of high-fashion designing and dressmaking.

Cover seam - cover stitch. Garment makers use the cover stitch to complete the hem on pants, shirts and skirts. The stitch consists of two rows of thread with a third thread looping around them. 

Draping - dress, or hang with or as if with cloth in loose folds. Technique used by designers to create garments by draping fabric on dress form.

Denim - A sturdy cotton twill fabric, typically blue, used for jeans, overalls, and other clothing. with coloured warp and white filling threads

Dolman sleeve - is a full sleeve that is very wide at the armhole and narrow at the wrist. This type of sleeve tends to draw attention to the shoulder and arm.

Double-face Satin - yarn woven with two warps and one filling, to simulate a double satin construction. Has satin on both sides.

DTM - abbreviation for Dyed To Match. For example, on a spec sheet it may indicate that the buttons are DTM buttons. This means the buttons are to be dyed to match the ground colour of the garment (or dyed to match another colour of the garment as specified).

Empire waist - waist which begins immediately below the bust.

Garment - an article of clothing.

Greige - Not bleached or dyed; unfinished. an unbleached or undyed cloth or yarn.

Gore - middle piece of a bra between the two cups.

Harem pants - women's loose trousers that fit closely at the ankle.

Hemming - Turn under and sew the edge of (a piece of cloth or clothing).

Hook & eye - A clothes fastener consisting of a small blunt metal hook that is inserted in a corresponding loop or eyelet.

Interlock - a stretchable fabric made on a circular knitting machine and consisting of two ribbed fabrics joined by interlocking. 

Kimono - a long robe with wide sleeves traditionally worn with a broad sash as an outer garment by the Japanese; a loose dressing gown or jacket.

Kimono sleeve - it is constructed as a wide rectangle from a dropped shoulder. 

Knickers - loose-fitting short pants gathered at the knee.

Knit fabric - intertwining yarn or thread in a series of connected loops either by hand, with knitting needles, or on a machine, To join closely; unite securely.

Lab dip - a solid colour fabric dyed to match a given colour standard.

Mandarin collar - a narrow stand-up collar usually open in front.

Millinery - women's apparel for the head.

Negligee - a woman's long flowing usually sheer dressing gown; careless informal or incomplete attire.

Outerwear - clothing for outdoor wear. 

Outfit - wearing apparel with accessories usually for a special occasion or activity.

Overall - loose protective trousers worn over regular clothes; [Plural] trousers of strong material usually with a bib and shoulder straps; a loose-fitting protective smock worn over regular clothes

- An overlock stitch sews over the edge of one or two pieces of cloth for edging, hemming or seaming. Usually an overlock sewing machine will cut the edges of the cloth as they are fed through, to create finished seams easily and quickly.

Paisley - a fabric made typically of soft woven. printed with colourful curved abstract figures.

Pattern - an outline of a garment on paper. It embodies usually all the pieces necessary to cut a complete garment from material.

Pattern maker - takes an existing sketch and create a 2-dimensional paper pattern. This pattern is used to cut pieces from cloth that will be sewn into a garment or other products.

Pedal pushers - women's and girls' calf-length trousers.

Peter pan collar - a usually small flat close-fitting collar with rounded ends that meet in front.

PFP - prepare-for-print.

Pilling - formation of little balls of fibres (pills) on the surface of a fabric. Caused by abrasion in wear. Pilling is often found when producing flannel. Better quality, has less pilling.

Pin tuck - special detailing, Narrow sewn rows of fabric that give a decorative raised look to a garment. Some bloused are made with pin tucking on the bodice for a more tailored look.

Pinstripe - a suit with pinstripes, namely a very thin stripe especially on a fabric.. A pattern of very thin stripes running in parallel found in cloth is also called pin stripes. Although found mostly in men's suits, any type of fabric can be pin striped.

Piping - a narrow tube of fabric, sometimes enclosing a cord, used for trimming seams and edges, as of slipcovers or suits. 

Placket - multiple layers of fabric that are used to attach buttons to button holes, which in turn creates the opening & closer for shirts.

Retail - Retailers are defined as those establishments that sell merchandise, generally without transformation, and attract customers using methods such as advertising, point-of-sale location, and display of merchandise. A store retailer has a selling place open to the public; merchandise on display or available through sales clerks; facilities for making cash or credit card transactions; and services provided to retail customers. 

Retail price - price set for items sold to the general public. The last mark-up in the cost to bring an item to a particular consumer store. Please note, many items will have a suggested retail price set by a manufacturer. This price does in no way constitute a products' value as "suggested retail prices" are often overlooked by retailers and priced according to market and/or trends.

Shrug - a woman's small waist-length or shorter jacket.

Shirring - To gather (cloth) into decorative rows by parallel stitching. Gather (an area of fabric or part of a garment) by drawn or elasticised threads in parallel rows.

Spandex - clothing made of spandex, namely any of various elastic textile fibers made chiefly of polyurethane. Any of various elastic textile fibers made chiefly of polyurethane.

Spaghetti straps - A thing shoulder strap on an item of women's clothing.

Spec - made according to the specifications of an individual buyer.

S.P.I - stitches per inch.

Smocking - Needlework decoration of small, regularly spaced gathers stitched into a honeycomb pattern so that the part below the gathers hangs in even folds.

Strike-off - a test length of fabric specially printed in order to check the pattern registration, pattern repeat and the matching shades in the design.

Stitch - A loop of thread or yarn resulting from a single pass or movement of the needle in sewing, knitting, or crocheting. 

Swatches - A sample, esp. of fabric.

Sweetheart bust - A type of bust line used to describe a garment -instead of collar type, because of the lack of a collar- when the bust line is shaped like the top of a heart (heart as in symbol, not organ). Commonly found in formal dresses from the 1950's.

Tank top - a sleeveless collarless shirt with usually wide shoulder straps and no front opening.

Tacking - a temporary stitching in an object to hold it together while sewing (to be removed afterwards)

Textile - a woven or knit cloth. The term is used generically to define many various fabrics. The word is sometimes used to define an entire industry. 

Thong - a sandal held on the foot by a thong fitting between the toes and connected to a strap across the top or around the sides of the foot. A thong is also a version of underwear or swimwear.

Thread - a slender, strong strand or cord, especially one designed for sewing or other needle work. Most threads are made by plying and twisting yarns. A wide variety of thread types is in use today e.g. spun cotton and spun polyester, core-spun cotton with a polyester filament core, polyester or nylon filaments (often bonded) , and monofilament threads.

Thread count - measured by adding the number of warp ends per inch and filling picks per square inch in the woven fabric. The higher the number, the more dense the yarns are packed together. The quality of the cotton and the finishing process after weaving can often be more important to the soft hand and durability of a fabric than a high thread count.

Trims - are usual found on a garments like buttons, lace, sequins etc

Turtleneck - a high close-fitting turnover collar up around the neck used especially for sweaters; 

Warp - the yarns that run the length of the loom. The warp yarns are pulled through the loom as the weft or filling yarns are woven across the warp to make the fabric.

Weft knit - a knit fabric produced in machine or hand knitting with the yarns running crosswise or in a circle.

Welt pocket - An inset pocket with the lower lip finished by an upstanding welt that may be from. With two lips it is called a 'reece' pocket.

Wings - side part of a bra that wraps the body with the hook and eye.

Woven - Woven fabric has basically three weaves. Twill Weave, plain weave and satin weave. All weaves, either simple, elaborate or complex, are derived from these three weaves.

Yarn - a generic term for a continuous strand spun from a group of natural or synthetic staple Fibers, or filaments, used in weaving, knitting to form textile fabrics. 

Yarn dyed - 1) The dyeing of yarn before weaving or knitting. 2) Fabrics woven or knitted with yarns which have been dyed.

I hope this list of fashion diction will help you on your road in the Fashion Industry.

Thank you so much for reading!
Till' next time xo


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