Fashion Vocabulary -150+ words related to Fashion

This is a list of fashion related words that differentiate the fashion talk of the common man from the fashion elite. You can call it the fashion jargon tossed around by the designers and editors who decide the course of fashion.

They use them as part of their everyday conversation.Some of these words are common terms but some were unfamiliar to me, even technical.

If you want to be part of the fashion crowd you have to sprinkle some of them in your conversation or at least know some of them so that you know what they are talking about.

In the meantime, you may want to check out some other categories very much related to fashion

I have skipped these terms in this post, because they are better elaborated elsewhere. But they are also very much related to fashion and you may want to read them after this one is over.

Fashion Glossary

Table of Contents


    In fashion accessories refers to items with a useful or decorative purpose used in conjunction with one’s outfit. They complement and enhance the clothes worn. Include Belts & Suspenders, Bridal Veils, Eyewear, Footwear, Gloves & Mittens, Handbags, Handkerchiefs, Headwear, Jewelry, Legwear, Neckwear, Shawls & Wraps, Umbrellas, Watches

    Acid wash

    Treatment done on fabric to fade the colour with bleach solution. Check out the post on different ways (15) to distress your jeans to look fashionable

    Achromatic colours

    This refers to having no colour ; in fashion it means black or white colours.

    Antique style

    A style of the past

    Anti Pill

    Treatment done on fabric to increase the wear resistance, preventing uneven and worn look of fabric surface

    Army look

    A style that resembles an army uniform (military style)

    Art deco

    Style incorporating geometric patterns in typical colours of yellow green gold silver and black

    Art Nouveau

    Style that incorporates linear and curvilinear designs

    Academic costume

    Characteristic clothes worn by those studying or teaching in colleges/ universities


    This is an emphasis given to something like a colour or trimming or accesory

    Accent shades

    Bright dark colours like fluorescent colours. These are used as an emphasis rather than as the whole colour of a design.


    Refers to things like shoes, hats, jewellery, neckwear, belts, scarfs, gloves, corstes lingerioe boutonnieres that is added to an outfit to make it more fashionable


    The process of adding accessory to clothing on display

    Active sportswear

    Clothes worn by the participants in sports events


    Garment/design similar to another original design/model but having some characteristic changes

    Advanced colours

    Warm colours like shades of red

    a la mode

    French term for fashion


    A popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behavior.

    American Style

    A sporty easy going casual style of clothing

    Androgynous style

    A style that is neither strongly feminine or masculine


    Another word for clothes, clothing and garments

    Apparel manufacturing

    Involves assembling, cutting, finishing, grading, labeling, marketing of garments in an industrial set up


    One sided , not balanced


    Large dressmaking organization



    Athletic clothing

    Clothing worn for athletic activities. Brands like Puma specialize in athletic clothing


    Refers to never seen before innovative designs by designers who are original thinkers bringing change to fashion

    Body clothes


    Balance / symmetry

    Having two opposing sides of same dimension


    This refers to a made-to-order garment made as per the customer’s characteristic measurements and specifications. Usually said about men’s formal clothes or wedding clothes

    Barfly apparel

    Clothing suitable for wearing at cocktail bars


    Clothing suitable for beach


    The fashionable world

    Black tie event

    A dress code for evening events and social functions ; involves a tuxedo, tie and formal shoes. For girls this is a long gown.


    A store or shop ( usually high end expensive store) selling unique items to a specific set of customers

    Bib and tucker

    Colloquial term for clothes ( wear one’s finest clothes)

    Border print

    A design that is seen along the border of a fabric

    Bohemian style of fashion (Boho)

    An unconventional style of dressing  that draws inspiration from bohemian and hippie influences. Boho chic is a stylish bohemian fashion with many celebrities and socialities following this trend. Check out 

    Business Formal dress code

    Garments suitable for a formal event – suits for both men and women and tailored dresses for women.

    Business Casual dress code

    Clothes suitable for a semi-formal event – pants and shirts for men, pencil skirts and blouses for women ; not too casual like jeans or too formal like suits.

    Bulky clothing

    Loose fitting clothing

    Capsule wardrobe

    This is a term used for a collection of a few timeless and essential items of clothing . Check out the post on the 18 pieces you should have in your capsule wardrobe

    Cut of a garment

    Style and shape of a garment and how it hangs on the body

    Camouflage clothing

    Design with elements of camouflage in it like the print / khaki colour

    Casual wear

    Informal wear; everyday garments


    A platform along which models walk to display clothes in fashion shows.

    Channel suit

    A prestigious coveted suit for women designed by the Famous french designer Coco Chanel


    Stylish / sophisticated


    Chinese style

    Cine mode

    A fashion with origin in the movies

    City wear

    Street clothes with a sophisticated style

    Cocktail dress code

    This is a party event – a suit for men and party dress for women


    Usually held twice a year in spring/summer and fall/ winter

    Colour coordination

    Design incorporating colour theory and colour harmony


    A style which is deemed timeless


    As per Wikipedia clique is a small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them.In fashion cliue refers to a group of very fashion consious people who share a common sense of style.


    A set of creations of a designer for a particular season. 

    Colour blocking

    This is a technique in which large blocks of solid coloured fabric are joined  (usually sewn) to form the garment ; placing blocks of different colours side by side this way provides a visually striking effect 

    Colour fast

    This refers  to a dyed fabric’s ability to resist fading or colour running when it is washed, exposure to sunlight etc.

    Country look

    A rustic look ; wearing tweeds

    Cool colours

    These are colours in the blue family

    Contemporary style

    A current look

    Continental style

    This refers to the European style of clothing

    Conservative styles

    Traditional dressing style

    Cosmetic colours

    Colours that relates to makeup/cosmetics used


    Dress style that is universal rather than localised


    Garments based a theme or a story


    This is a french term for male designers. The female designer is a couturiere


    A fashion which becomes extremely popular for a short period

    Composite style

    A combination of distinct styles; simple and refined; cool and feminine; feminine and flirtatious ; funky and fun.

    Costume jewelry

    This is jewelry made to complement a particular fashionable garment/collection ;  usually inexpensive than real jewellery

    Dated fashion

    Style of clothing which is Out of fashion  (no longer fashionable)

    Diffusion Line

    A  modestly priced line of garments made by an haute couture designer


    Process in which fabric is artificially aged or worn


    The way a fabric falls/hangs on a body

    Drop tail style

    This refers to clothing with the back having more length than the front.

    Dandy style

    This is a term related to mens clothing – indicating a flamboyant self-absorbant style of dressing


    Clothing that has never been worn, often from previous season.

    Design elements

    In fashion, this refers to Color, Shape, line, texture, balance, harmony, proportion, pattern etc which are very important in designing well-liked clothes

    Earth colors

    Colours in the brown family

    Ecclectic style of fashion

    This is a fashion style composed of elements drawn from various sources;A mix of various styles 

    Electric colours

    Brilliant colours

    Elegant dressing style

    A sophisticated graceful style


    An outfit ( totally) that is coordinated and harmonious

    Eponymous fashion brand

    When a designer decides to name a brand his own name ie creator gives his own name to his brand. eg LOUIS VUITTON


    Native or traditional


    Style that is fascinating and evoking the look of a foriegn land


    The addition of decorative details or features


    A set of clothes that give out a look of unity and coordination


    A person who thinks up ideas for making extremely characteristic garments


    A presentation of clothes

    Effortless dressing

    This refers to a style which is high end but looks effortless.

    Fabric swatches

    Small pieces of fabric used as a sample

    Fabric Finishes

    This refers to the application of certain resins/chemicals or making the fabric undergo some processes so that its functional or aethetic appeal is enhanced.


    A short lived fashion ; the popuarity fades pretty fast after a burst.

    Fashion capitals

    Refers to high fashion cities like Paris, New york, Los Angels, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Barcelona

    Fashion Cycle

    This refers to the rise rule and decline of a style

    Fashion Faux Pas

    A misstep made in fashion like a wrong choice of clothing

    Fashion Forecast

    A prediction as to the fashions / styles/ trends that will be popular in the coming future

    Fashion foreward

    A person who is ahead and knowledgeable of fashion trends

    Fashion icon

    Some one who is very popular for his/her fashion style that every one looks up to him/her.

    Fashion Line

    All of the clothing a fashion designer produces for a specific category

    Fashion press

    Those reporting the fashion events / shows / displays etc

    Fashion show

    Displaying Formal collection of fashion styles by designers to merchandisers/ customers

    Fashion house

    A company involved in fashion design


    A devoted follower of fashion

    Fashion icon

    A term used to refer to someone or something that has become popular for being extremely fashionable

    Fashion sense

    Knowledge of how to dress fashionably.

    Fashion police

    An imaginary police force that ensures that people dress according to fashion.

    Fashion tribe

    A group of people who share a common sense of dressing style / fad/ fashion

    Fashion victim

    A person who slavishly follows current fashion.

    Fabric Prints

    These are many prominent patterns which are very popular like animal prints african prints . check out the post on the 55 popular fabric patterns you will usually find

    Face of the fabric

    The outer surface of the fabric ( also refers to facing)

    Fashion Label

    A collection of  expensive clothes belonging to a particular upcoming designer


    Military combat apparel.

    Flat sketches

    Technical sketch of a design as if it were laying flat- the details include stitching techniques etc. Also called flats.You can make this by hand or with software like illustrator.


    Fabric printed with floral patterns

    Formal clothing ( evening clothes)

    An occasion dressing style ;Long evening gown for females and suits / tuxedos for men


    Undergarment worn to smooth a figure

    Garcon look

    Garconne; A boyish fashion worn by women ; also called flapper look


    Shades of the same colour


    A messy style of dressy seen in people who follow or like grunge music


    Sewing notions like buttons zippers etc; also refers to a men’s clothing shop

    High stepper

    A colloquial term for a person who is very aware or conscious of fashion and how he/ she looks.

    Hand of a fabric

    The feel of the fabric

    Haute Couture 

    Expensive, fashionable clothes produced by leading exclusive fashion houses. It means the finest dress making in French language; simply termed as couture.

    High Fashion

    The designing, making, and marketing of expensive, fashionable exclusive clothes ( as opposed to mass-market clothing); haute couture

    Hippie style

    A fashion style characterized by long hair, jeans etc


    In the fashion world, a fashion house is a name used for a company dealing in fashion.

    Hot number

    A style which  sells very fast at that time


    A fake or copy ; usually used for describing fur and jewellery

    Iridescent colours

    Imitating the colors of the rainbow

    Impact colours

    A colur used in a fashion design for an impact

    Jewel tones

    Deep colours

    Knock Off

    A design that is a copy of a more expensive clothing

    Lagenlook style ( Layered style)

    This is a style in which different garments are layered over each other, in different lengths

    Limited edition clothing


    A collection of styles shown to a producer in a given season

    Line sheet

    A reference guide used by people connected with fashion detailing garment styles price, colour, fabric details etc related to a line.

    Look Book

    A book with all the photographs of a model, photographer, style, stylist, or images representing the full clothing line of a designer. It is meant as a catalogue for marketing to be presented to the buyers.

    Long line clothing

    Clothing meant for tall people


    Garments worn around the house

    Made to measure garments

    This refers to the use of  preexisting template patterns and then making the garments out of them after adjusting to the measurements of the customer

    Marine style

    A style that looks like the clothing of sailors

    Mass produced / Fashion

    Styles/ fashion that is widely accepted and hence made in large quantities

    Masculine style

    This refers to women’s clothing made to look like men’s ( also called mannish)


    A fashion which is mixture, combination of things, elements or trends


    A simple understated look; a fashion consisting of simple styles and plain colours.

    Monotone clothing

    Clothes of a single colour

    Mood Board

    A physical or digital collage of design ideas used by fashion designers to consolidate their collections or get ideas. Will have details of an idea, drawings or photos, fabric swatches etc. 


    A design used in a pattern/ print / embroidery etc ; usually found recurring


    This is a trial garment made to test a pattern ; it is originally made in the fabric muslin cotton

    Off the rack

    Another name for ready to wear mass-produced clothing in standard sizes that is made in a large number and is readily available in retail stores.


    This refers to the style in which color graduates from light to dark

    Over size

    Garments which are of a much looser fit.


    Refers to anything that is No longer fashionable; out of date fashion.(pronounced pasei) This is deemed an insult in fashionable circles


    Style which represents flamboyance or confidence


    A template used as a guide to make a garment.

    Pret-a- porter

    Refers to ready to wear clothes

    Peasant style

    A style which is reminiscent of the country women folk with embroidered blouses and long skirts

    Power dressing

    Refers to a  style of dressing that emphasises ones power. The word was coined in the 1970s and it meant a smart tailored dressing meant to impress.Now represents clothes that men and women wear to workplaces and meetings to make them look powerful.

    Preppy style

    A collegiate look; for boys polo shirts, chinos and navy blazers

    Resort  wear (Cruise wear)

    This is line of clothing meant as holiday or travel collection; it is meant for a  relaxed living for the affluent people ; clothes meant for the poolside life

    Ready to wear or RTW

    This is the term for factory made clothing in standardized sizes

    Reversible clothing

    Garments that can be used on both sides

    Safari style

    The kind of clothing that resemble clothes worn during hunting


    A garment made to be shown to the retailers/merchandisers


    Outline or shape of a design or garment


    The finished edge of the fabric ( on opposite sides of the lengthwise fabric)

    Sanforized clothing

    A shrink control process  used on fabric

    Sleek style

    The style which gives a slender slim streamlined look

    Slip on clothes

    The type of clothes which are worn without any fastenings / just slip on through the head

    Slim fit

    Clothing made to fit close to the body.


    This is a type of basic pattern that is used as the building block for all other patternmaking without any ease or design elements (


    A casual style of clothing meant for a relaxed look but can be used in a casual business setting too. American style dressing

    Street wear

    This is basically clothes meant for the streets – skater friendly garments. It is a broad difficult to define fashion and may mean simply urban fashion.

    Stonewashed fabric

    A fabric faded through a specific process

    Surfer look

    A carefree dressing style sported by surfers on beaches


    Anything related to Tailoring, clothes, or style of dress.;Of or pertaining to tailors and their trade (; it is also used in relation to the uality of a dress


    Clothes that are bought separately and cover only part of the body but can be mixed and matched to create combinations.Eg: pants and shirts

    Supportive clothing

    This refers to clothing that gives support ; eg. muscular support for sports, support for bust, support for legs with ailments like varicose vein


    Making of made to measure/custom made garments

    Throwback fashion

    Fashion belonging to the past

    Theme board (mood board)

    A board with fashion drawings, sketches, swatches used to create a mood about a product. 


    A general direction in which something is developing or changing ( oxford dictionary)


    An adjective used to describe someone who is very fashionable or stylish

    Trunk show

    Display of a designers colletion in a store

    Twin prints

    Two prints that share the same colour combination in one garment

    Upcycled clothing

    This is creative reuse of old clothes by changing certain design elements.

    Utilitarian clothing

    Functional clothing rather than decorative eg: a Raincoat protecting from rain


    Clothing inspired from a previous era

    Warm colours

    Red, yellow and orange and in between colours in the colour wheel


    Full name – Women’s Wear Daily a magazine considered to be the bible of fashion


    In the fabric, fibers that run the width of the fabric.

    Reference : The Magic of Fashion: Ritual, Commodity, Glamour
    By Brian Moeran

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