Demystifying Fashion’s Favorite Terms

Ever find yourself reading a fashion article, only to be stumped by a fashion term that was completely foreign to you?  Believe me, you’re in good company!  Instead of being perplexed while flipping through the pages of your favorite magazine, or just nodding along while your fashionista friend speaks this sophisticated lingo, take some time to expand your style vocabulary.  Here are seven of my favorite fashion terms to add to your repertoire.

  • Ready-to-Wear:  Clothing that is factory-produced in standard sizes. The term suggests that an item will be ready-to-wear right off the rack but it’s a bit of a misnomer.  Only 5%-10% of the population can do that.  The rest of us need an alteration here or there.  Just a note: the French refer to this as prêt-à-porter which sounds way more chic!
  • Bias Cut:  A garment that is cut diagonally across the “grain” of a fabric to create a silhouette that closely follow the curves of the body.  Skirts, dresses and gowns cut in this way have a reputation of being sexier than traditionally cut garments.  It’s why many of us can’t resist the delicate, graceful flow of a finely made bias cut garment!
  • Capsule Collection:  An edited collection of interchangeable clothing pieces. Designers create in capsules with the hope that you’ll buy it all.  But how fun is it to cross-pollinate between different vendors and the pieces you already have in your closet to create capsule collections of your very own!
  • Haute Couture:  The business of designing and selling custom-made clothes for private customers.  While these types of clothes can intimidate some, you can feel more confident if you know how to pronounce it: haute couture.
  • Je Ne Sais Quoi:  A commonly used phrase in the fashion industry, that is French for a woman who has an unnamable appeal about her.  It’s a quality that’s hard to describe because it’s subtle and can be used to describe someone’s enviable style to the way a woman moves.
  • Lookbook:  A compilation of images (a.k.a “looks”), showcasing a designer’s upcoming collection and point of view.  Think of these as a potpourri of outfit ideas, designed to inspire you based on the designers vision.  As an aside, you can create your own lookbook with what you have in your closet.  In fact, I love to create lookbooks for my clients.  Check out a sample lookbook.
  • Pop-up Shop:  A temporary retail store.  My take on this is that these types of stores usually go into well-trafficked areas to gain exposure.  And just when you fall in love with the store and its contents, it leaves to pop up elsewhere.  So just a word to the wise…when you see something that you like in a pop up, don’t wait too long to decide.

Just one last note… If you don’t use ‘em, you’ll lose ‘em so remember to work these words into all your fashion conversations!

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