Let’s face it, fashion might as well be a language of its own. We’re doing okay, mind you. We get points for figuring out what ready-to-wear means (thank you, Google), and by now, we’ve clued into the fact that a mule is not just a very well-endowed farm animal. But if someone refers to a yoke and the ol’ tummy start a-rumbling, or houndstooth calls to mind a breed of dogs, it may be time for a lesson in fashionspeak.

The Brazen Guide to Fashion Terms from A-Z

Ready to sound like a very impressive fashionista? Some fashion terms are good to know for the sake of your own shopping and styling expertise while others, well, just happen to be du jour. Here’s your A-to-Zuhair Murad dictionary guide to all things fashion.


A is for Applique: A very popular technique where fabrics are layered to create unique details and texture to the garment.

Your Guide to All the Fashion Terms from A-Z

B is for Black: The go-to colour in fashion because of its slimming simplicity that can also create drama. When something gains as much popularity as the colour black, it then becomes…the new black. For example, organic raw veggie diet is the new black (yeah, orange, too).

C is for Covert Couture: Not to be mistaken with Haute Couture, Covert Couture is when you pick something off the runway, call your girl Stella (McCartney) and ask her to customize it for you. Now, it may not actually look very different but that’s the idea.

D is for Dart: This is not the weapon used to aim at a pic of your ex but rather a V-shaped fabric-tuck sewn into a garment to shape it to fit the rounded parts of the body. Darts are usually found at the bust line, the back shoulder, the waistline and the hip line.

E for Everything: The current word to use when offering the ultimate compliment. For example: JLo’s 46-year-old butt—is everything.

F is for Fluted Hem: A slim-fitting skirt from waist to hips that flares and ruffles at the bottom, creating an inward-outward affect with the fabric and giving you curves for days.

G is for Grecian: Thank the ancient Greeks for this Goddess-like style that is very flattering. Fabrics are draped loosely, skimming the body, sometimes in a one-shoulder asymmetrical manner.

Your Guide to All the Fashion Terms from A-ZYour Guide to All the Fashion Terms from A-Z

H is for Haute Couture: The formal definition is the designing and making of high quality fashionable clothes by leading fashion houses. For the rest of us: Unless you’re some sort of celebrity or multi-millionaire, Haute Couture will not be touching your skin. Fun Fact: The term is actually protected by law in France and only fashion houses that follow a strict set of rules are allowed to use it to advertise garments.

I is for Iridescent: the way a fabric tends to change colours as it caches the light while you sashay down the street.

J is for Je Ne Sais Quoi: In English, it means I don’t know what. In fashion, it describes a certain level of demure and elegance in one’s style. Think Grace Kelly, Katherine Hepburn, etc.

K is for Knife Pleat: A type of very narrow, sharply pressed pleat facing in one direction. Usually found on skirts/kilts but also on tuxedo bib shirts.

Your Guide to All the Fashion Terms from A-Z

L is for Leg of Mutton Sleeve: We did not make this up. It’s a type of sleeve that is cut with a very full top with gathering and pleats that then tapers off to the wrist.

M is for Make-Under: Taking it easy on the makeup, accessories and trends and creating a simple no fuss look.

N is for Nautical: Something Amal Clooney has mastered: sailor-influenced style, consisting of white, red, blue and gold stripes. Straw hats and wedges.

O is for Ombré: The gradual colour change from dark to light (or vice versa). Today, you’ll see it most on hair.

Your Guide to All the Fashion Terms from A-Z

P is for Push-up Jeans: Jeans with spandex inside to help lift and shape in all the right spots. Heaven aka the holy grail in our wardrobe.

Q is for Quilted: Layers of warm fabric with stitching lines forming the ultimate soft fall/winter garment without too much bulk.

R is for Ready-to-Wear: The opposite of Couture, where designers create clothes for the general market aka us mere mortals.

S is for Staple: A garment, shoe or accessory that will live forever in your wardrobe until you die. One that you’ll probably take to the afterlife with you.

T is for Trompe L’Oeil: Made popular by the legendary Elsa Schiaparelli’s infamous lobster dress, it’s an artistic technique used to make a real image appear three dimensional.

Your Guide to All the Fashion Terms from A-Z

U is for is Unitard: Not for the shy, a skin tight body suit that covers from neck to wrists to ankles. Think Peggy Bundy.

V is for is Vintage: A highly misused term that describes a garment or accessory worn for decades, not what’s been sitting in your closet since you bought it on sale last winter (that’s just old).

W is for Wedge: Not to be mistaken for a platform heel, it’s when the space under the arch of the foot and toe are filled in solid.

X is for X-ray Fabrics: Sheer material that has a lustrous effect. It’s a thing, a pretty thing.

Y is for Yoke: The front and back part of the neckline, usually decorated and always in a contrast colour/fabric.

Your Guide to All the Fashion Terms from A-Z

Z is for Zonked: What you are now that you’ve studied this list look enough to sound like a born fashionista.

About the author

Despina Danishwar

Media and fashion have both always been present in my life, and I'm extremely fortunate to have worked in both industries. I've gone from Technical Director to Wardrobe Consultant at The Weather Network and a buyer's assistant at TJX Canada. I'm currently in my happy median...Public Relations. I'm happy to also be called a wife and mommy to two little divas

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