Fashion has a language all its own, and sometimes we have no idea what a designer is saying, but we do know what looks good. With the help of Vogue, I’ve put together a pretty basic list of fashion vocab so we can all put our smarty pants on.
Peplum: This is a short type of over-skirt that is attached to a top, dress, or skirt. Great for creating curves and adding shape. Not so great if you have a lot of curves or shapes.
Appliqué: A technique where a design is cut out of fabric and sewn onto another fabric. More cheaply made clothes simply glue the appliqué on, but a higher quality will be sewn on with flat edges and should remain on for years; just be sure to take care in washing appliquéd items. Alexander McQueen was a fan of appliqué and embroidery, especially in his final collection.
Cap sleeves: A shorter than normal sleeve, but longer than sleeveless. Not for those who wish to make their arms slimmer. This is a cute look for spring, especially in a floral or lace patterned top.
Filigree: This is sort of like the jewelry/metal version of appliqués. Filigree uses metals to create delicate shapes. You can usually find filigree rings with your initials: very soft and feminine.
Epaulets: These are simply decorative shoulders, mostly seen in military inspired jackets and most recently the embellished blazers. I’m a big fan because I have low, rounded shoulders and this gives them more structure.
Gaiter: This is my favorite! A gaiter is when your jeans/pants extend over your heels. I usually rock this style because my jeans are always too long. It also instantly elongates your legs.
Herringbone: A design which is usually gray and black and resembles the bones of a fish.
Jouy: A design of a scene repeated over and over on a usually light background. Most popular is the light blue Asian-themed Jouy background.
Welt: This is a pocket without a flap or button to secure it. Welt pockets are usually just horizontal slits that create a less bulky, more streamlined look.
Lettuce hem: This look is achieved by stretching fabric while sewing. It gives a very flowy look to dresses and skirts.
Neats: Small socks usually with a pattern. These were all the rage a few years ago when paired with open toe and chunky heels.
Ombre: You guys know this one, right? It was all the rage with hair, but it’s always been around in fabric. Ombre is basically the gradation of colors and looks great on hair, nails, and fabric.
Raglan: You often see these in baseball-style t-shirts and the Victoria’s Secret PINK version of long sleeve lounge top where the sleeve continues up the shoulder and to the collar without a seam in the shoulder.
Vent: That split in your pencil skirt that allows you to walk: that’s a vent. Any split in fabric that allows movement is a vent.
New vocab is fun, so get out there, pick through some of the amazing end of season sales, and see if you can find some welt pockets on herringbone jacket with epaulets. Just get used to sounding these out around friends a few times before you show off at a cocktail party.