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Style Glossary

A-line dress - Form-fitting bodice that flares out from the waistline to a full skirt, resembling the letter A in design. The term was coined by Christian Dior.

baby doll – A short dress with a hem that terminates just below the hip. A baby doll is longer than a crop top, but shorter than a chemise. It has no defined waist. This style is often seen in “shortie” nightgowns.

ballerina flat – A flat shoe with a thin sole that resembles the shoes worn by ballerinas. This style sometimes includes ribbons that wind up the leg to tie in a bow. It is also called a ballet flat.

ballerina neckline – A low neckline that is often paired with strapless or spaghetti-strap dresses.

bandeau – Often seen in swimwear, this band-shaped bodice is usually twisted at the center front.

Basque waist/V-waist – A dropped waist that starts at, or just below, the natural waistline, and dips in the center creating a “V” shape. Also called a V-waist.

bateau neck – A high and wide straight neckline that runs straight across the front and back, meeting at the shoulders; it has the same depth in the front and back. Also called a boat neck.

batik – A method of dying fabric using wax to create a pattern.

bias cut – A garment cut on the cross or diagonal grain of a fabric. Fitted bias garments hug the shape of the body, but fuller skirts can be made on the bias for a full, sweeping effect.

bodice – The torso area of a garment.

Bohemian – A trend that connotes a free-spirited attitude toward fashion. Feminine details, including flounces, ties, ribbons, ruffles and embroidery, combine with floaty fabrics or garish, gypsy-like prints. Also called hippie-chic.

boning – Plastic or metal strips used on the inside of a garment to give support and body contouring. Historically, whale bones were used in corseting, which is how the term originated.

boot-cut – Refers to trousers or jeans that flare slightly from the knees to the ankles to accommodate boots and other large footwear.

boucle – An uneven yarn made with threads of varying looseness for a luxe, nubby texture.

box pleats – Two folds of fabric brought together to form a pleat.

boy shorts – Garment or swimwear that has a close-fitting leg that reaches the top of the thigh.

bra top – Typically a tank or halter top that features a built-in bra. Support can range from an elasticized shelf to cups and underwire.

briefer – A girdle/bra combination that extends down to the thighs.

brogue – A heavy, oxford-style shoe featuring pinked and perforated detailing. Many golf shoes are brogue in design.

broomstick skirt – A skirt characterized by numerous pleats and crinkled material. Traditionally, a wet garment was wrapped around a broomstick to create uneven, crinkly pleating as it dried.

burnout – Fabric with an alternating solid and sheer see-through design, often in a floral or animal print, commonly seen in velvets.

bustier – A sleeveless, strapless top or dress held in place by boning or elastic. It is designed to help shape and enhance the bust line and should stay in place if it fits snuggly at the waist.

camisole/cami – A fitted top with spaghetti straps that can be worn alone or as a layering piece. In the past decade camisoles have morphed from underwear (used to hide bra lines from under sheer tops) to lacy outerwear.

camp pockets – Pockets that are sewn to the outside of the garment. They are usually squared off and characterized by seaming.

cap sleeve – A small, short sleeve that sits on the shoulder, either forming a stiff cap or falling on to the arm to provide minimal coverage.

Capri pants – Three-quarter length pants designed to hit mid-calf that were first popularized by the jet set on the Isle of Capri.

cargo style – Pant, skirts or shorts with multiple utilitarian pockets. This style is usually loose-fitting and often includes drawstrings at the waist, ankles or inseam.

chemise – Usually a short nightgown hemmed below the hip but above the knee. Held up by thin straps, the gown should fit snugly at the bust and upper torso and fall loosely and flow flatterringly past the hips. As part of the underwear-as-outerwear trend, many dresses and longer tops are made in a chemise style.

chiffon – A lightweight, plain-weave, sheer fabric made with very fine, tightly twisted yarns. It is very strong, despite its filmy look.

clutch purse – A narrow handheld bag with no strap.

corset – A waist-cinching garment that imposes its shape on the figure. Modern corsets use steel boning to compress the waist and lift the bust. They were originally constructed using whalebones.

cowl neck – A neckline featuring a piece of material attached to a garment at the neck, which may be used as a hood or draped loosely in a swag across the shoulders at the neckline or back.

crew neck – A round neck that fits close to the base of the neck. In knitwear, crew neck tops may feature a ribbed band around the neckline (e.g., the classic T-shirt).

cropped – Hemmed shorter than the normal cut. For jackets and shirts, the crop is just above the waist; for pants, the crop is above the ankle.

Cuban heel – A thick stacked heel with little or no curvature and tapered at the bottom; usually medium in height.

diamond neck – A diamond-shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline. Other cutout neckline shapes include the tear-drop.

dolman sleeve – Cut as an extension of the bodice, this sleeve is designed without a socket for the shoulder, creating a deep armhole that reaches from the waist to a fitted, narrowed wrist. This look is very reminiscent of the glamour eras of the 1930s and ’40s. It is also called a batwing sleeve.

d’orsay – A style of pump featuring one or both sides cut out. Pronounced “door-say.”

drape – The way a fabric hangs or falls.

dropped shoulders – Characterized by the shoulder-sleeve seam falling off the shoulder.

dropped waist – A waistline that is sewn below the body’s natural waistline. Also called a lowered or low-slung waistline.

duster – A long, open coat, usually lightweight, often without a button or zip closure.

empire – A style that is designed with a high waist.

empire bodice – A bodice that ends just below the bust, which is sometimes gathered.

empire seams – Seams that are sewn directly below the bustline.

envelope hem – A hemline that opens at the bottom with angular, overlapping flounces. Also applies to a shoe’s top-line detail, such as the envelope vamp.

epaulette – Any shoulder ornament, usually a button strap; often seen with braiding or other trim for a military- or safari-inspired look.

eyelet – A fabric punched with decorative holes embroidered with stitching. An eyelet also refers to the holes punched in footwear or other lace-up garments, often reinforced with a grommet.

fishtail train – This style is fitted around the hips and flares out from the knee to the hemline and is longer in the back.

fit and flare skirt – Sometimes called a tulip skirt, this garment is fitted at the waist and flares out at the hem.

fitted point sleeve – A long, narrow sleeve that tapers to a point that rests against the back of the hand.

flare pants – Pants that flare at the hem. More extreme flares are called bell-bottoms.

flat-front pants – Pants without pleats or bulky pockets that rest flat against the body.

flood pants – Pants cut at, or just above, the ankle. Also called high waters.

Florentine neck – A wide square neckline extending to the shoulders.

gathering – A technique that creates fullness by tightening threads in a row of stitching.

Gaucho – Wide-legged pants that hit mid-calf.

georgette – Characterized by its crispness, body and durability, georgette is a sheer fabric of silk or synthetic material with a dull, slightly crinkled surface.

godet – A piece of fabric sewn into a skirt or sleeve for extra fullness. Pronounced “go-day.”

gore – A panel in a garment. In shoes, a gore is commonly an elastic panel stitched into either side of the vamp in order to make it more comfortable and easier to put on and take off. A gored skirt is made of several vertical panels.

grommet – An eyelet that is reinforced with metal or plastic that can be used as a durable closure or simple decoration.

halter top – A sleeveless bodice with a high choke or wrap-neck that is usually backless.

hem – The folded or otherwise finished edge of a garment.

high-low hem – A hemline that is higher in the front or on one side for a dramatic flounce effect.

hobo bag – A roomy, unstructured bag, typically with a top zipper and shoulder strap.

hook-and-eye closure – A fastening device consisting of a metal hook that catches over a bar or into a loop, often used in conjunction with zippers.

horseshoe neck – A deep, rounded scoop neck that resembles a horseshoe.

inseam – Most often refers to the inside seam of pants. An inseam is measured from the crotch down to the end of the pant leg.

inverted pleat - Reversed box pleat with folds meeting at the top of the pleat.

jacquard – A raised design or pattern woven into a fabric as opposed to being printed on the fabric.

jewel neck – A high round neckline that rests at the base of the neck.

kabuki style – A full, dramatic top with dolman sleeves and a square or boat neckline.

kitten heel – Popularized by Audrey Hepburn, this chic pump has a 1-2 inch heel with a feminine curve to it.

lambskin – Leather created from the skin of young sheep.

leg-of-mutton sleeve – A loose, full sleeve that’s rounded from the shoulder to below the elbow, then shaped to the arm, often ending in a point at the wrist.

lettuce edge – A thin ruffle at the neckline, cuff or hem. Many bridal veils have a delicate lettuce edge.

maillot – A one-piece swimsuit with straps and scoop, squared or sweetheart neckline. This style flatters most figure-types. Pronounced “my-yo.”

Mandarin collar – A short, band collar adopted from the close-fitting Asian collar.

Mary Jane - The style of a shoe with a strap across the instep. The strap can be attached with elastic or a buckle, making it easy to slip on and off.

mermaid – This skirt hugs the body until it reaches the knees or just below and then ends in a dramatic flare.

microfiber – A synthetic material, usually woven polyester. Many performance fabrics are made of microfiber.

minaudiere – A small heavily ornamented evening bag.

Mocassin – A soft loafer-like leather shoe constructed with lacing to attach the sole portion to a U-shaped upper. Often elaborately beaded. Derived from designs of Native Americans.

moisture-wicking – Synthetic materials that have been developed specifically to channel perspiration away from the body. These fabrics are used in active wear and athletic shoe linings.

Mongolian wool – Long, curly woolen fibers used as full fluffy collars or trims on garments. Bohemian-styled jackets of the late 1960s were often lined with this curly wool.

mule – Backless, closed-toe slippers or shoes. More casual forms are called slides.

natural waist – A seam or waistband that secures or falls at the natural curve of the body between the hips and the rib-cage.

notch neck – A round neckline with a small triangular cutout in the front center.

notched collar
– A two-piece collar that can be only worn open.
off-the-shoulders – A neckline that lies gently hovering across the top of the bustline with the shoulders uncovered.

organza – A fine, sheer, lightweight and crisp fabric with a stiff feel. It crushes or musses fairly easily, but it is easily pressed. This fabric is best suited for more formal or dressy attire and sometimes has a silvery sheen. A piece of organza fabric also makes a great pressing cloth to avoid scorch marks when ironing.

paillette – A small shiny disk, larger than a sequin, sewn together with others on fabric to create a fishscale effect.

paisley – Fabric with a rich, swirling print, either woven in or screened on. The first paisleys appeared hundreds of years ago in Scottish wool fabrics.

pareo – A versatile rectangle of printed fabric worn as a shawl, swimsuit cover-up, skirt, dress or scarf. Based on garments worn by natives of Pacific Islands, the pareo is shorter than a sarong.

pea coat – Heavy, warm hip-length woolen jacket with a double-breasted front and a wide notched collar. This jacket was originally worn by sailors in navy blue and often features chunky, nautical-themed buttons.

peasant top – Romantic style often characterized with a low neckline, ruffles, and flowing material.

pedal pushers – Straight cut pants, often cuffed, that fall just below the knee.

peek-a-boo – A garment with any bits cut out to reveal skin.

pencil skirt – This skirt is a straight line with no flare or fullness at the hem or waistline. Also called a column or straight skirt.

peplum – Short flounce attached to a snugly fitting waistline.

picot – A row of small loops woven along the edge of fabric in ribbon or lace for a decorative effect.

pieced – A look created by sewing several pieces of material together to form the garment, much like a quilt.

pintuck – Narrow, sewn-down pleats, usually on the front of a garment.

piping – A decorative, narrow strip of leather or other trim that typically follows the seam of a garment or shoe.

platform shoe – A style of shoe featuring a thicker sole at the front; the heel is typically high to accommodate the higher height of the sole.

plus-calf – Boots with extra fullness at the wide part of the calf of the leg.

polyester – A wrinkle resistant fabric made from synthetic resin.

pouf sleeve – A full, puffy sleeve of varying lengths, created by generous gathering around the armhole.

pump – A low-cut women’s shoe, typically moderate in heel height. A classic.

ruching – Shirring or gathering for a textured effect. Pronounced “roo-shing.”

ruffle – Strip of cloth, lace or ribbon at the edge of a garment that creates a rippled effect.

saddle stitch – Small stitches, often along the edge or seam, visible on the outside of shoes and garments.

sarong – A long cloth that is wrapped around the entire body. It can be tied at the waist to form a skirt or tied around the neck or underarms for a dress.

satin – A smooth woven fabric with a glossy face and a dull back.

scalloped – Edges either cut, knit or crocheted into a wavy pattern.

scoop-neck – A low, U-shaped or rounded neckline.

seersucker – A lightweight, crinkly cloth often used for resort wear. Summer-weight suits are often made of two-tone seersucker (think Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil). The woven crinkle effect is produced by alternating slack and tight yarns in the warp.

shantung – A heavy fabric with a rough surface usually made of silk.

shawl collar – A one-piece collar that is turned down to form an elegant, continuous line around the back of the neck to the front of a garment.

sheath – A straight, narrow dress fitted to the body with vertical darts or a set-in waist.

shift – A straight-lined and basic dress of the 1960s that hangs away from the body.

shirred waist – A decorative gathering made by drawing up the material along two or more parallel lines of stitching.

shirring – Gathering of material usually used for figure enhancement.

shirt dress – A dress cut similar to a man’s shirt with buttons down the front.

shrug – A woman’s small short jacket or sweater.

skort – Shorts that have a front covering to resemble a skirt.

slide – Any style of backless slip-on shoe.

slingback – Any shoe with an open back and a strap around the heel.

slip dress – bias-cut dress with a fitted top, no waistline and camisole straps that often looks like an undergarment.

smock – A dress that has a shoulder yoke with gathering for a full sweep.

spaghetti strap – A thin, tubular strap that attaches to the bodice. It is named for its likeness to a strand of spaghetti.

stacked heel – A heel constructed from individual layers of material laminated for strength, durability and pattern.

stiletto – Pumps or slingbacks with a high, narrow heel.

straight leg – Pant legs that are cut with an equal width from waist to ankles.

sweetheart neck – A graceful, open neckline that is shaped like the top half of a heart. Many strapless formal and ball gowns have a sweetheart neckline.

tank – A top similar to an undershirt with narrow straps, a U-neck and deep armholes.

tankini – A two-piece bathing suit with the upper portion resembling a tank top.

tapered legs – Pant legs that become progressively narrower toward the ankles.

tea length – A dress hemmed to end at the shins.

topline – The upper edge of a shoe.

topstitching – Stitching showing on the right side of a garment for decorative effect. Also a shoe detail or decoration.

trapeze top – Top style with a fuller bottom sweep.

trench – A waterproof overcoat styled along military lines.

tube top – A strapless top made with stretch fabric.

tulle – A sheer net fabric often used in underskirts or petticoats.

tunic – A simple slip-on top that falls to the hips or lower.

understitching – A line of stitching along the edge of a facing or undercollar to keep it from rolling to the outside.

vamp – The upper part of a shoe or boot covering the instep.

V-Neck/V-Back – An open yoke coming to a “V” shape midway down the bodice.

Voile – A lightweight, open-weave fabric made from silk, cotton, or rayon; soft, used especially for women’s summer clothing.

wedge – A heel that is as wide as the shoe itself and follows the shoe’s contour from the ball of the foot to the heel. The heel may be of any height.

Wellies – A style of pull-on boots. They are usually made of rubber and are worn in rainy or muddy weather. Wellington is the common British term for “rainboots.”

welt – Pocket that has a folded strip of material sewn into the front portion of the pocket. The welt extends upward from the seam.

wide legs – Pants or jeans that are cut extra full through the legs, with a wider leg opening.

wing collar – A collar that covers the shoulder seams of bodices.

wrap top – A bodice created by the cross-wrapping of fabric. The wrap may be in front or back, and can have either a high or low neckline. Also called a surplice top.

yoke – The fitted top of a garment that is most often a separate piece of fabric seamed across the front and back. Yokes can appear at the neckline or waistline.