Fashion Terms Decoded
Are you familiar with what haute couture, bias cut, or appliqué means? If you answered “no” to any of these, you’re certainly not alone. Even if you’re not a fashion editor or a designer, you can still speak fluent fashion-ese with the best of them. Click through for your fashion lingo cheat sheet, and be sure to share your favorite stylish terms in the comments!
This is the clothing you’ll probably never wear. (Unless you’re Katy Perry in couture Valentino at the Grammys.) But that doesn’t mean you can’t drool over it like the rest of us! Thanks to fashion houses like Chanel, Christian Dior, Valentino, and more, we’re able to swoon longingly during couture seasons. Fun fact: to be considered a haute couture house under French law, you must employ 15 or more people and present your collection twice a year.
This French term is used to refer to a woman who has an unnamable appeal about her. Think: Brigitte Bardot.
Although this term isn’t exclusively applied to fashion, the stylish community is no stranger to it. Trompe l’oeil is essentially an optical or surrealist illusion, and was made popular by Elsa Schiaparelli’s infamous lobster dress, which was a white silk dress with a lobster painted onto it, courtesy of Salvador Dalí.
Because the fabric is cut diagonally (“on the bias”), the fabric clings and cascades over the curves, creating a very flattering shape. This distinctively ‘90s dress evokes dreamy memories of style icons like Gwyneth Paltrow on the red carpet (with Brad Pitt) in Calvin Klein in 1996, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s famous Narciso Rodriguez wedding dress in the same year, and Kate Moss’ ethereal John Galliano wedding gown in 2011.
It’s not that important you know the difference between varying styles of pleats, but this is the more popular form of pleat as of late, so you’re welcome.
Presumably, you know what a peplum is, but allow us to introduce you to the fluted hem. The fluted hem skirt is slim along the waist and hips, with a flared, ruffled hem resulting in a snake-like effect that winds inward and outward. Spotted on Taylor Tomasi Hill and worn by style-setters alike; this is the quintessential it-girl skirt.
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