Fashion Glossary

Your Guide to Materials, Fabrics, Styles and More

Browse our Fashion Glossary below to find important information about materials, fabrics and styles trending in womens clothing.

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A-line - A dress or skirt that is narrower at the top and gradually flares out to a wider hemline resembling the letter A. This style works well on most figure types; good for disguising bottom heavy figures.

Acrylic - Synthetic manufactured fabric that is soft and wool-like. Acrylic is usually found in winter garments such as sweaters and dresses.

Angel sleeves - Sleeves that are cut with lots of extra material instead of being fitted to the arm, giving the appearance of wings. Length of the sleeves can vary greatly.

Argyle - A diamond shaped plaid pattern on a fabric.

Appliqué - Fabric that has been cut and applied to another fabric or garment in order to decorate the material. Most appliqués are sewn on to the garment but may also be attached with an adhesive.

Asymmetric - A dress, top, or sweater with one shoulder strap or sleeve. The other shoulder is bare. Hemlines are often diagonal.


Babydoll - A top or dress with an empire waist (directly under the bust) and an A-line bodice. Can be short sleeved or sleeveless.

Bandeau - A band shaped strapless covering for the bust.

Batwing - Called a dolman sleeve. This style is cut very large at the armhole and extends almost to the waist and then tapers at the wrist.

Bell sleeve - A long or three quarter length sleeve that flares out at the hem.

Blazer - A long sleeved sports jacket with lapels.

Boatneck - A narrow neckline that is open shoulder to shoulder.

Bodice - The upper part of a dress or top.

Bolero jacket - A short jacket with long sleeves.

Bomber jacket - A loose waist length jacket with fitted waist and cuffs.

Boot - A sturdy item of footwear covering the foot, the ankle, and sometimes the leg below the knee.

Boot cut - Also called bootleg. A pant or jean style that is tapered to the knee and very subtly flares out to accommodate a boot to be worn under the pant.

Bouclé - A knitted or woven fabric with a looped or knotted texture. Loops are usually similar in size and can range from tiny circles to large curls.

Broomstick - A skirt or a dress that is distinguished by numerous pleats and material that is pleated.

Burn-out - A technique of destroying a layer of fabric to create a patterned effect and generally results in a sexy sheer look.

Bustier - A garment similar to a corset that is close-fitting, usually strapless, and may be made from highly ornamental fabric.

Bustle - A bow or gathering of material at the back of a woman’s skirt below the waist.

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Cable knit - A knit in a raised loop stripe that resembles a twisted cable, used in knitted sweaters.

Camisole - A top or dress with spaghetti straps that can be worn alone or as a layering piece. Also called a cami.

Capri pants - Calf length women’s pants.

Cap sleeve - A very short sleeve that extends to just over the shoulder to give that touch of sexy femininity.

Car coat - An overcoat with a length extending to the middle of the thighs and a flat front placket.

Cardigan - A usually collarless sweater or jacket that opens down the front.

Cargo style - Pants or jeans with pockets on the side of the leg.

Cashmere - A fine, soft downy wool. A luxury fiber because it’s one of the rarest and most expensive fabrics. Cashmere is found in winter garments such as sweaters, dresses, and coats.

Chiffon - A light, sheer fabric typically made of nylon, silk, or rayon.

Cinched waist - A feature in a garment that tapers narrowly at the mid-section, accentuating the curves of the body.

Circle skirt - A skirt that is designed by cutting a circle out a piece of fabric, creating volume.

Cold shoulder - A top with cut out shoulders.

Color blocking - Strategically placed contrasting colors paired together on a garment.

Corduroy - A pile fabric with vertical ridges, usually made of cotton.

Corset - A tight fitting top, often reinforced by stays, worn to support and shape the waistline and bust.

Cowl neck - A neckline on a woman’s blouse or sweater that hangs in draped folds.

Crochet - An open knit in which yarn is looped into a patterned fabric.

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Dart - A V-shaped tuck that is sewn into a garment in order to shape the fabric so the garment fits the rounded part of the body. Most darts are located around the bustline, waistline, or along the hipline.

Denim - A sturdy cotton twill fabric, typically blue, used for jeans, overalls, and other clothing.

Dolman sleeve - Also called batwing. This style is cut very large at the armhole and extends almost to the waist and then tapers at the wrist.

Double-breasted - Having one half of the front overlapping the other, usually with a double row of buttons and a single row of buttonholes.

Draping - Hanging fabric in folds or covering the fabric in loose folds. Hemlines are often uneven.

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Embellished - Ornamentation of fabric by using a wide variety of decorative pieces such as sequins, beads or decorative pieces.

Embroidery - Ornamentation of a fabric by using any wide variety of decorative hand or machine stitches in the same or contrasting color with needlework.

Empire waist - Waist begins just below the bust which gives dresses and tops a flattering fit. This outline is especially flattering to pear shapes wishing to disguise the stomach area or emphasize the bust.

Eyelet - A type of embroidery with small holes that are cut in the fabric.

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Fabric content - The kinds of fibers represented in a particular garment.

Faux leather - Imitation leather made of materials other than animal skins. Faux leather is lighter and easier to clean than leather.

Fishtail - A style of skirt or blouse that is shorter in the front than the back.

Fleur de lis - A stylized lily or iris that is used as a decorative design.

Flounce hem - A strip of decorative fabric attached to one edge to create a wide ruffle.

Funnel neck - A neckline that is high and wide. A funnel neckline is attached to the body of the garment and not sewn to the neckline.

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Garment washed - Apparel that has already been washed. The garment is softer and has a worn-in look.

Georgette - A crinkled, sheer fabric that has a lightweight, flowing look.

Gingham - A medium or lightweight, plaid or checked fabric using more than two colors with a plain weave made of cotton.

Grosgrain - A strong, tightly woven corded fabric that has narrow, horizontal ribs. Commonly used as a trim.

Gusset - A rectangular piece of fabric sewn into the crotch area of shorts or pants to allow for a better fit where the center back and center front seam meet the inside leg seam.

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Halter - A dress or top that is tied around the neck, exposing the back and shoulders. Also called halter neck.

Handkerchief hem - The hem of a skirt or blouse that is gently jagged to form flowing points that resemble a scarf. This style works well on most figures. Also called hanky hem.

Henley - A collarless top with a closure that stops midway down the top.

Herringbone - A broken twill weave that is sewn in opposite directions to form a zigzag pattern.

High low hem - A garment with an uneven hemline varying from long to short.

Hook and eye closure - Fastening system on garments with a small hook that is inserted into an eye loop.

Hounds tooth - A small broken check pattern woven into a fabric.

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Jacquard - A fabric with an intricately woven pattern.

Jersey - A stretchy fine knitted fabric used in t-shirts, sportswear, and figure hugging clothes. This fabric is great for draping.

Johnny collar - An open split neckline with a pointed collar.

Jumpsuit - A garment that incorporates a top and bottom in one piece.

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Keyhole neckline - A teardrop or round shaped cutout that fastens at the front or back neckline.

Kimono sleeve - Cut as part of the bodice, a kimono sleeve has a wide, sloping shape.

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Legging - Tight form fitting pants. Sometimes referred to as tights.

Linen - Cloth woven from flax.

Lycra® - Lycra® is a trademark name for spandex.

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Maxi - A skirt or dress with a long full length, usually to the ankles.

Mesh - A knit, woven, or knotted fabric of net-like open texture. Mesh is lightweight and breathable.

Metallic - A yarn or fiber made partially or entirely of metal and having a metallic appearance.

Mini skirt - A skirt with a hemline well above the knees.

Mini dress - A dress with a hemline well above the knees.

Mitered - A striped pattern sewn into a "V" design that slenderizes and flatters your figure.

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Natural waist - A seam or waistband that secures or falls at the natural curve of the body. The indentation between the hips and the ribcage.

Nylon - A synthetic fiber known for its strength and stain resilience.

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Oversized - Enlarged garments that alter the natural shape of the wearer.

Oxford heel - A low shoe laced over the instep.

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Paillette - Small shiny disks, sequins, or spangles sewn on garments as decorations.

Paisley - A swirled pattern curved with teardrop shapes.

Patch pockets - A small pocket found on pants or shorts which look like a piece of material sewn on to resemble a patch.

Patent - A high gloss finish to leather and nylon.

Peacoat - A heavy coat which features a double breasted style and notched collar which is generally a wool blend.

Peasant - A romantic style top or dress commonly distinguished by a low neckline, ruffles, or free flowing material.

Peek-a-boo - A part of a garment that has been cut out to reveal skin.

Peep toe - A shoe style where the front section is cut away to reveal the toes.

Pencil skirt - A skirt that is cut in a straight line from the hips to the hem and usually knee length. Can either taper in at the hem or fall straight down from the hip.

Peplum - A short full flounce or an extension of a garment below the waist, covering the hips.

Piping - A fabric trim stitched along the seams or edges of a garment. Trim color can be the same color as the garment or in a contrasting color.

Placket - An opening or slit in a blouse, skirt, or dress usually covering fastenings that facilitates putting it on or taking it off. A piece of cloth reinforcing the opening used for closure of a garment.

Pleat - A type of fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and securing it in place.

Pointelle - A stitch that creates a tiny, open-worked pattern that adds a lightweight, delicate texture to clothing.

Polo shirt - A short sleeved pullover with a small, flat collar.

Poncho - A circular piece of fabric with a hole cut out for the head, usually worn as a cape or jacket. Commonly they are knitted and have tassels.

Popcorn stitch - A stitch formed by making one stitch into for, forming a nicely rounded compact oval that stands out from the fabric. Popcorn stitches add texture to garments.

Poplin - A heavyweight and durable tightly woven plain-weave fabric that has fine, crisscrossing ribs.

Puff sleeve - A sleeve created by generous gatherings around the armhole. Sleeves can be varying lengths.

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Racerback - A top where the back is cut away in a T-shape to reveal the shoulder blades.

Ribbing - A knitting method where small rows are finely knitted together to form a texture.

Romper - A loose one-piece garment combining a shirt and a short.

Ruched - A sewing technique where fabric is gathered in a repeating pattern creating a ripple appearance. Often used to create draping and texture in a garment.

Ruffle - An ornamental strip of fabric tightly gathered or pleated on one edge and applied to a garment.

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Sateen - A thicker version of satin that has a thicker weave. Commonly used in eveningwear and jacket lining.

Satin - A silky, lustrous fabric with a smooth, shiny surface.

Scoop neck - A low, U-shaped or round neckline.

Sharkbite - A type of hem that has an uneven cut with two points in the front and two points in the back. The jagged look has the appearance of a shark bite.

Shawl collar - A one-piece collar turned down to form a continuous line around the back of the neck to the front.

Sheer - A fabric that is transparently thin.

Shelf bra - A bra built into the garment.

Shift dress - A loose fitting dress with no defined waistline.

Shirtdress - A dress that resembles a lengthened shirt, commonly worn with a belt.

Silk - A soft, lustrous fiber made from the cocoon of a silkworm.

Skinny leg - A form-fitting slim fit jean or pant with snug fit through the legs and a small tapered leg opening.

Skort - Shorts that have a front covering to resemble a skirt.

Smocking - An embroidery technique that gathers a section of the material into tight pleats, holding them together with parallel stitches so that it can stretch.

Spaghetti straps - A very thin shoulder strap on a woman’s garment.

Straight leg - A pant or jean with a uniform fit from the top of the pant leg to the bottom of the leg opening.

Sublimation - A method of infusing an image onto the thread of the fabric so it does not affect the surface of the garment, creating permanent images that will not crack or fade.

Surplice - A garment in which the two halves of the front cross diagonally, forming a V-neck.

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Tank top - A short, sleeveless top.

Terry - A pile fabric, usually of cotton, with loops on both sides.

Tie dye - A pattern created by dyeing the fabric after knotting it to create an irregular pattern.

Tiers - Layers of fabric placed one above the other.

Trumpet sleeve - A top with a sleeve falling straight to the elbow, where it flares in the shape of a trumpet.

Tulle - A very fine mesh like net fabric commonly used in evening wear and bridal gowns. Tulle comes in loose and tight weaves, giving the fabric different texture.

Tunic - A woman´s top that is either loose or tight fitting, and extends to the hips or below. Depending on the length, can be worn as a shirt or a dress.

Turtle neck - A garment with a close fitting, round, and high collar that folds over and covers the neck.

Tweed - A soft, thick fabric woven from contrasting woolen yarns.

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Velvet - A fabric of closely woven thick short pile fabric that is soft to the touch.

V-neck - A neckline with a V shaped front.

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Wedge - A shoe with a heel that runs from the back of the shoe to the middle or front. The heel has a triangular or wedge shape.