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Main » 2011 » May » 18 » Fashion Glossary
7:25 PM
Fashion Glossary


A style of skirt that is fitted at the waist and/or hips and gradually flaresout, creating an "A” shape; flatters almost all figures and is especially good for bottom-heavy figures, smoothing out the silhouette.

Accordion Pleat:
A pattern of folding and pressing fabric that goes back and forth, with one pointed edge facing out and one pointed edge facing in; provides a very feminine touch to a dress and flares out beautifully when dancing.

An embellishment that is backed with fabric and applied to the surface of a garment can be embroidered and/or embellished with beading, rhinestones or sequins.

Not identical on both sides, usually used to describe necklines, however it can also apply to the hemline of skirts; because it accentuates the collarbone, neck and shoulders, it is not very flattering for broad shoulders.

Baby Cable
A modern variation on the classic cable knit, described below. The smaller scale of the cables creates a more delicate effect, as well as slim vertical lines that can have a naturally slenderizing effect. In the form of a baby cable sweater, it can also serve to elongate the look of your torso: another instant slimmer.

One of the most popular shapes for pants or jeans, and one that's universally flattering. Taking its cue from western wear, this cut flares out slightly from the knees to the ankles to comfortably accommodate most any type of footwear underneath, including, what else? Boots!


Cable Knit
A knitted effect that creates a distinctive twist. Whether the two groups of yarn or cord are thick or thin, or the width of the cables varies, they cross over one another, bringing a wealth of textural interest to the sweater or knit top, as well as a flattering vertical line. Originally adapted from intricate stitches used by the women of the Aran Islands to create their legendary fisherman's sweaters, the cable stitches represented the fisherman's rope.

Strong, firm, closely woven fabric. Usually made of cotton, canvas may be soft or crisp, depending upon the finish. Versatile enough for pants and skirts, jackets too.

Combining colored and white yarns, this plain-woven fabric is most often seen in shades of blue, sometimes with a weathered or "faded" look that's suggestive of denim, though without the heavier weight and more rigid construction typical of denim garments. Chambray is soft, smooth, strong, and tightly woven so it wears especially well. Chambray originated in France, where it was first used for sunbonnets.

A smooth, soft fabric with a lustrous or semi-lustrous face and a dull back. Charmeuse can be made from natural or synthetic fibers: lightweight silk and polyester being two of the most popular choices. Because it drapes beautifully, charmeuse tends to smooth over the curves and flatter fuller figures.

A twill weave, typically of cotton or a cotton blend. Because of the finishing processes (the fabric is mercerized to increase luster and affinity for dye, sanforized to minimize shrinkage), chino washes and wears extremely well with a minimum of fuss. First purchased in China (the geographic origin of its name) by the U.S. Army and used for uniforms. Today, the name chino is synonymous with a pair of versatile casual pants, a universal favorite.

Combed Cotton
Cotton that's had the short fibers and impurities removed. The "combing" means the yarns have less fibers projecting from them and the overall effect is softer and smoother than standard cotton. In addition, combed cotton is mercerized: put through a finishing process that increases the fiber's luster and its ability to hold color.

Soft, breathable, comfortable. A natural fiber that comes directly from the cotton plant.

A fabric characterized by a crinkled, puckered surface or soft mossy finish. It comes in different weights and degrees of sheerness, is soft to the touch and drapes elegantly for true figure flattery, whether woven from natural fibers or man-made synthetics. Has a dull finish with a dry hand.

A wrinkled or puckered effect in a fabric which may be obtained either by the construction or the finishing of the fabric. A crinkled texture increases the surface interest of the clothing, while insuring care is kept to a minimum, as the wrinkles are all a part of the charm.

The interlocking of loops from a single thread with a hooked needle, crocheting can be done either by hand or by machine. Either way, it has a special quality that seems to hint at intricate handiwork and produces a light and airy effect, in contrast to heavier sweaters.

Designs cut out of a fabric and embroidered with a purl stitch.


Sturdy and rugged, an all-American favorite whether in the form of your favorite jeans, skirts or jackets. Almost always cotton or mostly cotton, denim has a twill-like weave (on the diagonal) and comes in lots of washes designed to enhance its character and its coloring. When blended with spandex, it becomes stretch denim: a fabric with all the pluses of denim, along with a more flexible, more forgiving fit.

A longer length jacket stopping somewhere around the knee. The duster skims over hips and thighs and in addition to effectively minimizing those potential hot spots, produces a long, flattering line ideal for fuller figures.


The use of needlework to embellish or ornament a fabric. A wide variety of decorative hand or machine stitches in the same color or contrasting colors.

Empire Waist
The location of the waistline just under the bustline, with an elegant sweep of fabric below creating the skirt of the dress. The name is derived from the high-waisted styles popular during the reign of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Universally flattering for all figures because it visually adds length to the torso, for an instantly slimming effect.

A shoe with a canvas upper and a flexible rope sole. The term is applied to many different styles of shoes with fabric uppers and soles that imitate rope, often on a wedge heel.

A circular, decorative edged with close zig-zag stitching. Or a fabric punched with these decorative holes, typically in an all-over design, and then similarly embroidered.


Fine Gauge
A smooth sweater-knit garment that has little or no texture. The suppleness of the yarn is controlled by the number of filaments in the yarn and the gauge of the individual filaments or fibers. The finer the gauge, the more densely the fibers are knit and the smoother the finish.

Flared Leg
Pants or jeans that are narrow at the knee and flare out at the hem. One of the cuts favored by curvy women, and for good reason: because this pair is tighter at the knee, there's just the right balance above and below.

French Terry
This fabric has a smooth front and a looped texture on the back, for a plush feel against your skin.

Fully Fashioned
A term for fabrics produced on a flat-knitting machine, and used for sweaters. They have been shaped to fit the lines of the body by adding or reducing stitches.


A tight, twill-woven fabric, ideal for practically every season. The tightness of the weave creates a polished appearance with a natural ability to resist wrinkles.

Garment Wash
A type of wash where jeans or other garments are abraded with pumice stones, lava rocks or rubber balls. The process imparts a well-worn, distressed finish and a soft, weathered look and feel.

A thin, often transparent fabric. Similar to cheese cloth, used primarily for surgical dressings.

Whether sheer or semi-sheer, this lightweight, plain weave fabric has a fine crepe surface and is characterized by its crisp feel, substantial body and outstanding durability.

A yarn-dyed, checked or plaid fabric, most often of pure or blended cotton, gingham is strong and substantial with a soft, low luster surface.


Interlock Knit
A resilient knit that's soft with a bit of stretch and looks the same both inside and out.


Richly woven with an all-over raised design that becomes part of the fabric, creating an elegant, embossed look. Some examples? Damask, brocade and textured knits.

A plain-stitched knit that's soft and fluid. Lighter than interlock and perfect for sportswear.


Mandarin Collar
A band collar that stands straight at the edge of the neck, about 1 inch high, and opens front and center.

A fabric made with metallic fiber, namely a fiber or yarn made of or coated with metal for the sake of embellishment. The glint of gold or silver is woven into the fabric, creating highlights throughout the garment or drawing attention just to special details.

The finest of all man-made fibers, at least 60 times finer than a human hair. Tightly woven to create an ultra light, silky fabric with an incredibly smooth and supple hand. Today's microfibers can be polyester, nylon, acrylic or a similar synthetic blend.

A feature found in knit tops and sweaters. Literally a mock or faux turtleneck, rising high but not overwhelmingly so. A modified and slightly looser fit without the extra fold, or roll, of fabric that characterizes a turtleneck in the classic sense.


Natural Waist
A seam or waistband that secures or falls at the natural curve of the body: the indentation between the hips and the rib-cage.

Any of a number of strong, elastic, synthetic polyamide materials that are fashioned into fabrics. Nylon's best qualities include its ability to retain color and shape (by resisting shrinking and stretching out), its tendency to resist wrinkles and dry quickly.


A smooth glossy finish given to leather or vinyl, most often surfacing on dressy shoes, belts and handbags.

Lush to the touch as the name implies. Brushed for a deliciously soft, sueded texture.

Pebble Crepe
A pebble-textured fabric that's lighter and more sheer than classic crepe.

Parallel folds of fabric stitched on the outside or inside of a garment; called pin tucks when many tucks are used close together within a narrow fold. On the outside, pintucks may be considered as ornamentation, in addition to being a means to manipulate fullness in the garment. Similar to pleats, but tucks are smaller, generally being an inch or less in width.

An opening that allows room for the garment to be put on. A slit at the neckline in a dress or blouse, at the wrist or at the top of a skirt, usually reinforced with a fold of fabric. A hem or overlapping pieces sometimes hide the placket. Closures such as buttons, snaps, hooks, zippers, or Velcro® are often incorporated into a placket.

A knitted fabric with a pointelle design, namely an openwork stitch (in the shape of chevron (or V), a flower or a diamond.

The original "miracle" fiber. A synthetic that comes in a wide range of weaves, often blended with other fibers. With polyester added to a garment, wrinkle resistance is built right in, shape and color retention are a given, as is durability.

Most commonly of cotton, woven with a crosswise rib. It's been mercerized to produce a high luster and an affinity for dye. A British term for cotton broadcloth shirting.


A lustrous, man-made fabric that drapes beautifully, resist wrinkles and is easy to care for. In addition, it takes and holds color exceptionally well. Often blended with other fibers.


Fabric with a high luster, smooth front and slightly textured back. It glides over the curves for true figure flattery. Woven from fibers as luxurious as silk or as practical as rayon. Made in many weights, varieties and degrees of stiffness. The satin weave brings the intersecting yarns to the surface and gains its distinctive sheen when light is reflected rather than absorbed.

A term that describes a tubular knit fabric without seams. In the case of foundations such as seamless underwear and hosiery, being free of the garment's raised edges, along with bulges and bumps that can surface under close-fitting styles is a real boon to fashion lovers. Seamless simply feels better!

Light, woven fabric with a puckered effect, usually in a yarn-dyed pattern. Made from cotton, rayon and synthetic fibers in varying weights. The woven crinkle is produced by alternating slack and tight yarns in the warp.

A gathering of material, usually for visual figure enhancement. In the case of a shirred waist, cloth is drawn into decorative rows along two or more lines of parallel stitching to play up a trim appearance.

A fine, strong, continuous filament produced by the silkworm when constructing its cocoon. Raw silk can be texture-rich but stiff, though once steeped and boiled, it is transformed into a softer version with a luxurious and sensuous touch. Silk is noted for both its strength and resiliency, along with its elegant appeal.

An embroidered thread sewn on top gathered folds of fabric. Most frequently smocking is used on the bodice to enhance the fit by visually whittling the waist.

A man-made fiber that adds stretch. Always blended with other fibers, as a little goes a long way, spandex improves fit and flexibility, while enhancing durability. Lycra®, a registered trademark of DuPont, is one of the most popular brands of spandex.

Swiss Dot
A light cotton or cotton blend fabric, usually a voile or a cotton lawn that is sheer or semi-sheer, with a small dot motif. Dots are raised and evenly spaced and can be a single color or multicolored. First made on hand looms in Switzerland, hence the name.


A descriptive term for a shape or cut that becomes progressively narrower or thinner at one end. Tapered pants, for example, draw the eye away from the waistline and down to the narrower part of the leg and the ankle, for a slimming effect.

An absorbent fabric with loops forming the plush pile; also called terry cloth. And the longer the loops, the greater the absorbency. Common variations include terry that's looped on both sides, and terry that's looped on one side and sheared on the other to create a velour finish.

A tank-style top that leads to a fuller sweep of fabric below. Whether in the form of a tunic top or a dress, this simple shape balances most women's proportions beautifully.

Durable and tightly woven on the diagonal, the twill weave is most often seen in khakis, chinos and denim. Twill is typically made of cotton, but with the addition of spandex, it becomes stretch twill, a fabric that gently hugs the curves while maintaining its shape through many a wash and many a wearing.


Sheer or semi-sheer spun cloth that is lightweight and soft, though with a crisp hand. Typically made from cotton, rayon or acetate. A natural for pretty summer styles, particularly women's blouses.

One popular type of rayon. In addition to a supple feel and luster characteristic of rayon fabrics in general, viscose is soft yet strong, resists wrinkles and drapes well.


Waffle Stitch
A hearty textured knit, also referred to as a thermal knit because it holds warmth in close to the body. Knit tops made using the waffle weave are a favorite for layering because they add textural interest and warmth without bulk.

Washed Linen
Pre-washing softens the linen, shedding the stiffness that characterizes this natural fiber, woven from the strong, lustrous fibers of the flax plant. While still rich in texture, the washed linen has a more relaxed look.

Wide Leg
A flattering fit for pants or jeans. Cut extra full all through the leg, with a wider leg opening, so they're comfortable not confining. Perfect for concealing figure flaws and adding balance to your proportions.

Wrinkle Resistant
That property of a fabric that enables it to resist the formation of wrinkles through their weave or their chemical make-up. Certainly a desirable attribute, as it means easier care and a more polished look with no fuss.

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