Each industry has its own slang language, but fashion speaks a totally different type of language. Skirts are shaped like a tulip, bubble, trumpet, or cone. Cuts go from A to jag. A dress can be folded up with accordion or soleil folds, with quilling, adorned and embroidered, all at the same time. And this without even counting in terms that are truly opaque, like “directional” (the term has nothing to do with space orientation; it makes reference to a design that could change the stylistic landscape – in other words, the direction of fashion – in the following months).
Even if you try to learn the language, it is not an easy task. A lot of the industry’s terms end up being misused by celebrities with an inexpressive look or the so-called “fashion experts”, whose qualifications could easily fit in a thimble. I am annoyed, in particular, by words that are borrowed and slipped into articles featured by glossy magazines, with the hope that this particular terminology would make them more interesting. For example, would you be more tempted to buy a £1000 dress just because it is made out of “couture satin”? (You shouldn’t be).
That’s why I thought about offering a short style vocabulary lesson. It’s good to know them the next time you read a fashion magazine or book, or, who knows if you want to impress some boutique salesperson or a friend ?
“Couture” can be placed next to almost any clothing item – from T-shirts to tiaras – but it doesn’t mean “expensive” or “elegant”. Couture makes reference to a type of traditional cut, custom made, original from France. Much more expensive than any other item with a usual designer tag, exorbitant even, the haute couture fashion is made for the women that don’t even blink when paying 100,000 euros for a dress decorated with peacock feathers or embroidered with hundreds of crystals. Not all fashion houses made haute couture, just a few – carefully selected and approved by the Fédération Francaise de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode. Don’t even think that Juicy Couture fits within this category.
A “diffusion line” is a collection that wishes to offer to the audience the aesthetics of a certain designer. Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe, Miu Miu, Emporio Armani, D&G, McQueen or Kors by Michael Kors are a few examples. Each of these sells creations with the signature and in the style of a certain fashion house, but in simpler and more accessible forms. What is also “diluted” is the price, of which tail one or several zeros are cut.
The concept of “cruise” or “resort” collection can make you imagine Hawaiian shirts, short trousers, and restaurants with a Swedish buffet. The truth is that these apparel lines were once mini collections, specially created for the vacations of the wealthy. They used to appear in stores at the end of autumn or beginning of winter, in a timely manner for the ladies that were going to dress up for cruises to St. Barts or other islands of the Carabians. In the past years, though, the cruise/resort collections increased in importance and now they have their own dedicated fashion shows. The content remained the same, although it is much more refined: thin blazers, short trousers and bermudas, loose dresses, a lot of color and a lot of white, and, often, nautical details. Obviously, this means that these clothes can also be worn in the city, during the summer.
A “sample sale” has nothing to do with the prototypes and samples showed on catwalks or those that remained in the workshops of designers. If you think about it, only 0,02% of the population is thin enough to actually wear those clothes. Thus, you will wonder, what’s the purpose of these sample sales? This term ended up referring to sales, just like that – which is a good and bad thing at the same time. Usually, this is where you will find the remaining inventory of past collections, at significantly reduced prices. But this is not always a valid aspect, because there is the possibility for some of the samples to be brand new, with full price tags, and, as well, the sales to be connected to vintage jewelry or cosmetic products.
A “shift dress” can be mistaken for a sheath dress, and these two words have more in common than just phonetics. Both make reference to simple dress cuts, which seams usually reach the knee, although they can also be mini. The difference is that a shift dress is less adjusted around the waistline and over the hips; so, it is a simple and loose dress. Its airy and minimalist lines create a supple and decent silhouette, something that the sheath dress will never do because it is cut according to the lines of the body.