Fashion Terminologies

Everyday we come across galla of terms related to fashion trade, some we know and some we don’t. We have listed down here the terminologies of fashion and their explanation.

1.Clothes :- It is a collective term for all items of apparel worn by men, women & children

2.Costumes:- The term costume can refer to wardrobe or dress of a certain period in history, people or class.

 Costume also refer to the artistic arrangement of accessories in a picture, statue or play, appropriate to the time, place, or other circumstances represented or described to a particular style of clothing worn to portray a type of character at a social event such as a masquerade, a fancy dress party or in an artistic theatrical performance.

3.Fashion:- It can be termed as a style or a particular look which is reflection of the social, economical, political & environmental/climatic forces of any given time/period.

Fashion change in the western world is generally considered to have begun in the middle ages and although is visible in many different kinds of material goods, it is particularly used in apparel.

4. Style:- Style is any particular characteristic or look in apparel or accessories.

Elements that define a style include line, silhouette & details.

Style can be interpreted in 3 ways:-

Designers interpret fashion ideas into new styles as they offer them to public. The manufacturers assign a style number to each new design which is used to identify it throughout the production, marketing & retailing.

Designs having same characteristic such as a blazer style jacket, an empire line dress. A style may come & go in fashion but a style always remains that style whether it is in fashion or not ex:- polo shirt style will always be in fashion yet it will always have variations every season.

A person can have a style by wearing fashionable clothes particularly suited to them or a designer may become known for a certain “style” or look

“To have a style”, meaning to have certain flair that is specific & individual Manner: how something is done or how it happens; “her dignified manner”; “his rapid manner of talking”; a particular kind (as to appearance); “this style of shoe is in demand”

5. Silhouette:- Contour or outline as shown in a solid black background on white background. Formerly a term widely used to indicate trend in length & general outline of garment for the coming season.

Named after a French author and statesmen “Etienine de Silhouette, who made portraits in black with no background

6. Motifs:- In creative work:

  • Motif (narrative), any recurring element in a story that has symbolic significance
  • Motif (textile arts), a recurring element or fragment that, when joined together, creates a larger work
  • Motif (visual arts), a repeating theme or pattern


7. Repeat:- Repeat is the “ Repetition” of floral or geometric print in a fabric design. And Repetition is use of same form again and again

8. Pattern :- Pattern is an underlying structure that organizes surfaces or structures in a consistent, regular manner. Pattern can be described as a repeating unit of shape or form, but it can also be thought of as the “skeleton” that organizes the parts of a composition.

9. Color:- Color is the perceptual characteristic of light described by a color name. Specifically, color is light, and light is composed of many colors—those we see are the colors of the visual spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Objects absorb certain wavelengths and reflect others back to the viewer. We perceive these wavelengths as color.

10. Shade and tint are terms that refer to a variation of a hue.

Shade: A hue produced by the addition of black.
Tint: A hue produced by the addition of white.

11. Hue :- Hue is the term for the pure spectrum colors commonly referred to by the “color names” – red, orange, yellow, blue, green violet – which appear in the hue circle or rainbow.

12. Color Wheel :- A color wheel (also referred to as a color circle) is a visual representation of colors arranged according to their chromatic relationship. Begin a color wheel by positioning primary hues equidistant from one another, then create a bridge between primaries using secondary and tertiary colors.

Primary Colors: Colors at their basic essence; those colors that cannot be created by mixing others

Secondary Colors: Those colors achieved by a mixture of two primaries

Tertiary Colors: Those colors achieved by a mixture of primary and secondary hues.

Complementary Colors: Those colors located opposite each other on a color wheel.

Analogous Colors: Those colors located close together on a color wheel

Value :Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. It is an important tool for the designer/artist, in the way that it defines form and creates spatial illusions. Contrast of value separates objects in space, while gradation of value suggests mass and contour of a contiguous surface

13. Textures :- Texture is the quality of an object which we sense through touch. It exists as a literal surface we can feel, but also as a surface we can see, and imagine the sensation might have if we felt it. Texture can also be portrayed in an image, suggested to the eye which can refer to our memories of surfaces we have touched. So a texture can be imaginary.

14. Balance :- Balance is the concept of visual equilibrium, and relates to our physical sense of balance. It is a reconciliation of opposing forces in a composition that results in visual stability. Most successful compositions achieve balance in one of two ways:

  • symmetrically or Symmetrical balance can be described as having equal “weight” on equal sides of a centrally placed fulcrum. It may also be referred to as formal balance
  • Asymmetrical balance, also called informal balance, is more complex and difficult to envisage. It involves placement of objects in a way that will allow objects of varying visual weight to balance one another around a fulcrum point.

15. Proportion :- Proportion refers to the relative size and scale of the various elements in a design. The issue is the relationship between objects, or parts, of a whole. This means that it is necessary to discuss proportion in terms of the context or standard used to determine proportions.

16. Rhythm :- Rhythm can be described as timed movement through space; an easy, connected path along which the eye follows a regular arrangement of motifs. The presence of rhythm creates predictability and order in a composition. Visual rhythm may be best understood by relating it to rhythm in sound.

  • Linear rhythm refers to the characteristic flow of the individual line
  • Repetition involves the use of patterning to achieve timed movement and a visual “beat”. This repetition may be a clear repetition of elements in a composition, or it may be a more subtle kind of repetition that can be observed in the underlying structure of the image.

17. Alternation is a specific instance of patterning in which a sequence of repeating motifs are presented in turn; (short/long; fat/thin; round/square; dark/light).

18. Gradation employs a series of motifs patterned to relate to one another through a regular progression of steps. This may be a gradation of shape or color. Some shape gradations may in fact create a sequence of events, not unlike a series of images in a comic strip.


 Bonus Content

Fashion trend :- Direction in which styles, colors, fabrics and designs are tending to change. Political events, films, personalities, drams, social and sports events often influence fashion trends

Types of Fashion:-

  • Classic:- Apparel made in a style that continues to be fashionable over a long period of time, and that may return as high fashion at regular intervals. When revived, classic fashions retain the basic line of the original style, but are sometimes altered in minor details
  • FAD:- Short-lived fashion that becomes suddenly extremely popular, remains for a short period of time, and fades quickly. Fads in India :- India’s traditional six-yard wonder is igniting imaginations anew. The sari, say fashion designers, can be worn over a pair of jeans or jazzed up with a sexy slim belt for a trendy look.
  • Avant Grade (ah-vant gard) :- French term commonly used in English meaning new, unconventional, ahead of its time.Used as an adjective to describe apparel that may be provocative or startling
  • Couture (Koo-ture) :- French term for business in which original apparel designs are created by designers & the items are manufactured in the design house using exceptionally fine sewing & tailoring and expensive fabrics
  • Haute Couture (oat koo-toor) :- Haute couture (French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking”) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques Firms that create model that may be sold to private customers or other segments of the fashion industry who also acquire the right to reproduce other designs. Designers show at least 2 collections a year of original designs to the public. An original design is not the only one of its kind, but mean only that the garment was designed and made in the atelier of the designer. As currently used in United States and in the fashion press, refers to the latest and most advanced fashions; high fashion

What is the difference between couture and haute couture?

Couture is the art of dressmaking

Haute Couture is the fashions created by the art of dressmaking.


  • Knock-off :- An item of apparel copied from a more expensive item and generally manufactured from low-priced components so it can sell at a lower price. Compare with LINE-For-LINE COPY and PIRACY. Such as NIRE, SUNBUCKS, ABIDAS etc.
  • High- Fashion :- Apparel of advanced design available from innovative designer and/or firms. It is usually more expensive & is a trend-setting fashion.
  • Bridge Fashion :- A line at the upper end of the apparel price range that is made with fewer details and less expensive fabrics than designer clothing
  • Pret-a-porter (pret-ah–por-tay) :- French term for ready-to-wear clothes. Many Haute couture designers produce special dress, less expensive pret-a-porter lines of clothing in addition to their custom-made-lines. French, “ready to be carried away”
  • READY-TO-WEAR (RTW) :- Apparel that is designed, marketed, and sold in standard sizes and is mass-produced.
    Describing apparel that does not need any tailoring (example hemming) before it can be worn off-the-rack. In French it is called prêt-à-porter & UK off the rack or “off-the-peg” in casual use)

Fashion related stores/ places and their types:-

  • Atelier de couture :- Work rooms in which Parisian haute couture designers and their work men produce their collections
  • Boutiques (boo-teek) :- Small shop selling a variety of merchandise including dresses, jewellery, accessories, antiques, or object d’art.

Ever since Parisian designer Lucien Lelong opened his boutique de la mansion couture in 1929, haute couture designers have taken up the practice of selling variety of designer label merchandise in boutiques.

The term has been applied to small shops everywhere since the 1950’s; and now such shops are often contained within large department stores

  • Specialty Stores or Exclusive Brand outlets (EBO’s) :- A specialty store is a store, usually retail, that offers specific and specialized types of items. These stores focus on selling a particular brand, or a particular type of item. For example, a store that exclusively sells cell phones or video games would be considered specialized.
  • Multi brand outlets (MBO’s) :- A store retailing various brands from a single floor.