This guide to fashion speak is an investment piece in itself


And this is to say nothing, of course, of the raft of technical fashion terms used by the industry, where the generic is whittled down to size, much as a fashion model herself might be. Sleeves can be cap, dolman, batwing, puff, which is to say nothing of cold shoulders, drop shoulders and off-the-shoulder.

Pleats: are they knife, box, accordion? Please be more specific. Is it a capri leg or an ankle biter? Flares are slightly different to wide leg, palazzo is another thing entirely. Pyjama dressing is different to actual pyjamas. That shirt might be shirred, or is it ruched? And never forget: appliqué is not embroidery, smocking is not flocking.

There is a vocabulary reserved, too, for making us feel better about what we have purchased. Should I admit to you the frequency with which I use the term “cost per wear” to justify my shoes/handbags/so on? Don’t worry, though. They are “investment pieces” that will soon become “wardrobe MVPs”. I know, I know. Garrotte me with a gilet.

Perhaps worst of all are the words that have simply lost all meaning, so frequently have they been deployed in fashion circles. Their ubiquity has rendered them useless; one’s eyes simply glaze over at their very mention.

Not every bag is iconic. Very few necklaces are capable of making statements. Conceptual, signature, avant-garde, elevated, minimalist: these are the written equivalent of a lolly pick’n’mix. Easy to reach for and consume, but ultimately leaving you with an empty stomach and a rotten headache.

The February issue of AFR Magazine is out on Friday, January 28 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.


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