Do you 
speak Prada?: High fashion or not, you can learn to converse the part

Auden heels by Simply Vera Vera Wang at Kohl’s



Fem Fan dress by Simply Vera Vera Wang at Kohl’s (Available in March)



Double Layer Wrap Dress by Simply Vera Vera Wang at Kohl’s



Pieced fit and flare dress and Marseille heels by ELLE at Kohl’s



Jean jacket (available in March), mixed media top and tech twill pants by Princess Vera Wang at Kohl’s



Ruched peasant dress by Princess Vera Wang at Kohl’s



Simply curved pleat dress by Simply Vera Vera Wang at Kohl’s (Available in March)



QUICKREAD

■ A-line: a garment shape in which the waist is fitted and then the skirt flares out, mirroring the shape of a letter A. It is extremely flattering to all manner of bootys.

■ Appliquè: shapes cut from textiles and applied to a base fabric for decoration; popular on quilts and the whimsical sweaters of Manic Pixie Dram Girl types.

■ Atelier: a French word that means “workshop.” It’s sometimes used in reference to high-end French, and occasionally Italian, fashion houses. It has a secret, secondary definition of “you probably can’t afford these clothes.”

■ Bateau neckline: also called a boat neckline, it extends from shoulder to shoulder in a straight line and is high in front and back. It looked very good on Audrey Hepburn.

■ Bespoke: a term that denotes a garment was patterned and made to a person’s specific measurements. It’s usually used in menswear to indicate a suit is one-of-a-kind and is probably being worn by James Bond.

■ Bias-cut: bias is a woven fabric’s diagonal direction and fabrics stretch more in it than in horizontal or vertical directions. So, a garment cut on the bias will hug the body more closely or drape better or just generally look awesome.

■ Bolero: a fitted jacket whose hem falls above the natural waist; it is reminiscent of preening bull fighters.

■ Box pleat: a flat double pleat in which both sides of the pleat are folded under. It’s difficult to fix if it ever comes unsewn, so be careful.

■ Breton stripes: a pattern of horizontal stripes an equal width and distance apart; usually they’re navy, black or red and are prevalent wherever dissolute prep school youths congregate, or at regattas.

■ Clutch: a small purse without a strap or a handle that must be “clutched” in the hand; usually only big enough for a cell phone, a box of Tic-Tacs and a tampon.

■ Couture: a term that indicates a garment was made by, or in the manner of, a high fashion designer. If the word “couture” is written in across the bum of the garment, it is not, in fact, couture.

■ Cowl neck: a neckline in which the bodice is cut with extra fabric to drape from the shoulders around the neck. If voluminous enough, it can be a treasure trove of long-forgotten peanuts, M&Ms and other snacks.

■ Dart: a tapered tuck that is sewn into a garment so it fits better over the body’s rounded parts; darts are typically sewn over the hips, on the back of the shoulders and at the bust, accommodating all manner of bosoms.

■ Distressed: a treatment in which garments are given simulated marks of age and wear. So, no need for the wearer to trip into that barbed wire fence! Hooray!

■ Dolman sleeve: also called “batwing” sleeves, they have a wide arm opening and appear to blend into the side of a shirt. It does not, unfortunately, enable the wearer to fly, and don’t use the “batwing” name if it’s being worn by a woman over 40.

■ Drop waist: a garment style in which the waistline falls at or below the hips; beloved by flappers and extremely skinny women.

■ Empire waist: a waistline that falls just below the bust; sometimes pronounced “ahm-peer” by show-offs.

■ Gore: a triangular piece of fabric that’s added to a garment to give it gradual fullness, commonly used in skirts and dresses. They’re kicky little things and take a garment from “meh” to “fun!”

■ Gusset: a small piece of fabric that is often sewn into the crotch of pants, the underarm of a shirt and other areas of a garment that are fitted and see more stress; a gusset provides additional give and stretch and is a garment wearer’s greatest, greatest friend sometimes.

■ Halter neck: a neckline in which the top of the bodice is gathered to a strip of fabric that wraps around the neck; sometimes perceived by men as sweet justice for all the times they’ve had to wear neckties.

■ Haute couture: a French term meaning “high sewing” or “high fashion,” it indicates a garment was made entirely by hand and tailored to an individual. France is extremely persnickety about what can be deemed haute couture, in a way they aren’t about picking up dog poop off Parisian sidewalks.

■ Jersey: a soft, somewhat elastic textile usually made from cotton, silk or wool; also known as The Most Flattering Fabric on Earth, Especially if Made into a Wrap Dress, Amen.

■ Jewel neckline: a plain, high, rounded neckline originally designed to highlight jewels. Diamonds, for instance. Or emeralds. Rubies are nice, too.

■ Kick pleat: A slit in the bottom back hem of a fitted skirt, enabling the wearer to walk instead of hop mummy-style.

■ Kitten heel: a woman’s shoe style in which the heel is shorter than two inches; generally as cute as a kitten, hence the name.

■ Maillot: a one-piece woman’s swimsuit. Who knew, right?

■ Ombrè: a textile dye technique in which colors blend into one another from light to dark. Remember that season of “Project Runway” when Tim Gunn kept saying it? That was pretty great.

■ Paillette: a large sequin with a hole near the top, often seen littering the floor of Studio 54 ca. 1977.

■ Pencil skirt: a narrow-cut, form-fitting skirt that usually falls to the knee and in which it would be obvious if you had so much as a pencil in your pocket.

■ Pintucks: tightly concentrated, vertical pleats usually sewn into the bodices of shirts and dresses; they’re a pain to iron but look pretty cute.

■ Princess cut: a garment style in which seams are cut from shoulder to hem without a waistline and follow the hourglass curve of the body. It’s not unreasonable to pair them with a tiara.

■ Pump: a generic term for a shoe with a closed toe and heel; among the most accommodating of pallettes for wonderfulness in the shoe world.

■ Ruching: a design feature in which areas of fabric are gathered to create fullness or a ripple effect. It’s pronounced “rooshing” or “possibly your frenemy” — flattering or tragic depending on where it falls on your body.

■ Sartorial: relating to clothing or tailoring, and particularly effective in phrases such as “sartorial splendor.” Try it in a sentence today!

■ Sheath: a straight dress style known for its simplicity and vertical lines; a cut that tends to make garments look more expensive than they actually are.

■ Tea-length: a skirt or dress length in which the hem falls near the bottom of the calf. Appropriate for afternoon tea? Pass the scones and clotted cream!

■ Vamp: the front section of the upper part of a woman’s shoe, covering the toe and instep; fodder for a million fetishes in which “toe cleavage” is a thing.

■ Yoke: a fitted piece of fabric at the front and back of a shirt’s shoulders or at the top of a skirt; in the area of “clothes as forecast,” it’s a bad, bad sign when the yoke becomes too tight.

Sources: wwd.com, vogue.com, modcloth.com

High fashion or not, you can learn to converse the part



Remember that scene in “The Devil Wears Prada,” when frumpy new assistant Andy (Anne Hathaway) laughingly says she can’t tell the difference between two blue belts? Seizing on the theme of blue, magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) swiftly, cuttingly lays out the history of the boxy blue sweater Andy is wearing, which isn’t blue, in fact, but cerulean, and how that color first appeared on runways in the form of gowns by Oscar de la Renta.

“And then it filtered down through the department stores,” Miranda continues, “and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room.”

Which is a roundabout way of saying that New York Fashion Week Fall 2014 begins today in New York City, and that which the majority us will pull off sales racks at American Apparel in several years will sashay down the runway this week in all its couture, aspirational glory.

And regardless of your degree of interest in fashion — but really, you’ve got to wear clothes, right? — fashion’s level of cultural saturation makes it ubiquitous and somewhat inevitable. But what does it all mean?

There are names and terms that get bandied about, especially during Fashion Week, and they can be a little confounding. Herewith, a Fashion Week glossary for the rest of us:

Remember that scene in “The Devil Wears Prada,” when frumpy new assistant Andy (Anne Hathaway) laughingly says she can’t tell the difference between two blue belts? Seizing on the theme of blue, magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) swiftly, cuttingly lays out the history of the boxy blue sweater Andy is wearing, which isn’t blue, in fact, but cerulean, and how that color first appeared on runways in the form of gowns by Oscar de la Renta.

“And then it filtered down through the department stores,” Miranda continues, “and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room.”

Which is a roundabout way of saying that New York Fashion Week Fall 2014 begins today in New York City, and that which the majority us will pull off sales racks at American Apparel in several years will sashay down the runway this week in all its couture, aspirational glory.

And regardless of your degree of interest in fashion — but really, you’ve got to wear clothes, right? — fashion’s level of cultural saturation makes it ubiquitous and somewhat inevitable. But what does it all mean?

There are names and terms that get bandied about, especially during Fashion Week, and they can be a little confounding. Herewith, a Fashion Week glossary for the rest of us:


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