Shop Talk Part 2: The Jargon of Fashion Continued

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By Roxy Rowton

Building a better wardrobe is in large part about knowledge. Getting dressed can be complicated, but even the most elementary understanding of basic fashion vernacular can demystify which garments to select for individual style (form) and wardrobe needs (function). Here are 14 more terms to add
to your fashion vocabulary.

1. Matchmaking: Coordinated garments can provide a straightforward approach to getting appropriately dressed for varied occasions. Matchmaking isn’t necessarily about having a lot of garments or accessories. Rather it is being resourceful with the items in your closet. Understanding the process of outfit coordination can optimize the structure of the wardrobe, highlight any gaps or surpluses in your closet and make the most of the seasonal wardrobe.

2. Patterns: Fashion studies have been done about a person’s aptitude for combining two or more patterns within an outfit. The conclusion is that you do not have to banish a kaleidoscope of patterns. However, you do need to develop a familiarity with the prerogatives of pattern. Becoming proficient in the artistry of combining patterns encourages the formation of an individualized style of dressing.

3. Personality: In psychology, persona is defined as the element of someone’s character that is presented to or projected to others. An individual’s visual appearance—choices in garments and accessories as well as in hair style and cosmetic application—is the outward expression of his or her fashion persona or personality. Understanding one’s fashion personality encourages a more conscientious
and conscious selection of wardrobe items.

4. Proportion: This is the art of scaling garments to the body. The well-dressed individual fine-tunes his/her personal style by knowing which clothing proportions dress to the best advantage and why, highlighting or downplaying particular physical features.

5. Quality: Much has been said and written about the comparison of quality vs. quantity in one’s wardrobe. Often, quality is associated with a wardrobe that is significantly reduced in the number or quantity of garments. But a quality wardrobe shouldn’t be appraised solely on the number of garments in the closet. The assessment of a quality wardrobe should include the curation of a collection of garments constructed from fine cloths and excellent craftsmanship. The quality appraisal should also take into
consideration the performance of the wardrobe in adapting perfectly to the life the individual leads. And last but by no means least, the quality appraisal should evaluate how well the wardrobe expresses personal sartorial aesthetics.

6. Quantity: How many pieces of clothing does an individual need? The ideal wardrobe size is relative to an individual. The ideal wardrobe quantity depends on several factors. At the barest minimum, a wardrobe should have enough garments to wear for all the varied occasions and activities in which the individual participates. Analyzing one’s lifestyle and defining style aesthetics will assist in quantifying the ideal wardrobe size.

7. Shopping: An individual can be fashionable and shop economically. Budget, price points, lifestyle, personal sartorial aesthetics and brand preferences are vital pieces of information to know before undertaking the complexities of shopping. From these pieces of sartorial information, an individual can make a prioritized shopping list of seasonal garments that offer a balance between day-to-day style
and thoughtfully edited trends.

8. Style: What is this trait called style? Style is defined as a manner of expression characteristic of a particular person. In fashion, style is putting a personal inscription on the garments you’ve chosen to wear. Clothing choice and coordinating outfits are an adept orchestration of tone and texture, fabric and fit, personality and proportion, sensibility and style. Cultivated or innate? Does it matter?

9. Sustainable Fashion: This design philosophy promotes practices that protect the welfare of all parties in the fashion design/production process and decrease the harmful impact of fashion production on the environment. Sustainable fashion is viewed as an alternative practice to fast fashion and is often referred to as slow fashion. The sustainable or slow fashion movement also includes innovative methods of using materials or byproducts considered as waste, creating incentives for fashion consumers to recycle unwanted clothing and empowering the fashion consumer to make a more informed choice
about the seasonal wardrobe.

10. Textures: Consider the texture of a garment or accessory as the most subtle semblance of patterns. Texture gives clothing visual interest and depth. Layer textures by combining opposite or contrasting tactile fabrics to create diversity and personality in the wardrobe mix.

11. Trend: This is a general direction in fashion that results in changing or developing design patterns. Four to six times a year, fashion presents an idealized vision of the up-to-the-minute sartorial designs through runway, editorial and advertising images. These idealized visions are the latest design developments in silhouette, proportions, color, fabrications and more.

12. Uniformity: Fashionable individuals tailor an interest in clothing into a distinctive uniform. Individuals who adopt a uniform for day-to-day style filter the designs, trends and concepts of fashion into a method of dressing that is the essence of themselves. Every article of clothing is an unspoken presentation of self-expression and self-image.

13. Value: How much should you spend on a garment or wardrobe? The wardrobe budget is well spent when the acquisition involves sensible design, high-quality fabrics, excellent craftsmanship, closet classics
and comfortable cuts. Purchase garments for the seasonal wardrobe discriminately, a few key pieces
per season. There are general investment guidelines for curating a value-emphasis wardrobe: fewer,
better garments. Is the garment indispensable? Versatile? Reliable? Made well? Comfortable? Confidence-building? Timeless?

14. Versatility: This element of fashion concerns the ease with which a garment can be mixed and matched with the other garments in the wardrobe, as well as be suitable for a variety of life occasions and span seasons to come.

Wardrobe and style consultant Roxy L. Rowton ( spends much of her workweek in the closet or the fitting room helping women look and feel their very best. She has two-plus decades in the fashion, apparel and beauty industries. 


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