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Fashion Dictionary


agile manufacturing
Apparel manufacturing that utilizes a modular production system. In modular production workers are organized into teams that work together to produce an entire garment. In contrast to the bundle system, in which one worker performs an assembly task, then bundles the materials together and passes them to another worker who does another task, the modular system is more efficient and flexible.

Style line for apparel in which the dress fits at the shoulder or the skirt at the waist and gradually flares out to a wider hemline, causing it to resemble the letter A. The earliest A-line designs were created by Christian Dior in the 1950s.

apparel price ranges
Designation of categories of apparel relative to price. The lowest category is low end, next is budget, then, moderate, better, bridge, and, the highest, designer.

Cutting shapes from textile fabrics and attaching them to another fabric or garment in order to decorate the base material. The ornamental fabrics are most often sewn to the base fabric, but may also be attached with adhesive. Quilts are frequently made with Appliqué patterns, and fabric artists and fashion designers often use this technique.

Word used in sewing and in design to refer to the armhole of a garment.

asymmetric styling
Designs in which each side of an item of apparel is different in structure than the other side. In a symmetrical design, both sides are the same. Asymmetry may be seen in areas such as collars, necklines, closings or hemlines.


A knitted head covering that shows only the face or part of the face. Worn by those who are outdoors in severe winter weather. Originally worn by military personnel in cold weather, this headwear is named for the Battle of Balaclava, fought during the Crimean War in the mid 1800s.

basket bag
Any handbag that is shaped like a basket. This classic style can be made from wicker of the type used in baskets, or it can be made from a wide variety of natural or synthetic materials that are interwoven, or from plastic or leather shaped like a basket.

The extension below the waistline of a fitted bodice or jacket. Unlike a peplum, which flares out below the waist and is relatively short, basques may be of any length, may be fitted or full, and may be placed in a limited area, such as the back or front, or all around. They are an integral part of the construction of the garment top.

A hand technique for decorating textiles in which parts of the fabric are covered with wax. The fabric is immersed in a dyebath and only the unwaxed area absorbs the dye. The wax is removed. If the design requires another color, wax is applied again to the area to be protected against the dye, and the fabric is placed in the dye again to add the new color. This can be repeated as often as the artisan wishes. The fabric produced by this method in Indonesia is made in traditional designs and colors, and the name batik is an Indonesian word. These designs are often imitated in machine prints for Western fashions.

batwing/dolman sleeve
Sleeve that fits closely at the wrist but widens to be very full under the arm. From the back, the sleeve resembles a cape. Its name comes from its resemblance to the wing of a bat or its similarity to a type of coat worn in the late 1800s that had a cape-like sleeve.

bias/bias cut
Bias is the diagonal direction of a woven fabric. Unless woven from stretch yarns, fabrics stretch more in the bias direction than in the length or width. Designers can take advantage of this stretch by manipulating the fabric so that the bias areas fall in ways that cause the designs to fit the body more closely or drape into soft folds. Designer Madeline Vionnet (active 1912 to 1940) was renown for her bias designs.

bishop sleeve
A basic sleeve style cut with minimal fullness where it is set into the armhole then widens gradually to the wrist where it is gathered into a tightly fitting cuff. Some versions have the fullness at the wrist concentrated in such a way that much of it hangs down under the wrist.

A type of oxford (shoe that closes) in which the tongue and vamp (the front part of the shoe) are cut in one.

(1) adj. Used to describe any item of clothing that fits the body closely (example: body suit, body clothes) or jewelry worn on various areas of the body (i.e. body jewelry). (2) n. The feel of fabric that is flexible but also solid and compact.

boiled wool
Wool fabric that has been processed to make it more dense and compact. Subjecting the woven fabric to heat, pressure, and moisture does this. In industrial terminology, the process is called fulling.

Although colloquially people may refer to any type of hat as a “bonnet,” this term is usually applied specifically to headcoverings for women and children that cover the back and top of the head and usually tie under the chin. Relatively few headcoverings for women are now made in bonnet style, although they are often seen for children and infants. One of the more dramatic bonnets of the 19th century was the poke bonnet, made with a very high crown and an exceptionally wide brim that hid the face.

brand and trademark
A brand is a name, label, or mark assigned to a product by its manufacturer or distributor. A trademark is a word, design, or device assigned to a product or service by the owner. Trademarks can be registered so that no other individual or company can use the name or symbol. A brand can be a trademark if it is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of the Department of Commerce. U.S. law requires that goods or services being trademarked must actually have been sold, so trademarks cannot be selected and registered in advance of their use. In many other countries, items can be trademarked before being used. Commonly used general terms, such as “silk,” “pants,” or “beauty” cannot be trademarked. Registered trademarks are designated with symbols. The symbols are ®, which is only used once the trademark has been registered; ™, a trademark for goods, and SM, a trademark for services. Registered trademarks are protected for a period of 20 years and are renewable.

A diagonal band of fabric or trimming similar to a turned back collar or revers that runs from the center of the waist to the outer edges of the shoulders.

bugle beads
Beads of an elongated tubular shape that are often sewn onto garments as ornamentation. Colors can vary.

A garment similar to a corset that is like a combination waist cinch and brassiere. It ends at the waist or extends to the hips. Formerly an undergarment that was sometimes called a merry widow, it is now worn as a woman’s top, is usually strapless, and may be made from highly ornamental fabric.

(1) A general term referring to back fullness in a skirt. (2) An undergarment structure designed to hold out the back of a skirt. Bustles were an important element of style in women’s skirts from about 1870 to 1890. Designers periodically revive back fullness, especially for evening dresses.

The opening into which a button fits in order to close a garment. In order to make the buttonhole secure and keep it from raveling, it must be finished in some way. Worked buttonholes are finished by embroidering by hand or machine around the edge of the buttonhole with a close and secure stitch. Worked buttonholes often have more secure stitches at the end of the buttonhole where the button will rest because this area will be subjected to greater stress. Bound buttonholes, generally found on more expensive coats and suits, are made by sewing small strips of fabric or leather around the opening area, then pulling them to the inside of the garment, which makes folded edge of the strip visible from the outside. Sometimes the fabric or leather is a different color from the garment, and the buttonhole becomes part of the ornamentation of the garment.


Each of these three acronyms refers to computer based technology used for the design and/or manufacture of apparel. Specifically, CAD stands for computer-aided-design, CAM for computer-aided manufacturing, and CIM for computer integrated manufacturing. CAD computer programs support the design phase and give the designer the ability to experiment with ideas about styles, colors, fabrics, etc. CAM programs support the tasks related to manufacture, and with CAD/CAM in combination, the design can move from design to preparation of the pattern, making the master plan for cutting the garment, grading patterns to different sizes, cutting the fabric, and sewing. CIM overcomes the problems that may occur when it is necessary to move the data from the design and manufacturing process to the next step. In computer-integrated-manufacturing, the various programs communicate directly, so that data moves smoothly along the production process in an accurate and timely fashion.

camisole/camisole top
In the 19th century a camisole was a waistlength undergarment worn over a corset. Generally it had broad straps, and tied at the upper edge with a drawstring. Often it was trimmed with lace or eyelet embroidery. In modern usage, the term may refer to any undergarment worn over a brassiere and ending at the waist. Blouses or tops that are cut in a style similar to the historic camisole are called camisole tops.

A headcovering generally worn for less formal occasions or sports that fits the head more closely than a hat and which often has a visor at the front. Caps are likely to be made of fabric, often felt, or leather. Sometimes they are part of the uniforms used by the military or for sports, and as baseball caps have done, may come into widespread use among the general public as well.

Chinese garment that has a high, standing collar, short sleeves, a diagonal front closing with buttons or cloth frogs, a body-hugging fit, and a side slit that may reach as high as the thigh. Originating in the 1930s, this garment was an attempt to merge Western and Chinese styles.

chine/warp print
A style of printing in which the lengthwise (warp) yarns are placed on the loom, a design is printed on these yarns, after which the crosswise (weft) yarns are inserted. The resulting print has a hazy, misty appearance. Most often used for gowns and other highly decorative garments.


V-shaped tuck that is sewn into a garment in order to shape the fabric so that the garment fits the rounded parts of the body. Darts are most often found at the bustline, the back shoulder, the waistline, and the hipline.

DIM financing
An acronym standing for Debtor in Possession financing, which is financing obtained when an individual or firm is in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. If such financing is obtained, it may be possible for a company to work its way out of bankruptcy rather than having to liquidate.

d’orsay shoe or slipper
Refers to any shoe that has a closed heel and toe but which is cut down to the sole at the sides. It can be made with a heel of any type and any style of vamp (front). The style is one of several fashions named after the Count d’Orsay, a fashionable dandy living Paris in the mid-1800s.


(1) n. In design of a garment ease refers to fullness incorporated into a design so that it will fit comfortably. (2) v. Joining a larger section of a garment to a smaller part by very gradually folding or gathering the edge where the pieces will meet until the larger piece is the same size as the smaller piece.

Ornamentation of a fabric by using any of a wide variety of decorative hand or machine stitches in the same or a contrasting color. Different styles of embroidery are often associated with particular geographic regions or ethnic groups.

empire waist
Location of the waistline just under the bustline. The name of this style comes from the high-waisted styles popular during the reign of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1804-1814).

Shoe with a canvas upper and rope sole. Originally a slip on shoe, often with long shoelaces that tied around the ankle, today the term is applied to many different styles of shoes with canvas uppers and soles that appear to be made of rope.


(1) v. To apply a shaped layer of fabric, which is usually turned to the inside, to the edge of some part of a garment such as the neckline so that it will have a smooth finish. The applied piece is called a facing. (2) n. The outer side of a textile fabric.

A business practice designed to allow a manufacturer to maintain a steady cash flow. The factor (an agent) buys the money owed to the manufacturer (accounts receivable) at a discounted rate so that the manufacturer has the cash immediately and does not need to wait for payment. The factor collects the total amount owed to the manufacturer and makes, as profit, the difference between what he/she paid for the accounts receivable and the actual price.

“Fashion” is most often used as a synonym for the current style in clothing, however sociologists and other scholars who write about fashion are more likely to use a definition that says that fashion has two elements. It is (1) accepted by many people and (2) its acceptance lasts for a relatively short period of time. Fashion does not exist in all cultures and historic periods. It seems to begin in the Western Europe in the late middle ages. At that time the nobility were the originators of fashions, and the lower classes copied upper class styles (known as the “trickle down theory of fashion.”). Today, fashions may originate with all levels of society, even the least affluent, and when this happens, it is known as “percolate up” or “bottom up” fashion change.

fashion tribes
Current fashion has moved away from one universal style for all and instead various segments of the consuming public, especially the young, are likely to dress in fashions that show that they belong to a particular group or a style tribe. Writer Ted Polhemus appears to have coined this phrase. Examples of some of the better known youthful style tribes are punks, goths, hip-hop fans, and ravers.

A decorative closure for a garment that is made from cord or braid. On one side of the area to be closed, a loop is made and on the other, a large, ornamental knot. The knot passes through the loop. This style of closing is often used in Chinese-influenced designs.


(1) A very ornamental braid, made often in gold, silver, or other metallic colors that is flat and wide and has both edges finished in the same way. It is sometimes decorated with jewels or colored stones and has been popular as ornamentation for evening wear. (2) Lace with matching edges on both sides. (3) Tape or braid of narrow width that is applied as trimming.

A means of distributing fullness in some part of a garment by sewing a loose row of stitches, pulling the thread, and sliding the fabric along the thread to make soft folds in order to decrease the width of the fabric. n shirring three or more rows of gathers are placed parallel lines to achieve a decorative effect while also manipulating fullness.

generic fiber name
Name for a natural or manufactured textile fiber or group of fibers that has been established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for classification and regulatory purposes. Examples of natural fiber names include cotton, silk, and wool, which includes all types of animal hair fibers. Manufactured fibers are classified by their chemical structure and include fiber groups such as nylon, polyester, and acrylic. Different manufacturers produce variations of the generic fiber that that may be assigned a trademark name. For example, spandex is a generic fiber category and Lycra™ is a trademarked name of a spandex fiber.

A type of braid that has a heavy central core covered by a more decorative outer layer of fiber that is arranged into a design on the surface of a garment, sewn into place, and forms a raised decorative area.

Triangular piece of fabric that is inserted into the lower edge of a skirt or sleeve in order to provide additional fullness. Especially popular when fullness around the hem of a skirt but not at the waist is fashionable.

A triangular shaped fabric piece that is intended to add gradual fullness to a garment. Skirts often consist of two or more gores. They allow a closer fit over the hips and then gradually flare out at the lower part of the garment.

Background part of a textile fabric. The term may be used to describe the base on which a textile design has been printed, the base on which embroidery or designs on lace are applied, or the lengthwise and crosswise interlaced yarns to which pile yarns or fabrics are attached.

Small piece of fabric, which is diamond-shaped, that is sewn into the underarm of a sleeve or into the crotch of pants. These areas often fit tightly and are subject to stress. The gusset provides additional width and stretch. As a result, seams in these areas are less likely to tear.


When referring to headwear, the term hat is often used as a generic synonym for headwear, however among hat makers it is more likely to refer to a headcovering that has a crown and a brim and does not tie under the chin. A hat that is brimless or has a very small brim, may be called a toque. Among men’s hats the classic styles include the fedora, a felt hat with moderately wide brim and a soft crown that has a soft front to back crease; the homburg, a stiffer felt hat with a narrower and slightly rolled brim and a more rigid front to back crease.

Cap, usually with a visor, that has a piece of fabric that extends from the back edge of the cap to the base of the neck. This cap developed originally as part of the uniform of soldiers stationed in parts of the world where the sun was very intense. With recent concerns about the dangers of prolonged sun exposure, this cap has been adopted by civilians for sportswear and outdoor use.

The lower edge of a part of a garment that has been finished off with some type of sewing to cover the raw edge. Among the more common types of hems are: plain hem that is turned up and sewn into place; rolled hem used on sheer or delicate fabrics and rolled up by hand into a narrow hem that is sewn with small hand stitches; and faced hem, which is finished with a piece of fabric sewn to the botton of the garment edge and then turned up to the underside and sewn into place.

An undergarment used to hold out a full skirt. Its structure varies. It can be a series of gradually larger diameter hoops starting below the waist and reaching to the hem. These hoops are held together by vertical tapes or sewn into a petticoat. Alternatively, the garment may be a petticoat made from a stiff fabric. Crinoline, now used as a synonym for a such a petticoat, was a firm fabric originally made with horsehair. An important part of a woman’s wardrobe in the 1860s, today hoops are worn under evening gowns and wedding dresses.



just-in-time manufacturing
A manufacturing system in which materials used for manufacture and/or sale are produced precisely at the time they are needed. As a result, no costly storage of inventory is required. Electronic record-keeping and communication about inventory and needs has made this system possible.



lace and tatting
Lace and tatting are constructed by knotting. Most lace today is made by machine. It can be made either in narrow pieces or as a large piece of fabric. Handmade lace was either bobbin (also called pillow) lace or needlepoint lace. Bobbin lace was made by winding thread on small bobbins and interlacing the thread around pins held in a design on a special lace-making pillow. In needlepoint lace, a thread follows a pattern made on stiff parchment paper. It is held in place with small stitches. Then the background, which holds the design thread in place, is worked with a needle and thread. When complete, the holding stitches are cut and the lace removed from the pattern. Different lace designs developed in different regions and usually were given the name of the town where they were first made. Tatting is a hand technique in which thread is wound on small shuttles and the artisan makes loops and designs with the shuttle. Tatting is generally narrow and is used for trimming.

leg-of-mutton sleeve
A sleeve that is cut with a very full top that is gathered or pleated into the armhole, then tapers gradually to fit closely at the wrist. This style tends to be popular when revivals of the styles of the 1890s are fashionable. It is also sometimes called by the French name for a leg of lamb, a gigot sleeve.

One of many terms that have multiple meanings in the fashion world. (1) n. Used to refer to the shape of a garment, as in “The dress has a simple line.” (2) v. In making a garment, putting a layer of fabric on the inside so that it hides the construction details. This fabric may be hidden, as inside a dress, or visible, as in a coat or jacket. (3) n. The clothing designed and produced by a designer or manufacturer for a particular season or time period. Collection is a synonym, and is more often used in high fashion. A secondary line consists of a less expensive group of styles made by a manufacturer and sold to a different market than the primary line.

Moccasin-style classic slip on shoe that has a slotted strap at the front. The strap is stitched to the front (vamp) of the shoe. If the strap has a coin inserted in the slot, the shoe is called a penny loafer. If it has a tassel at the front, it is a tassel-top loafer. Sometimes a metal chain is fasten to the strap, and the shoe is called a chain loafer. Gucci™ loafers have a distinctive gold metal hardware decoration.

lyocell fiber
Regenerated fiber made from cellulose materials. The trademark names for this fiber are Tencel™ and Lyocell by Lenzing™. Although the Federal Trade Commission has designated lyocell as a generic fiber, it has also classified it as a sub-category of rayon, which it resembles. It is manufactured by a process that is more environmentally friendly than rayon, dyes well in a wide range of colors, has a pleasant handle and has been well-accepted by consumers.


A hand technique for making small pieces of fabric and trimmings by knotting from two to four or more yarns, strings, or cords into a variety of decorative patterns. Macram™ has been fashionable periodically and is most often seen in belts, handbags, vests, or as trimmings. Sometimes beads are incorporated into the design of the fabric.

manufactured fiber
Any fiber that is not found in nature but which is produced by an industrial process. Regenerated fibers are made from natural materials that cannot be used for textiles in their original form. Examples include rayon and lyocell, which are made from wood chips or cotton linters. (Linters are fibers too short to be spun into a yarn.) Synthetic fibers, such as nylon and polyester, are made from chemicals.

markup/short markup
The difference between the cost to make a garment and the amount for which it will be sold is its markup. Usually, the sales price is twice as much as the manufacturing cost. If the markup is less than this, it is called a short markup.

messenger bag
Designed to be similar to the bags carried by messengers, these handbags usually have a zippered large central compartment. A flap folds down over the front and closes with a buckle or snap. Small versions of these bags may be called courier bags.

A handbag for evening that is made of metal pieces that are often highly ornamented with jewels, worked metal, or other decorative techniques. These bags vary in shape, often being square, oval, or oblong and often having a short chain by which to carry them.

Shoe or slipper, usually made with high heel, that has a vamp (fitted front) but nothing at the back. The front part of the shoe can be made in any one of many different styles. The heel can vary in height.


Fabric that is not constructed by weaving, knitting, knotting, or crocheting. Many nonwovens are webs of fiber held together by mechanical action, thermal bonding, chemical solvents, or adhesive agents.. The oldest non-woven is felt. Made from wool fibers that will cling together when subjected to moisture, heat, and pressure, felt is one of the earliest textiles found in archeological sites. Today it is manufactured from wool or other fibers. If made from fibers other than wool, it must have some additional treatment to bond fibers together. Bark cloth or tapa is another non-woven that was made by pre-industrial people from the fibrous inner bark of certain trees. This fabric is not produced commercially.


open orders
Orders placed by a retailer with a manufacturer that do not require shipment on a specified delivery date. Such orders are often less definite, committing to the spending of a specific dollar amount but not to specific colors, sizes, or styles.

open to ship
In planning and record keeping by retailers, the determination of the quantity of merchandise needed to meet planned purchases.

open-to-buy (OTB)
In planning purchasing a buyer calculates the cost of the quantity of merchandise of a particular type that he or she plans to order in a specific time period. After some of that merchandise, but not all of it, has been ordered, the money spent is calculated. Then the difference in cost between orders that have been placed and those that were planned is calculated. This figure is called “open-to-buy.” The open-to-buy money can be used to adjust orders and provides some flexibility.

A basic shoe style that either laces shut or is closed with some other fastening. Details of styling and cut will vary. Originally, the term was used by shoemakers to distinguish between low cut shoes and boots. Today the major distinction is in the fact that the shoe has a closing.


pagoda sleeve
A sleeve that is shaped much like an Asian building called a pagoda. Like a pagoda, the sleeve is narrow at the top where it fits the upper arm closely, then gradually flares out to become wide at the bottom. The shape is similar to a funnel, and so this sleeve style may also be called a funnel sleeve.

Hoops that perch on the hips and hold skirts out at the sides. Now used for evening and wedding gowns, the original paniers used in the 18th century were named after under supports made of basket-like materials (French paniers means basket). In England the word was spelled panniers, but the devices were more likely to be called hoops.

A ruffle or flared section in the construction of a jacket or blouse that extends a short distance below the waistline. Peplums may be sewn to the bodice, cut in one with the bodice, or may be a separate section attached to a belt.

Loops, tufts made by cutting loops, cut extra sets of yarns, or fibers incorporated into a fabric so that they will stand up on the surface of the fabric to form the surface texture. Often the pile is brushed in one direction, and garment pieces made from such fabrics must be cut in the same direction because the reflection of light from the surface will make pieces cut in different directions appear to vary in color. Some fabrics have an allover pile, while others have pile only in some areas in order to create a design. Velvet fabrics with pile designs in limited areas are known as cut velvets. Pile should not be confused with nap, which is fiber ends brushed up on the surface of a fabric.

A slit or opening in a garment that allows room for the garment to be put on. Plackets are most commonly found at the neck, the wrist, the top of a skirt, or the front of trousers. They can be finished with a hem or overlapping pieces that allow the placket to be hidden. Closures such as buttons, snaps, hooks, zippers, or Velcro™ are often incorporated into a placket.

A fold of fabric that is either stitched down or held in place by another construction feature in order to manipulate fullness. Usually a number of pleats are grouped together. Pleats may be part of a blouse, skirt, or pants. There are many different types of pleats. Some of the most common are: knife pleats, which are pressed to keep an edge, and face in the same direction; box pleats, the edges of which face in opposite directions; inverted pleats with edges brought to face each other at a center line; sunburst or accordian pleats that are narrower at the top and wider at the bottom, and kick pleats, generally a single pleat placed at the bottom of a narrow skirt.

Skirt style in which an overskirt is pulled to the side, looped up, puffed out, and draped over an underskirt. Now used largely for evening and bridal gowns.

pouch bag
A classic handbag that looks like a soft pouch. Usually made of leather or fabric, pouch bags can have different types of longer or shorter straps. Sometimes they are set on a frame and have rigid handles. They may close with drawstrings or zippers.

princess line
A garment style in which the sections of the garment are cut in one from shoulder to hem, with no waistline seam. Close body fit is achieved by cutting the pieces so that the seams create the shape and by adding darts where necessary. The origin of the style is attributed to Charles Worth, the fashion designer who made clothing for the Empress (princess) Eugenie of France in the mid-1800s.


Quick Response (QR)
A manufacturing system in which electronic communications make possible the rapid production and supply of goods. In the domestic textile and apparel industry, application of Quick Response technology has resulted in the ability to supply products in a matter of days or weeks rather than months, as had previously been required.


Widely used sleeve construction in which the underarm seam of the sleeve is extended to the neckline at the front and the back. This construction is said to have originated when a British General in the Crimean War, Lord Raglan, had coats with this sleeve constructed for himself after he lost an arm in the charge of the Light Brigade in 1854.

returns to vendor (RTV)
Merchandise returned by the purchaser to the vendor from which it was bought.

Current fashion descriptions use the term ruching to refer to clothing with large areas of fullness gathered in to form a rippled effect. Historically, ruching was a trimming made by pleating bands of fabric and stitching the pleats in place. These bands were sewn onto various parts of the garment.


In sewing, the place where two pieces of fabric are joined. This creates a more or less visible line on the surface of a garment. Many different kinds of seam constructions are used, depending on whether the seam is a decorative element of the design, the kind of fabric used, or how much stress is placed on the seam. The following are several of the most commonly used seam types. Plain seam is made by placing the right sides of two garment pieces together and sewing the seam on the under side of the fabric. When the pieces are opened, the seam will be on the inside of the garment. Some type of seam finish may be needed to prevent the seam from raveling. Many plain seams are made on a machine called a serger that uses a looping stitch to cover over the edges of the seam and keep it from raveling. Flat felled seam or a simulated flat felled seam is often used in sturdy blue jeans. A very durable seam, it has a double row of stitching that holds the seam down. French seams are used on very sheer and delicate fabrics and require several steps in which a seam is sewn on the right side of the fabric, then the right sides of the fabric are placed together and another row of stitching is made that encloses the original seam.

sew by
The sample garment prepared by a contractor who will be making this type of garment for a manufacturer. The manufacturer can then compare the apparel produced by the contractor to see if its quality is comparable to that of the sample.

A method of ornamenting fabric by stitching and forming gathers in the fabric before it is dyed. After dyeing, the stitching is removed and the crinkled areas released. The areas protected from the dye by the stitching and gathering absorb the dye in irregular patterns characteristic of these fabrics.

A basic dress style that has simple, straight lines and does not fit close to the body. Very popular in the 1960s and in other periods when unfitted styles are popular. One innovation in this style in the 1960s was the incorporation of a diagonal dart running from the side seam to the bustline. In comparison, a sheath is a simple, straight, but fitted dress in which vertical darts, bust darts, and shaping from side seams provide the fit.

signature bag
A handbag, considered a status symbol, that has the signature, initials, or logo of a high fashion designer or company, printed in an allover pattern or placed strategically on the bag so it is visible. Counterfeit copies of these bags are often sold by street vendors.

Determining where textiles and/or apparel can be obtained, and how and when this will be done. In the global economy, sources may be domestic or international.

soutache braid
A flat braid, generally rather narrow. Applied in rows or, more often, in complex ornamental patterns to decorate ares of a garment.

Decorative pieces, usually made from metal or plastic, that have a hole through which they can be sewn to a garment. Sequins, which are usually round and fairly small, and paillettes, which are larger and made in different shapes, are the most common types of spangles. They are often combined with beads in decorating evening dresses, handbags, and other accessories.

Originally used to refer to clothing for active sports, and later to clothing worn to watch sporting events, this term has come to be applied to the broad category of casual wear and is worn at any time of the day and for a wide variety of activities. Today the term activewear is more likely to be applied to clothing for active sports. Sportswear is considered by many to be a major contribution of American design to clothing styles world wide.

Often classified as a nonwoven fabric, stitch-bonded fabrics are either networks of yarns or fiber webs that are held together by sewing or knitting through the base material. The first such material was trademarked in East Germany under the name of Malimo. Techniques for making stitch-bonded fabrics include laying warp and weft yarns across each other without interlacing and then using a sewing or knitting stitch to hold them together, sewing pile yarns to a woven or knitted base, and sewing a web of fibers together. Such fabrics can be used for apparel, household textiles, and industrial textiles. They have price advantages over knitting or weaving in that they require less yarn or fiber and can be produced more rapidly.

stock keeping units (SKU)
An inventory management and record-keeping term in which items are assigned to a particular unit that the retailer wants to track. All items in one SKU would be identical in style, color, size, or other characteristics. For example, a polyester gathered skirt, size 12, in navy blue would be assigned to a different SKU than the same navy blue polyester skirt in size 14.

stock on hand
The retail items currently held at the retail store or other outlet and available to sell.


Acronym for the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act. This legislation enforced by the Federal Trade Commission requires that textile products be labeled as to fiber content. The specific information that must be on the label is this: Each fiber in the textile must appear on the label as a percent of total fiber content and must be listed by generic name (the trademark name may also be listed, but is not required) with the largest quantity first, next largest quantity second, etc. If less than 5 percent of a particular fiber is present, it must be designated as other fiber unless it has a specific benefit or purpose in the fabric, such as an elastic fiber. Nothing appearing on the label may indicate the presence of a fiber that is not part of the product. The manufacturer’s name or number must appear, and the country of origin must be specified.

tie dye
A method of decorating a garment or fabric by tieing string or other material around pre-selected areas in order to prevent dye from being absorbed by these areas. The unprotected area takes up the dye, the tied area does not. To get multicolored effects, the fabric can be tied in other areas and dipped in another colored dye. This process can be repeated as often as desired. When tie-dyed fabrics become fashionable, imitations of these designs are often made by machine printing.

A means of manipulating fullness in garments by folding the fabric and sewing a row of stitching parallel to the fold. Fullness is released at the end of the stitching. Tucks and pleats are similar, but tucks are smaller, often being only an inch or less in width. Often a number of tucks are made in the same area. Sometimes they are turned to the outside of a garment as ornamentation.




Watteau back
The back of a garment in which box pleats are placed at the center back and the fabric released by these pleats falls loosely to the bottom of the garment. The name of this style derives from Jean Antoine Watteau, a French artist of the 18th century, in whose paintings women wore dresses with this design feature. The name was not applied to these designs until the 19th century. Today the style continues to be popular, especially in nightgowns and robes.

weave types
Fabrics made from yarns that are woven on a loom can be constructed in various ways. Lengthwise or warp yarns are placed on the loom first, and crosswise or weft (also called filling) yarns are interlaced with the warps. There are three basic weaves: plain weave, twill weave, and satin weave. In the plain weave, yarns in the first row of the weft cross over one warp yarn, under one, over one, etc., across the width of the fabric. In the second row, the weft passed under the first warp, over the second, under the third, etc. The third row follows the same pattern as the first. This is the simplest weave. By varying the kinds of yarns used, color of yarns, and size of yarns, many different fabrics can be produced. If several rows of weft yarns cross over several rows of warp yarns at a time, a variation of the plain weave called the basket weave can be made. In the twill weave, weft yarns interlace with warp yarns in a specified regular pattern. The resulting fabric has a diagonal line (called a wale) on the surface. For the satin weave, weft yarns float over then interlace with warp yarns in patterns that do not produce a diagonal line. By using loosely twisted filament fibers with high luster, the characteristic sheen of satin fabrics is produced. More complicated patterns produced on special looms, such as the dobby or jacquard, utilize combinations of the basic weaves to achieve very decorative fabrics.

weft and warp knits
Knitting is the formation of fabrics from yarns by creating interconnected loops. Knits may be made from one long, continuous yarn (as in hand knitting) or from sets of yarns. In weft knits, yarns run and interlock across the fabric. In warp knits, the yarns run or interlock in the lengthwise direction. Hand knitting is a form of weft knitting, but weft knits are also made on machines. Weft knits stretch more than warp knits. If stitches break, a run or ladder forms in the lengthwise direction. The most common types of weft knits are jersey (also called single or plain knits) in which all stitches are pulled to the same side of the fabric, so that one side of the fabric is smooth and the other side has loops. Knitted velour, terrycloth, fleece, imitation furs, plush, and other knitted pile fabrics are weft knits, as are doubleknits. Warp knits are more stable and resist runs. The most common fabrics made by warp knitting are tricots, which are made in varying weights, and raschel knits which can be made in complicated patterns that simulate lace or crochet.



yarn types
Yarns are made by twisting or otherwise binding fibers together and are used to construct fabrics. The fibers that are made into yarns can be long, continuous strands, called filaments, which can be twisted together loosely or more tightly. Filament yarns are made from either silk or manufactured fibers. Short, staple fibers (cotton, wool, linen, or manufactured fibers or silk cut into short lengths) must be twisted so that they will hold together to form a yarn. Yarns may be classified according to the number of parts. A single yarn is just one yarn, a ply yarn consists of two or more single yarns twisted together, and a cord yarn is made of two or more ply yarns twisted together. Yarns with a regular surface and diameter are called simple yarns. Those made to create decorative effects are known as novelty or fancy yarns. A novelty yarn can be a single yarn, such as a slub yarn in which some parts of the yarn are twisted tightly and other parts more loosely, or a ply yarn such as a bouclé yarn in which a decorative yarn makes irregular, decorative loops around a base yarn. By varying the structure of yarns, an enormous number of different types of yarns and decorative effects can be created.