6 Fashion Terms You’re Probably Misusing Right Now

There are homonyms, and then there are homonyms. And for the fashion industry, it can be difficult to separate the meanings of things we see every day and things that are trade-specific. So, we pulled out our handy reference guide, The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion, and tried to better recognize when a fashion person might actually be referring to something else. We have to wonder if a designer has ever said to an intern “Go get me some chocolate crepe,” only to have the intern return with food instead of fabric. Confused? Read on:

French crepe

What you think it means: A deliciously thin pancake filled with Nutella and your favorite fruit.

What it means for fashion: Originally a silk fabric with a flat smooth surface made in France of crepe-twisted yarns. Now applied to a large group of similar plain woven fabrics called lingerie crepes, made of rayon and other manufactured fibers.

Off the peg

What you think it means: Downright batty.

What it means for fashion: Ready-to-wear.


What you think it means: Disinterested young people who wear grungy, sometimes unwashed vintage clothing as a rejection of the sensibilities of mainstream consumers.

What it means for fashion: Fans of Bebop music, played by Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940s, who wore berets, colorful, wide scarves, sunglasses and goatees.


What you think it means: What Lindsay Lohan wears above her foot.

What it means for fashion: Short sock reaching only to the ankle … Introduced for women in 1920. This caused a sensation when they were first worn at Forest Hills, New York, for an amateur tennis match in 1931 by Mrs. Fearnley-Whittingstall.


What you think it means: People who instigate conflict, political or otherwise

What it means for fashion: Term used for semicurls near the eye or temple, worn by men from 1830s to 1850s.


What you think it means: That it’s probably going to rain later on and you’d be well-advised to carry an umbrella.

What it means for fashion: Plain seam pressed open on wrong side and each raw edge finished by hand or machine overcast stitches to prevent raveling.

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