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THE YELLOW BOOK OF (FASHION) TERMS Content: Andrea Holmqvist & Hayley Waumsley. Photography: Carl Tomlkinson & Rebecca Chivers. Styling: Rachael Mary-Claire. Edited by Andrea Holmqvist


First introduced by Christian Dior in the mid 50’s, these letters describe the silhouette of a dress; A goes from a narrow waist (or more rarely a top) to a fuller skirt, so the garment opens up like a capital A. Y-line dresses have very wide shoulders or collar and a narrow waist and skirt, think of your mum’s 80’s wedding dress here. Finally, H-line garments are quite straight all over with a little nip on the waist. A-line




This print style was created from the aboriginal people of Australia forty thousand years ago. The Aboriginal people of Australia hand craft their artwork; using clay and water to make a paint and then use sticks as application. They would paint on walls, plants and the body. Their artwork conveys ancient tribal stories which are passed on through generations and told by the tribes.


This print style was created Abstract is any kind of print that is obscure and distorted in some way, so much so you can’t make out what it is. It is a visual language of shape, form, colour and line to create a composition which is interpreted differently by the individual. By the end of the 19th century many artists felt a need to create a new kind of art which would encompass the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy.



This print comes from tribal backgrounds in South America. Aztec people were from certain ethnic groups in central Mexico back in 1300 to 1521. Turquoise was a particularly favoured colour for materials with Aztec artists, and the use of it in mosaic form to cover sculpture and masks has created some of the most striking imagery from Mesoamerica. Embroidered geometric patterns, birds, flowers, or animals added to the value of the fabric. In addition, textiles were decorated with shells, feathers, and beads.

African textiles have had an exceptional significance as a means of communication, information and mutual association within particular communities. There is spiritual and historical significance in not only the choice of colours, dyes and type of threads used, but also in the decorative element. They are made of wool or fine animal hair in a weft-faced plain weave pattern, these are materials that are readily available for African people.


Baroque is an artistic style with exaggerated motion to convey drama, music, literature, tension and exuberance. The style began around 1900 in Italy and spread throughout most of Europe. Baroque art has a great deal of drama, which have deep and rich colour, intense light, and dark shadows. Versace commonly uses baroque style prints in their work.


Batik print originates from Indonesia, but is popular in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria. The prints are made on the island of Java. Many Indonesian batik patterns are symbolic. Children are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and certain batik designs are for brides and bridegrooms to wish them luck for their future.


First implemented by Madeleine Vionnet, this type of cut seeks to emphasize the natural curves of women. Cutting the fabric at a 45 degrees angle instead of by the grain makes the textile more flowy and easy to drape. You will usually recognise a bias cut garment because the panel’s stitching is diagonal.


Is a textile made of interlocking loops made with different loose threads, this fabric is textured and hairy, you can recognise it because it looks like the fur of a poodle.


Brocade is a patterned fabric with an elaborate embossed or embroidered surface effect which are limited to designs that stretch over 40 threads. Brocade is typically woven on a draw loom using a weft technique. Brocade can sometimes be confused with jacquard, but these are just purely threads which sit on top of fabric. Brocades were an important fabric during the Renaissance, and especially the Italian Renaissance. Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in coloured silks and with or without gold and silver threads.


It means English embroidery in French, so it’s literally a type of embroidered fabric. A hybrid between cutwork and needle lace (so not the open work delicate lace of lingerie) and usually made from rough day wear materials such as cotton and linen.


Is a very sturdy plain weave fabric usually made of cotton, this fabric has a hard textured surface, and it’s usually waterproof and very resistant to the elements.


Broderie Anglaise

Very similar to denim, so it’s often confused; what makes both fabrics different? Denim is made of twill weave interlocking different colour yarns, making the textile heavier and more resistant, chambray is made of plain weave resulting in a soft texture airy fabric.


The print disguises the presence of a person animal or object. It is commonly used for army wear so that the officers aren’t easily seen in battle and can blend into their surroundings. Camouflage has been used to protect military equipment such as vehicles, guns, ships, aircraft and buildings also. Many camouflaged textile patterns have been developed to suit the need to match combat clothing to different kinds of terrain such as woodland, snow, and desert. It doesn’t have to be the typical camouflage print, in today’s fashion there can be many variations of the style.


It’s a type of satin fabric characterised by a dull back; in order to give extra shine to the face all the satin threads are used in the front. This fabric more is or less sturdy, so it’s a designer’s favourite for draping.


Chevron is an inverted V shaped print which tessellate with each other creating a zigzag pattern. Almost like a 3D illusion. The word is usually used in reference to a badge or insignia used in military or police uniforms to indicate rank or length of service. Chevron is also referred to as French herringbone, which could cause some of the confusion between the two styles. Chevron is a continuous pattern whereas herringbone is a staggered formation.


It literally translates blister in English, and really the best way to describe it is like a blistered jacquard. An irregular raised surface, a quilted look and a starchy texture are the USP’s for this fabric.


Ornamental knotting is an ancient folk-art from China. The technique involves two cords that enter from the top and two cords that leave from the bottom. All the knots are tied using one piece of thread, which is usually about one meter in length and are usually double-layered and symmetrical.

Chevron Pattern


A collar is the part of a shir t, dress, coat or blouse tha t fastens around or frames the neck. What makes a collar different from other types of neckline is that is made from a separate piece of fabric, it isn’t cut or folded from the existing body of a garment. 1. Bertha collar: Is a low, wide collar, almost offthe-shoulder like, that was traditionally made of a contrasting sheer fabric, usually floral lace. 2. Band collar: Also known as grandad collar, is a small standing band of fabric buttoned at the front. This collar will often come as a detachable piece of the garment. 3. Button-down collar: Just like the name suggests, this type of collar has buttons on the point to fasten it to the shirt. 4. Cape collar: A collar fashioned like a cape that hangs over the shoulder 5. Mandarin collar: A small standing collar with an opening at front that makes it different to the traditional band collar.

6. Revere collar: A notched flap v-shaped collar, very similar to notch lapels, but a bit more rounded. 7. Peter-pan collar: A flat round-cornered collar made popular by the original Peter-pan play and very frequent in little girl’s clothing. 8. Wing collar: A standing collar with the tips ironed to stick out horizontally and resemble wings.

Bertha collar


Conversational print has a particular motif which is repeated and tells a story within the print. It can be a theme, object or symbol and can be repeated in a formation.


Very similar to chiffon in the sense that is a textured semi-sheer fabric, the main difference is that is softer and has a lustrous finish, also the crepe de Chine has that pebbly texture characteristic of the crepe family.


Traditionally a crinoline is a very stiff petticoat used to give shape to the skirt of a formal dress, but nowadays is used mostly as a sort of trim at the hem to give a certain structure to the hem of a dress.


Is the process of interlocking two strands of fabric or yarn – or whatever really – using a specific hooked needle. The main difference between crochet and knitting is that in crochet one stitch follows the other immediately, while in knitting there can be many loose strands at the same time.



This chemical process is when a piece of material is screen printed using a special acid dye called sodium hydrogen sulphate that burns away at the fibres in the material. When these areas are rubbed away it leaves a clean pattern in the fabric. It can be done on all fabrics although not all are effective, it is well known on velvets and silks.


Discharge printing is a bleaching screen printing process where the same techniques and equipment are used but instead of normal ink, discharge inks are used, which remove the shirt’s dye instead of putting a colour on top of the fabric.


Ditsy is any kind of print but on a small scale which cover up the whole surface. Floral patterns are more commonly used for ditsy prints. They can be scattered or in a formal repeat. The background is normally plain to make to the small print stand out.


Draping is the process of positioning and pinning fabric onto a dress to develop a more fluid structure, but drape really refers to the way a fabric naturally hangs depending on its weight. This effect can also be obtained by use of pleats, gathers and tucks in the already existing pattern of a garment.


Is a type of shoulder piece decoration used originally as insignia of rank by armed forces, the more ornamented the higher the rank. In fashion this piece is mostly used in trench coats and safari jackets and it’s only a strap on the shoulder.


Originally this fabric was made by reeling the thread from two or more entangled cocoons in the weft, so it gave silk a lustrous, yet thick consistency with an irregular surface. Today this fabric can be made from manmade materials replicating the before mentioned characteristics.


Empire line or empire waist refers to a dress cut where the waist sits just beneath the bust and falls into a flowy or flared skirt. Epaulettes


Traditionally eyelets are round metal holes for the passing of a lace or cord to fasten a garment. These metal holes can also be used in different sizes for decorative and not just functional purposes. Additionally if a fabric has small perforated holes it can be called eyelets trim.



Is an openwork decorative trim with a round or hourglass shape. The term comes from the French broken thread in a piece of cloth.


Is a technique usually associated with fine jewellery, made with tiny intertwined threads of metal, and bended to create lace-like, heavily ornate, patterns. While traditionally made with gold or silver, nowadays you can see it with any type of cheaper metal decorating a wide variety of garment pieces.


A flocked print is a felted texture which is printed on top of a surface. A special glue is screen printed onto a fabric, once its dry a sheet of flocked paper is then heat pressed felted side down onto to the fabric, the paper is then peeled back. Flocking creates a velour texture which is can be printed onto T-shirts, wallpaper, gift/ jewellery boxes, or upholstery.



Is a strip of material gathered or pleated attached at one edge, with the other edge left loose to exaggerate the silhouette and create drama.


1. Blossom: These prints can be influenced by oriental backgrounds which create a fluid and delicate formation. The subject matter is any plant or flower that blossoms. 2. Oriental: These patterns are from Eastern Asia and feature many blossom trees, florals and plants, sometimes mixed with birds. Oriental patterns are normally created on a jacquard loom on luxurious fabrics such as silks. 3. Romantic: Romantic florals are fluid and intertwining creating a dreamy and elegant effect. They are normally quite soft to the eye with a muted colour palette.




Originally this type of fastening was limited to military outfits, but nowadays is very popular also for Asianinspired or military-inspired garments. This type of closure consists of a button and a loop through which it passes ornamented with an intricately braided trim all around. The inspiration behind this was to create a fastening while also giving the piece a decorative element at the same time. Romantic (Floral design)


Foil print creates a metallic and shiny surface on the fabric. Like flocking it is created by screen print a glue on the fabric, once dry you heat press a sheet of foil paper. When you peel if off it leaves a foiled print behind. Foiling is well known for print on T-shirts.


Also known as muslin, is a lightweight, thin, airy and see-through rustic fabric with some structure and a somehow textured feel.


Borrowed from the Spanish gabardina a term used to describe a coarse overcoat, Thomas Burberry thought it was perfect to describe the fabric for his signature trench coat. The fibre used to make the fabric is traditionally worsted wool, but may also be cotton, texturized polyester, or a polyblend. Gabardine is a coarse textile woven as a warpfaced steep or regular twill, with a prominent diagonal rib on the face and smooth surface on the back.


Similar to chiffon in the sense that both fabrics are lightweight and sheer, georgette has a characteristically crinkled surface and it is springier and less lustrous giving this textile a more casual look.


Geometric print is rigid shapes associated with geometry which creates an abstract pattern. They can look two or three dimensional. The genre was popularised by avant-garde artists in the early twentieth century, similar motifs have been used in art since ancient times. The pattern can be made up of lines, circles, ellipses, triangles, rectangles, and polygons which create a structured effect.


A small triangular or diamondshaped piece of fabric sewn into a garment to strengthen or enlarge a part of it, or simply to improve the fit or wearability of the piece. In underwear gussets are there to add breadth at the crotch seam and are often made of moisture-wicking breathable fabrics such as cotton, to keep the genital area dry and ventilated.


Is a very smooth, plain weave fabric with a thin and very light hand. The appearance is lustrous but does not have a high sheen, like a satin or a charmeuse. Habutai is most commonly used for linings and light draped pieces.


Also known as dogstooth, dogtooth, dog’s tooth. It is made up of broken checks or abstract pointed shapes, often in contrasting colours such as black and white. Houndstooth originated in woven wool cloth of the Scottish Lowlands. This pattern used on woven fabrics in various scales. A smaller-scale version of the pattern can be referred to as puppytooth.

Hounds tooth weave


Jacquard patterned fabrics are made on an industrial loom made up of many yarns to create a pattern which is translated through the mechanical or electronic process. Designs made on a Jacquard loom are virtually limitless. It simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with such complex patterns as brocade, damask and matelassé




Is a textile made with metallic yarns interwoven with other types of softer yarns, so basically everything that shines is lame. Lamé is the general term for all metallic fabrics, while lurex is “the name trademarked by the lurex company.


A design is crafted out of linoleum with a sharp tool, then using an inked roller you print onto a surface. The lino can then be used again once washed. Lino printing


Is a heavy thick fabric woven so as to have a raised surface with a quilted or padded appearance. Is usually patterned.



This particular silhouette is form-fitting from the chest all the way down to the knees, sometimes a bit below even, and then the fabric flares out in dramatic fashion resembling a mermaid’s tail, hence the name. This style can come for dresses and different length skirts.


This pattern is made up of tiny pieces of coloured glass or tiles which create a pattern. It is often used to decorated ceilings or floors. It can be any design made by setting small coloured pieces of stone or tile, into a surface.


Ombré is when there is a gradual fade of a colour, normally from a deep and dark shade to a lighter shade. It is a French term meaning “shaded”. This is often seen in hair, clothes, or even art.


Organza is a thin, yet quite stiff fabric. One of the main characteristics of this textile is that is sheer giving it a very airy, almost ethereal look despite of the crisp texture.


The name of this style comes because it resembles a candy bag when it’s tied shut. The effect is achieved by adding a belt to a very slouchy waistband creating a gathered waist with all the extra fabric.


Paisley is a droplet-shaped motif of Persian origin that resembles a twisted teardrop. The pattern is often associated with men’s ties but remains popular in other items of clothing in Iran and South and Central Asian countries. Paisley became identified with psychedelic style due to resurgence in the pattern’s mainstream popularity leading up the mid and late 1960s.


Passementerie edging is an ornamental edging or trim, made of braid, cord, lace or metallic beading. It usually has some sort of embellishment like metallic embroidery, beads, crystal or sequins and is used to add extra sparkle to a certain piece.


Is a garment worn under the clothes, made of a sufficiently full or stiff fabric, usually mesh, to hold the overskirt out in a pleasingly domed shape and give the impression of a smaller waist than the wearer actually has. Commonly petticoat are only used for formal dresses or vintage-style dresses.


A pleat is a piece of fabric that gets stitched so it stays folded on the garment; there are many types of pleats, depending on the technique and cut used to construct the fold the pleat can acquire many different shapes. 1. Knife pleat: The most common of pleats, the knife pleat is a simple tight pleat that is open from beginning to end and sits on top of the next pleat 2. Box pleat: Very similar to the knife pleat, the key difference is that there is a space between pleats, so each pleat is like a little box 3. Crystal pleat: A very fine and often small pleat sharply pressed that sits

Godet pleat

on top of the next pleat. This type of pleat is mostly (almost only) used in formal shirts 4. Kick pleat: is a triangular opening in a garment with a pleat on the inside 5. Kilt pleat: Is a series of knife pleats followed by a super wide pleat, you’ll only see this type of pleat in kilts 6. Accordion pleat: Fine and spring-y pleats, usually heat pressed. This type of pleat is usually used all over the garment 7. Godet pleat: is a tubular pleat that creates a type of fluted effect. Sometimes godet pleats might look more like a flared insert than a proper pleat

Box pleat

Accordion pleat


The pinstripe pattern is dotted lines in a parallel and repeated formation. The pinstriped suit has become associated with conservative business attire, although many designers now produce the fashionable pinstripe patterns for fashion.

Kick pleat


It takes its name from the French word for fold. Usually achieved through chemical manipulation, plissé is characterised by a crinkled, puckered surface, formed in ridges or stripes. It can also be known as crinkled crepe, nevertheless this textile has a lighter hand than crepe.


Pinstripe pattern

Basically pailletes are big, flat sequins with a hole in the top, instead of at the centre, so they may be attached in a way that allows them to dangle from the piece.


These inks are washable and can be used on many fabrics. This ink is one of the most common used in fashion.


Polynesian print is made up of tribal or island motifs such as flowers, and are usually overlaid and normally in contrasting colours. These patterns are printed onto fabrics and tattoos to convey heritage.

Puff print



Poplin is a durable, tightly woven fabric, it uses a plain over/under weave of the same thread giving it a smooth plain surface. This fabric is very popular in shirting because it’s less prone to wrinkling, and easy to iron. The weight varies but is generally light to medium weight.

The ink is screen printed onto the fabric and once the print has dried it needs to be in contact with a high temperature; either baked or ironed. Once this has happened the special substance expands and puffs up create a textured print.


What makes this trim so particular it’s its braided zigzag pattern, this configuration is repeated every quarter of an inch for a consistent look. Rickrack is stitched or glued to the edges of an item. More frequently used for low-price point and body studio products.



This type of textile has a characteristic bumpy or grained texture and a very crisp hand. The term originates from the combination of the Persian words sheer and shakar, literally meaning “milk and sugar” describing the mix of smooth and rough feel of seersucker. This fabric stays mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation, which is way is so popular for spring and summer clothing.


A sleeve is the part of the garment that covers the arm or from which the arm slips on. Originally sleeves were very wide and long, but today sleeves come in every length and a wide variety of shapes. 1. Angel sleeves: Long flared sleeve that usually hangs loosely from the shoulder 2. Batwing sleeves: just like bat wings this type of sleeve hangs baggily around the arm and tapers around the wrist 3. Bell sleeves: a type of long sleeve that fits tightly from shoulder to elbow and then flares from the elbow to the wrist 4. Bishop sleeves: Long flared sleeve gathered into cuffs 5. Cap sleeves: A very short sleeve that covers only the shoulder area 6. Cape sleeves: A circular cut sleeve that flares dramatically from the shoulder seam 7. Dolman sleeves: A long sleeve that is very wide at the top and narrows toward the bottom

Bell sleeves

Bishop sleeves

Virago sleeves

8. Leg of mutton sleeves: Long sleeves that are very exaggerated at the top and fitted from the elbow to the wrist 9. Kimono sleeves: A very wide sleeve cut in an almost rectangular way with a wide sloping silhouette 10. Pagoda sleeves: A type of fitted sleeve with tiered frills in the lower part 11. Poet sleeves: This type of sleeve is semi-fitted from shoulder to elbow and puffed from elbow to wrist, finished with flared or ruffled cuffs 12. Puff sleeves: This type of sleeves are gathered at the top and bottom and very loose along the arm 13. Raglan sleeves: A sleeve that is joined to the bodice by a diagonal seam that runs from the shoulder to the underarm. The colour usually contrasts with that of the bodice 14. Virago sleeves: A long sleeve that is gathered into mini-puffs by ribbons, fabric bands or simple stitches.


Stripes on garment first appeared in the medieval times. During that era, only prisoners, criminals, clowns, hangmen would wear them. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, a new definition of stripes was created by Queen Victoria when she dressed her son in stripes. Coco Chanel was inspired by workers uniform during her trip to the French Rivera, and she started to apply the “Navy and White Strips” into her designs making the pattern fashionable again. Stripes can be in many variations of thickness and colours to create depth. This pattern is wide spread throughout the world and can be used for fashion or interiors.

Stripes pattern


Scales print

This print is formally overlapped creating a scale pattern, it resembles the scales of an animal or reptile. This print is continuous which creates depth with the over-lapping formation.


This fabric is a mix of organza, as it is also very stiff and crisp and satin due to its similarly lustrous surface. Taffeta is particularly good at holding its shape, this is because it is woven with equal amounts of under threads and over threads. This not only makes the material feel more textured, but it gives it the ability to hold its shape easier than satin. This is the often the material chosen for dresses featuring full skirts, “ballroom” gowns or for making corseted bodices.


Tribal print


Tribal art is the visual arts and material of indigenous peoples. Many of the designs are from many years ago so would be hand painted using raw materials. Tribal art has primary categories: African art, especially arts of Sub-Saharan Africa Art of the Americas Oceanic art, originating notably from Australia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and Polynesia.

It refers to the prints that have a repeated motif covering the surface of the garment or piece. 1. All-over: This repeat is spreads out over the whole page, with no negative space. 2. Block: Block repeat is where you can clearly see the motif being repeated in a block formation in the shape of a grid. 3. Half-drop on horizontal: This repeat is in a brick wall-like formation which is half way in between the ones above. 4. Half drop on vertical: This repeat is also in a brick-like formation but on the vertical 5. Half-drop on diagonal: This is half drop but turned on its horizontal so the repeat isn’t quite so easy

to make out 6. Placement/engineered: This print is a one piece design so it doesn’t repeat as the edges don’t align. 7. Multi-directional: The motifs in the design are in different directions but are spread out evenly in the pattern.

Multi-directional Half-drop horizontal

Half-drop diagonal Half-drop vertical


Watercolour print is playful and artistic, it can either be painted straight onto to the surface or digitally printed. In East Asia, watercolour painting with inks is referred to as brush painting or scroll painting. In Chinese, Korean and Japanese painting it has been the dominant medium, often in monochrome black or browns. Finger-painting with watercolour paints originated in mainland China.


A weave is a pattern woven by various yarns on either a hand or jacquard loom. 1. Cable: Cable knitting is a style of knitting in which textures of crossing layers are achieved by permuting stitches. Cable direction can have a left or right slant. Holding stitches to the front of the work on the cable needle creates a cable cross to the left. Holding the stitches to the back of the work will create a slant to the right. Many patterns made with cables do not have a rope-like quality. For example, a deep honeycomb pattern can be made by adjacent serpentines. 2. Honeycomb: The honey comb weaves derive their name from their partial resemblance to the hexagonal honey comb cells of wax in which bees store their honey. These weaves form ridges and hollows which give a cell like appearance to texture. 3. Hopsack: The term comes from the end of the

19th century. Hopsack can be a fabric for interiors or clothing, characterised by a very open weave. Its special weave is basically a variation of the common plain weave in which the warp and weft create a simple checked pattern. 4. Plain: Woven fabrics are made up of a weft yarn going across the width of the fabric and a warp the yarn going down the length of the loom. The warp and weft are aligned so that they form a simple criss-cross pattern. 5. Stitched hopsack: The hopsack weave is a variation of the plain weave. It uses two or more warp and two or more weft yarns side by side as one yarn. The resultant cloth is fairly loose


in weave. The hopsack weave is obtained by doubling or otherwise multiplying the interlacing points of the plain weave in both the warp and weft direction. 6. Twill: Twill is a type of textile weave with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. It can be identified by looking at the presence of pronounced diagonal lines that run along the width of the fabric. It has higher resistance to tearing than a plain weave because it has fewer yarn interlacing per area. 7. Sateen: Sateen is a fabric made using a satin weave structure but made with spun yarns instead of filament. The sheen and softer feel of sateen is produced through the satin weave structure. Warp yarns are floated over weft yarns, for example four over and one under. Standard plain weaves use a one-over, one-under structure. 8. 4/4 twill: This is the same as twill but the lines are more compact in a closer space. 9. Stitched honeycomb: Similar to plain honeycomb but the yarn is doubled and is chunkier.




Windowpane pattern is used on many shirts and suits, they create a window pane structure made up of thin lines that create a check pattern. It is a very simple design that can also be quite bold at the same time.


Inconsistencies and misconceptions: Sometimes people get confused about what is a print and what is a pattern. Prints normally sit on top of the fabric using certain print techniques such as: • Screen print Pigment dyes - A dye which stains the printed area so that once washed it won’t fade Discharge - A technique using a bleaching substance which bleaches the fabric Flocking - Heat pressing a flocked sheet onto a surface Foiling - Heat pressing a foil sheet onto a surface Puff - Once the print has dried it needs to be in contact with a high temperature; either baked in a large industrial oven or ironed. Once this has happened the special substance expands and puffs up creating a textured print • Digital print Digital prints are created using a large industrial printer which digitally prints onto fabrics at a large scale, this can be done on various fabrics. Patterns are woven inside the fabric rather than sit on top: • Weave A weave is a type of pattern which is woven by various yarns on either a hand or jacquard loom.

The Yellow Book of Fashion Terms  
The Yellow Book of Fashion Terms