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Fashion Terms Defined For Online Shopping Success

Oct 31, 2007
Any champion online shopper will tell you the key to a successful day of fashion surfing is understanding precisely what you're buying. Successful internet retailers are providing candid and often entertaining descriptions of their wares, interjecting industry terms used to describe specific styles, cuts and colors. If you conjure images of the Ottoman upon hearing the term Empire, the following guide will help navigate the often verbose world of colorful garment descriptions.

Bustier:
A garment similar to a corset that is a combination waist cincher and bra. It ends at the waist or extends to the top of the hip. Formerly an undergarment "and now not for the timid" it is now worn as a woman's top, is usually strapless, and may be made from highly ornamental fabric.

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. A garment "cut on the bias" flows softly away from the body in a gentle, slight triangle shape.

Princess Seam:
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.

Empire Waist:
Location of the waistline just under the bust line. The name of this style comes from the high-waisted styles popular during the reign of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1804-1814).

Shift:
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. Semi rectangular in shape.

A-Line:
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.

Batwing/Dolman Sleeve:
Sleeve that may fit 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.

Pagoda/Funnel 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 is currently referred to more often as a funnel sleeve.

Dart:
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 bust line, the back shoulder, the waistline, and the hipline.

Ruching:
Current fashion descriptions use the term ruching to refer to clothing with large areas of fullness gathered in to form a rippled effect. Often elasticized for shape.

Applique:
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.

Beaded:
Varying shapes and styles of beads, hand or machine sewn to the garment for decorative effect. True beading is not attached with adhesive.

Deciphering styling terms is essential for choosing the correct fit in a dressing room-free, online clothing market. Understanding of garment shape, detailing and construction allows for educated buying and realistic garment expectations, which translates to an excellent shopping experience!
About the Author
Sara is the co-owner and product buyer at http://www.velvetsiren.com - A Posh Plus Size Clothing Boutique For Curvy Girls. She currently works as a fashion consultant and personal shopper for curvy women worldwide. Come see what everyone is talking about!
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