Vocabulary for Fashion and Style: Words for Trendsetters

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Fashion and style have become integral parts of self-expression in the contemporary era. Whether it’s through clothing, accessories, or hairstyles, the way we present ourselves speaks volumes about our personality and taste.

For trendsetters and fashion enthusiasts, understanding and using the right vocabulary related to fashion can elevate their conversations and insights about style. This comprehensive guide will help expand your knowledge of essential English vocabulary for fashion and style.

Table of Contents

1. Clothing Items

Clothing forms the backbone of fashion and style. Let’s explore some common terms associated with different types of clothing.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
BlouseA woman’s loose upper garment resembling a shirt“She wore a silk blouse with a pencil skirt.”
TrousersAn outer garment covering the body from the waist to the ankles, divided into sections for each leg“He paired his suit with a crisp pair of black trousers.”
DenimA hard-wearing cotton twill fabric, typically blue, used for jeans, overalls, and other clothing“Denim jackets are a classic style statement.”
CardiganA knitted jumper fastening down the front“In the cool weather, she threw on a cozy cardigan.”
JumpsuitA one-piece garment incorporating trousers and a top“She rocked the red carpet in a stylish jumpsuit.”
SkirtA woman’s outer garment fastened around the waist and hanging down around the legs“She chose a pleated skirt for her presentation.”
DressA one-piece garment for a woman or girl that covers the body and extends down over the legs“She looked stunning in her little black dress.”
HoodieA hooded sweatshirt or jacket“He wore a hoodie to the casual gathering.”
BlazerA plain jacket not forming part of a suit but considered appropriate for formal wear“She wore a blazer to look professional for her job interview.”
Trench CoatA lightweight, often waterproof, long coat with deep pockets, usually worn as a raincoat“He wore a trench coat on the rainy day.”

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2. Accessories

Accessories add the finishing touches to outfits and can dramatically enhance your style. Here are some terms related to fashion accessories.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
NecklaceAn ornamental chain or string of beads, jewels, or links worn around the neck“Her diamond necklace was the centerpiece of her outfit.”
EarringsA piece of jewelry worn on the lobe or edge of the ear“She wore a pair of pearl earrings for the event.”
ScarfA length or square of fabric worn around the neck or head“He wore a scarf to protect against the chilly weather.”
BeltA strip of leather or other material worn around the waist or across the chest, especially in order to support clothes or carry weapons“A stylish belt can enhance the look of a simple dress.”
HatA shaped covering for the head worn for warmth, as a fashion item, or as part of a uniform“She wore a sunhat to protect her face at the beach.”
SunglassesGlasses tinted to protect the eyes from sunlight or glare“He put on his sunglasses as he stepped outside.”
HandbagA woman’s purse“Her handbag contained all her essentials.”
BraceletAn ornamental band or chain worn around the wrist“He gave her a charm bracelet for her birthday.”
RingA small circular band, typically of precious metal and often set with one or more gemstones, worn on a finger as an ornament or a token of marriage, engagement, or authority“She admired the emerald ring in the display.”
TieA piece of clothing, typically for men, consisting of a length of cloth that is tied around the neck and hangs down the front of a shirt“He wore a silk tie to match his suit.”

3. Footwear

Shoes can make or break an outfit. Here are some essential terms related to footwear.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
HeelsA high-heeled shoe“She wore a pair of heels to enhance her formal look.”
SandalsA light shoe with either an openwork upper or straps attaching the sole to the foot“He wore sandals for the beach party.”
BootsA type of shoe that covers the whole foot and lower leg“He wore boots for his hiking trip.”
SneakersA soft shoe worn for sports or casual occasions“She wore sneakers for the gym session.”
LoafersA leather shoe shaped like a moccasin, with a low flat heel“Loafers are a great choice for business casual attire.”
SlippersA comfortable slip-on shoe that is worn indoors“She slipped into her comfortable slippers after a long day.”
PumpsA woman’s plain, front-laced, soft shoe“She wore a pair of black pumps to her meeting.”
WedgesA shoe with a heel running from the back of the shoe to the middle or front, with no gap underneath“Wedges are more comfortable than stiletto heels.”
Flip-flopsA light sandal, typically made of plastic or rubber, with a thong between the big and second toe“Flip-flops are perfect for a day at the beach.”
Ballet flatsA shoe resembling a ballet slipper, with a very thin heel or the appearance of no heel at all“Ballet flats are both stylish and comfortable for everyday wear.”

Fashion is all about styles and trends. Let’s look at some words that describe these aspects.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
VintageDenoting something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind“She loves vintage fashion from the 1950s.”
ChicStylish, fashionable“She has a chic sense of style.”
RetroImitative of a style or fashion from the recent past“He loves to mix retro and modern pieces in his outfits.”
TrendyVery fashionable or up to date“She always knows the trendy spots to shop.”
CasualRelaxed and comfortable style, not formal“He prefers a casual style on weekends.”
ClassicJudged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind“You can’t go wrong with a classic black dress.”
BohemianUnconventional, free-spirited, and often artistic style“Her bohemian outfits are always eye-catching.”
PreppyA style of dress characterized by classic, high-quality clothing and a neat appearance“His preppy look is always on point.”
GrungeA style characterized by durable and timeless thrift-store clothing, often worn in a loose, androgynous manner to de-emphasize the silhouette“Grunge fashion is making a comeback this season.”
GlamorousFull of glamour, attractive and exciting, often related to a luxurious lifestyle“She looked glamorous in her red-carpet attire.”

5. Fabrics and Materials

Different types of fabrics and materials give clothing its unique character. Here are some terms related to these.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
SilkA fine, strong, soft, lustrous fiber produced by silkworms“Her dress was made of fine silk.”
LeatherA material made from the skin of an animal by tanning or similar process“He wore a leather jacket.”
CottonA soft, white substance that grows in a protective case around the seeds of the cotton plant, used to make textile fabrics“Cotton shirts are perfect for summer.”
DenimA hard-wearing cotton twill fabric, typically blue, used for jeans, overalls, and other clothing“Denim jackets never go out of style.”
VelvetA closely woven fabric of silk, cotton, or nylon, that has a thick short pile on one side“She wore a velvet dress to the holiday party.”
LinenA fabric made from flax, noted for its strength, coolness, and luster“Linen trousers are comfortable and lightweight.”
PolyesterA synthetic resin in which polymer units are linked by ester groups, used chiefly to make synthetic textile fibers“Polyester is commonly used in athletic wear.”
WoolA textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals“She wore a woolen coat to ward off the cold.”
SuedeLeather with the flesh side rubbed to make a velvety nap“Suede shoes can be tricky to maintain.”
LaceA fine open fabric of cotton or silk, made by looping, twisting, or knitting thread in patterns and used especially for trimming garments“She adorned her dress with delicate lace.”

6. Patterns and Prints

Patterns and prints can add a splash of personality to any outfit. Here’s a list of terms for common patterns and prints.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
Polka dotsA pattern consisting of an array of large filled circles of the same size“She wore a cute polka dot dress.”
StripesA pattern characterized by long, narrow bands of different color, texture, or material“He wore a striped shirt to the office.”
PlaidA pattern of irregularly spaced repeated rectangles or squares of different colors, typically overlapping“Her plaid skirt is very trendy.”
PaisleyA distinctive intricate pattern of curved, feather-shaped figures based on a pine-cone design from India“The paisley print on her scarf was eye-catching.”
FloralA pattern featuring flowers“He gave her a floral dress for her birthday.”
GeometricA pattern or design characterized by geometric shapes“The geometric print on his shirt was very modern.”
CheckeredHaving a pattern of alternating squares of different colors“She wore a checkered blazer to the meeting.”
HoundstoothA large checked pattern with notched corners suggestive of a canine tooth“The houndstooth coat was her winter staple.”
GinghamA cotton fabric with a checkered pattern“The gingham dress is perfect for a summer picnic.”
Animal printA pattern resembling the skin or fur of an animal such as a leopard, tiger, zebra, or cheetah“Her animal print bag made a bold fashion statement.”

7. Fashion Industry Terms

Lastly, we delve into some terms that are commonly used in the fashion industry.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
Haute coutureHigh-end fashion that is constructed by hand from start to finish“The haute couture show was an extravagant event.”
Ready-to-wearFactory-made clothing, sold in finished condition in standardized sizes“Her brand is known for its stylish ready-to-wear collection.”
Fashion forwardBeing ahead of the current fashion trends“His fashion-forward ideas always turn heads.”
Capsule wardrobeA compact wardrobe that only includes essential items that don’t go out of fashion“She prefers a capsule wardrobe with a minimalistic approach.”
Avant-gardeNew and unusual or experimental ideas in fashion“Her avant-garde designs challenge the norms of fashion.”
BespokeClothing made to an individual buyer’s specifications“He ordered a bespoke suit for the wedding.”
VintageSecond-hand clothing from a previous era“Vintage shopping can lead to some unique finds.”
TrendsetterA person who leads the way in fashion or ideas“She is a trendsetter in the fashion industry.”
LookbookA collection of photographs compiled to show off a model, a style, or a clothing line“The designer’s lookbook highlighted his spring collection.”
RunwayThe platform on which models display a fashion designer’s new collection“The new collection was showcased on the runway.”

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Situation: At a weekend brunch, Sophie and Max discuss the latest trends and the impact of fashion on individual expression.

Sophie: Max, I’ve noticed you’ve been embracing the “bohemian” look lately. Those “fringes” on your jacket and the “paisley” patterns really stand out!

Max: Thanks, Sophie! I’ve always been drawn to “vintage” pieces. They have a certain “aesthetic” that resonates with me. Plus, I feel like fashion is such a powerful medium for “self-expression.”

Sophie: Absolutely! It’s incredible how “haute couture” influences “ready-to-wear” collections. I’ve been experimenting with “monochromatic” outfits lately. There’s something so sophisticated about them.

Max: I’ve seen that trend on various “runways.” It’s all about making a statement with a single hue. And speaking of trends, have you noticed the comeback of “retro” styles from the 90s?

Sophie: Oh, definitely! “Crop tops,” “platform shoes,” and even “denim on denim” are making a resurgence. It’s a testament to how cyclical fashion can be.


Fashion and style are dynamic and diverse, with an ever-evolving vocabulary to match. Understanding and correctly using these terms can help you navigate the fashion world with ease and confidence.

From discussing the latest trends to shopping for new outfits, this comprehensive vocabulary guide should equip you with the words you need to express your personal style and understand others’. Fashion, after all, is a language of its own. Happy styling!

1. What does “bohemian” style signify in fashion?

“Bohemian” style, often referred to as “boho,” is inspired by free spirits and artists. It often incorporates flowy fabrics, earthy colors, and eclectic patterns, reflecting a carefree and unconventional lifestyle.

2. How do “fringes” enhance clothing items?

“Fringes” are decorative strips of material that hang loosely from a garment’s edge, adding movement and a playful touch, often associated with bohemian and western styles.

3. What is the significance of “paisley” patterns?

“Paisley” is a droplet-shaped motif of Persian origin. It’s intricate and has been popular in various cultures, symbolizing life and eternity.

4. How does “vintage” fashion differ from modern styles?

“Vintage” refers to clothing from a previous era, often at least 20 years old. These pieces can be hand-me-downs or sourced from thrift shops and have a nostalgic value, differing from contemporary trends.

5. What is “haute couture”?

“Haute couture” is high-end fashion that is custom-made for individual clients, often using luxurious fabrics and meticulous handwork. It’s the pinnacle of craftsmanship in the fashion world.

6. How does “ready-to-wear” compare to “haute couture”?

While “haute couture” is bespoke and tailored for individual clients, “ready-to-wear” is factory-produced in standardized sizes, making it more accessible and affordable for the general public.

7. What does a “monochromatic” outfit entail?

A “monochromatic” outfit consists of wearing different shades of a single color. It creates a cohesive and streamlined look, often considered sophisticated and chic.

8. What are “runways” in the fashion context?

“Runways” are stages where fashion designers showcase their latest collections to an audience, usually during fashion weeks. It sets the tone for upcoming trends.

9. How do “retro” styles influence modern fashion?

“Retro” refers to styles that mimic past fashion trends. These nostalgic elements are often reintroduced with a contemporary twist, influencing modern fashion by celebrating previous eras.

10. Why are “crop tops” and “platform shoes” considered 90s fashion?

Both “crop tops” and “platform shoes” were prominent in the 1990s, worn by celebrities and youth alike. Their popularity during that decade makes them emblematic of 90s fashion.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 8 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."

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