Fashion Terms Decoded

Are you familiar with what haute couture, bias cut, or appliqué means? If you answered “no” to any of these, you’re certainly not alone. Even if you’re not a fashion editor or a designer, you can still speak fluent 'fashion-ese' with the best of them. The Fashion Weeks are over, however, will be here before you know it. 


From the French phrase “prêt-à-porter,” it refers to any clothing that is not custom-made. Everyone makes it, from fashion houses like Balenciaga (which also has separate haute couture collections) to contemporary brands like Mango and Zara.

Haute Couture

This is the clothing we dream about! But that doesn’t mean we can’t drool over it. Thanks to fashion houses like Chanel, Christian Dior, Valentino, and more, we’re able swoon longingly during couture seasons. Fun fact: to be considered a haute couture house under French law, you must employ 15 or more people and present your collection twice a year.

Capsule Collection

The concept behind this idea is giving customers around 10 staple pieces (think coats, blouses, trousers, and more) that can be mixed-and-matched so as to maximize your outfit potential.

Pop-Up Shop

The oh-so-trendy pop-up shop usually lasts anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the retailer. Many brands use it to promote campaigns, while others use it for events like sample sales and parties. Translation: a store that isn’t permanent and throws parties. See you there!


These are useful if you’re a brand like Zara or Promod that doesn’t have a runway show, but wants to present their collection in an artistic way. It’s also a helpful outlet to show ways to style the product, which (in theory) translates to customers buying said product!

Je Ne Sais Quoi

This French term is used to refer to a woman who has an unnamable appeal about her. Think: Your Favorite Icon.


You’ll see this a lot in fashion articles, oftentimes with a slight menswear association. Allow us to use it in a sentence: “Zac Efron’s sartorial choices are always impeccable.”


A silhouette is simply the contour or outline of a piece of clothing. For example, a cocoon coat’s silhouette is considered to be rounded, whereas a shift dress has a straight and shapeless silhouette. Easy, right?

These are your basic fashion terms. Now you’ll have no problems putting your style into words! 


(Definitions from and

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