garment fit and cut dictionary

Garment Fit and Cut Dictionary (with pictures)

The fashion world speaks its own language, and if you want to design clothes, you’ve got to speak it too. 

Whether you’re an in-house technical designer or a freelance fashion designer sketching designs, talking with manufacturers, or relaying your ideas to your team, knowing the terminology is vital.

So, in this guide, I listed down aaalll the terms you need to know related to garment fit and cut – including their definition and photos.

Let’s begin!

Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.



A-line: Fits at the waist and flares out gradually from the waist down to the hem, resembling the letter A

Asymmetrical: Garments with uneven lengths or angles.

Armhole: The opening in a garment where the sleeve is attached. 


Baby Doll: A short, loose-fitting dress or top with a high waistline, often accompanied by a flared skirt. 

Balloon Sleeve: Sleeves that are voluminous at the shoulder and gathered at the cuff, creating a ballooning effect. 

Bell Sleeve: Sleeves that flare out from the elbow or mid-arm, resembling the shape of a bell.

Bias Cut: Fabric cut diagonally across the grain, allowing for natural stretch and a graceful drape.

Bishop Sleeve: Sleeves that are full at the bottom and gathered into a cuff, creating a voluminous effect

Blouson: A style where a part of a garment is gathered or cinched, creating a billowy effect around the waist or hips.

Boat Neck: A wide neckline that runs horizontally from shoulder to shoulder both in the front and back of a garment. 

Bolero: A short, waist-length jacket that is often open at the front. 

Boning: Strips of hard material, such as plastic or steel, sewn into garments to provide structure and shape. Commonly used in corsets and bodices.

Bootcut Pants: Pants that are straight throughout the hip and knee and slightly flare from the knee to the ankle. 

Box Pleat: A pleat with two folds, creating a flat, box-like structure. 

Bubble Hem: A hemline that is gathered and sewn to create a rounded, puffy effect.

Bustle: Fabric or padding used to add fullness and volume to the back of a skirt or dress.


Cap Sleeve: Short sleeves that cover the shoulders but do not extend further down the arm.

Cargo Pants: Pants with large pockets sewn on the outside, often with pleats.

Cascading Ruffle: Ruffles that flow gracefully down a garment, creating a cascading effect.

Circle Skirt: A skirt cut in a full circle shape, providing a flowy drape.

Collar: A band or fold of fabric around the neck of a garment. 

Cowl Neck: Neckline with fabric that drapes loosely from shoulder to shoulder.

Crew Neck: Neckline with ribbed banding that fits closely to the base of the neck.

Crop Top: A short top that ends above the natural waistline.

Cuff: The end of a sleeve that covers the wrist. Can be plain or decorated with buttons, lace, or other accessories.


Dart: A V-shaped tuck in fabric, used to create shaping and improve fit around curved areas of the body, such as bust, waist, or hips.

Dolman Sleeve: Sleeves without a socket for the shoulder, creating a wide armhole that extends from the waist to narrowed sleeve. 

Drop Shoulder: A style where the shoulder seam of the garment hangs below the natural shoulder line. 

Dropped Waist: A waistline that sits below the natural waist, often near the hips.


Empire Waist: A high waistline that falls just below the bust, emphasizing the narrowest part of the body.


Flare: A style that widens gradually down to the hem, creating a flowing and voluminous effect.

Flutter Sleeve: Short, delicate sleeves that create a fluttering effect.

French Cuff: A shirt cuff made with extra fabric that is folded back and fastened with a cufflink.


Godet: Triangular fabric inserts added to a garment to create volume and movement. 

Gusset: A diamond-shaped piece of fabric inserted into a seam to allow movement and improve fit. Commonly found in underarms or crotches.


Halter Neck: A sleeveless top or dress with straps that tie behind the neck.

Handkerchief Hem: A hemline that drops into flowing, pointed ends. Adds a whimsical and bohemian touch to skirts and dresses.

High-Low Hem: A hemline that is shorter in the front and longer in the back.


Inseam: The measurement from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg on the inside seam.


Kimono: A Japanese-inspired garment with wide sleeves and a wrapped front. 

Knife Pleat: A sharp, narrow pleat that runs in one direction. 


Lapel: A folded flap on the collar of a jacket or blazer.


Mandarin Collar: A short, upright collar that stands vertically and does not fold over. 

Maxi Dress/Skirt: A long dress or skirt that extends to the ankle or floor. 

Mermaid Silhouette: A fitted style that flares out dramatically from the knee or lower calf, resembling a mermaid’s tail. 


Notch Collar: A type of collar with a notch at the lapel, creating a distinctive V-shape. 


Peak Collar: A type of collar with pointed lapels that extend upward and outward, creating a peak at the neckline.

Peasant Sleeve: Full, billowy sleeves gathered at the cuff, often accompanied by elastic or a tie.

Pencil Skirt: A knee-length skirt that is fitted from the waist to the knee and then tapers down to the hem.

Peplum: A flared or gathered ruffle attached to the waistline of a garment.

Peter Pan Collar: A small, rounded collar that lies flat against the neckline. 

Pintuck: Small, narrow tucks in fabric, creating a decorative pattern.

Placket: An opening or slit in a garment that allows for ease of putting on and taking off. Commonly found at the wrist, neck, or front of shirts and dresses.

Pleat: A fold in fabric used to manipulate fullness. 

Princess Seam: Long, curved seams on the front and back of a garment, providing a tailored fit. 


Raglan Sleeve: Sleeves that extend in one piece to the neckline, creating diagonal seams from underarm to collar.


Seam: The line where two pieces of fabric are sewn together.

Shawl Collar: A collar with one piece of fabric folded over to create a continuous line around the neck. 

Sheath Dress: A fitted dress that follows the body’s natural silhouette. 

Shift Dress: A loose-fitting dress that hangs straight from the shoulders to the hem. 

Shirttail Hem: A hemline that is rounded or curved at the sides.

Shirred Waist: Gathering or pleating at the waistline, creating a cinched effect. 

Short Sleeve: Sleeves that cover the upper arm and end above the elbow. 

Slit: An opening or vent at the side of a garment, allowing for ease of movement. 

Skinny Fit: A snug and form-fitting style that follows the body’s curves.

Sleeveless: Garments without sleeves, exposing the shoulders and arms.

Slip Dress: A lightweight and delicate dress, often made of silk or satin.

Straight Cut: Garments that fall straight to the hem, offering a relaxed and casual fit.

Sweetheart Neckline: A neckline that dips in the center, resembling the top half of a heart.


Tank Top: A sleeveless top with wide shoulder straps. 

Three-quarter Sleeve: Sleeves that cover most of the lower arm and end between the elbow and wrist. 

Trumpet Skirt: A straight skirt that flares out from the knee to the hem, resembling the shape of a trumpet. 

Turtle Neck: A high, close-fitting collar that covers most of the neck. 


V-neck: A neckline that slopes down into a V-shape, revealing the decolletage. 

Vent: An opening in a garment, usually at the back or sides, allowing for ease of movement.


Waistband: A band encircling the waist, often with elastic or a closure mechanism.

Wrap Skirt/Dress: A skirt/dress with a closure formed by wrapping one side across the other and tying the fabric at the waist.

That’s the complete fit and cut dictionary for fashion, with photos!

But if you’re game for more – you can head over to my other guides on fashion-related terminology.

For those wanting to sound like a pro in the fashion industry, then my Ultimate Guide to Fashion Industry Terminology & Abbreviations is perfect for you!

And if you’re curious about fibers and textiles, then you can check out my Fiber Dictionary and Fabric Dictionary, where I list aaalll the words you’ll need as a fashion designer. 

All with photos, of course! 😉


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