The fashion world speaks its own language, and if you want to design clothes, you’ve got to speak it too.
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.
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.
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!
All with photos, of course! 😉