Garment terms

Top 30 Must-Know Garment Terminology For Fashion Designers (with pictures!)

When I was just starting out as a fashion designer, I felt like such a noob when people were using fashion terms I didn’t know. They would toss around terminology and industry jargon while I just nodded along.

Now that I have gained more experience, I want to help designers like you navigate the world of fashion terminology through guides like this one!

So, in this article, I’ve rounded up the Top 30 must-know garment terminology for fashion designers (and included pictures!). 

I’ll be focusing on practical fashion design terminology related to garments. If you’re looking for specific fashion terminology related to high fashion and haute couture, this might not be for you. 

But, if you’re a technical fashion designer perfecting your tech pack descriptions, an independent freelance fashion designer researching garment terms (cause you have no one else to ask!), or a fashion student exploring the intricacies of industry lingo, I’ve got you covered!

Table Of Contents:

Top 30 Must-Know Garment Terms For Fashion Designers

1. Dart

A triangular fold or tuck in the fabric used to add shape and contour to a garment. Often seen in the bust, waist, or back areas.


2. Pleat

A folded and stitched-down section of fabric, adding controlled volume and structure to a garment.


3. Gather

The process of drawing and stitching fabric together to create soft, even folds or ruffles.


4. Ruching

Small, closely spaced gathers in fabric, used to create a decorative and textured effect.


5. Shirring

Similar to ruching, but different in technique as it makes use of an elastic thread, resulting in a stretchy, gathered appearance.


6. Ruffles

Decorative strips of fabric with gathers or pleats, used to add a feminine and playful touch to garments.


7. Flounce

A wide, flowing strip of fabric that creates a cascading, flared effect when attached to the edge of a garment.


8. Bias Cut

Fabric cut diagonally across the grain, allowing it to drape gracefully and follow the wearer’s natural curves.

bias cut

9. Bias Binding

Bias-cut fabric used to finish raw edges neatly, providing flexibility and a clean, polished look.

bias binding

10. Piping

A narrow strip of fabric inserted into a seam to add contrast and definition to the garment’s edges.


11. Selvedge 

The self-finished edge of a fabric, preventing fraying or unraveling, often found on high-quality fabrics.


12. Seam

A stitched line joining two pieces of fabric together in a garment’s construction.


13. Inseam

The seam that runs along the inner leg of pants or trousers, connecting the front and back panels.


14. Gusset

A triangular or diamond-shaped piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add ease, strength, or shape to a garment.


15. Vent

An opening in a garment, usually at the back of a skirt or jacket, to allow for ease of movement.


16. Fly

A closure system on pants or trousers, typically found in the front, with overlapping fabric panels and buttons or zippers.


17. Placket

A fabric strip with buttonholes or snaps, used to reinforce garment openings or as a closure in shirts and dresses.


18. Fastening

Any closure or mechanism used to secure a garment, such as buttons, zippers, hooks, or snaps.


19. Notions

A more general term for small accessories used in sewing, such as buttons, ribbons, zippers, and threads.


20. Grommet

A reinforced hole, often with metal or plastic ring inserts, used for lacing or decorative purposes.


21. Appliqué

Decorative fabric pieces or motifs stitched onto a garment’s surface to add texture and design elements.


22. Fringe

A decorative edge or trim made of hanging threads or strips, adding movement and visual interest to garments.


23. Interfacing

A stiff fabric or material used to reinforce and support areas of a garment, such as collars and cuffs.


24. Yoke

A shaped piece of fabric that connects the front and back of a garment, often found at the shoulders or waist, providing structural support and shaping.


25. Welt 

A narrow strip of fabric inserted into a seam to add strength and structure often used in pockets.



26. Godet

A triangular or diamond-shaped piece of fabric inserted into a garment to add flare and volume.


27. Cowl Neck

A draped, loose neckline that creates soft folds of fabric for an elegant, relaxed look.

cowl neck

28. Peplum

A short, gathered or flared strip of fabric attached to the waistline of a garment, creating a flattering, flouncy effect.


29. Bustle 

A gathered or draped overskirt, historically used to lift and support the back of a gown or dress.


30. Raglan Sleeve

A sleeve style that extends in one piece to the neckline, providing a diagonal seam from the underarm to the neckline.

raglan sleeve

Still there? Awesome! Cause I got more for you! 

Here are 3 more uncommon garment-related terms that are stashed deeper in the fashion terminology treasure box. 

Bonus (Lesser-Known) Garment Terms in the Fashion Industry

1. Aglet

You’ve seen them on your shoelaces or drawstrings, but probably never knew their name. These tiny sheaths at the end of laces are used to prevent fraying or as a fun decorative detail.


2. Grosgrain

A sturdy fabric or ribbon known for its ribbed texture, featuring prominent horizontal ribs or cords. Typically made from silk, nylon, or polyester.


3. Soutache 

Pronounced as /soo-tash/, a decorative flat braid made of silk or rayon, used for embellishing clothing and accessories. Its flexibility allows for easy maneuvering to create intricate designs, making it a versatile embellishment. 


Mastering Fashion Terminology: Tips to Building Your Fashion Word Bank 

With more terms in your fashion word bank, I challenge you to continue exploring the vast world of fashion terminology. Remember, learning all the fashion terms takes time and dedication – even after 15+ years in the industry, I don’t know all the words!.

Engage in discussions with other fashion designers, technical designers, and even your manufacturers. Read fashion magazines and books, and actively participate in fashion forums and communities. 

If you’re interested in learning more specific fashion terminology related to product development and manufacturing, check out my Ultimate Guide to Fashion Industry Terminology and Abbreviations.

If you still find yourself stuck, I have the easiest solution for you — just ask! Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for clarification when you encounter any unfamiliar fashion terminology. 

Remember, you don’t have to know EVERYTHING at once. Learning these fashion design terms is a continuous process, regardless of whether you attended fashion school or not (which btw I did not!). I am still discovering new industry words every day.


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