Fashion 101: Confusing Fashion Terms and Their Meanings

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It’s very hard to keep track of the who’s who and what’s what in the fashion industry these days. In the last few years the fashion industry’s leaders have evolved, from fashion designers starting fragrance lines, models are designing clothes, and the number of self-appointed visual artists is proliferating.

You have model Alexa Chung now designing fashion lines, Gigi Hadid working with Tommy Hilfiger, let’s not forget the prodigy Posh Beckham singing, designing, managing, ‘momming’, and more!

Here’s 10 confusing fashion terms that you think you know the meaning of, but probably still confuse with something else:

High Fashion

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It’s been said that the ambiguity of the term adds to its appeal; it’s meant to induce confusion in the public that is its point. High fashion doesn’t really even know what it is, except that it is important. All we know is high fashion made a name for itself as the expensive clothes produced by leading fashion houses.


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This is short for haute couture, which I always understood as handmade clothing. Not your simple mass produced factory made clothes. This isn’t completely true, but it has truth to it. According to Wikipedia, the term haute couture is protected by law in France. In order to earn the right to call itself a couture house, a fashion house must follow three simple rules: design for private clients, have a workshop (atelier) in Paris, and twice a year present your collection to the Paris press. Now that seems extreme, but so is couture.


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This is the opposite of couture. The name speaks for itself. This is factory-made clothing you buy in your average shopping mall – it definitely does not have its own atelier in Paris.

Street Wear

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This is made popular by brands like Vans, Converse, and Supreme. Streetwear is considered skater-friendly clothing, and normally has a touch of sportswear to it.

Street style

Street Style - Berlin - March 30, 2018 : News Photo
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Confusing right? Though streetwear is often a big fixture in street style, one shouldn’t confuse the two terms. Street style is very simple, it is really nothing more than the documentation of someone’s style who happens to be walking on the street. Street style has more to do with the suspiciously commissioned photographers.

Resort Wear

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Resort wear is exactly what you think it is: clothes that are meant to be worn at a resort or on holiday. There’s also a style called Cruise wear, which as the name suggests, when your resort holiday falls through you can always throw some cruise wear on and book a Royal Caribbean International cruise.

Capsule Collection

This is a great marketing opportunity in the fashion industry (as many of the seemingly meaningless aspects are in the industry). Capsule collections consists of a few clothing items that are particularly timeless in their design, usage, and construction. For example, five pieces of items can complete 30 outfits.


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Like it’s not already hard enough keeping track of everyday acronyms, the fashion industry also sews us a few. BTS stands for behind the scenes, thinking about it now, it’s kind of obvious.


Another damn acronym! For a fashion outsider this one won’t be too noticeable. It stands for Central Saint Martins, a school described as the Hogwarts of the fashion industry, where everyone from Marc Jacobs to Zac Posen to Christopher Kane and Alexander McQueen were taught.

Show Notes

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Now for the finale. Show notes are the bible in the fashion industry, it’s the calculus notes you always wished the smart kid in class would share with you – only way more important. These are notes about a fashion show, by the designer, that are only given to the show’s attendees.




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