The NYT’s Guide On How To Speak Fashion

June 23, 2017

The NYT’s Guide on How to Speak Fashion

Ever get confused reading a fashion article? I do too, and I write about the stuff for a living. To help you get through this month’s barrage of fashion show reviews, the New York Times has a helpful guide on how to speak the industry’s jargon. Some terms you can expect to see:

Authentic: The go-to adjective for any garment designed to resemble the clothing of the working class, starving artists, various rural types or indigenous peoples. A publicist or stylist may go with “authentic” to describe a $3,000 denim jacket with a Navajo pattern or a $600 pair of preripped bluejeans with no sense that the word has been twisted to mean something like its opposite.

Directional: An all-purpose word with a flexible meaning, to say the least. While it may function more as a placeholder than anything else, it confers upon the person who utters it a certain authority. Example: “What did you think of the Marni show?” “Overall, I found it to be very directional.”

Shirting: Why say “shirts” when you can say “shirting”? In defense of this term, it may be said that it serves as a catchall for the full array of shirt styles offered by a particular label. Its real purpose, though, is to signify that the speaker is part of the fashion crowd.

You can read the rest here.

Another useful term to know is “hand,” which a fashion writer will use much in the same way a wine reviewer uses “mouthfeel.” As Pete notes, if you’re going to use this in conversations, however, it’s best to not mix-up terms (e.g. “Their distressed, oversized sweatshirt presented an intriguing mouthfeel”). Doing so will expose you for the fraud that you are.