World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Clothing terminology

Article Id: WHEBN0001831756
Reproduction Date:

Title: Clothing terminology  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Clothing, Coat (clothing), Gown, History of Western fashion, Clothing material
Collection: Clothing, Fashion Terminology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Clothing terminology

Clothing terminology comprises the names of individual garments and classes of garments, as well as the specialized vocabularies of the trades that have designed, manufactured, marketed and sold clothing over hundreds of years.

Clothing terminology ranges from the arcane (watchet, a pale blue color name from the 16th century) to the everyday (t-shirt), and changes over time in response to fashion which in turn reflects social, artistic, and political trends.

Contents

  • Categories 1
  • Persistence 2
  • New sources 3
    • Personal names 3.1
    • Place names 3.2
    • Costume historian's terms 3.3
    • Short forms 3.4
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Categories

At its broadest, clothing terminology may be said to include names for:

Persistence

Edward VI in a red fur-lined gown with split hanging sleeves, a men's fashion of the mid-16th century

Despite the constant introduction of new terms by fashion designers, clothing manufacturers, and marketers, the names for several basic garment classes in English are very stable over time. Gown, shirt/skirt, frock, and coat are all attested back to the early medieval period.

Gown (from Medieval Latin gunna) was a basic clothing term for hundreds of years, referring to a garment that hangs from the shoulders. In Medieval and Renaissance England gown referred to a loose outer garment worn by both men and women, sometimes short, more often ankle length, with sleeves. By the 18th century gown had become a standard category term for a women's dress, a meaning it retained until the mid-20th century. Only in the last few decades has gown lost this general meaning in favor of dress. Today the term gown is rare except in specialized cases: academic dress or cap and gown, evening gown, nightgown, hospital gown, and so on (see Gown).

Shirt and skirt are originally the same word, the former being the southern and the latter the northern pronunciation in early Middle English. Like gown, shirt is becoming a specialized term in Britain, though it retains its general meaning in the United States (see Shirt).

Coat remains a term for an overgarment, its essential meaning for the last thousand years (see Coat).

New sources

Names for new styles or fashions in clothing are frequently the deliberate inventions of fashion designers or clothing manufacturers; these include Chanel's Little Black Dress (a term which has survived) and Lanvin's robe de style (which has not). Other terms are of more obscure origin.

Personal names

Clothing styles are frequently named after people—often with a military connection:

Place names

Another fertile source for clothing terms is place names, which usually reflect the origin (or supposed origin) of a fashion. Modern terms such as Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and Fair Isle sweaters are the latest in a long line that stretches back to holland (linen), damask ("from Damascus"), polonaise ("in the fashion of Polish women"), basque, jersey (originally Jersey frock), Balaclava, Capri pants, mantua, and denim ("serge de Nîmes" after the city).

Costume historian's terms

Costume historians, with a "rearward-looking" view, require names for clothing styles that were not used (or needed) when the styles were actually worn. For example, the Van Dyke collar is so-called from its appearances in 17th century portraits by Anthony van Dyck, and the Watteau pleats of the robe á la française are called after their appearance in the portraits of Antoine Watteau.

Similarly, terms may be applied ahistorically to entire categories of garments, so that corset is applied to garments that were called stays or a pair of bodies until the introduction of the word corset in the late 18th century. And dress is now applied to any women's garment consisting of a bodice and skirt, although for most of its history dress simply meant clothing, or a complete outfit of clothing with its appropriate accessories.

Short forms

A notable trend at the turn of the 21st century is "cute" short forms: camisole becomes cami, hooded sweaters or sweatshirts become hoodies, and as of 2005, short or "shrunken" cardigans are cardies.

The much-older term shimmy for "slip" is most likely a false singular from chemise.

References

External links

  • Apparel Search glossary of textile and apparel terms
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.