Style Superlist: Your Go-to Guide for Fashion Definitions

Style Lists Fashion

Welcome to Style Superlist, Paste’s new go-to guide for fashion definitions. A growing list, we’ll be adding definitions monthly, addressing everything from classic silhouettes to, eh, whatever that thing is in the back of your closet. So, whether you’re a style expert, or just interested in growing your vocabulary, you can always check in here.

Know of a fashion term that’s always bugged you, or itching to have something defined? Let us know in the comment section below.

A-line – One of the most flattering silhouettes around, the A-line works well on most body types and starts fitted at the hip where it slowly extends—in an “A” shape—to the hem. A bit longer than minis and midis, A-lines translate well in the workplace, but still have a little oomph to take you into night. – Kit Hamlen

Argyle – Made iconic from socks, argyle hails from Scottish tartans and soon after moved into the preparatory arena. With bold colors and a recognizable pattern of diamonds, lozenges and lines, this preppy print generally pops up in fall around the yearly back-to-school rush. – KH

Babydoll – Courtney Love spearheaded the babydoll dress revolution in the early ‘90s. Her little girl lost look catapulted many copycats and the babydoll style has remained. Generally a short minidress with romantic details, i.e. covered buttons and lace, the babydoll dress is the epitome of edgy innocence. – KH

Ballet Flats – ?A good alternative to a heel, it’s a shoe that almost every woman owns. This shoe became popular when women were looking to get out of their feminine high heels, and is an easy replacement. If you must, though, go for a ballet flat with a sole. Do not get this mixed up with a proper “flat.” – Merideth Morgan

Beanie – All the rage with band boys and today’s androgynous femmes, the beanie is a slouchy knit cap. Great year round, the beanie is the ideal cover up for last night’s hair and exudes a relaxed, cool vibe. – KH

Beret – Usually woven and usually black, the beret is a flat, soft and round hat. A perfect basic for every closet, the beret wears well with most styles, especially Breton-striped shirts, hearkening back to the hat’s French lineage. – KH

Bodycon#TheDress aside, the bodycon is a form-fitting dress that isn’t afraid to hug every curve. This shape gained headway in the ‘90s and is great for a night out on the town, but be careful—it’s tight-fitting nature can be tricky. – Brittany Joyce

Bomber – Also known as a flight jacket, the bomber was originally created for pilots, and has become an industry hit since. A short jacket usually having a fitted or elastic waist, it’s a classic through and through. – BJ

Bootcut – A mix between the flare and straight leg? pant, this cut flares just slightly below your knee. These were always meant to be worn with boots, but do people still wear their pants over their boots/shoes? We seemed to have lost track. – MM

Booties – Unlike the surgical term or the knitted baby version, booties are a fashionable woman’s boot cut in half, a “mini boot” if you will. They usually go as low as your ankle, or as high as your lower calf. Generally a bootie has a 1” heel or higher and come in a wide range of fabrics, colors and designs. – MM

Bustier – A feminine silhouette that channels the inner bad girl, the bustier is a close-fitting, strapless top. Usually using boning to keep its shape, it gives off a classic pin-up vibe, and, while the bustier was traditionally worn as lingerie, we’re not complaining about it making it’s way into daily wear. – BJ

Cable Knit – When it comes to sweaters, the cable knit may be the mother them all. A style of knitting in which textures of crossing layers form a twisted rope look, the cable knit is classic cozy. – BJ

Cashmere – Two words: Yes, please. A fine wool, cashmere is a fiber obtained from a goat of the same name, the Kashmir goat. Super soft and always classic, cashmere is a cool girl staple. Perhaps most coveted in the form of a sweater, it brings a touch of luxury to anything cozy. – BJ

Chambray – It’s easy to think all things denim when it comes to chambray, but, in reality, it’s a different fabric all together. Using white filling yarns against a colored warp, chambray gives off denim vibes while providing the versatility of a lightweight fabric. Needless to say, it’s an effortless go-to for every piece—whether in the form of a shirt, shorts, dress, you name it. – BJ

Chiffon – A light and airy fabric, chiffon is best for draping, ballet skirt movement and the effortless and breezy style wrinkle-free fabric is all about. – KH
Circle Skirt – To create a full and blooming silhouette, the circle skirt is cut to lay in a round, flat shape sans darts, pleats or gathers. Typically high waisted, circle skirts are made for every girl’s Julie Andrews’ moment atop a Swiss Alp. Pleats and folds may occur as a result of how the fabric hangs but regardless, circle skirts add a bit of whimsy and fun to any look. – KH

Clog – A chunky shoe boasting a thick wooden sole, the clog has regained popularity over the past few years with brands like Swedish Hasbeens and always comfy Danskos. It’s a must-have for throw-on-and-go scenarios. – BJ
Combat – Everyone, we repeat, everyone needs a good pair of combat boots. A lace-up boot usually boasting hefty soles, the combat boot to a go-to. Whether you’re trekking through the mountains or city, or just looking for a way to add edge to that babydoll dress, the combat boot is more or less foolproof. – BJ

Cowl Skirt – ?A fitted skirt with beautiful draping at hips, this skirt creates lots of volume. Always wanted wider hips and/or derrière? This skirt gives you the illusion of wide hips/big butt, or can accentuate what you already have. – MM

Culottes – Occasionally referred to as a split skirt, culottes became all the rage during the Victorian Era as women were able to ride horses without having to sit side-saddle, ankles crossed. The trick to culottes is though they are actually pants, the billowy outline mimics a skirt. Magic! – KH

D’Orsay Flat – Similar in look to a traditional flat, the key to all things D’Orsay is the elegant side cutouts. This two-piece illusion highlights the foot’s arch, and, with its pointed toes, the D’Orsay is a great alternative to the basic ballet flat. – KH
Duster – Think light, effortless and chic when it comes to the duster. A loose, full-length summer coat, it was popularized by ‘20s women on the go (think keeping the dust at bay when traveling in a fashionable open car). Traditionally boasting wide sleeves and no buttons, the duster is where practicality meets ultra-feminine vibes. – BJ

Empire – Fitted just below the bust with a high-waisted appearance, the empire waistline is a forgiving shape accentuating the upper body while extending the leg and torso. Usually styled with a grecian princess in mind, this floaty silhouette is extremely feminine. – KH

Flare – Push over your boyfriend and skinny jeans to make room for the new modern flare. Reminiscent of the ‘70s silhouette, this pant is back in a chic way. Lower cut, with the ability to show off your midriff, the flare is fluted at the knee, has a modern clean cut and is way cooler than the ‘90s version. Wear with a platform or a sneak, but make sure the length isn’t too long to avoid making you look sloppy. – MM

Gladiator – Flat-soled and open-toed, the gladiator sandal channels ancient Roman gladiators. Boasting multiple straps, they’re usually made of leather, making for a comfy summer to-go. Hitting everywhere from the ankle to above-the-knee, the gladiator has both risen and fallen in popularity, but they certainly remain ready for battle. – BJ

Herringbone – Named for the skeleton of the herring fish, herringbone has a v-shaped pattern similar to chevron. Generally used to make outerwear and suits, this fabric is sturdy, warm and instantly eye-catching with the crisp appeal of its repetitive lines. – KH

Houndstooth – Reminiscent of a dog’s canine, houndstooth is a large checked pattern with notched corners and typically done in black and white. A great cloth for suits, jackets and pencil skirts, the houndstooth incorporates movement and chic glamour to any look. – KH

Huarache Sandal – While these shoes may have been co-opted from Mexico and Colombia by ‘60s hippies, the leather woven sandal is not only wearable and comfy but adds a hint of texture and craftsmanship to any look’s footwear. Occasionally finished on wooden soles, huaraches are a great summer go-to. – KH

Kimono – The kimono originally rose to fame as a formal garment in Japan, and has since gained popularity as everything from a robe to festival essential. Regardless of its growth, though, the kimono’s roots keep it a classic staple. Long and loose with wide sleeves and the ability to be tied with a sash, the kimono is a cozy cool must have, both beautiful and timeless. – BJ

Loafers – With their slip-on construction and easy-going vibe, loafers are comfy shoes at their best. Throw a penny in the top slot for an old-school preppy vibe or dress them up for a day at the office, the loafer tends to be lace-less with a low heel and great for those who need to slip-on quick and go. – KH
Mary Janes – Originally a low cut, closed-toe flat, with a single strap across the inset, Mary Janes have evolved from low heels to chunky, stacked platforms for the ‘90s babydoll feel as well as the sleek pump version made famous by Manolo Blahnik. Patent leather or not, Mary Jane is truly an American footwear treasure. – KH

Maxi – A long skirt calling it quits near the ankle, the maxi is perfect for a day at the park or a night on the town. Available in almost every fabric, color or pattern imaginable, it’s an easy go-to for any occasion. – BJ

Motorcycle/Biker – For rock ‘n’ roll ladies and gents, the motorcycle jacket, or biker jacket, is #1. Fitted, short and generally leather (vegan is a go here, too, of course), it adds a tough element to any outfit. Perfect thrown over a t-shirt and jeans, or to add edge to that babydoll dress, the motorcycle can do no wrong. – BJ

Mules – A backless shoe of any heel height, mules are slippers with a little extra sass. Whether paired with a chunky heel, stiletto pin, or classic flat, toes open or closed, versatility is the name of the game when it comes to mules. – KH

Oxfords – This is a lace up, classic and versatile shoe men, and now women (we borrowed these from the gentlemen years ago), can always grab without second thought. They have the ability to be worn with any person’s preferred style. Once only a formal shoe, the oxford can now can be worn as a casual shoe as well. A must have in your closet. – MM

Pea Coat – A wardrobe staple for European sailors and American navies, pea coats tend to be double-breasted with wide lapels and slash pockets. For these coats, however, the real statement is all about the button: usually large and brass, wooden or metal. These coats not only have some serious warming power but tend to last owing to their heavy, durable fabric. – KH

Pencil Skirt – Knee length, narrow and generally fitted, the pencil skirt is the most versatile ?and sophisticated skirt of all,? for women of all ages. A classic skirt everyone woman should own, it’s perfect for the office or for a night out. Wear this with a button down tucked in for work or wear with a cropped top and stilettos for some fun with your girlfriends. – MM

Peplum – All the rage in 2014, peplum is a unique and structured overskirt that lays just above a shorter hemline. Almost cartoonish in its exaggeration, peplum brings a playful and unexpected shape to classic pencil or mini hemlines. – KH

Pillbox – A small, brimless hat, this classic piece evokes old world style—think Jacqueline Kennedy in her pink Halston version—but still reads modern with the right accessories and attitude. – KH

Pleated – The classic example of the pleated skirt is the infamous checked schoolgirl skirt. And whether this evokes feelings of Britney nostalgia, or just a bad time growing up, pleats don’t stop there. Made by evenly doubling the cloth and pressing or stitching it into place, pleats take all fabrics and forms. Outside of the “Baby One More Time” video, ours may be the pleated chiffon skirt to complete the sweet summer breeze. – BJ

Shift – Short and sleeveless, almost triangle in shape and generally made from basic, understated fabrics, the shift dress is extremely versatile. Go for the mod look with knee-high go-go boots or keep it simple for the workplace with oxfords. The shift dress is a must for most, if not all, closets. – KH

Skinny – A fitted leg all the way up and down and very tapered at the ankle, this is the pant you wear with everything. It looks great with every shoe you put on, too. The pant that took the place of the bootcut and straight-leg jean, it wouldn’t hurt if the majority of your pants have this cut. – MM

Skort – This two-in-one skirt and shorts combo utilizes a front panel to give shorts the appearance of a skirt. Also known as a scooter or a skant, skorts are a windy day essential. – KH

Straight-Leg – ?This pant is a little more snug around your thighs with the classic silhouette running right down to your feet. And, by classic, I mean, classic for men and moms and dads over the age of 45. My mom is the only one who can get away with wearing sneakers and having her straight legged jeans cover half her shoe. And that’s only because she’s my mom. A straight-leg pant like this, though? That’s another story. – MM

Sun Hat – Made from a variety of materials, typically straw, sun hats and their iconic wide brims were designed to protect not only the face and head but shoulders too. Just beware, the wind has been known to take off with these faster than you can say sunbonnet. – KH

Tent – The tent dress is literally that—a loose-fitting dress that is narrow at the shoulders and wide at the hem, forming a shape you could easily camp under. With no waistline, it gives off an effortless vibe, and is great for breezy summer adventures, or a super chic incognito look. Think The Row here. – BJ

Trench – Typically belted, long and loose, the trench coat is a closet essential for its multi-functionality and classic silhouette. Whether you’re a wilderness explorer or a city dweller, its traditionally waterproof coat will keep you both dry and looking sharp. – BJ

Trucker – While the trucker hat, or mesh hat, was popularized in the ‘70s by actual truck drivers as a cheap alternative to the ball cap, it’s hard not to think Ashton Kutcher in every single episode of Punk’d. Yep, similar to a baseball hat, the trucker hat boasts a curved bill, foam and plastic mesh. It may not be top quality, but it’s certainly made its mark in fashion. – BJ

Wide Leg – Relaxed and easy, the wide leg pant is making a comeback, and it’s no surprise. With their ‘70s vibe and effortless touch, they’re perfect paired with your favorite crop top and floppy hat. Instant cool girl. – BJ

Wrap Skirt – Formed by either actually wrapping excess fabric around the body or creating the illusion with a twist of cloth, the wrap skirt style evokes a beachy cover-up or Grecian goddess. A classic staple for any closet, wrap skirts are versatile and evoke a summery vibe all year long. – KH

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