Remember These Fashion Fads (Or Were They Faux Pas)?

fluent in fashion

Do you just smile and nod your head in agreement when you watch Project Runway and other fashion shows with your friends? 

Some terms come and go just as quickly as “in” colors and hemlines. One year something’s “trendy” and the next year it’s “on trend.” Here are some essential fashion buzzwords that never go out of style. In just a few clicks, we’ll have you sounding like Heidi Klum.

haute couture

So … what is haute couture? Don’t worry, we’ll ask that question for everyone.

It literally means “high sewing” and refers to one-of-a-kind garments sewn with an extreme attention to detail. Each garment is specifically made for a particular client and tailored to her measurements. The French word couture means “dressmaking,” and haute means “high.”
Tres chic.

harem pants

MC Hammer was the one who made harem pants, um, well, cool? You know these pants for their extra baggy fit (think crotch down to the knees) and tapered leg. But, Hammer pants actually date back to the 19th century, first appearing on women in places like India and Persia who wanted to rock a more comfortable coed trend.

The term harem apparently comes from the Hindu Dhoti garment, which looked like a skirt with its material wrapped around the legs. However, many women in that age didn’t agree to mix men’s and women’s fashion together so this look didn’t make an impact until later in the ’90s (thanks, Hammer), and they can still be seen worn today when channeling a relaxed bohemian vibe.


Prêt-à-porter literally means “ready-to-wear.” OK, we’re liking it already.

While prêt-à-porter fashions are high quality and pricey (oh …), they’re made in a factory. Though not necessarily mass produced, the collections are designed for many customers in different sizes.

high fashion

Why not suggest a fun shopping trip in search of “high fashion?” If your friends say “You’re crazy! We can’t afford that!”— don’t back down.

Of course, you know that high fashion is an American term for expensive, fashionable clothes produced by well-known designers. But … some big-box discount chains have agreements with some high-fashion designers to create affordable collections for their stores.


Do you like to root for young designers? They often work in the demi-couture, or “half-couture,” space, which popped up in 2006.

It’s somewhere between factory-produced designer fashion (prêt-à-porter) and clothes created entirely by hand for individual clients (haute couture). But, while these young designers may be in sync with your style, the price of their clothes might set you back several paychecks. The price you pay to support the youth, right?

sustainable fashion

Without realizing it, your shopping habits may be having a negative impact on the environment. Some of us buy a new cheap top for every night out. So what if it falls apart after a couple of washings? What’s wrong with that?

Well, cotton, for example, is grown using harsh pesticides that leach into the soil and waterways. Some chemicals used in clothing production can harm the environment. And, clothing that falls apart ends in landfills. Meanwhile, if you’d prefer to support sustainable fashion, our advice is to buy fewer cheap items, repair the clothes you already have, and recycle them at the end of life.

fast fashion

How you feel about sustainable fashion may determine how you feel about fast fashion, another contemporary term. It describes runway designs that are quickly reproduced and sold in stores, so retailers can cash in on current fashion trends. This practice has upended typical fashion seasons.

No surprise, then, that the quality of fast-fashion items is much cheaper than the high-fashion items that inspired them. But, can you really tell by looking? Nope, us either … and it makes the latest trends accessible to everyone.

cloche hats

Created back in the early 1900s by Caroline Reboux, the cloche didn’t grow its popularity until the 1920s when just about every woman was seen wearing one.

Its name which originates from the French term for “bell” is fitting because of its bell-shape. This hat was so trendy that it even swayed some ladies to cut their hair short in order to show off the shape of the hat. The style eventually withered away in the ’30s being replaced with hats that sported a “rolled brim.”

bespoke clothing

This one’s for the guys in your life. If your husband, boyfriend, or brother asks you to help him buy a new suit, ask if he wants a bespoke suit or a made-to-measure (MTM). You just threw him a major curveball, right?

Okay, here’s the deal. Bespoke means custom made, and with MTM, a pattern is modified for someone’s build. If he hasn’t struck out yet, ask if he prefers to shop “off-the-rack.” These ready-to-wear suits and other clothing are made in factories and come in standard sizes.


Back in the day, black clothing was saved for mourning so an LBD or little black dress (it got its name because its hemline was usually short) wasn’t exactly sought after —even when Coco Chanel first wore one in the early ’20s. Fast forward to the ’30s when women realized how easy it was to slip on a short black dress and always be in style (bonus: they were cheap to buy). Today, this trend is so popular, it’s acronym has even been put into the dictionary. Because what would a dictionary be without it’s favorite dress.


Crinolines (a hooped petticoat) came about in the 1800s from a “Parisian spinster” to help create a wide skirt. Before that, women were using horsehair under their shirts (talk about hot) to get their hem to reach a whopping 33ft round. Yikes.

Then the crinoline came about, a word that derives from the French terms crin (horsehair) and lin (linen), and this was said to make men swoon —after all, it did show a woman’s ankle. But, there were some pitfalls. These skirts were so big they would trip innocent bystanders and even catch fire, eventually leading them to be too much of a safety hazard to be worn.

babydoll dress

The babydoll first took shape in the 1900s, but it was in the ’40s when this frock became sought-after.

Lingerie designer, Sylvia Pedlar, began cutting sleepwear on the shorter side (right along the knee) due to “wartime fabric shortages.” Then came the late ’50s when fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga created the babydoll dress, a short dress decked out in layers of lace with a trapeze waist —the go-to outfit for women throughout the ’60s.

And, while flare pants and jumpsuits might have replaced these dresses in the ’70s, they made a comeback in the ’90s during the Kinderwhore era, where female grunge rockers wore them ironically—making the innocent look sexy.

popcorn shirts

Remember those tiny, crinkly shirts that could be stretched to just about anyone’s size? Yeah, we try to forget popcorn shirts too but back in the ’90s and early 2000s they were the shizzle.

They were made in a “popcorn-texture” that resembles bubbles, which is how these tops got their weird name. Their popularity grew not only because they fit any size and shape, but because they didn’t wrinkle (they were already crumpled) and were easy to pack because they were so small. They went out of style—probably because of the lumpy shape they can give you—but can still be found in big chain stores like Walmart and Walgreens. You know, for when you’re craving some serious fashion nostalgia.

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Word of the Day

Can you guess the definition?


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Can you guess the definition?

Word of the day

[ pil-kroh ]