Fashion 101, Part 3

The third and final installment of my condensed fashion glossary for kids who can’t talk fashion good.


British term for given to the classic hairstyle where a forelock of hair is styled upwards from the forehead in the style of Elvis. The quiff is timeless and is currently making a big comeback in street style all over the world, often accompanied by a more 80’s / 90’s undercut. Sean Penn has a killer quiff in Dead Man Walking – if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour.


It’s really beyond me that there are people out there that don’t understand what I mean when I refer to a quilted jacket, but, quite obviously, quilting is the fabric construction in which a layer of fill, usually down, cotton or batting, is sandwiched between two other fabrics, usually by crisscross stitching. Like a quilt. Geddit?

Rah-Rah Skirt

I love me a rah-rah. Short, tiered, and often colorful skirts which were popular in the 80’s, a rah-rah provides the ultimate flounce and thus the ultimate strut.


A rectangular carry-on bag, generally larger in size, with a wide, flat bottom, zippered or clasped top, with two handles or straps to be held on the arm rather than over the shoulder. Usually made of leather or cloth.

Sheath Dress

The sheath dress has a figure-hugging silhouette with a defined waist, usually without a belt or waistband. Often mid-calf or even shorter (but not mini) this dress is a favourite of First Lady types, and is thus always a classic shape. Not for you if you could be described as ‘rubenesque’. Give it a wide berth (ahem).

Shirtwaist Dress

The shirtwaist should not be confused with the popular shirt dress, which buttons from hem to neckline. The shirtwaist, rather, is a tailored dress, buttoned down from neck to waist, with either a straight or full skirt, a collar, defined waistline, and usually worn with a belt. Popular in the 1940’s -1960’s, the shirtwaist is a feminine classic. Love it!


Skorts, skorts, skorts. Why? In South Africa skorts translate well on the netball court – the chosen attire of sprightly, muscly-calved Afrikaans girls with quick feet and a quicker backhand. The idea was clearly borne out of some ancient sexist sentiment to do with making the gals look feminine and fetching on-court, because why else would you wear a pair of pants that is pretending to be a skirt? I have seen some attempts at ‘fashion’ skorts, but if you ask me, that’s just ironic. And they don’t warrant an image.


Smocking refers to a tightly gathered section of material, usually elasticated for comfort and decoratively stitched. Often used in the bust area of a dress, but also a popular detail to the waist and cuffs.


The Snuggie is the king, queen and crackpot of the cheesy infomercial. Basically a blanket with sleeves and a gag-reflex-inducing-name, the Snuggie is big in America (really?) and made of luxurious fleece, so that lazy Americans can sloth about their homes in one, multi-functional outfit. Adverts show whole families of grinning people, installed like a cult of trippy wizards on their polyester couches, TV dinners in pride of place on their compartmentalized trays. Run. For. The. Hills.


Taffeta is a crisp, lustruous silk-type fabric used to make women’s clothing. Often used in party dresses and other formal wear, taffeta provides lots of body and a satisfying little rustle that makes you feel dolled up and femme.

Tea length

A hemline that falls to several inches above the ankles or the mid-calf.

Trumpet skirt

A type of skirt that is fitted at the hips and thighs and flares out from the knees. Also known as a mermaid skirt.

Tulip skirt

The tulip skirt has become more and more popular over the last few years for both party and office wear. Named for its resemblance to an inverted tulip, it has more fabric around the waistline, a close-fitting hemline and is usually to the knee or shorter.


Velveteen is velvet’s little cousin – a modern adaptation of velvet that is made of cotton and has little give. Also known as imitation velvet. Anything that resembles velvet is on my list of things to a) wear and b) roll around in and on, but as with many things, nothing beats the real deal. Go vintage if you’re looking for velvet so lush you want to rest your cheek on it.

Wiggle dress

The wiggle refers to a style of dress with a tight, tapered skirt that restricts the wearer’s steps, resulting in a wiggle. I have a wiggle and I will tell you that the name is most apt – stay away from places with lots of steps and seek the elbow of a dapper gentleman when entering and exiting vehicles.

Wing tip

Ah, the wing tip. All the cool kids are wearing them (and have been for some time), whether they be the traditional monochrome version or with a revised twist. Traditionally a men’s formal or dress shoe with an overlay of decorative punched perforations on the toe. Dashing on men and women alike.


2 responses to “Fashion 101, Part 3

  1. Snuggie on its way to you for Christmas.. oops!

  2. We want more! We want more! We want more!

    Please let there me an encore?

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