I came across this illustrated guide, “Fashion Terms and Styles for Women’s Garments,” published in 1991, while searching for the specific terms for the varying lengths of women’s blazers. Fascinatingly enough, the terms are unisex – here’s one for gender equality!  I love learning the etymology of fashion terms; some are entertainingly descriptive: a leg-of-mutton sleeve, Queen Ann neck line, or a smoking jacket.

The terminology of tailoring is a historical and political lesson. Hem lines, waists, and shoulders change from one influencing power to the next, leaving along the way visual guides to societal restrictions and freedoms. Think pre-suffrage movement – hems were all the way to floor so as not to temp wicked men with the sights of ankles. Gasp! Fashion pushed those norms as women gained more power. Hello flapper dress! Good bye corsets!

Today’s political power struggle is swinging back in the other direction. A decade ago, street fashion was embracing the 1970’s free love, flare bottomed pants and tonal colors of nature in greens and browns. Today, watching the ever-looping revival of decades past, street fashion is sampling the late 80’s and early 90’s. Runway shows are mixing the 40’s and 70’s. Today, we have gone from large multi-tiered bubble statement necklaces to the slim lines of single pendant necklace. Less is more, all over again. But that is the joy and pain of fashion. It is ever-changing and evolving!


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