Glossary

A

Accordion Pleats

A series of narrow folds in a fabric that resemble those of an accordion.

Anorak

A hooded pullover jacket originally made of fur and worn in the arctic, now made of any weather-resistant fabric.

Argyle

A multicolored diamond pattern, sometimes with overplaid, usually in wool; originally knitted in England on hand frames, it is now made by machines and applied primarily to socks and sweaters.

Ascot

A square-ended tie with each end of equal width, worn primarily for formal day wear. Deriving its name from Ascot Heath, the English racetrack where the tie was first worn, the ascot consists of two knots. The first is a single knot, while the second is a Gordian knot with one end crossing over the other and held in place with a stickpin. Also, a throw-over neck scarf for sportswear.

Athleisure

A trend in fashion in which clothing designed for athletic workouts at a gymnasium, sometimes termed activewear, is worn outside of the gym to go to the office or shopping or other social occasions.

Attaché Case

A small, thin suitcase that is used especially for carrying papers and documents.

Aviators

A style of sunglasses that were developed by Bausch & Lomb. The original Bausch & Lomb design is now marketed as Ray-Ban Aviators, although other manufacturers also produce aviator-style sunglasses. They are characterized by dark, often reflective lenses having an area two or three times the area of the eyeball, and very thin metal frames with double or triple bridge (so-called ″bullet hole″) and bayonet earpieces or flexible cable temples that hook behind the ears.

B

Backstitch

The tailor’s stitch, a kind of lockstitch differing from others by covering the whole of the surface between the stitches, with the thread exposed on the face of the material. A well-formed backstitch gives a perfect line of seam.

Balance

A term used to describe the hang of a garment.

Band Collar

A standing band-shaped collar that encircles the neck without a full turndown or a collar “cape”. It can be any height or “stand”, but is usually under 2″ at the front, so as not to push up into the chin.

Barbour Coat

A classic English hunting overcoat with a stand-up brown corduroy collar and throat latch detail, made from dark green oilskin of Egyptian cotton and lined in a durable bright cotton plaid.

Barrel Cuff

A single cuff attached to a shirtsleeve and fastened with a button and a buttonhole.

Baste

To sew loosely together or fasten temporarily in place with long, easily removed stitches. In men’s tailoring, it is usually used to temporarily hold the parts of a garment so that it can be tried on.

Bengal Stripes

Alternating stripes of equal width, usually white and a color. They were originally shipped to world markets from Bengal, India and are usually found in shirtings.

Beret

A brimless, unvisored, tam-effect cap of felt or fabric.

Bermuda Shorts

Walking shorts of the style worn in Bermuda. Extending to about the break in the knee, their side seams range from twenty to twenty-two inches.

Bespoke

Custom-made; a term applied in England to articles made to individual order.

Bird’s Eye

All-over woven suiting or neckwear fabric made from a small geometric pattern with a dot, suggesting a bird’s eye.

Black Tie

A dress code of formal wear for evening events and social functions derived from British and American costume conventions of the 19th century. Worn only for events after 6 p.m., black tie is semi-formal, i.e. less formal than white tie but more formal than informal or business dress. It is also more formal than recent intermediate codes of “creative,” “alternate” or “optional” black tie.

Blazer

A lightweight jacket, typically solid-colored, often worn as part of a uniform by members of a club, sports team, or school.

Blind Stitch

A concealed stitch.

Blucher

A lace-up shoe with a low, open-throat front over the instep patterned after the military boots worn by General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who led the Prussian army against Napoleon. Also known as a derby.

Boat Shoes

Typically canvas or leather with non-marking rubber soles designed for use on a boat. A siping pattern is cut into the soles to provide grip on a wet deck; the leather construction, along with application of oil, is designed to repel water; and the stitching is highly durable. Boat shoes are traditionally worn without socks.

Bomber Jacket

A waist-length jacket worn by U.S. Air Force pilots, adapted for civilian purposes in leather with sheepskin lining, or in a fabric with a pile-fabric lining.

Boot Cut

A style of jeans or trousers flared very slightly below the knee, so as to be worn comfortably over boots. Not recommended until the ’90s come back.

Boutonniere

A flower worn on the lapel of a jacket or outercoat.

Bow Tie

A type of necktie consisting of a ribbon of fabric tied around the collar in a symmetrical manner such that the two opposite ends form loops.

Box Pleat

A pleat with folded edges facing in the opposite directions, used on pockets of shirts and jackets, or the back yoke of a shirt for fullness and ease of movement.

Boxer Briefs

A hybrid type of men’s undergarment which are long in the leg, similar to boxer shorts, but tighter-fitting like briefs.

Boxer Shorts

Men’s loose underpants similar in shape to the shorts worn by boxers.

Braces

A British term for suspenders.

Break

The amount of folding or creasing of the trouser bottom when it meets and sits on the top of the shoe.

Briefcase

A flat, rectangular container, typically made of leather, for carrying books and papers.

Briefs

Close-fitting legless underpants that are cut so as to cover the body to the waist.

Brogue

Historically, a rough outdoor shoe of untanned leather with a thong closure. Today a brogue is a heavy oxford shoe with a large perforated design on the two and border seams.

Button Stance

The height, distance and spacing of a coat’s front buttons relative to its front edge and waist.

Button-Down Collar

A type of shirt collar that whose ends are fastened to the shirt with buttons.

C

Cable Knit

Having or made with a knitting stitch that produces a pattern resembling the twist of a usually two-ply cable.

Cable Stitch

An overlapping knitting stitch made by hand or machine that resembles a cable; used in sweaters and socks.

Camel Hair

Fiber from a camel ranging in color from natural tan to brown. A very warm and lightweight wool, less delicate than cashmere. Used either by itself or in combination with wool for coats, suits and sweaters.

Chalk Stripe

A stripe of rope-like effect similar to the mark made with a tailor’s chalk; usually found in flannel clothes with a light- or white-color spaced stripe setting.

Chambray

A fine, plain-woven fabric with a soft finish utilizing a white cotton warp and colored filling and found primarily in shirtings.

Chelsea Boot

A plain-toed ankle boot similar to the Jodhpur boot, but strapless.

Chestie

A menswear Instagram convention which shows the user’s blazer, shirt, tie, and pocket square combination while obscuring their face.

Chino

A durable, close-woven cotton fabric.

Chukka Boot

An ankle-length leather boot with suede or leather uppers, leather soles (but can sometimes be rubber), and open lacing with two or three pairs of eyelets. The name chukka possibly comes from the game of polo, which is typically played in six periods or “chukkas.”

Club Collar

A shirt collar with rounded corners.

Club Tie

A tie printed in the chosen colors or emblem of a club or group.

Collar Stays

Smooth, rigid strips of metal (such as brass, stainless steel, or sterling silver), horn, baleen, mother of pearl, or plastic, rounded at one end and pointed at the other, inserted into specially made pockets on the underside of a shirt collar to stabilize the collar’s points.

Convertible Cuffs

Cuffs that can button or take cuff links.

Cordovan

A kind of leather for footwear made from split-horsehide or from the inner hide of the horse’s rump.

Corduroy

A hard-wearing, cut-filling pile fabric made of cotton with sunken lines running lengthwise.

Cravat

A term for a necktie derived from the French cravate.

Crewneck

A pullover sweater with a round rib-knot neck.

Cummerbund

A waistband of solid or patterned silk made with or without upward-facing pleats in place of a formal waistcoat with a single-breasted dinner jacket.

Cutaway Collar

A generic description for any shirt collar whose points are extremely spread or open. Typical of Italian style.

D

Dandy

A man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self.

Dart

A short seam used to give required shape to a particular part of a garment.

Denim

A sturdy twill-weave fabric in cotton or a blend of fibers with a solid warp and white filling.

Derby

A hard-finish felt hat with a rounded crown and a stiff, curled-edge brim.

Desert Boot

An ankle-length boot made with a suede upper and a crepe leather sole.

Dinner Jacket

Also, tuxedo; a formal evening suit distinguished primarily by satin or grosgrain facings on the jacket’s lapels and buttons and a similar stripe along the outseam of the trousers.

Donegal Tweed

A hand-scoured, homespun tweed originally handwoven in County Donegal, Ireland. Now woven by machine, a characteristic of the fabric is its colorful nubs.

Double Four-In-Hand

A type of knot for neckties characterized by looping the tie twice around before pulling through the knot. Emblematic of Italian style.

Double Monk Strap

A style of shoe with no lacing, closed by a two buckles and straps.

Double-Breasted

A double-chested jacket, waistcoat, or outercoat cut to allow overlapping at front closing, with two vertical rows of buttons and a single row or buttonholes, with usually a single button on the underside to secure the fabric on the other side.

Drop

The difference in inches between the measurement of a suit jacket’s chest and the trousers’ waist.

Drop Crotch

An unfortunate pant style from the early 2010s reminiscent of the Hammer Pants of the 1980s popularized by Stanley Burell.

Duffle Coat

A three-quarter-length, loose-fitting coat with a hood fastened with loops and toggles of wood or horn.

E

Espadrille

A sandal with a canvas upper and a rope sole for beachwear.

Eyelet Collar

A dressy collar style where small holes are situated near the edge, midway up the collar, to accommodate a gold or silver collar bar that unscrews at one end.

F

Fair Isle

A colorful knotting pattern with crossbands of color in a jigsaw type of configuration against a sandy background.

Fedora

A men’s soft felt hat with a center crease and a rolled brim. Also, a very good restaurant in the West Village.

Flannel

A loosely woven cloth of woolen or worsted yarns in plain or twill weave with a napped surface to conceal the weave.

Flap

A covering for the mouth of a pocket.

Foulard

A twill cloth for neckwear or scarves, usually made in a light silk fabric for printing multicolored patterns and often shaped like teardrops or abstract motifs.

Four-In-Hand

One of several names for the “slip knot” used to knot a long necktie.

French Cuff

The double-length, turned-back cuff of a dress shirt; fastened with cuff links.

Fusing

Bonding the inner and outer shell of a garment by welding the two layers together. The most common method of tailoring coat fronts today, the interlining is coated with a bonding agent and “fused” to the underside of the surface fabric with heat and pressure, giving the cloth more shape and stability.

G

Gingham

A dyed-in-the-yarn fabric, an exact replica of the madras construction.

Glen Plaid

A woolen fabric with a woven twill design of small and large checks.

Gorge

Seam that joins the jacket’s collar to its lapel.

Grenadine

A neckwear fabric with a gauzelike quality made on a jacquard loom with threads crossing from side to side.

Grosgrain

A plain weave corded fabric, with heavier cords than in poplin but lighter than in faille. Grosgrain has a very dull appearance with little luster but is very strong. It is a firm, close-woven, fine-corded fabric.

Gussett

A fabric section inserted at the seam of a garment to allow extra fullness for easy movement and to serve as a reinforcement. Also, an extra layer or piece of cloth inserted at the bottom joining of a shirt’s side seams for reinforcement.

H

Hacking Jacket

A riding jacket, often tweed, with a tight waist, flared skirt, slits at the side or back, and slanted pockets with flaps.

Hacking Pocket

A hip-level flap pocket at the side of a sport jacket that is slanted or cut on an angle.

Half Windsor

A knot larger than the four-in-hand but smaller than a full Windsor.

Harris Tweed

The trademark of woolen material spun, dyed and woven by hand by the crofters of Harris and Lewis and other island of the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland.

Hem

The finish produced by turning back the raw edge of a material and sewing it by hand or machine.

Herrigbone

A ribbed twill weave in which an equal number of threads slant right and left to form a zigzag pattern similar to that of a fish’s skeleton.

Hopsack

A roughly woven fabric of wool, cotton, etc, used for clothing.

Houndstooth

A medium-sized check pattern with jagged edges resembling those of a dog’s tooth and is not perfectly square.

I

Inseam

The distance in inches from the crotch, or for, to the bottom of the trousers. Also, a seam on a glove that is sewn inside out.

Insole

The foundation of a shoe; a piece of leather between one-tenth and one-seventh of an inch thick, cut to conform exactly to the size and shape of the bottom of the last of a shoe. Also, the part of the shoe between the welt and the outsole.

J

Jacquard

A term used to describe any motif pattern or intricately woven fabric, from tapestry and brocade to damask and knits.

Jean Jacket

A waist-length jacket of denim or other twill cotton with panel stitching and chest-height patch pockets.

Jeans

Hard-wearing trousers made of denim or other cotton fabric, for informal wear.

Jetting

A tailor’s word meaning to bead or pipe cloth or other material at pockets as in “showing” their edges. Jettings may be placed at top as well at bottom of pocket mouths.

Jodhpur Boot

A low leather boot with a strap-and-buckle fastener or elastic side.

K

Khaki

A Hindi-Urdu word meaning “dusty” or “earth-colored.” Nowadays, refers to brown tones and olive tints. Often used to refer to a style of pants.

Kiltie

A shawl tongue of fringed leather that is draped over the instep of a shoe, covering the laces and eyelet.

L

Lace Up

A shoe or boot that is fastened with laces.

Lapel

The facing of a jacket or coat front; that part of a jacket or coat front joined with the collar that is worn turned back.

Last

A form of wood or metal shaped like a foot, over which a shoe is fashioned.

Linen

A strong, lustrous yarn or fabric of smooth-surfaced flax fabrics that wrinkles easily. Like cotton, one must learn to embrace the suck.

Loafer

A brand name of a moccasin-style slip-on shoe with a broad flat heel.

M

Mac

Short for Mackintosh. A term used in England today for a raincoat and famously heard in “Penny Lane” by the Beatles.

Made To Measure

Clothing that is sewn from a standard-sized based pattern.

Melton

A compact, heavily felted woolen fabric, usually of a plain weave with a short, napped surface, primarily used for overcoats.

Merino

An Australian breed of sheep descended from the original Spanish breed whose fleece is dense and uniformly high in quality, yielding the whitest wool with a softness resembling that of cashmere. Used frequently for sweaters.

Metrosexual

A young, urban, heterosexual male with liberal political views, an interest in fashion, and a refined sense of taste.

Moccasin

A soft leather slipper or shoe, strictly one without a separate heel, having the sole turned up on all sides and sewn to the upper in a simple gathered seam.

Mohair

A material made from the long, silky hair of the angora goat.

Moleskin

A heavy cotton fabric, woven and then sheared to create a short, soft pile on one side.

N

Nailhead

Small dotted design, suggestive of the head of a nail, used for worsted suiting cloths in a sharkskin weave.

Nap

The fibrous surface given to a cloth in finishing. Also, a short, luxurious bout of sleep during the day.

Normcore

A unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious, average-looking clothing.

Notch Lapel

A lapel style for single-breasted coats, featuring an angle-shaped opening at the point where the collar of a jacket or coat meets the lapel.

O

Oxford Cloth

A cotton or synthetic fabric, in plain, twill, or basket weave, constructed on a pattern of two fine yarns woven as one warpwise and one loosely twisted yarn weftwise, for shirts, skirts, and summer sportswear.

P

Paisley

An intricate allover design suggesting a swirling pine-cone pattern, woven or printed resembling the patterns of woolen shawls made in Paisley, Scotland.

Panama Hat

A type of unlined and unshaped straw hat first bought by sailors and visitors in the ports of Panama.

Parka

A type of coat with a hood, often lined with fur or faux fur.

Patch Pocket

A pocket made by stitching a piece of material on the outside of a garment with or without a flap.

Pea Coat

An outer coat, generally of a navy-coloured heavy wool,[1] originally worn by sailors of European and later American navies. Pea coats are characterized by short length, broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, often large wooden, metal or plastic buttons, and vertical or slash pockets.

Peak Lapel

A lapel cut on an upward slant, coming to a point and leaving only a narrow space between the collar and lapel.

Pin Dot

A small dot approximately the size of a pinhead, usually found in worsted suitings and known widely as a pattern for neckties.

Pinstripe

A fine stripe the width of a pin scratch resulting from the use of white, gray, or other yarns in series in the warp of a worsted fabric.

Piqué

A durable ribbed fabric made from cotton, rayon, or silk.

Placket

A separate strip of fabric sewn onto a shirt front or sleeve gauntlet to secure the buttonholes and provide structure and finish.

Plaid

A boxlike design formed by stripes of various widths running vertically and horizontally on a fabric.

Pleat

A fold of material pressed or stitched so that it is held in place.

Poplin

A plain-woven fabric, typically a lightweight cotton, with a corded surface.

Prince of Wales Check

The name widely, but incorrectly, applied to the glenurquhart check and similar checks with a colored overcheck. It is of a similar pattern to the glenurquhart but nearly twice its size, on repeat with colors of red-brown on a white ground, with a slate gray overcheck.

R

Raglan

A loose-fitting topcoat with full-cut sleeves extending at an angle from each armhole to the collar in front and back, generally single-breasted with a button-through front, notched lapels, and turn-back cuffs.

Raw Denim

Also known as dry or unwashed denim; denim that has not undergone any of the usual washing and distressing processes.

Rise

The distance from the crotch to the top of the trousers’ waistband; or the difference between the trouser leg’s outseam and inseam.

S

Sack Suit

A softly tailored coat with straight-hanging lines, lightly-padded natural shoulders and undarted fronts.

Sandal

Footwear consisting of a sole with a strapped upper in front and a buckled strap extending from the back over the instep.

Satin

A weave that typically has a glossy surface and a dull back. The satin weave is characterized by four or more fill or weft yarns floating over a warp yarn or vice versa, four warp yarns floating over a single weft yarn.

Saville Row

A street in Mayfair, central London. Known principally for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men.

Seersucker

A printed cotton or synthetic fabric that has a surface consisting of puckered and flat sections, typically in a striped pattern.

Selvedge Denim

A selvedge (British English) or selvage (US English) is a self-finished edge of fabric. The selvages keep the fabric from unraveling or fraying.

Serging

A stitch that casts the thread over a material to prevent its seams from unraveling.

Shacket

A type of outer garment that is half shirt, half jacket. Kind of both. But not either.

Sharkskin

A clear-faced, dressy worsted fabric in two tones of year of twill weave that simulates the skin of a shark.

Shawl Collar

A rounded turned-down collar, without lapel notches, that extends down the front of a garment.

Shearling

A skin from a recently sheared sheep or lamb that has been tanned and dressed with the wool left on. It has a suede surface on one side and a clipped fur surface on the other. Usually the suede side is worn outward; can be made from real sheepskin or from synthetic fibers.

Single-Breasted

The term applied to a jacket, waistcoat, or outercoat with a single set of buttons sewn a short distance from the edge of one side of the front, and buttonholes sewn to the corresponding positions on the other side.

Slip-On

A non-laced shoe, either elasticized or loafer-style.

Slipper

Any footwear without a fastening that is slipped on the foot and held in place without any fastening.

Smoking Jacket

A man’s comfortable jacket, typically made of velvet, formerly worn while smoking after dinner.

Sneaker

A laced or slip-on shoe with a canvas upper and a rubber sole; used for sport and casual wear.

Spats

An ankle covering in box cloth, linen, or other material. Spats extend above the ankle, are fastened at the sides with buckles or buttons and are held under the skank of the shoe with straps and buckles.

Spread Collar

A collar whose points are more spread that a straight-point collar but less open than a cutaway collar.

Suede

Leather that has been buffed to a fine nap or velvet finish on the flesh, or inner side of the skin.

Suspenders

A pair of straps that pass over the shoulders and fasten to the waistband of a pair of trousers or a skirt at the front and back to hold it up. Also called braces.

T

Tartan

A pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours. Tartans originated in woven wool, but now they are made in many other materials. Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland. Scottish kilts almost always have tartan patterns.

Tattersall

A check or plaid pattern woven into cloth. The pattern is composed of regularly-spaced thin, even vertical warp stripes, repeated horizontally in the weft, thereby forming squares. The stripes are usually in two alternating colors, generally darker on a light ground.

Ticket Pocket

A small pocket, usually flapped, placed above the regular pocket on the right side of a man’s suit coat or overcoat.

Tie Clip

A spring loaded fastener used to clip the two pendant ends of the tie to the shirt.

Tie Tack

A fastening device consisting of two parts: an outer decorative head backed by a pin that pierces through the necktie and top layer of shirt placket connecting to a pinch-type fastener underneath. My dad loved them.

Toe Box

A stiff, shell-shaped piece of leather placed between a shoe’s lining and tip to maintain its contour and permanent shape.

Topcoat

An outercoat made of fabric lighter than that of an overcoat. The maximum weight fabric for this coat used to be 18 ounces per square yard or less.

Trench Coat

A double-breasted coat in tightly woven cotton gabardine.

Trilby

A slouchy felt hat with a wide rolled brim.

Turtleneck

A knitted pullover with a long end that is slipped over the head and then rolled to fit closely around the neck.

Tuxedo

A formal evening suit distinguished primarily by satin or grosgrain facings on the jacket’s lapels and buttons and a similar stripe along the outseam of the trousers. Doesn’t have to be black.

Tweed

A rough, woollen fabric, of a soft, open, flexible texture, resembling cheviot or homespun, but more closely woven. It is usually woven with a plain weave, twill or herringbone structure.

Twill

A fabric so woven as to have a surface of diagonal parallel ridges.

U

Unconstructed

A term used by the menswear industry to describe a soft, unpadded, not fully lined tailored jacket.

Underwear

Clothing worn under other clothes, typically next to the skin.

V

Vamp

The section of the upper part of a shoe extending forward to the toe cap and part or all of the way to the rear seam. Also, a bad comedy/horror film from 1986.

Vent

A vertical slit in a garment, most typically used to refer to slits in men’s suit jackets and blazers.

Vest

A sleeveless garment for the upper body, extending to the waist, and usually worn under a suit jacket; a key component of the three-piece suit. Can be used interchangeably with waistcoat, but here at HSS, we prefer to use the latter only.

W

Waistcoat

The proper way to refer to a vest. Don’t argue with us!

Wayfarer

A brand/style of sunglasses manufactured by Ray-Ban since 1956.

Windowpane

A pattern of thin lines forming large squares on a background of a different color.

Windsor Knot

A large necktie knot tied in a special manner with extra loops.

Wool

The textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids.

Working Buttonholes

Jacket-sleeve buttonholes that actually unbutton; typically a sign of a measure of quality.

Worsted Wool

Made from combing the woolen fibers so that they lie parallel to each other, then drawing and tightly twisting the smooth yarn; not the bad wool.

Y

Yoke

The fabric fitted over the shoulders and joined to the lower part of the garment by a visible seam across the chest or back.

Z

Zoot Suit

A men’s suit with high-waisted, wide-legged, tight-cuffed, pegged trousers, and a long coat with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders.

Sources: Dressing the Man by Alan Flusser, Dictionary.com, Wikipedia, Brian's Brain