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A line skirt A skirt that features a flared hem and a close puff
A line skirt A skirt that features a flared hem and a close puff
Formal Wear 101 Here’s a list of common terms associated with dress and tuxedo design. As you’re browsing magazines, you’ll begin to recognize these concepts, making it easier to tell your dress and tux shops exactly what you want! (The entries in blue are for him…) A-line skirt A skirt that features a flared hem and a close-fitting waist, which is often gathered into a train. Ankle-length skirt A skirt that barely reveals the ankles, and is slightly shorter than floor length. Antebellum waist A natural waist that dips 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 centimeters) to a point in the front. (see sketch) Appliqué An ornamentation decoratively attached to fabric or lace. Apron An overskirt joined at the back of a gown. (see sketch) Ascot A broad neck scarf that’s looped and held in place with a stickpin and is worn in place of a tie for very formal weddings. Asymmetrical waist A waist design that begins at the natural waist and angles to one side. Ballerina skirt A full skirt that reveals the ankles. Basque waist A waist that begins about 2 inches (5 centimeters) below the natural waist and often dips to a point. Bateau neckline A neckline that runs in a straight line across the collarbone; the wearer’s shoulders may or may not be exposed. Bell sleeve A full-length sleeve that gently flares from the shoulder down to the wrist. Bishop sleeve A full-length sleeve that ends in a gathered band at the wrist. Blouson A garment that drapes from the bodice to the waist, where it’s closely gathered. Blusher A short veil that covers the bride’s face. Bolero A jacket that ends above or at the waistline and is worn open in front. Bouffant “Puffed out,” or very full; usually refers to a skirt or veil. Branches Bead extensions used to decorate bridal headpieces. Brocade An intricately woven heavier fabric with raised designs. Brush train An extremely short train that barely sweeps the floor. Bugle beads Tubular beads used for ornamentation. Bustle An exaggerated gathering of fabric at the back of a gown. Butterfly A large decoration that is attached at or just below the waist of a gown. (see sketch) Cap sleeve A short sleeve that hangs over the edge of the shoulder and barely covers the top of the arm. Capelet sleeve A softly flared sleeve that ends several inches above the elbow. Cathedral train A train that extends 3 yards (2.7 meters) from the waist. (see sketch) Chapel train A train that extends 1.3 yards (1.19 meters) from the waist. Charmeuse Lightweight, semi-lustrous soft fabric. Chiffon Delicate, sheer, and transparent - made from silk or rayon, with a soft finish - often layered because of its transparency. Circular skirt A skirt which is attached at the waist and falls smoothly to form a complete circle at the hemline (also called a bell skirt). Court train A train that extends about 1 yard (.9 meters) from the waist. Cummerbund A broad fabric band worn in place of a belt by groomsmen. Cutaway A long, full-dress coat with two “skirts” tapering from the front waistline to form tails at the back; this coat is often chosen for very formal or formal weddings. Cut-out A design created by attaching lace appliqués to a piece of fabric and then cutting out the fabric underneath. (see sketch) Damask Similar to brocade with raised designs, but lighter weight. Decolletage An extremely low-cut neckline. Detachable train A train that’s joined to a gown with hooks and eyes, and can be taken off if desired. Detailing Small ornaments added to gowns, such as bows, beads, and embroidery. Dinner jacket A tuxedo jacket that’s sometimes worn with trousers of a different color; often featured in semiformal weddings. Dolman sleeve A sleeve that’s very wide at the shoulder, but tight-fitting at the wrist. Double-breasted tuxedo A tuxedo that features one half of the front lapped over the other; it also has two rows of buttons but a single row of buttonholes. Draped sleeve A sleeve that features folds of fabric draped over the upper arm. Drop waist A waist that’s positioned several inches below the natural waist. Empire waist A waist that begins about 2 inches (5 centimeters) above the natural waist (a “high-waisted” gown). Fitted bodice The body-hugging upper section of a gown. (see sketch) Fitted sleeve A long, narrow sleeve. Floor-length skirt A skirt that falls .5 to 1.5 inches (1.3 to 4 centimeters) from the floor to reveal the tips of the wearer’s shoes. Flounce A strip of fabric or lace, which is slightly wider than a ruffle, and is attached to a skirt as trimming. Four-in-hand tie A formal variation of the standard necktie, which is often chosen for semiformal weddings. Full skirt A gathered skirt that’s less full than a bouffant skirt. (see sketch) Gauntlet A lace or fabric wrist covering that’s detachable and is meant to replace gloves. Gibson sleeve A sleeve that’s full at the shoulder and fitted at the wrist. Godet A triangular piece of fabric that’s inserted at the bottom edge of a sleeve or skirt to give fullness. Halter A neckline consisting of a cord, strap, band, or the like that extends around the neck and is attached to or forms part of the front of a backless and sleeveless bodice. (see sketch) Hoopskirt An underskirt stiffened with circular hoops, which is used to extend the skirt of a dress. Illusion Fine net fabric; used on sleeves or necklines. Jewel neckline A neckline that encircles the wearer’s neck, and is usually unadorned by lace or other trimmings. Juliet cap A fitted headpiece that covers the crown of the head. Keyhole A neckline or back of a gown that’s shaped like a teardrop. Leg-of-mutton sleeve A sleeve that’s extremely puffy at the shoulder, but becomes tight- fitting from the forearm to the wrist. Linen Very light flax-based fabric, easily wrinkles. Mess jacket A fitted, waist-length men’s jacket. Midriff The middle section of a dress, between the chest and the waist. Natural waist A waist that’s located at the waist. Organza Crisp and sheer like chiffon, but with a stiff texture. Pannier Exaggerated gathers used to enlarge a gown at the hips; is sometimes supported by a hoop. Peek-a-boo sleeve A puff sleeve that’s transparent enough to allow the fabric or arm underneath to be visible. Peplum A short overshirt or flounce that resembles a skirt, which is attached to the waist of a gown. Pick-up skirt Skirting that is tucked and stitched in either random or symmetrical “poufs”, giving the skirt a very full shape. Poet sleeve A sleeve that’s pleated at the shoulder and full from the shoulder to the wrist. Point sleeve A full-length sleeve that ends on the hand in a point of fabric or lace. Portrait neckline A neckline that draws attention to the shoulders and bustline. Princess line A dress style that’s slightly flared to accentuate the waist without hugging the body. Puff sleeve An extremely full sleeve that ends just above the elbow; it may be worn on or off the shoulder. Queen Anne neckline A neckline that’s high on the back and both sides, but is scooped into a sweetheart shape on the bodice. (see sketch) Queen Elizabeth neckline A neckline that features a high portrait collar that stands up in the back, but glides to a V in the front. (see sketch) Raised waist A waist that begins about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) above the natural waist. Redingote A belted dress or coat that’s worn open in the front to reveal a dress or petticoat underneath. (see sketch) Rhinestone A shiny, artificial gem used to decorate fabric. Royal train The longest train available, extending more than 3 yards (2.7 meters) from the waist. Ruffle A strip of fabric or lace that is gathered along one edge and used as a trim. Sabrina neckline A straight neckline that begins 2 inches (5 centimeters) inside the neckline. Satin Smooth, tightly woven fabric with a high sheen on one side. Scoop neckline A neckline that’s round and low. Sequin A small, shiny disc used to decorate fabric. Shantung Similar to raw silk, it has a rough texture with irregular "nubbies" throughout fabric. Shawl collar An attached collar that rolls back into a continuous, tapering line following the garment’s neckline. (see sketch) Sheath A straight, fitted gown that can be floor length, and may feature a detachable train. Shirred waist A waist featuring gathered fabric; it resembles a horizontal panel at the waist. Silk A traditionally more expensive fabric. Strong, elegant, now available in affordable blends. Single-breasted tuxedo A tuxedo that features only one row of buttons. Strapless neckline A neckline that completely reveals the shoulders; a coordinating jacket or wrap is usually worn with it. Stroller A tuxedo jacket that features wide lapels and a straight bottom cut; it’s often chosen for semiformal weddings. Stud An ornamental, buttonlike object that’s inserted through a shirt’s buttonhole and attached on the underside. Sweep train A short train that scarcely brushes the floor; it’s slightly longer than a brush train. Sweetheart neckline An open neckline that begins 2 inches (5 centimeters) into the shoulder line and dips into a heart shape in the center. Taffeta Crisp and smooth, with a small crosswise rib; often made from manmade fabrics. Tailcoat A long, full-dress coat with two tapering “skirts” extending from the back; it’s often chosen for very formal or formal weddings. Tea-length skirt A skirt that ends several inches above the ankles. Tiara A jeweled, crown-like headpiece. Tiered skirt A skirt that features layers of fabric falling in graduated lengths. Train The section of fabric that trails behind the bride. Trumpet skirt A skirt that flares just below the knee (also called a mermaid skirt). Tulle Open-weave net made of silk, nylon, or rayon, this is used primarily for underskirts and veils (think ballerina tutus). Tuxedo A complete suit: a dinner jacket with matching trousers; it’s often featured in semiformal weddings. V-neckline A neckline that plunges to a V in the center of the bodice. Wedding band collar The traditional upright collar, which encircles the base of the neck; it’s often made of lace.
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