The modern gentleman's guide to fashion jargon

Magazines and websites will often use fancy jargon when talking about men’s clothing and fashion. Though not on purpose, this can actually alienate a lot of readers.

In case you aren’t caught up on all the major terms, we created this handy men’s fashion jargon cheat sheet.

Lapel

The folded fabric on the front of a suit jacket. It’s usu sally notched or peak and should be in proportion, width-wise, to your tie.

Shawl Collar

A type of lapel with no notch or fold. A shawl collar, also known as a shawl lapel, runs unbroken from the top of the collar to the buttons.

Bespoke

A piece that has been crafted to the customer’s specifications. The client is measured and has the option to choose everything from fabric to stitching.

Black-Tie

Code word for a completely black tuxedo with a white formal shirt and a black satin bow tie. Sometimes a black satin cummerbund is added, but that is becoming less and less common. Black socks and black patent leather shoes are non-negotiable for black-tie.

White-Tie

A hyper-formal dress code that’s mostly fallen by the wayside these days. This style of dress differs from black-tie in that the tie is white (surprise), a white vest is required (and quite starchy), and the coat has tails. White gloves are optional.

Bootcut

An often unflattering pant where the ankles are cut wider to fit over large work boots.

Button-Down

A button-up shirt with a button-down collar.

Oxford

A button-down shirt made of Oxford fabric, which uses a special weave that gives it some lustre. It’s a dress fabric on the more casual end of the formality spectrum. An Oxford can also refer to a non-boot dress shoe.

Cardigan

A V-neck, open-front sweater, usually with a buttoned front.

Chino

Refers to the cotton twill fabric that pants are frequently made from.

Crewneck

A T-shirt that has a neck hole that hugs the neckline.

V-Neck

A T-shirt that has a neck hole that comes down in the front in the form of a V shape. It often shows a bit more chest.

Boatneck

A T-shirt that has a neckhole designed to be much larger than a crewneck, and does not hug the neckline.

Double-Breasted

A jacket with two sets of buttons visible when buttoned and an extra flap of fabric.

Raw Denim

Denim that has never been washed after dying. This differs from commercial denim that’s washed to give it a distressed or faded look. Raw denim is usually indigo, black, or grey.

Selvage

A portmanteau of “self” and “edge.” It refers to the edge of a piece of denim that was woven on a vintage shuttleloom to keep the fabric from unravelling. Denim today is usually crafted with one large sheet and cut into the necessary pieces.

Vents

The slits in the back of a suit jacket. There’s usually one in the center (center vent) or two closer to the sides (side center). The center vent is more of an American style, whereas the double vent has a British flair.

Brogue

A shoe with ornamental perforation patterns in the leather. This is a more casual style than non-brouged shoes.

Corduroy

A ridged velvet fabric.

Blucher

A shoe made with one cut of leather.

Pleat

Stitched and folded fabric that forms a permanent crease on pants. Pleats have fallen out of fashion, as they often makes men’s legs look wider than they actually are.

Merino Wool

Wool from a Merino sheep. Considered softer than wool from other kinds of sheep.

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