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Fashion Designing Study: Fashion Terms Used Incorrectly

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Fashion has a vocabulary that is vast with tricky terms that originates from English and non English languages. It’s very possible that many of them are misunderstood or misused. Hence it becomes necessary to have a thorough comprehension of fashion terminology to speak fashion in a sensible manner.

Here are few fashion related words that are commonly misused or overstated.




The first word we have chosen is one even teachers at fashion designing colleges will agree to being misused. The dictionary meaning of boutique says that it is a small place where fashionable clothes and accessories are sold.

But it’s not uncommon that even a tailor shop in the street corner is referred to as a boutique, which is a very glaring mistake. They claim that fashionable clothes are made according to the customers’ requirements, and hence the term fits them. But the truth is that boutique is just an outlet but not a place where the fittings are tailored.


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The thorn in a designer’s diary is the misuse of the term ‘Couture’. Fashion designing experts say that ‘Boutique’ and ‘Couture’ are the most commonly confused words. The dictionary definition of ‘couture’ is “a business of designing, making and selling highly fashionable clothes that are custom-made, especially in the category of women’s wear”.

Many retail stores with an array of readymade clothes use the term; even with fashionable garments! The word is also often misunderstood and mispronounced due it its French origin rather than the English language.

Colleges for fashion design introduce this kind of terminology aptly or inappropriately in their curriculum following their usage in the fashion world. The knowledgeable ones help the students do proper naming when they start their career and put up their retail establishments or introduce their labels.


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Haute Couture


Another misused term is “Haute Couture” which has a French origin. The term means “luxurious fashionable clothes produced by established and leading fashion houses”.

This term is misunderstood and inappropriately used in many exhibition-cum-sale events and fashion designer collection displays.


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Chic is one of the most misused terms in the fashion realm. Once ‘chic’ was considered as one of the classier terms that defines art. But now-a-days, chic style is simply a stylish western outfit.

The dictionary meaning of ‘chic’ is “clothing that are elegantly and stylishly fashionable”. But today anything that is a little avant garde like kaftan tops, bohemian dresses or jackets are considered chic. Hence, the very meaning of chic is lost with inadvertent usage.


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Fashionista is a designation given to those who are constantly fashion conscious and create trends in fashion, exuding great style. Today anyone who dresses up well is called a fashionista. A-list fashion designers from top fashion design schools feel agitated when they see magazines, news, advertisements and media tagging this term on people who get dressed in a little different manner.

It is very important to know the real meaning of fashion jargon if you are planning to make a career in this field. Knowledge is power indeed as it saves you from embarrassment when it matters most.

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