A fashion glossary for the cynical lingerista

A fashion glossary for the cynical lingerista

Lydia and I will be updating the site this year, and this will involve reviewing every bit of text that's on it (this is already revealing an alarming number of my typing errors, missing pictures, a paucity of sizing information, and all the other problems we expected!)

Also, we'll need loads more landscape images.


It seemed like a good time to revisit the List of Words We Loathe, so I can hunt them down and kill them to death, because even I am not immune to picking up fashion language disorder, kinda' like a verbal version of athletes foot. No-one is immune!

In alphabetical order, here's the glossary of terms we're officially opposed to.

  •  Bang-on-trend

What it should mean: highly fashionable. What it actually means: someone is trying to sell you the same bra as last year but in neon pink, and is probably two breaths away from saying it's empowering.

  • Bespoke

Choosing the pink satin for the trim on a corset rather than black is not bespoke. Having a corset made from a fabric you found somewhere else entirely and provided, that's bespoke.

It's probably worth noting at this point that UK law has decided that most fashion words are basically meaningless.

  • Classy

In theory, this means stylish and sophisticated. In practice, due to British society being obsessed with class, classy generally means "what I am, and you're not". 

  • Collaborate

It is generally accepted by industry professionals that this means "let's work together, but without anyone giving anyone else any cash".

  • Couture

Did you know this once actually had quite a technical meaning? No? Neither does anyone else, apparently, because unless you're making it specifically to a customers requirements, couture it is not!

It's very rare for us to even go near making things this way, but this swimsuit was made especially for Morgana, including one off laser cut and yes, "luxury" hand-jazzled flowers.

  • Crafted

You're immediately thinking of a highly skilled lone worker spending hours carefully honing a garment to individualised perfection and sewing it on something from the window of an All Saints store. The reality is all lingerie is created by skilled individuals, usually in teams, sometimes sole-owners,  on industrial sewing machines, because otherwise, it would fall apart. It is highly unlikely it was done one piece at a time because that would be insane.

  • Curate

Are you a highly qualified academic specialist with a vast knowledge of the history of your area and specialist knowledge in how to store items from your area? What, no, you're a fashion buyer? You're a blogger? You run a website? Well, then you're not curating. You're just doing the job you already have a word for. Fashion people wanting to be academics reminds me of psychologists and psychotherapists getting physics envy, which translates into making way more geometric diagrams than anybody needs and randomly allocating greek letters to mental processes.

  • Designer

Does this have ANY meaning left at all?

  • Directional

In my head, any time this word is used, a small person does the classic 70's disco dance move with the pointy fingers. Apparently, it means being ahead of the fashion trends, but given the cyclical nature of fashion, we should probably use a term closer to wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey thing.

  • Dreaded

SOUND THE BODY FASCIST ALARUMS!  The minute someone says dreaded you know the next word is going to be something negative about fat, or wrinkles, and basically, it's fine if you yourself have issues about these things, but it'd be much better if we could all live in a world where we didn't program people into doing so by talking like this.

  • Exceptional

It probably isn't, you know. It's probably just another type of knicker.

  • Exposure

Like collaborate, this is a word industry professionals recognise as meaning "you won't be able to pay your rent".

  • Flattering

Basically the flip side of dreaded. I'm swearing off using it, I used to write "flattering illusory effect of leg lengthening" quite often about our high cut at the front of stuff. I don't even care if my legs look short anymore, I AM SHORT.

That said, I do miss these bikini bottoms.
  • Game

As in "up your shoe game" or indeed "game changer".  Basically meaningless, and best left to US reality TV show contestants.

  • Handmade

There are no lingerie robots, people. Specify whether you are using one person to make each garment or a production line. Preferably, tell us how many people there are in that line. Also, stop assuming handmade is good. Sometimes it's epically terrible.

  • Luxe

Has fake gold bits

  • Luxury

Is not a T-shirt bra or basic cotton bikini knickers.

  • My dear

A declaration of war from one lingerista to another.

  • Muse

Good to look at, pray they don't open their mouths.

  • Ooze

Things that ooze; terminally environmentally incapacitated waterways. Wounds. Food that's gone wrong. Possibly saxophones. Unreal value judgments such as luxury or glamour probably move at a different pace. Suggestions on how to test this For Science in the comments, please?

  • Progressive

Unless it's battery operated roller skates it's probably not powering you forward. Or, possibly, you're wearing trousers in a country that doesn't let women have legs yet.

  • Quadboob

I'm currently having a fight with someone about this word because I maintain that it's not immediately obvious what it means, so it's just a way to show that you're a bra fit specialist.  But they point out that I regularly use "sideboob" and they'd assumed it meant the same thing (it doesn't). So I suggest we vote on it - sideboob, quadboob, do they make any sense and are they any use at all?

Sideboob. See?
  • S and M influenced

Oh look, it's got an extra strappy bit on it.

  • Statement piece

We have encrusted it with some stuff like feathers or crystals

  • True to size

If everyone agreed on one sizing system and all fabrics were created equal, this would make sense. Given that we can't even get one country the size of a postage stamp to stick to just one system, we're completely up the brown coloured creek without a paddle (possibly oozing) on anything being true to size, ever.

  • Vintage

Everything is vintage. I can't even deal with it anymore. Even things Karolina only invented last year turn out to have been done in the 1920's.


  • With a twist

Is it? Is it really "a wardrobe classic black bra with a twist"? Or is it just a minor variation on a theme of commercially useful designs?


Any clichés, euphemisms, or weasel words you would like to add before I start editing the whole of the site?