Say it in style: The woke fashion glossary
Fashion has always been about fitting in. That fit, however is getting a little more roomy, a little more comfortable and a lot less cruel. New terminology for designs on the shelf and on the body acknowledge that not everyone looks like a Kardashian (or wants to). Compliments are changing. Don’t say, ‘That’s flattering’. It’s just an insult dressed as a favour. Do say, ‘It’s dripping’. Just don’t ask dripping with what; we don’t know. Fashionistas aren’t tolerating passive-aggressive body policing anymore. Check out the list below to see which terms are in keeping with the woke and the stylish.
Fit, not size: Manufacturers still haven’t worked out a universal measurement for Small, Medium, Large. Meanwhile humans have stopped trying to conform to them. Body-positive sizing is switching numbers and labels for more neutral guides. You can be large but petite, small but tall, medium but curvy, skinny but straight. And large-format shops are adjusting leg length, shoulder width, midsections and seats to keep up.
Gender neutral, not unisex: Clothing that can worn by any gender started out being called unisex. But the garments themselves were unattractive to all sexes, with random and arbitrary styling. The new ranges are open, expressive, designed very consciously to flow around a range of body types and include LGBT cultures. So, gender-neutral.
Conscious, not organic: It’s increasingly difficult to tell what organic means when a garment is made of as many as 10 materials. And organic often has a large carbon footprint. Instead, focus on conscious fashion—which prioritises local sourcing and manufacture, natural fabrics, and reduced carbon footprints over the entire lifecycle of the product. Which also means no fast fashion.
Human(e): This term encompasses eco-friendly fashion and fair trade. Typically these are conscious brands that also reveal more about conditions on their factory floor, and often upcycle.
Adaptive: This term refers to clothes designed for the differently abled — pants that zip up along the sides, so you can put them on while sitting down; velcro flaps and loops in place of buttons.
The fat tax: Large women have complained that they have to pay more than is fair for plus-sized clothes. Baggy outfits and oversize-style coats for the petite, for instance, may use the same amount of material, but still cost less than outfits with plus sizes. Brands that still do this are accused of levying a “fat tax”, in effect penalising large women. Users are boycotting them and adjusting their buying choices accordingly.
Chiconomics / Recessionista: These tongue-in-cheek terms refer to the struggle to appear stylish on a budget. They first appeared during the economic downturn of 2008 and are being used widely again in the pandemic. Taking 2020 into account, we’d vote to add one more pandemic-era term to the list: Pyjama Chic.
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