Definitions are from The Dictionary of Costume and Fashion, Historic and Modern. By Mary Brooks Picken
aba or abba (ah ba) 1. square Arab mantel. 2. Cloth woven from hair of camels, goats, etc. Used for making aba mantel.
abnet (ab net). Long scarf or shash, usually of linen or linen mixture. Worn by Jewish priests.
abolla (a bahl a). Acient Roman cloak.
adonis wig. Fashionable in first quarter of the 18th centure, a wig of fine snow white hair.
aegis (ee jis) Ancient Greek garment made from animal skins. Head of the animal hung down from the neckline on breast.
agal (ahg ahl). Decorative fillet usually made of two thick wollen cords would with gold and silver threads. Worn by Arabs over the KAFFIYEH, to hold it on the head.
agraffe or agrafe (a graf). Metal fastening device, consisting of a lever and an eyelet. Use on early armor and costumes. From early Norman word aggrape, meaning clasp, buckle, or hook and eye, as used on medieval armor. Still used in 18th century.
aigrette or aigret (ai gret). 1. Upright tuft of feathers or plumes of egret, or heron.
ailette (F. ai let) Protective shoulder plate of forged iron or steel. Worn as part of medieval armor.
all-in-one. Foundation garment or corset consisting of girdle and brassiere, made with or without a pantie.
alsatian bow. Loosely knotted, broad, flat bow worn as headdress or as hat trimming. Originally worn by Alsatian peasant women in their headdresses.
amazone or habit d’amazone (F. a bee dam a zone) French term meaning riding habit; often shortened to amazone.
amice (am iss). 1. Rectangular piece of linen worn by clergy as Mass vestment, originally over the head, now about the shoulders. 2. Furred hood.
anadem (an a dem). Garland; chaplet; wreath; fillet. Worn on the head as ornament.
baleinage (F. ba len ahz) Boning.
Balmoral (balmoral) 1. striped or figured woolen petticoat, worn as part of costume with dress hooped up to show it.
balteus (baltius) 1. girdle worn regalia fashioned by ancient romans. 2. Girdle worn by ecclesiastics.
bandore (ban dore). 18th century name for veiled headdress worn by widows.
Bannockburn. Named for Battle of Bannockburn. All-wool tweed suiting of type made in Scotland, having yarns of contrasting color twisted together in both warp and filling.
barbette (barbet). Strip of linen worn under chin and over head with flat coif. Worn in the 13th century.
barbute (F. baz byoot) 15th century. A hood-like helmet, sometimes worn with a nose guard all in one piece, supposedly worn by Joan of Arc.
basque (F. bask) Bodice closely fitted by seaming from shoulder to waist, with or without short skirt-like continuation. Typical of bodice worn by Basque peasants. French word meaning shortskirt, as on bodice or jacket; originally on doublets.
basquine (F. bass keen). Ornamental outer petticoat worn by Basque and Spanish peasant women.
bathing suit. Garment or garments designed for wear in water.
bethlehem headdress. red cap shaped like a cut-off cone, decorated with coins and often embroidery; worn with white veil attached at back and metal chain hanging loosely under chin. Worn by women of Bethlehem, Palestine, for many centuries.
Betsies. small neck ruffs of early 19th century; named after Queen Elizabeth. Called cherusses in France.
bicorn or bicorne (by corn). Two cornered hat.
biliment. Ornament or decorative part of a women’s dress; especially headdress or it’s jeweled ornament. Sometimes gold lace ornamented with jewels worn in 16th century.
binnogue (bin og) headdress formerly worn by peasant women in Ireland.
birrus or byrrus (bir us). 1. Ancient hooded wrap. 2. Coarse thick, woolen cloth. Used for outer garments by poor people during Middle Ages.
bishop. type of bustle worn by American colonist
biliaud or bliaut (F. blee owned). A tunic type of sleeveless garment of the 11th century, worn over a chainse. Term possible origin of the English blouse.
bloomer. pentaloon type of garment, closed by elastic above or below knee. Worn by women and children as undergarment; also, with or without overskirt for athletic games. Named for Mrs. Amelia Jenks Bloomer, American dress reformer of early 19th century, who first wore garthered trousers.
blouse. 1. loose waist or bodice of various types extending from neckline to waistline or below. Worn inside or outside separate skirt.
balkan blouse. Came into fashion 1913 during Balkan war.
butcher boy blouse. long, loose, smock-like blouse, with yoke top and long sleeves, similar to garment worn formerly by French butchers delivery boys.
gibson waist. high-necked shirtwaist, usually tailored, having long sleeves set in with fulness, often having plait over each shoulder, as worn in portraits of women by Charles Dana Gibson.
shirtwaist blouse. Waist similar to a man’s shirt in plainness of cut and style. Worn by women and girls usually with a tailored skirt.
step-in blouse. blouse of any type attached to step-ins. keeps blouse from riding up and provides panties.
bodice (bod iss). 1. waist of woman’s dress. 2. originally, tight fitting waist; also, wide laced girdle extending form bust to waist. 3. obsolete term for corset or stays, sometimes called bodice or pair of bodies.
watteau bodice (wot toe). Bodice with low square or round neckline; short deeply ruffled sleeves; and many ribbons and bows.
bonnet. 1. head covering with or without front brim; typically worn on top and back of head, leaving forehead uncovered, and tied under chin. So called from coarse medieval cloth, bonnet, derived from hindu banat, of which hats and or hoods were made in 14th century. 2. any hat other than a hood in France until the 16th century. The name was not given feminine headgear until the end of the 18th century. 3. Thick seamless woolen cap worn by men in Scotland. 4. any one of various other types of headgear, not bonnets in the fashion sense. the peasantry of each country has a characteristic type of bonnet, hoot, hat or cap which may in some adaptations be called bonnet.
Boot. 1. Footwear extending above the ankle. In America, book usually means top boot, extending well up calf of leg or higher. In England, boot means high cut shoe, as distinguished from slipper, pump, oxford. Properly, boot means high-cut shoe or any height. 2. Part of stocking between foot and top.
Ankle boot. Boot extending to ankle
buskin (buss kin) Boot extenting half way to the knees, laced with cord or ribbon. Worn in ancient Greece, chiefly by actors.
french fall boots. Leather boot with high top wide enough to crush down. Worn in colonial America. 17th century.
cavalier boots. hight, soft leather boot with flaring top, as worn with 17th century cavalier costume.
bosom bottle. Small bottle like tube that could be filled with water to keep a small spray or boutonniere of flowers fresh. Covered with ribbon, it was tucked into the bosom or hair by fashionable women of the late 17th century, whose vogue it was to wear fresh flowers at the bosom or in the hair. In the latter case called a coiffure bottle. About 4″ long, the tube was made of glass or tin. Twentieth century version in the tube, with pin attached, that can hold a flower. sometimes called orchid holder.
bouffant (F. boo fohn) puffed-out, full, flaring, as in bulging drape of skirt or sleeve. From French word bouffer, meaning to swell.
ourrelet or bourlet (F. boor lay) Wreath-like rounded cloth pad or thick twisted scarf formerly worn on helmets or as turban; similar padded roll as part of coif, worn by women in 14th century.
Brassiere (bra zeer or F. brass yare) close-fitting undergarment shaped to support the bust. Also called bra, uplift, bandeau.
breechcloth or breechclout. Loincloth. Worn by India’s crusader, Gandhi, in 20th century.
breeches (brich es) garment covering the hips and thighs.
broigne (broin) Medieval garment consisting of metal rings or plates sewn on leather or fabric. Worn as part of defensive armor.
buffon (buff on) article of neckwear, usually of gauze, linen or lace. Worn around the neck, pulled out over bosom, pouter-pigeon fashion. Popular in late 18th century.
bustle (buss l) pad or frame worn below waist at back to distend skirts. Began about 1870 as connecting link between panniers.
byzantine (biz an teen) of the style of costume worn in Byzantine Empire, 5th and 6th century, characterized by three types of garments, worn alike by men and women: 1. short, girdled tunic with long, tight sleeves; 2. dalmatica, full-length garment with wide sleeves; 3. long wrap of rich material embroidered in two squares. Richness of ornament and style of embroidery influenced later French and Russian dress.
cadogan wig. back hair was looped under and tied with a concealed string or solitaire of black taffeta, satin or velvet, the latter being tied to the wig in a bow at the bak with the ends brought around over the white cravat and tied in a bow under the chin.
caftan or Kaftan (caf tan) Long, coat like garment fastened with long sash, having extra long sleeves. Usually of cotton or silk and cotton. Worn by hight and middle class throughout easter mediterranean countries.
cache – poussiere (F. cash poo syair). Duster type of coat
calzoneras (sp. chal so nay rahss) trousers buttoned at each side, as worn in Mexico
camicia rossa (cah me chah roce sah) red shirt, such as worn by Garibaldi, the Italian partriot.
camisa (ca mee za) embroidered waist, having large, flowing sleeves. spanish word, also meaning shirt of chemise.
camisole (cami sole) 1. under-bodice, often lace trimmed, usually with ribbon, lace or self material. first worn as corset cover.
cap. 1. close fitting head covering, without complete brim; usually of soft materials, and sometimes with visor. 2. headdress worn to indicate particular order, rank or dignity.
cape. Sleeveless outer garment of any length hanging loosely from shoulder; usually covering back, shoulders, arms.
capote (F. ca pote) 1. hooded cloak.
caraco. gown with long basque finished with peplum ruffle; a train, called figaro, was attached under the peplum. late 18th century.
carmagnole (F. car ma nyole) jacket , as worn by French Revolutionists.
Carrick (ca rick) mantel worn during 1860’s
casaque (F. ca saque) 1. woman’s long mantel-like garment or cassock, usually with large sleeves.
cassock (cass ock) 1. ecclesiastical garment of various types: long, close fitting type worn under surplice and other vestments; shorter, more jacket like type worn under geneva gown; aprong like type also known as skirt cassock. 2. Long, loose, medieval coast or gown. Worn by both sexes. 3. during 16th century, coat used by foot soliders.
cavalier. characteristic of Vandyke period of dress (1630-40) with it’s satin double and breeches; falling bands; wide lace collars; long, full, slashed sleeves with lace cuffs; broad, generaously plumed hats. Term used chiefly of men’s apparel but also adapted for women. Also called Van dyke
chalwar (shull wer) full, ankle-length trousers or wide pantaloons. Worn by turks
chasuble (chaz a bl) sleeveless mantel, varying in color. Worn by priests over al and stole as Mass vestments.
chesterfield. Originally, single-breasted, fly-front coat, usually having velvet collar. Now often double-breasted.
chuddar (chud ar) Hindu shawl.
clavus (clay us) 1. A purple band which oramented the Roman tunic, running up over each shoulder from hem to hem, and indicated the rank of the wearer. Senators wore wide ones and equites, or knights, narrow ones. by the 1st century if twas purely decorative in character and worn by everybody.
cloak. Loose outer garment or wrap, worn by men and women. Name derived from Old French cloke or cloche, meaning bell, because original bell like shape.
coat. outer garment worn for warmth, made of fabric or fur, usually fitting upper part of body, extending below hipline, open at front or side, having sleeves. Length and style vary according to fashion.
buffcoat. strong coat made of buff skin, or buffalo leather; especially, as close-fitting, short-sleeved military coat worn during Civil Warns in England and by colonist in America.
codpiece (cod piece) decorative flap or outside fly in front of men’s nether garment; also used with armor. Worn by men during 15th and 16th centuries to conceal front opening in breeches, and top and one side usually decorated to match.
collar. article of dress, separate or attached to garment, worn around the neck. Usually of fabric, straight, shaped or draped; also of other materials.
medici collar. large, fan shaped collar, wired or stiffened to roll from neck at back, slope toward sides of square front opening. worn by women of the Medici family ruling Italy 15th and 16th centuries.
colonial. strictly, characteristic of dress of colonial period of the United Sates, about 1607-1776; may include Puritan, Quaker and English Cavalier and Restoration styles as worn in different colonies. More generally costume of the late 18th century with looped-up full skirt, quilted petticoat, tight bodice, low neck, adorned with puffs, laces, ruffles; worn with powdered, high hair dress.
cottes historiees (F. cot hist or ee ay) costumes worn by ladies and gentlemen of the 14th and 15th centuries, with their coat of arms stamped into the fabric in gold and silver leaf and in enamel.
Coverall. one-piece garment worn over a dress to protect it. Woven’s overalls are often called coveralls.
cuff. 1. finish for sleeve or glove, for wrist or forearm. 2. hem-like band on end of trouser leg. 3. decorative band of leather, wide than collar, sen around top of shoe.
dalmatian. characteristic of costume of Dalmatia, part of Yugoslavia. Consists of long, full skirt; high, round neck; full, usually white sleeves; wide belt; short open jacket; long apron; lavish embroidery, fringe, metal ornament.
Debutante. girl between the ages of 18 and 20; presumably, one making her debut, or formal entrance into society.
dhoti (doe ti) long loincloth wrapped around loins, drawn between legs, and tucked in at waist; also fabric of which loincloth is made. Worn by Hindu men.
directoire (F. dee reck twar) Of the style of French Directorie (1795-1799) characterized by long, straight skirt, sometimes slit; very low decolletage; small tight sleeves; very high waistline; exaggerated imitation of classic Greek and Roman.
dirndl (deern dl) bodice dress with full gathered skirt, highly popular in 1938.
dolly varden. named applied to costume consisting of dress with tight bodice; short, quilted petticoat; flowered chintz panniers; large, dropping flower-trimmed hat – as worn by Dolly Varden a character in Dicken’s “Barnaby Rudge: In fashion about 1870
dress. 1. clothes required by customs or etiquette for certain occasions or times of day. 2. distinctive or ceremonial attire, as for formal wear.
cancan dress.type of dress worn originally by the cancan dancers in Paris.
shirtwaist dress. once-piece tailored dress with bodice like a shirtwaist, often tucked, usually belted.
square-dance dress. cotton dress or skirt and blouse combination with full, flounced, or ruffled skirt, often peasant neckline, short puffed sleeves, etc. in imitation of rural costume of women. worn for square dancing.
du Barry costume. costume, typically of style of Louis XV period, worn by Madame du Barry.
dungaree (dung ga ree) originally a coarse kind of East Indian cotton fabric used for overalls. In the plural; overalls or trousers worn as working clothes or active sports clothes, made of this cloth, of denim, etc.
embroidery. ornamental needlework consisting of designs worked on fabric with silk, cotton, wool, metal or other threads by hand or machine.
empire. (en pire or F. onh peer) characteristic of costume favored by empress Josephine during french empire period (1804-14)
escoffion (F. es coff i ohn) 1. medieval hat made on stuffed roll of varying shape. 2. a two-toned hennin appearing in the latter part of the 14th century.
fabric. material from which garments are made. Knit, woven, felted. wool, silk, cotton, synthetic
fagoting (fag ot ing) 1. thread, yarn, ribbon, braid, etc., used straight or crisscrossed in open seam to form open work trimming.
falbala (fal ba la) festooned or puckered flounce, sometimes in plaited or puffed rows. Popular as dress decoration during 17th century.
fichu (fish oo) draped scarf or shawl worn about the shoulders and tied in knock at breast, with ends hanging down loosley
floradora girl costume. full, fluffy skirt; laced-trimmed bodice, with bishop sleeves gathered in at the wrist; and off-the-face picture hat. Popularized by the Floradora chorus in the musical show “Floradora”
flounce. gathered or plaited strip sewn to the garment, lower edge often being left free. Generally worn at bottom of garment, especially on skirt, sleeve or cape.
gaiter. cloth or leather covering for leg or ankle, bucked or buttoned at the side; often secured by strap under foot.
gigot leg-of-mutton sleeve.
gauntlet (gawnt let) glove of any material having widened wrists extension long enough to cover part of the arm.
godey’s lady’s book (go deez) periodical dealing largely with fashions, needled work, and etiquette; founded in 1830 by Antoine Godey; published for fifty years; edited until Dec. 1877, by a most able woman, Sarah Josepha Hale. Famous for chiefly for beautiful, colored fashion plates; also, for being first American woman’s magazine.
gorget (gor jet) ornamental, collar like article of neckwear, full and broad in front; copied form corresponding piece of armor.
haberdasher (hab er dash er) one who keeps a retail shop selling men’s furnishings.
Bethlehem headdress. Hat adapted from ancient headdress of women of Bethlehem, Palestine. Shaped like taraboosh and often worn with a veil.
dutch cap. adaptation of Dutch women’s cap, made with pointed crown like the original and turned back off the face, with flare at sides.
eugenie. small hat having brim turned up at left; sometimes on both sides; trimmed with ostrich plumes; worn tilted toward right.
gainsborough hat. hat with large, graceful brm, usually turned up on one side, trimmed with plumes. so called from hats in portraits by English painted, Gainsborough.
heels. piece beneath back part of shoe, boot, or other foot covering; made of leather, rubber, wood, metal, etc., varying in shape and height.
Medieval Hennin. High headdress, varying in size and form; sometimes cone, horn, or heart-shaped; sometimes extending 3 feet above the head; usually having soft, floating veil attached to apex. Worn by women in the 15th century.
hood. type of soft head-covering which often fits closely about the face and sometimes hangs over back of neck.
15th century liripipium hood
Hoop. circular band or frame.
crinoline. steel springs forming cage or hoop for extending skirts. Popular in mid-19th century.
16th century farthingale. single hoop mounted on circular piece of material or fastened at waist by tapes.
18th century pannier. oval wire, straw, whalebone, cane or wicker hoop extending far out of sides.
houppelande. full-length, one-piece garment with full and bulky or tight-fitting sleeves, and extremely full skirt with train; worn by women, and at the first by men, in 14th and 15th centuries. Skirt and sleeves sometimes lined with fur. Later belted tightly at normal waistline.
Hour-glass silhouette 1900’s silhouette with pinched-in waistline.
Italian poison ring. finger ring which opens to drop poison in food or drink.
jabot (zhah bo) frill or ruffle, usually lace or lace-trimmed, worn down front of the bodice, fastened at neckline.
jacket. short, coat-like garment, with or without sleeves, opening down front, usually extending below hips.
15th century jerkin. jacket, short-coat, or doublet, sometimes of leather.
jacobean embroidery. english embroidery with oriental influence.
Jenny Lind Costume. fitted bodice with off-shoulder neckline, and bell-shaped hoop skirt often decorated with three graduated ruffles of lace, in the style of 1860; made famous by Jenny Lind, a popular operatic soprano, know as “the swedish nightingale”
kalasiris (kah lah seer iss) 1. a sewed, form-fitting sheath for women in ancient Greece (which later developed into a skirt) extending from breast to ankles. 2. a shirt-like garment worn by the early Egyptians. Sometimes instep, sometimes ankle-length. Usually with one shoulder strap.
Kate Greenaway. Name applied to various children’t garments designed by Kate Greenaway. English illustrator, writer and designer. Styles have characteristics of empire period, high waistlines, frilled necks and sleeves and bonnets.
Keyhole neckline. Round neckline with wedge-shaped opening at front.
khirka or khirkah (keer kah) mantel worn by muslim dervishes.
Kimono. Garment typical of Japanese costume, made as loose, wide-sleeved robe, fastened around waist with broad sash. The national Japanese costume is of two types: furisode, long-sleeved kimono, and kosode, short sleeved informal kimono.
knickerbockers. loose breeches banded below the knee. worn for sports. often called knickers.
leg of mutton sleeve. sleeve shaped like a leg of mutton.
Lillian Russel Costume, 1901. Elaborate, form fitting gown with train and enormous hat with plumes. Made famous by the actress Lillian Russel in the late 1890’s.
Lingerie. Women’s underclothing; originally of linen, now usually dainty silk and laced-trimmed garments. Term originally barrowed from French language by Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book.
little lord fauntleroy. young hero of a book by the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, responsible for a tremendous vogue for little boy’s clothes in the style her wore.
Louis XIII collar. wide collar turned down over the shoulders. same as falling band.
Louis XV heel. curved french heel.
Louis Philippe. characteristic of French costume of 1830-48, marked by wide, drooping shoulder accentuated by cape, bertha, or scarf; ruffles, plaits, tucks for ornament; wide-brimmed straw hat with much decoration; wide, banded skirt.
macaroni. nickname for show, overdressed London fop or dandy. During American Revolution, one of a body of Maryland troops in showy uniforms.
mantilla. head-covering worn by spanish women; usually of heavy, black or white silk lace, arranged over high comb, worn off the face or as a veil.
domino. mask; especially half-mask worn for masquerades and during the 17th century, by women and children when traveling, as protection against sun and wind.
Nepoleonic costume. type of costume worn by Napoleon. Consisted of tight knee breeches; square-cut waistcoat; coat cut away from above the waistline in front to tails in back; high, standing, turnover collar and wide revers; knee high boots; cocked hat.
Necklines. outline or contour of bodice round the neck.
nursing basque. Basque with buttoned closings, one on each side of the front.
obi (o bi) broad Japanese sash.
Pantalets. long drawers decorated about the ankle with tucks, ruffles, embroidery and lace, which showed below the skirts.
Peplum. small ruffle, flounce, or flared extension of the costume around the hips, usually from bottom of blouse, bodice or jacket.
pinafore. sleeveless apron like garment worn by a child to protect her dress; garment long romanticized by authors and poets.
puttee (putt ee) legging spirally wound around the leg from the ankle to the knee, as worn by soldiers in WWI
Regency Costumes, French and English. Period during which regent governs. 1. Characteristic of French costume 1715-1723, consisting of dresses of light materials, basque bodices, pagoda sleeves, and enormous panniers.
2. characteristic of English costume of 1795-1820, consisting of long, straight skirts, high waists, low necks pelisses, shawls and bonnets.
Second Empire. Characteristic of French dress of 1852-1870. Marked by broad silhouette with close bodice and small waistline; bouffant skirt ruffled and flounced; decollete neck with bertha or fichu; pagoda sleeves; heavily trimmed bonnet; shawl or mantle.
garibaldi shirt. high-necked, bloused shirt with full sleeves, worn by garibaldi, the Italian patriot Adapted for women and popular in US during 1860’s.
shoes. properly, foot-covering having sole, heel, upper no higher than the ankle, and some means of fastening. Distinguished from boot by height; from sandal and slipper, by fastening. Parts of shoe: counter, heel, quarter, shank, sole, upper, vamp.
silhouette. outline or contour of a figure or costume.
skirts. separate garment covering the body below the waist. length varies with fashion.
sleeves. part of a garment covering the arm.
sports clothes. 1. active sports clothes, or particular type of costumes developed for wearer by those participating in any sport. 2. Spectator sports clothes, or any simple, tailored attire suitable for onlookers.
stomacher. decorative article of dress, worn over the breast and reaching to the waist or below, sometimes with the gown laced over it.
sweater. garment, either in jacket or overblouse style, usually knitted or crocheted.
Swiss costume. characteristic of costumes worn in Switzerland, dating from about the 17th century, when laws limiting decoration of dress were relaxed.
Tabi Sock. Foot covering, similar to a sock, having a thick, slightly stiffened sole and separate stall for the large toe. Usually of cotton and worn by the Japanese.
Toga. Loose Roman mantle of white woolen, originally small and semi-circular; later, an elliptical shape approximately 18 1/2 feet long and 7 feet wide.
Veil – Bridal. Veil worn by bride during wedding ceremony; usually long, with train.
wigs. head-covering made of false hair interwoven with or attached to net or a cap. Worn to conceal absence or deficiency of natural hair; as coiffure assumed for ornament; as part of theatrical costume; as part of official dress of judges and barristers in England. Modern wig first adopted by Louis XIII to cover his baldness. Wigs made of wool worn by men and women in ancient Egypt. In the Middle Ages all long coiffures, whether natural or false were called wigs.
Wimple. 1. piece of cloth rapped in folds around neck and over head. worn by nuns. Also worn outdoors by women in middle ages. Revived at various periods; usually attached to the hat in the back and folded around the face.