Fashion Vocabulary

How can you talk about fashion and style in English? What fashion vocabulary do you need to talk about how a person looks – and their personal style?

Get these fashion words and phrases – and learn other synonyms for style.

Fashion is a trend that changes quickly. Something that is in fashion today will be out of fashion in a few weeks. But style is something that is personal to you – and it doesn’t change quickly.

Here are some useful ways to talk about fashion:

fashionable = someone who wears the newest clothes
“That style of jeans isn’t very fashionable.” (Opposite – unfashionable / out of fashion)

in = if something is “in”, it’s fashionable
“Are skinny jeans still in?”

a la mode = a French phrase to mean fashionable
“Vintage fashion is very a la mode at the moment.”

trendy (noun = trend) = fashionable
“All her daughters are very trendy.”

the latest (from the catwalk / runway) = the most recent fashion (from the fashion shows, and modelled on the catwalk / runway)
“I like keeping up with the lastest fashions.”

all the rage = currently very fashionable
“It’s all the rage to wear your trousers very low on your waist.”

fashion victim = someone who follows fashion but doesn’t think about if it looks good on them
“Why did she get those boots? They’re horrible! I think she’s a bit of a fashion victim.”

Here are some ways you can talk about a person’s style:

stylish = with style
“He wore a very stylish waistcoat.”

chic = elegant
“Parisian women always look so chic.”

You can describe men as “debonair” or “dapper“.
“I saw a very debonair man in the street.”
“Who’s that dapper gentleman over there?” (“Dapper” tends to be used for older men.)

classy = showing sophisticated taste (not just for clothes)
“She always wears classy jewellery – nothing you can find in the usual high street jewellers.”

snazzy = stylish
“I like your new shoes. Very snazzy!”

a snappy dresser = a person who dresses with great attention to detail and who looks good
“Colin is a very snappy dresser. He always looks very well presented.”

have a sense of style = know what makes you look good and stylish
“Carla has such a good sense of style. She always looks fabulous.”

a style icon = someone who is well known for their sense of style (and who people want to copy)
“Audrey Hepburn is a style icon for millions of women.”

to scrub up well = to look good when you make an effort with smart clothes
“I think we’ve scrubbed up pretty well for the wedding!”

formal / informal
“He always wears formal clothes to work. He’s always in a suit.”

smart casual = the clothes you can wear which are half way between formal and casual
“The invitation says ‘smart casual’ so you don’t need to wear a suit.”

leisure wear = clothes like tracksuits that you wear to be comfortable at home
“We’re always in our ‘leisure wear’ on Sundays.”

vintage = clothes from more than 30 years ago
“If you keep that leather jacket for another few years, it will be vintage!”
(An alternative to vintage is “retro“.)

“Rag” is a slang term for “clothing” and there are a few English expressions where we use “rag”. For example:

the rag trade = the clothing industry
“Her grandparents worked in the rag trade in East London.”

from rags to riches = a type of story where someone goes from being poor to very rich
“Her new book is a typical rags to riches story.”

glad rags = your best clothes
“Look at this photo of us in our glad rags!”

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