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The Language of Fashion - Dictionary and Digest of Fabric, Sewing and Dress

The Language of Fashion - Dictionary and Digest of Fabric, Sewing and Dress

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The Language of Fashion - Dictionary and Digest of Fabric, Sewing and Dress

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Apr 16, 2013


This vintage book contains an exhaustive dictionary of fashion terms, with instructions for pronunciation, brief explanations, and lists of synonyms. Timeless and comprehensive, “The Language Of Fashion Dictionary And Digest Of Fabric, Sewing And Dress” will be of utility to those involved in the fashion industry, and is not to be missed by the discerning collector. Contents include: “Belts”, “Bindings”, “Blouses”, “Bobs”, “Bodices”, “Bonnets”, “Boots”, “Bows”, “Bracelets”, “Braids”, “Buckles”, “Bustles”, “Buttons”, “Buttonholes”, “Canvas”, “Caps”, “Capes”, “Checks”, “Coats”, “Collars”, “Color”, “Combs”, “Cottons”, “Crepes”, “Cuffs”, “Dots”, “Dress and Dresses”, “Dyeing”, “Embroideries”, “Eyelets”, “Fabric”, “Fancy Dress”, etc. Many vintage books such as this are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. We are republishing this volume now in an affordable, high-quality edition complete with a specially commissioned new introduction on the history of textiles and weaving. This book was first published in 1939.
Apr 16, 2013

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The Language of Fashion - Dictionary and Digest of Fabric, Sewing and Dress - Mary Brooks Picken



belt. Strap or band encircling waist, usually fastened by buckle, clasp, button, etc. Belts usually named from manner in which worn—as, cross-belt, shoulder-belt, etc.; or from purpose for which used—as, army-belt, cartridge-belt.

garter b. A band, usually of elastic, that goes around the waist and has supporters attached.

marguerite (mār-gə-rēt′; mar ga reet). Waistband or belt with plastron at front, often laced, and tabs at back. Popular in 19th century.

Sam Browne b. Broad leather band worn around waist, with light strap over right shoulder. Named for British army officer.

sanitary b. A belt, usually of elastic, that has tabs to which a sanitary napkin may be attached.

suspender b. Belt combined with shoulder straps or braces.

waist b. Belt worn around waistline, especially as distinguished from military belt Worn over one shoulder.

wampum b. (wäm′pəm; wahm pum). Belt made of wampum or colorful shell beads. Worn by North American Indians.

zonar (zō′när; zo nar). Belt formerly worn by Jews and Christians of the Levant, as mark distinguishing them from Moslems.

zoster r; zoss ter). Belt or girdle worn in ancient Greece, especially by men.

belt buckle. Fastening of belt. See BUCKLES.

belting. 1. Material used for making belts. 2. Belts, collectively. 3. Short for BELTING RIBBON. See RIBBONS.

belting ribbon. Stiff grosgrain ribbon. See RIBBONS.

Bemberg. Trade name for a brand of rayon yarn. Also applied to fabrics made from this yarn and garments made from the fabric. See RAYON

bench-made. Applied to shoes made at shoemaker’s bench. Shoes made entirely by hand now comparatively rare.

bend. Right or left half of BUTT, or hide covering animal’s hindquarters.

bengal (bĕn′gôl; ben gawl). One of various fabrics made in Bengal, India; especially, thin silk and hair fabric, and striped muslin-like fabric.

bengaline (bĕng′gə-lēn; beng ga leen). Corded fabric, similar to poplin but heavier, with warp threads, usually of silk, completely covering crosswise ribs of worsted, cotton, rayon, or silk. Used for coats, suits, dresses, trimming.

Bengal stripe. Gingham-like cloth woven with colored stripes. So called because originally from Bengal, India, name referring only to pattern.

benjamin (bĕn′jə-mĭn; ben ja min). Close-fitting overcoat. See COATS.

benjy. 1. Straw hat. See HATS. 2. British slang term for waistcoat.

benn. Scottish term for colored silk sash.

benny. Short for BENJAMIN, an overcoat. See COATS.

berdash or burdash (bēr′dăsh; bur dash). Type of sash or neckcloth. Worn by men about 1700.

beret (F. bĕ-rā; be ray). 1. Round, soft cap; as, BASQUE BERET. See CAPS. 2. Adaptation of Basque beret shape in hats. See HATS.

beretta (bĕ-rĕt′ə; be ret a). Medium-large draped beret. See HATS.

berger r; bur jer). Curl of hair at nape of neck, hanging to shoulder. Fashionable in late 17th and 18th centuries.

beribboned (bē-rĭb′ənd; be rib und). Decorated with ribbons.

Berlin canvas. Coarse square-meshed fabric. See CANVAS.

Berlin wool. Fine worsted yarn. See YARNS.

Berlin work. Allover embroidery done in Berlin wool. See EMBROIDERIES.

Bermuda fagoting. Fagoting on wrong side of fabric. See FAGOTING under STITCHES.

berrettino (bĕr-rĕt-tē′nō; be ret tee no). Cardinal’s skull-cap. See CAPS.

bertha. Deep, cape-like collar. See COLLARS.

beryl (bĕ′rĭl; bare ill). Natural mineral substance found in hexagonal prisms; usually green or bluish-green, but also white, pink, yellow. Used as precious stone; varieties include aquamarine, emerald, morganite.

bespangle (bē-spăng′gl; be spang gl). To decorate with spangles or other glittering ornaments.

Bessarabian lamb (bĕs-ə-rā′bĭ-ən; bess a ray bee an). Coarser-haired, cross-bred type of Persian lamb. See FURS.

Bethlehem headdress. Red cap shaped like cut-off cone, decorated with coins and often with embroidery; worn with white veil attached at back and metal chain hanging loosely under chin. Worn by women of Bethlehem, Palestine, for many centuries. Adapted in modern women’s hats. See HATS.

between needle. Short sewing needle, often used for hand quilting. See NEEDLES.

bezel (bĕz′ĕl; bez el). Face or upper faceted part of a cut stone.

bezetta or bezette (bə-zĕt′ə; be zet a). Linen rags saturated with coloring material and used for dyeing. From Italian word pezetta, meaning piece of cloth dyed red.

bias (bī′əs; by as). Line taken, in folding or cutting material, diagonally across warp and woof threads.—true b. In fabric, a diagonal line running at angle of 45 degrees to selvage. Undergarments are sometimes cut on true bias to prevent sagging, twisting, riding up, and to insure better wear. Binding cut on true bias is easy to apply, especially on curved edges.

bias binding. Narrow bias with edges folded in for ease in applying. See BINDINGS.

bias slip. Slip cut on bias of the fabric. See SLIPS.

bib. 1. Small collar. See COLLARS. 2. Piece of cloth worn by children over front of bodice as protection when eating. 3. Part of apron above waist.

bib and tucker. Colloquial term for clothes, attire. One’s best bib and tucker means one’s best clothing. Originally, garments worn by women. See BIB under COLLARS. See TUCKER.

bibelot (bĭb′lō or F. bē-blō; bib lo or bee blo). Trinket or small decorative article.

bicorn or bicorne (bī′kôrn; by corn). Two-cornered hat. See HATS.

bicycle bal. Sports shoe laced far down toward toe. Originally designed for bicycling. See SHOES.

Biedermeier r; bee der my er). German style of furniture of the period 1815-48, comparable to the Empire style in France, but less ornate. Applied in fashion to dress styles worn during the Biedermeier period.

bietle (bē′tl; bee tl). Deerskin jacket worn by American Indian women. See JACKETS.

bifurcated r-kāt-ĕd; by fur cate ed). Divided into two branches; forked. Term applied to divided skirts.

biggin. Close-fitting cap, sometimes of mesh. See CAPS.

biggonet (bĭg′ə-nĕt; big o net). Cap or biggin. See CAPS.

bijou ; bee zhoo). Jewel or trinket, especially of delicate or elegant workmanship.

bijouterie t-rē; bee zhoo ta ri or bee zhoo tree). Jewelry or trinkets, collectively.

biliment. Ornament or decorative part of a woman’s dress; especially headdress or its jeweled ornament. Sometimes gold lace ornamented with jewels worn in 16th century. See LACES.

billycock or billicock. Round-crowned hat. See HATS.

binary color (bī′nə-rĭ; by na ri). Secondary color. See COLOR.

Binche lace (F. băŋsh; bansh). Flemish bobbin lace. See LACES.

bind. To enclose an edge in a bias binding or band, for decoration, extra strength, or protection.

binder. 1. Sewing-machine attachment for applying bias binding to fabric edge. 2. Anything which binds, as a band, cord, fillet.


binding. 1. Double or single fold of bias fabric; also, ribbon, tape, etc., used to bind edge. Ready-made bias binding is available in white in sizes 3 to 13, and in colors in several widths. No. 3 is the narrowest; 13, the widest. No. 5 is of a size to fit the sewing-machine binder and is therefore made in a wide range of colors, as well as black and white. 2. Edging around the top of a shoe, usually of grosgrain.

bias b. Ready-made binding having edges turned in, ready for application.

cotton b. Same as BIAS BINDING.

seam b. Narrow ribbon-like strip of fabric which comes ready-made, 6 or 9 yards long, silk or cotton, in black, white, and colors. Used for finishing edges, especially skirt hems. Silk type resembles light-weight, soft taffeta ribbon.

bind off. Knitting term meaning to drop stitches to make an edge.

bingle. Hair cut short enough to be above nape of neck. See BOBS.

binnogue (bĭn′ōg; bin og). Headdress formerly worn by peasant women in Ireland.

bird of paradise feathers. Colorful plumes of male bird of paradise. See FEATHERS.

bird’s-eye. 1. Geometric pattern of small diamond shapes, each having center dot resembling bird’s eye. Woven into cotton or linen fabrics on dobby machine. 2. Cotton or linen cloth in characteristic weave; filling yarns loosely twisted for more absorbency. Cotton used for diapers, etc.; fine linen used for towels.

biretta (bĭ-rĕt′ə; bi ret a). Square ecclesiastical cap. See CAPS.

birrus or byrrus (bĭr′əs; bir us). 1. Ancient hooded wrap. See WRAPS. 2. Coarse, thick, woolen cloth. Used for outer garments by poor people during Middle Ages.

bishop. Type of bustle worn by American colonists. See BUSTLES.

bishop’s lawn or bishop cotton. Fine lawn, as used for bishop’s sleeves. Also called Victoria lawn.

bishop sleeve. Sleeve full at bottom. See SLEEVES.

bishop’s purple or bishop’s violet. Deep blue-red color.

bistre (F. bēstr; beestr) or bister r; bis ter). Dark brown, color of pigment made from wood soot.

bizarre (bĭ-zār′; bi zar). Extravagantly odd, unusual, or showy.

black. Hue so dark that no color can be seen in it.

black fox. Fur of red fox during rare color phase. See FURS.

black muskrat. Fur of muskrat having black back. See FURS.

black work. Embroidery of black stitches on white fabric. See EMBROIDERIES.

Blake. Shoe sewn by special process. See SHOES.

blanc (blăngk or F. blāŋ; blank or blonh). French word for white. In French trade usage, everything that is bleached.

blancard rd; blank erd). Strong French fabric woven of partly blanched linen yarn. Made at Rouen in 18th century.

blanch. To remove color or make white; bleach.

blanket. 1. Piece of woven fabric in plain or twill weave, often thick, usually wide, made of wool, cotton, or mixture. Used as bed covering, robe, etc. Name derived from ancient white or undyed woolen cloth, called blanchet, made in Beauvais, France. 2. Length of fabric from which to cut a garment.

blanket-stitch. Single-purl edge finish. See STITCHES.

blanket-stitch couching. Type of couching done with blanket-stitch. See COUCHING under EMBROIDERIES.

blanket-stitch seam. Two edges of fabric joined in an open seam by means of blanket-stitch. See SEAMS.

blanket or carpet wool. Same as MISCELLANEOUS WOOL. See WOOL.

blatta. Formerly, purple or purple fabric.

blazer. Light-weight sports jacket. See JACKETS.

blazer stripe. Bright-colored stripe. See STRIPES.

bleaching. 1. Process of making fabrics white or lighter, or more susceptible to dyes, often by chemically removing natural pigment. See GRASS BLEACHING. 2. Process for removing yellowish tinge of all white furs. Often used on less expensive dark furs before dyeing. See BLEACHING under FURS.

blend. Merging of colors or lines to shade or tone into one another.

blending. Dyeing of the surface hairs of paler furs to make them more attractive. Also called tipping, topping, and feathering. See BLENDING under FURS.

bleu ; bluh). French word for blue.

blind-stitch. Concealed stitch. See STITCHES.

blistered. 1. Having raised spots, as if covered with blisters. Term used of crepe fabrics. 2. Formerly, having slashed openings through which showed contrasting color or material, typical of 16th century doublets, breeches, sleeves.

block. 1. To shape or re-shape by using mold or block; as, to block a hat. Also, mold or frame so used, or resulting shape of hat. 2. Formerly, support for wig.

block colors. Colors as applied in block printing. See PRINTING under DYEING.

blocked lapin -păŋ; la panh). Lapin fur sheared, dyed, and put together in effect of squares. See FURS.

block pattern. Basic size pattern. See PATTERNS.

block printing. Process of printing fabric from engraved or carved blocks. See PRINTING under DYEING.

blond or blonde. 1. Person having flaxen, golden, light auburn, or yellowish-brown hair; blue, gray, hazel, or brown eyes; and fair complexion. 2. Color, slightly darker and grayer than beige.—brunette b. Person having light chestnut or auburn-brown hair; hazel, gray, blue-gray, or brown eyes; and medium complexion. —Titian b. (tĭsh′ən; tish an). Person having reddish hair; blue-gray or brown eyes; medium or clear-white complexion, varying color.

blonde lace. Silk bobbin lace. See LACES.

blonde net. Washable cotton net. See NETS.

bloomer. Pantaloon 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 gathered trousers.

bloomer dress. Child’s dress with matching bloomers. See DRESSES.

bloom side. In leather trade, hair side of hide.

blotch. Indistinct or obscure in outline or coloring; said of printed fabrics.


louse. 1. Loose waist or bodice of various types extending from neckline to waistline or below. Worn inside or outside separate skirt. See also, BASQUE, BODICE, SHIRT, SWEATER. 2. Long, loose smock, with or without belt, worn by English workmen and by French and Russian peasants. 3. To form a drooping bulge or fulness.

Balkan b. (bôl′kən; bawl kan). Blouse with full, loose sleeves, gathered into wide band around top of hips. So named because it came into fashion in 1913 during Balkan war.

bluey. Shirt or blouse, usually blue, of Australian bushman.

Bolero Blouse, 1926

Sash Blouse, 1917

bolero b. Long-waisted blouse, having an overlapping section that forms a bolero. Popular in 1926.

camisa b. (kə-mē′zə; ka mee za). Embroidered waist or bodice with large, flowing sleeves. Worn by women in Philippines. Spanish word for shirt.

casaque k; ka zack). French word for woman’s loose blouse.

casaquin -kaŋ); ka za kanh). Woman’s waist or blouse, usually fitted to the figure.

choli or cholee (chō′lē; cho lee). Short-sleeved bodice or short blouse, not reaching to skirt, low at throat, usually of cotton. Worn by Hindu women.

dressing sacque. Dressy blouse, wrist length, loose at the waist, usually unbelted. Worn especially for dress-up at home in early part of 20th century.

garibaldi (găr-ĭ-bôl-dĭ; ga ri bawl di). Shirtwaist copied from high-necked, bloused shirt with full sleeves.

19th Century Camisa Blouse

Gibson Waist, Early 1900’s

gaucho b. (gow′chō; gow cho). Full blouse gathered at waistline, with full sleeves gathered at wristband, as worn by Gauchos, or South American cowboys.

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.

guimpe (F. gămp; gamp). Short blouse, often with sleeves. Usually worn with pinafore type of dress.

Type of Balkan Blouse

Middy Blouse, 1920’s

huipil or huepilli (Sp. wĭ-pēl′ or wĕpē′lyē; wi peel or we peel ye). Sleeveless blouse or piece of cotton cloth with opening for head. Worn by Mexican Indian and peasant women. Inherited from Aztecs.

middy b. Loose, unbelted, hip-length blouse with sailor collar. Copy of blouse worn by midshipmen (middies) or cadets in U. S. Navy.

overblouse. Blouse that is not tucked inside skirt at waist, but worn outside. Length below waist varies with fashion.

peek-a-boo waist. Shirtwaist made or partly made of eyelet embroidery or sheer fabric. Fashionable in late 19th and early 20th centuries.

pierrot r-ō; pee er o). Woman’s waist with low-cut neck and sleeves, popular in 18th century. See PIERROT COSTUME under FANCY DRESS.

Russian b. Loose, long-sleeved blouse extending below hips, usually belted.

Step-In Blouse, 1920’s

sash b. Blouse crossed in front like a surplice, with attached sash pieces forming a girdle.

shirtwaist b. Waist similar to a man’s shirt in plainness of cut and style. Worn by women and girls, usually with a tailored skirt. More often called tailored blouse.

Step-in b. Blouse of any type attached to step-ins. Keeps blouse from riding up and provides panties.

tuck-in b. Any blouse worn with end tucked inside skirt at waist.

blouse coat. Coat with upper part slightly bloused, usually with kimono sleeves. See COATS.

blucher r; blue cher). High laced shoe. See SHOES.

blue. Primary color of many tints, tones, and shades, from palest blue to midnight.

bluebonnet. Scottish cap of tam o’ shanter type. See CAPS.

blue fox. Smoky blue fur of arctic fox. See FURS.

blue-green. Color between blue and green.

bluet (blū′ĕt; blue et). Plain fabric, usually cotton or wool, of blue color.

bluey. Shirt or blouse of Australian bushman. See BLOUSES.

bluing or blueing. 1. Preparation used in rinsing water to keep white fabric white by counteracting with a bluish tint the yellowish tinge acquired from age or fading. 2. A rinse for white or gray hair.

blunt. Short, thick needle used in tailoring. See NEEDLES.

blunt scissors. Scissors with ends rounded instead of pointed. See SCISSORS.

boa (bō′ə; bo a). Soft, fluffy neck-piece, rounded in effect. Usually made of feathers or tulle or lace, etc.

boarded leather. Leather in which surface is artificially broken up into close, parallel creases. See LEATHERS.

boater. Straw hat with straight brim and a ribbon band. See HATS.

boat neck. Same as BATEAU. See NECKLINES.


bob. 1. Hair cut short, not reaching below nape of neck. 2. Knot of hair; formerly, bob wig. See WIGS.

bingle. Hair cut short enough to be above nape of neck.

boyish b. Hair cut short and trimmed fairly close to head as in a man’s haircut. Worn by many women from 1925 to 1930. Popularized by the British actress, Beatrice Lillie. Also called mannish haircut.

Boyish Bob, 1926

Irene Castle Bob

Dutch b. Haircut in which hair is cut straight around back from lobe of one ear to the other and usually banged in front.

Irene Castle b. Hair cut, worn back off the forehead, and loosely waved over ears, in the manner introduced and made popular by Irene Castle, the famous dancer who first made bobbed hair fashionable just before the World War.

long b. Hair that has been cut, but is long enough to roll under in one large curl at back.

page boy b. Long bob, with hair worn almost straight except for slight curl under at ends.

Shingle. Hair cut close to the head, especially in back, showing the natural contour of the head.

wind-blown b. Irregular haircut brushed so as to make the hair in front appear as though blown forward by the wind.

bobbin. Thread carrier used in lace-making, spinning, weaving, and also in sewing machines.

bobbinet (bŏb-ĭ-nĕt′; bob i net). Net with six-sided meshes. See NETS.

bobbin lace. Untied mesh made on pillow design with bobbins. See LACES.

bob wig. Short wig. See WIGS.

bocasine (bŏk′ə-sĭn; bock a sin). Woolen fabric similar to fine buckram.


bodice (bŏd′ĭs; bod iss). 1. Waist of woman’s dress. 2. Originally, tight-fitting waist; also, wide laced girdle extending from bust to waist. 3. Obsolete term for corset or stays, sometimes called bodies or pair of bodies.

19th Century Basque Bodice

basque b. sk; bask). Closely fitted bodice. See BASQUE.

cardigan b. Short, buttoned-down-the-front bodice, usually without belt. Similar in effect to cardigan.

corset b. Usually formal bodice or waist part, so draped or shaped as to follow the corset line. Often in color contrasting with the skirt.

jersey r′zĭ; jer zi). Skintight, un-trimmed bodice of knitted silk or wool; buttoned in front. Popular in 1880’s.

Watteau b. (wŏ-tō′; wot toe). Bodice with low square or round neckline; short, deeply ruffled sleeves; and many ribbon bows.

bodice top. Straight top of slip. See SLIPS.

bodkin. 1. Blunt needle with large eye, used for lacing ribbon or tape through lace, beading, or other part of garment. See NEEDLES. 2. Implement with sharp point at one end for punching holes in cloth. 3. Decorative, stiletto-shaped hairpin.

body clothes or body linen. Underclothing.

body coat. Close-fitting coat. See COATS.

body lining. Lining, as in a coat, extending to waist or just below.

Bohemian lace (bō-hē′mĭ-ən; bo he me an). Bobbin lace with braid-like effect. See LACES.

boiled-off silk. Silk with natural gum removed. See DEGUMMING. See SILK.

boiled shirt. Shirt with starched bosom. See SHIRTS.

Boilfast color. Trade term applied to threads guaranteed fast. See COLOR.

boina (boi′nä; boy nah). Woolen cap. See CAPS.

bois de rose (F. bwä də rōz; bwah da rose). Shade of softly grayed red. French term for rosewood.

bolero (bō-lêr′ō; bo lare o). Short jacket of Spanish type. See JACKETS.

bolero blouse. Long-waisted blouse having an overlapping section that forms a bolero. See BLOUSES.

bolero hat. Boxy hat worn by Spanish dancers. See HATS.

Bolivia cloth (bō-lĭv′ĭ-ə; bo liv i a). Soft, all-wool pile fabric, medium to heavy weight, velvet-like in feel. Tufts of pile usually in diagonal or vertical rows. Used for coats, suits.

boll (bōl; bole). Pod of plant, especially of cotton, which contains the fibers.

bolt. 1. Complete length of cloth from loom, rolled or folded, varying in length from 30 yards to 100 or more. 2. Roll of ribbon approximately 10 yards long.

bolting cloth. Stiff, transparent fabric in leno weave, like very fine canvas. Made of finely spun yarn—wool, silk, linen, hair, etc. Used for stencils, fancy work, wig and toupee foundations. So called because originally made for bolting or sifting meal and flour.

bombards. Loose, baggy, padded breeches, as worn by American colonists.

bombast. Padded or stuffed; also, soft material used as stuffing. Originally, cotton or cotton wool. From Old French bombace, meaning cotton or padding.

bombazet or bombazette (bŏm-bə-zĕt′; bom ba zet). Thin, smooth-finished worsted fabric in plain or twill weave. Used for dresses, coats.

bombazine (bŏm-bə-zēn′; bom ba zeen). 1. Fine, plain or twilled English fabric; usually having silk warp and worsted filling; sometimes, cotton and wool. Dyed in piece. Usually made in black for mourning apparel. Also called bombazin, bomberzeen, or bombax. 2. Obsolete term for raw cotton.

bombé (F. bôŋ-bā; bonh bay). Rounded out; bulged; puffed up in convex shape. Used in dressmaking, embroidery, upholstery.

bombycine (bŏm′bĭ-sĭn; bom bi sin). Made of silk; also, silk yarn or fabric.

bonanza (bə-năn′zə; bo nan za). Anything highly successful or easily worked or having unusual value.

bone lace. Same as BOBBIN LACE. See LACES. So called because original bobbins were of bone.

bon goût ; bonh goo). French term for good taste.

boning. Whalebone, featherbone, or steel, covered or uncovered. Used for stiffening seams and edges, especially in corsets and dress bodices.

bonnaz (bô-näz′; bo nahz). Machine embroidery. See EMBROIDERIES.


bonnet. 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 hat or hoods were made in 14th century. For other types of headgear, see HATS CAPS, HOODS.

Bonnet, 1865

baby b. Lacy or daintily trimmed fabric covering for infant’s head, extending from nape of neck to forehead, and covering ears; tied with fabric strings or ribbons under chin.

cabriolet -brē-ō-lā; ka bree o lay). Bonnet suggesting shape of carriage top or cab’s hood; sometimes tied under chin; similar to Kate Greenaway bonnet. Named for cabriolet or cab with forward or poke top.

Cabriolet, 1810

19th Century Coal Scuttle Bonnet

capote -pōt; ka pote). Mid-Victorian type of bonnet having tie strings. Worn by women and children.

coal scuttle b. Bonnet with stiffened brim and flat back, resembling coal scuttle. Popular in mid-19th century.

cottage b. Bonnet of particular shape fashionable in England during early 19th century.

Easter b. Any type of new spring hat; usually worn for first time on Easter Sunday. Now seldom a bonnet.

hive. Kind of bonnet, usually of straw, shaped to resemble a beehive.

Indian b. Ornamental headdress, usually of long feathers, as worn by North American Indians. Not a bonnet in the usual fashion sense.

Kate Greenaway b. Children’s bonnet of type illustrated by Kate Greenaway; in style of Empire period, with a ribbon band, and a frill around face.

poke b. Bonnet with small crown at back, having wide, rounded front brim projecting from top of head beyond face. Worn as hat.

Quaker b. Small, close-fitting, plain bonnet of prescribed characteristics; made of the fabric of the dress, and worn by women of the Quaker faith.

Poke Bonnet, 1846

Salvation Army b. Black, straw, off-the-face bonnet trimmed with midnight blue ribbed silk. Brim is lined with blue silk, either plain or shirred. Has chin tie, which fastens with bow at side. Blue band around bonnet lettered with Salvation Army name. Uniform bonnet of the Salvation Army often adapted by fashion for women’s hats, similar in silhouette but made in all hat materials and colors.

scoop b. Woman’s bonnet, long and narrow in front like a scoop.

Salvation Army Bonnet.

(Adaptation, 1938)

slat b. Bonnet with brim reinforced with slats of cardboard or light-weight wood.

sunbonnet. Bonnet of fabric or straw having wide brim, generally stiffened, often with a ruffle around the front and sides as protection from sun; usually having short cape-like portion in back to protect neck. Worn informally outdoors.

Mid-19th Century Slat Bonnet

Early 19th Century Sunbonnet

bon ton (F. bôŋ tôŋ; bonh tonh). French phrase for fashionable style; the elite of society.

book cloth. Any of several fabrics, usually cotton, specially woven for book coverings. Used also as stiffening and interlining in collars, etc.

book linen. Firm linen or cotton fabric, often with sizing. See LINENS.


boot. 1. Footwear extending above ankle. In America, boot 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 of any height. 2. Part of stocking between foot and top.

Boots, 1625

alaska. Overshoe with rubberized cloth top and rubber sole.

ankle b. Boot extending to ankle.

arctic. High, waterproof overshoe, usually of cloth and rubber, fastened with one or more buckles.

blucher r; blue cher). Mid-leg boot or shoe distinguished by type of quarters, or side part from heel to vamp. See SHOES.

bootee ′; boo tee). Boot having short leg. For men, usually made with elastic gore over ankle or with laced front. For infants, usually knitted and tiny or half-leg length.

bootikin. Small boot.

bottekin (bŏt′ə-kĭn; bot e kin). Small boot, variously decorated, usually fancy.

bottine (F. bŏ-tēn; bot teen). 1. Small boot of fine quality for women. 2. Half or low boot. Type of buskin or legging.

brodequin or brodekin (brōd′kĭn; brode kin). Type of half boot or buskin once worn by women.

bucket top. French fall (crushed top) boot with top fulness greatly exaggerated.

buskin (bŭs′kĭn; buss kin). Boot extending half-way to knees, laced with cord or ribbon. Worn in ancient Greece, chiefly by actors. Also see SHOES.

Early Greek Buskins

carriage b. Lined boot, usually of fabric, often fur-trimmed. Worn by women in winter over ordinary shoes or slippers as protection against weather. Originally worn only in carriages to keep the feet warm; later, in automobiles; more recently, on the street. Some carriage boots are made large enough for both feet to slip into when in an automobile.

cavalier b. High, soft leather boot with flaring top, as worn with 17th century cavalier costume. Also see SLIPPERS.

Cavalier Boots, 1625

cothurnus r′nŭs; ko ther nus). Buskin or half boot, especially one with thick soles. Worn by ancient Greeks and Romans as part of theatrical costume.

cowboy b. Boot with high, fancy top, usually decorated with stitching; high, Cuban heel to prevent foot slipping from stirrup when riding horseback. Type of boot worn by cowboys.

finnesko (fĭn′ĕs-kō; fin ess ko) or finnsko. Boots made from tanned skin of reindeer and worn with fur side out. Worn by Arctic travelers.

French fall b. Leather boot with high top wide enough to crush down. Worn in colonial America.

17th Century French Fall Boots

gamashes sh′ĭz; ga mash es). High boots worn in late 17th century. Also spelled gamoshes and gramashes.

gum b. High, protecting, rubber boot.

half boot. Boot extending short way above ankle.

Hessian b. (hĕsh′ən; hesh an). Knee-high boot, usually decorated at top with tassel. Worn in 19th century after being introduced into England by Hessians.

high-low. Boot reaching just over ankle, laced to top.

hip b. Extra-high boot, usually of rubber, extending almost to hips. Used in fishing, etc.

hunting b. Laced boot with waterproof sole, usually blucher-cut and having bellows tongue. Used when hunting and for general rough outdoor wear.

jack b. Large, heavy, all-leather boot, reaching above knee. Worn by cavalry during 17th and 18th centuries.

jockey b. Type of top boot with cuff and often tassel at top, worn by children. See TOP BOOT.

kamik (kä′mĭk; kah mick). Sealskin boot worn by Eskimos.

larrigan. Knee-high boot with moccasin foot. Used by lumbermen, trappers.

leg b. Boot, without lacing, reaching some distance above ankle.

lumberman’s overs. Combination felt boots over which rubber arctics are worn.

napoleon b. (nə-pō′lĭ-ən; na po li un). Top boot, designed by Napoleon. Popular in mid-19th century.

pac or pack. Above-the-ankle shoe or half boot of moccasin type, worn by lumbermen.

Polish (pō′lĭsh; po lish). Women’s front-laced shoe or boot, five or more inches high from heel seat to top. Said to have originated in Poland.

Russian b. Calf-high boot with leather top or cuff, sometimes having tassel in front.

skitty b. British dialect term for heavy half boot that laces up front.

startup or startop (stärt′ŭp; start up). Kind of buskin worn by country people in 16th and 17th centuries.

storm b. Leather shoe, often waterproofed, cut extra high, well above ankle. Designed for women’s use in bad weather.

thigh b. Boot with upper part extending over thigh.

top b. High, solid-legged or laced boot, usually of leather or rubber. Used for riding, hunting, fishing, and other sports.

Top Boots, 1789

water b. Watertight, high boot. Worn in deep water, chiefly by fishermen.

Wellington (wĕl′ĭng-tən; well ing ton). 1. Loose, square-topped boot reaching above knee in front. Worn by men for riding. 2. Similar boot, shorter, worn by men under trousers. Properly called half Wellington.

bootee -tē′; boo tee). Boot having short leg. See BOOTS.

bootery. Retail shop selling shoes.

boot hook. Long, metal hook with T handle across top to enable one to pull on riding boots by bootstraps.

boot-hose. 1. Long, heavy hose, leggings, or spatterdashes. Formerly worn in place of boots. 2. Hose made to wear with boots.

bootikin. Small boot, gaiter, or legging. See BOOTS.

boot jack. V-shaped board or frame. Used in pulling off boots.

bootlace. Fabric tape or leather string used to fasten boot.

bootstrap. Loop attached inside top of boot at back or side; used in pulling boot on.

boot top. 1. Top or upper part of boot, especially if flared and decorative. 2. Formerly, lace ruffle worn to hide top of boot.

boot tree. Device put inside boot or shoe when not in use, to keep its shape.

Bo Peep costume. Shepherdess costume for character in nursery rhyme. See FANCY DRESS.

bordé (F. bôr-dā; bor day). French word meaning edged or bordered.

bordeaux (F. bôr-dō; bor doe). Claret color; clear, deep, ruby-red shade of wine made from Bordeaux grapes.

border. Outer part or outside edge, usually ornamental; strip or stripe around or near edge; also, to make such a border.

bordered fabric. Fabric woven or printed with a border that is used as trimming or finish in making a garment. See FABRIC.

bordure (F. bôr-dür; bor dure). Edging, edge, or border of cloth; also, selvage.

boroso leather (bō-rō′sō; bo ro so). Kind of sharkskin. See LEATHERS.

bosom ′zm; boo zum). Front part of garment covering the breast.

bosom knot. Bow of colored ribbon. See BREAST KNOT.

bosom shirt. Shirt having a starched, plaited, or tucked bosom, often of different fabric from that of the shirt. Also, small partial shirt, as a vestee, gilet, or the like. See SHIRTS.

boss. Any protuberant part, usually ornamental, of same or different material, as knob, stud, pad. Also, to ornament with bosses; to stuff out, emboss, stud.

Boston bag. Small piece of luggage, usually of soft leather, pouch-like in shape, having handle at each side of top opening. Carried by hand.

Botany wool (bŏt′ə-nĭ; bot a ni). Fine merino wool. See WOOL.

bottekin (bŏt′ə-kĭn; bot a kin). Small boot. See BOOTS.

bottier (F. bô-tyā; bo tyay). One who deals in shoes or boots, especially of fine quality. French word for shoemaker.

bottine (F. bŏ-tēn; bot teen). Small boot of fine quality. See BOOTS.

bottu ; bot too). Mark, as dot on forehead, worn in India for decoration or to indicate sect.

bouchette -shĕt′; boo shet). Large breastplate buckle. See BUCKLES.

bouclé -klā; boo clay). Woven or knitted so that surface has looped or knotted appearance. Applied to fabric used extensively for sports suits. French word for curled or, literally, buckled.

boudoir -dwär; boo dwar). Lady’s private room to which only intimates are admitted.

boudoir cap. Cap to cover the hair; worn by women in the boudoir. See CAPS.

bouffant -fäŋ); boo fonh). Puffed-out, full, flaring, as in bulging drape of skirt or sleeve. From French word bouffer, meaning to swell.

Bouffant Skirt, 1930’s

bouffette -fĕt; boo fet). French word for bow made of ribbon or other material; also, a tassel.

boughten (bô′tn; baw ten). Purchased; bought at store as distinguished from made at home. Not good usage.

bouillon -yôŋ; boo yonh). French word meaning flounce or puff on a dress.

boulevard heel ′lə-värd; boo le vard). High, covered heel of Cuban type but lighter. See HEELS.

bound buttonhole. Buttonhole with fabric- or braid-bound edges. See BUTTONHOLES.

bound seam. Seam finished with bias binding. See SEAMS.

bouquet -kā; boo kay). Bunch of flowers or cluster similar in appearance, as of precious stones.

Bourbon cotton r′bŭn; boor bun). Fine quality of cotton. See SEA-ISLAND COTTON under COTTONS.

bourdon lace r-dôŋ; boor dun or boor donh). Net lace having corded edge. See LACES.

bourette or bourrette (F. -rĕt; boo ret). Yarn of various fibers having unevenly spaced nubs or knots; also, fabric with uneven surface woven from such yarn. Originally, method of weaving in which loops were thrown to surface of cloth.

bourré -rā; boo ray). Stuffed or wadded. Frequently used of quilted articles; also, of padded embroidery.

bourrelet or bourlet r-lā; 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.

boutonnière -tô-nyêr; boo ton yare). Flower or small bouquet worn in buttonhole; also, any small bouquet of real or artificial flowers. French word for buttonhole.


bow (bō; bo). Two or more loops of ribbon, cord, fabric, etc., held together by tying or tacking or by means of a clip.

Cadogan b. (cə-dŭg′ən; ca dug an). Small, square bow tied at the nape of the neck to hold curls of long bob back from the face. Worn below hat brim. Named for Cadogan, British general (1675–1726), from the style of hairdress worn by men in his period, contemporary with Louis XIV and Louis XV in France.

pump b. Same as TAILORED BOW.

tailored b. Flat, stiff bow, as used on pumps and tailored hats. Often made of grosgrain ribbon.

Tailored Bow

bowknot (bō′nŏt; bo not). Ornamental slipknot made by doubling ribbon, cord, fabric, etc., into one or more loops, usually tied so as to leave ends free to draw loops easily through knot.

bowler r; bole er). British term for man’s derby. See HATS.

bowstring hemp. Plant fiber used in making cloth, etc. See ALOE FIBER.

bow tie. Tie worn in a BOWKNOT.

box cloth. Coarse, thick melton cloth, usually buff color. Used for riding habits, etc.

box coat. Squared, loose coat. See COATS.

box leather. Leather finished so that close creases run in two directions. See LEATHERS.

box plait. Plait with edges turned in opposite directions. See PLAITS.

box toe. In shoe manufacturing, a piece of buckram or leather cut to pattern and placed between lining and upper of the tip to make the toe hold its shape.

boxy silhouette -ĕt′; sil oo et). Squared silhouette of straight skirt worn with box coat. See SILHOUETTES.

boyang (bō′yăng; bo yang). Band around trouser leg below knee. Worn by laborers.

boyish bob. Hair cut short and trimmed reasonably close to head. See BOBS.

boyish-form silhouette. Straight, un-corseted figure popular in the 1920’s. See SILHOUETTES.

bra or bras (brā; brah). Short for BRASSIÈRE. Breast girdle.

brabant (brə-bănt′; brah bant). Type of sturdy linen fabric formerly made in Brabant, French Netherlands.


bracelet. Ornamental ring, band, or chain for wrist or arm. Worn by women; now seldom worn by men.

bangle b. Ornamental circlet of gold, silver, glass, or other material. First worn by women of East Indian countries; now worn with sportswear, often several at a time. Returns to fashion at regular intervals, each time with a new type of pendant—animals, coins, or hearts, Cupids, and other sentimental tokens.

charm b. Bracelet having pendant charms or amulets attached.

love b. Large link bracelet, often made up of hearts, Cupids, etc.

slave b. 1. Bracelet made of several narrow rings, usually metal. 2. Single broad, solid band, usually of metal and close-fitting.

bracelet cuff. Cuff of metal, lace, ribbon, or other material, wider than average bracelet. Worn around wrist. See CUFFS.

bracelet sleeve. Sleeve reaching below elbow. See SLEEVES.

bracelet tie. Ankle-strap shoe. See SHOES.

bracer. Guard for arm or wrist. Worn in archery, fencing, etc. In ancient armor, called brassart.

braces. British term for suspenders, or straps to hold up trousers.

braconnière (F. -kô-nyêr; bra con yare). Short skirt of overlapping hooplike steel plates. Worn as part of 16th century armor.

bragas (brä′gäs; brah gahs). Spanish term for pair of loose, wide breeches.

braguette -gĕt; brah get). Piece of ancient armor, similar to CODPIECE.


braid. 1. Narrow cord-like strip of flat tape woven of silk, wool, linen, etc., for trimming, binding, designs, outlines, etc. Varieties of braids usually named for use or appearance. Also, to weave or intertwine to form a braid; also, to trim with braid. 2. Band or ribbon for the hair, or plait of real or artificial hair. 3. To plait the hair into a braid. 4. Narrow tape-like strip woven or made with bobbins, in variety of designs and weights, and used to form more solid parts of motifs in lace.

Coronation Braid

Military Braid

Soutache Braid

Rick Rack Braid

cannetille n-tē; can tee). Lace-like braid of gold or silver thread.

coronation b. (kŏr-ə-nā′shən; cor o nay shun). Firmly woven, highly mercerized, filled cotton cord or braid, alternately thick and narrow. Used in couching and to outline pattern in embroidery or lace.

finishing b. Narrow, plain-woven braid, with decoration of simple embroidery stitches.

hercules b. r′kū-lēz; her cue leez). Heavily corded worsted braid, varying from 1/2- to 4-inch width. Used for trimmings.

hole b. Tape-like braid used in lace, made with bobbins, having small holes at regular intervals in plain ground.

lacet (lăs′ĕt; lass et). Type of braid woven of silk or cotton in various widths, often with looped edge. Used for edging, trimming, combined with tatting or crochet.

ladder b. Bobbin-made braid with open stitches crossed by bars giving ladder-like effect.

middy b. Narrow, finely plaited braid. Used to trim middy blouses; also, as a piping or seam finish on tailored dresses and coats.

military b. Flat braid of diagonal twill weave, in various widths and colors and in all fibers. Used for bindings, trimming bands, and ornaments.

orris (ŏr′ĭs; or iss). General term for all types of galloon, especially upholstery braids.

pigtail b. Small, round, closely woven braid. Used for trimming.

rat-tail b. Tubular silk braid resembling rat’s tail. Used for trimming.

rice b. Braid similar to coronation, but smaller in size, with thick parts spaced to give appearance of grains of rice. Used in trimming and in crochet laces.

rick rack b. Flat, woven braid in zigzag form. Made in cotton, silk, rayon, and wool, in various sizes and many colors. Used for trimming.

Russian b. Narrow, flat, decorative braid. Same as SOUTACHE.

soutache b. sh; soo tash). Narrow, flat, decorative braid. Used chiefly to sew ornamental designs on garments.

stickerei r-ī; stick er eye). Braid of even weave, having embroidered, scalloped, or notched edge.

straw b. Braid from 1/4 inch to 3 inches wide, used in manufacture of straw hats. Largely imported. Finer straws come from South America, Italy, Switzerland; cheaper kinds, from China, Japan.

braided-band-stitch. Embroidery stitch. See STITCHES.

braiding. 1. Applying braid in designs to fabric, by hand or machine. 2. Plaiting three or more cords of fabric, ribbon, braid, or leather together, or three or more strands of hair, to form a braid.

braiding foot. Sewing-machine attachment for applying braid, silk twist, etc., in rows, scrolls, monograms, motifs.

braid work. That part of the making of bobbin lace which consists of making the braids. See BRAID, 4.

braies (brāz; braiz). Roman breeches. Worn during 1st and 2nd centuries, in addition to tunic; first brought from Asia by Gauls. Short braies worn by Emperor Augustus beneath toga, probably as protection against cold. Forerunner of pantaloons.

Brandenburg. 1. Ornamental loop or frog, usually of braid. Worn on garment in place of other fastener and for decoration. 2. Facing of embroidery on military coat, usually of parallel bars. Named for Brandenburg, Prussia.

brassard rd; brass erd). 1. Badge worn on arm. 2. BRASSART.

brassart rt; brass ert). Medieval armor for upper or whole arm. Also called demibrassart.

brassière -syêr; bra zeer or brass yare). Close-fitting undergarment shaped to support bust. Also called bra, uplift, bandeau.

braw. Scottish word meaning well-dressed; also, fine, brave, handsome.

braws. Scottish word meaning fine clothes.

breadth. 1. Width—opposite of length; measurement of fabric from selvage to selvage. 2. Term used by painters to indicate wealth of color.

breast. 1. The bosom; the part of clothing covering the bosom. 2. Forward surface of the heel. See HEEL BREAST.

breasting. In shoe manufacturing, the sole leather that turns away from the sole and is shaped to cover the front surface of the heel. Used on French or other covered wooden heels. See HEEL BREAST.

breast knot or bosom knot. Dainty bow, usually of colored ribbon. Formerly worn on bosom of dress; highly fashionable during 18th

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