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.

The difference between fashion and 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.”

Synonyms for style

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!”

Types of style

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“.)

Expressions with “rag”

“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!”


Fashion Vocabulary

Hi – I’m Clare, the founder of this site!

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