Glossary of Fashion Terms

This page will gradually be expanded on, but at the moment it will serve as a list of the less literal/obsolete French terms I've come across in the Galerie des Modes and their meanings.

Anglais: a type of ribbon

En barrière: a method of trimming, indicating that a band of trim is placed in the middle of a part of the clothing, not at an edge

Bastienne: a round cap with lappets

Bavaroise (f): turned-back revers, as on a modern suit jacket; often another color than the coat itself

Boiteux: in the context of ribbons, made in two stripes down the length

Bonhomme (m): double row of ruffles at the end of a cuff (or possibly the entire cuff)

Bonnet à papillon: a cap which has two distinct ruffles on the sides of the face; papillon is used alone to refer to the ruffles as well

Bouffante: usually of "filet goffré", a light scarf tied about the neck; also a bum pad or false rump

Bouilloné : ruched; in the case of ribbon, the ruching is perpendicular to the sides and spaced so as to create bubbles (bouillons)

Buras, burat: a type of coarse wool material

Busqué(e): cut or shaped at the waistline to form a point in the front (possibly)

Calotte (f): a skullcap

En canon: in the shape of a cannon, wide and somewhat flaring 

Cassolette (f): small bottle of perfume

Chapeau brisé (m): a flat hat, meant to be carried under the arm and not worn; literally, "broken hat"

Chien couchant: a base hairstyle which angles up and to the back

Chignon (m): literally, the back of the neck; hair in the lower back of the coiffure

Confident (m): a curl that moves diagonally down to the ear

Coque (f): literally, shell; a small pouf of hair that protrudes up in the center of the style above the forehead.  Also called a phisionomie (face)

Coquille (f): possibly a small puff of a trim

Cordon (m): a wide band of trim, often fur, around the edges of a garment

à côtes: ribbed, of stockings

Coupé (m): literally, cut; refers to a piece of a garment that is of a different color than the rest

Contentement (m): ribbon; le parfait contentement is a ribbon tied in a bow on the chest, either to fasten a gown or as a decoration

En cravate: of a kerchief, knotted once at the front of the throat

Découpée : pinked

Désespoir: (m) a bow tied around the neck

Déshabille: undress only suitable to be worn in the home (usually in the morning), mostly without stays

Écuyer (m): a type of cord, possibly a gold braid

Epaulette (f): shoulder strap, as of a bodice or stays

Favori (m): a curl that crosses over the back of the head, touching the cheek in front of the ear

Forme (f): the crown of the hat

Gance (f): silk or metallic cord, usually used for button-loops

En gorgerette: trimmed around the neckline

Grande robe: full formal dress

En guirlande: in a meandering line, or in swags

Habillé: fully dressed, in contrast to déshabillé

Jabot (m): the ruffle on the breast of a shirt

à jour : up-to-date, modern, current, stylish

Liseré (m): a narrow ribbon, used for a border.  Also can refer to silk fabrics with patterns created with bands of supplementary warps

Mancheron (m): short oversleeve

Manchette (f): engageante, a ruffle at the bottom of the sleeve

Manchon (m): a muff

Mantelets à coulisses:  mantelets that do not cover the chest; the (mostly ornamental) hood is attached to the body around the top and partly down the front opening.  There must be a drawstring (the literal meaning of coulisse)

Marchande de modes: "fashion merchant", a usually female profession just as important as the seamstress's; one who sells ready-made caps, trims, and accessories.  Prior to the introduction of the couture system, it was the marchande de modes who determined how fashionable a gown could be.  A separate guild was established for them in 1776

Nageoire (f): small, flat wave of hair in front of the ear

Négligée: informal dress

Nervure (f): edging, piping

Olive (f): an oval button resembling an olive

Oreille (f): when in reference to a shoe, the latchet

Pagode : for sleeves, probably when the front of the opening is pleated to create a curve in the crook of the elbow

Panache (f): a group of plumes

Pantalon (m): skin-tight trousers

Parement (m): wide, flat trim; a facing

Parlement (m): a type of kerchief with a hood; could be made out of taffeta, satin, or gauze

Parure (f): a full set, sometimes referring to an entire outfit and sometimes to jewelry

Petite oye (f): the ruffles (usually white gauze or muslin) and flounces attached to a gown and petticoat, and worn around the neck

Petite robe: an informal gown

Petit pied: a very narrow lace that is added to a slightly less narrow lace

Plis (m): ronds, box pleats; plats, knife pleats; droits, regular pleats

Quarrure (f): the back pieces of a bodice or coat, whether they are pleated or seamed

Quartier (m): the part of a shoe which covers the heel, which the oreilles are attached to; the back

Racine (f): literally, root; the base of a hairstyle.  Racine droite is an upright base

Rélever, rétrousser : to pull up, often with regards to a skirt

Réseau (m): a small-gauge mesh made out of silk or metallic threads

Sandales (f): pattens

En serpentaux: with regard to trimming, in meanders

En système: with regard to trimming, all the way around a garment

Tête (f): head; of a volante, the line of gathering stitches; of a sleeve, the opening

Therese (f): a voluminous, unstructured hood

Timbrer : to cover at the top, to head

Toque (f): a roll of hair or the crown of a hat

Toupet (m) or tapet: the hair on top of the head, or (in the case of a style involving long, hanging curls or cadogans) the hair on the head which is not gathered into a tie or put into large curls

Volant (m): the flounce that runs along the bottom of the petticoat


  1. *cough* Purely for selfish reasons, is there a picture you can put in this glossary? Then I can pin it to the dedicated "translation" board. :D (Am I presumptuous or what?!)


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