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Illustrated Glossary: A-L

Illustrated Glossary: M-Z

Eveningwear Glossary: M-Z



click on most illustrations for larger image that often shows the item in context
click on a hyperlinked term to be taken to the page that discusses the concept in detail
terminology in italics is defined elsewhere in the glossary

a fine plain-woven shirting and dress fabric usually of cotton with varied designs (as plaid) in bright colors or in white; used for fashion-forward black tie in the 1960s
marcella a type of piqué weave historically considered distinct from piqué but now usually considered synonymous; in the UK also a black-tie shirt with bosom, turndown collar and/or cuffs in white piqué with body and sleeves in white voile or broadcloth
a popular color for waist coverings (especially cummerbunds), bow ties and accessories from the 1930s to the 1950s, particularly in summer
mess jacket
a white military dress jacket cut just above the waist that was adapted for civilian semi-formal wear in the early 1930s
midnight blue a deep blackish-blue used in evening wear as a richer alternative to black
mohair a fabric or yarn made wholly or in part of the long silky hair of the Angora goat; sometimes blended with worsted wool producing a cloth with less sheen but more softness and drape
silk, velvet or other fabric having a wavy watered appearance; an independent usually shimmering pattern seen when two geometrically regular patterns are superimposed; mostly in faille or taffeta weaves; used in fashion-forward black-tie fashions in the 1960s; pronounced mwa-RAY
morning coat a tailcoat that is single-breasted and has fronts that curve away gently; the most formal coat for daytime wear; known as a "cutaway" in America
mother-of-pearl the hard, pearly, iridescent substance forming the inner layer of a mollusk shell; often used to decorate formal studs and cufflinks
notched lapel a style of lapel where the top line of the lapel slants down in line with the collar seam; less formal than the peak lapel or shawl collar, it became popular on dinner jackets in the 1960s despite its association with the common business suit
onyx a translucent variety of quartz in parallel layers of different colors; often used in black color black-tie studs and cufflinks  
opera hat
an evening top hat designed to be collapsible for easy storage; worn with white tie; also known as a "Gibbus" after its inventor
oxford in regards to footwear, a low shoe laced or tied over the instep; one of two styles of acceptable formal shoes; compare with pump; see Classic Footwear page for different British and American use of the term (note: typically capitalized in British English)
patent leather a leather with a hard, smooth, glossy finish on the surface; used for formal shoes 
peaked lapel a style of lapel where the top line of the lapel slants upward from the collar seam; the most formal type of lapel; compare with notched lapel and shawl collar
a tightly woven fabric with various raised patterns often found on formal shirts and full-dress waistcoats and bow ties; the finer the bead, the finer and more elegant the shirt; pronounced pee-KAY (see also marcella)
placket also "plaquet"; a separate strip of fabric sewn onto a shirt front to secure the buttonholes and provide structure and finish
pleat  (originally "plait") a fold in cloth made by doubling material over on itself; used to decorate the bosom of black-tie shirts
pocket square a silk or linen handkerchief folded decoratively and placed in the breast pocket of a coat 
poke collar
poke collar (thumb) a standing detachable collar with a very slight curve of the corners in front; popular with formal shirts in the Victorian and Edwardian eras
point collar a shirt collar with a narrow spread between its points; less dressy than a spread collar, it began appearing on formal shirts in the 1990s; also known as a "straight-point collar"
pump   a low-cut, slip-on shoe that grips the foot chiefly at the toe and heel; formal evening pumps usually have an ornamental grosgrain bow in front and are made of patent leather or calfskin; also known as "opera pump" and "court pump"
rever  the reverse side of a lapel (or collar) exposed when a lapel is folded back  

ribbed silk

see "grosgrain" or "faille"

a strip of fabric gathered or pleated on one edge; popular on the bosom and sometimes cuffs of black-tie shirts in the late 1960s and '70s, often with embroidered edges in a contrasting color

sack suit
American term for early style of business suit; similar to British lounge suit
satin a fabric (as of silk) with lustrous face and dull back; used an an alternative to grosgrain in formal facings
self-faced a facing made of the same fabric as the primary garment; standard for light colored dinner jackets 
bow tie
a bow tie that requires tying by the wearer; contrast with "pre-tied" or "clip-on"
see Dress Codes

sennit hat

"straw boater"
a fabric in plain weave having a slightly irregular surface; popular in fashion forward black tie clothing in the late '50s and '60s 
shawl collar also "shawl lapel"; a turned-over collar of a garment that combines with lapels forming an unbroken curving line; compare with peaked lapel and notched lapel

silk hat

see "top hat"
single-breasted having a center closing with one row of buttons and no lap; found in coats, overcoats and waistcoats; compare with double-breasted  
single cuff soft or starched shirt cuff of one thickness; found on stiff-front shirts it is fastened with cuff links; also known barrel cuff (esp. in US); compare with French cuff
sized bow tie a single-piece self-tie bow tie sized for a specific neck measurement 
skirt   on a jacket or coat, the portion of the garment below the waistline

slit pocket

see "besom pocket"
smoking jacket a garment designed for wear while smoking tobacco; traditionally made of velvet or sometimes silk, with a shawl collar, decorated cuffs and toggle fastenings; can be substituted for a dinner jacket in less formal settings
sock garter a band worn to hold up a stocking or sock; ensures that mid-calf formal socks will not bunch or slide 
spread collar a shirt collar with points spread apart enough to accommodate a large tie knot and end underneath the jacket collar; considered a dressier style than the pointed collar
stiff-front shirt a.k.a. "boiled shirt"; a collarless formal shirt with a bosom and cuffs formerly so rigid that the garment had to be boiled to remove the heavy starching in contras to "semi-stiff" or "soft" shirts that use moderate or no starch; worn with a stiff detachable collar
stud a solid button with a shank or eye on the back inserted through an eyelet in a formal shirt, formal waistcoat or detachable collar as a fastener or ornament (shown here is a vintage waistcoat stud)
straw boater
also known as a "Sennit straw hat"; popular summer headwear for black tie in the 1930s

swiss pleat

see "tucks"
tailcoat  a formal indoor coat defined by a long skirt that is cut away in front at the waist and divided by a long center vent in the back; typically a morning coat for formal day wear or an evening tailcoat
tartan  a plaid textile design of Scottish origin consisting of stripes of varying width and color usually patterned to designate a distinctive clan; the green and navy blue "Black Watch" pattern (pictured) has been the favored plaid for informal dinner jackets since the '50s

bow tie

see "butterfly bow tie"
top hat  tall, stiff-crowned hat with rolled-edge brim; worn in black silk with white tie, also worn in gray felt with black band with morning dress; also known as "silk hat" and "topper"; see also opera hat
tucks  pleats that are sewn in place along the folded edge; "pin tucks" are very narrow tucks; also known as swiss pleats; sometimes used to decorate black-tie shirt bosoms
turndown collar a standard shirt collar folded back on itself with cutaway front ends to allow for a tie knot; also known as a "fold collar"; depending on the spacing between the collar points it can be designated either a spread collar or a pointed collar 
see Comparative Terminology

vamp the front part of the upper portion of a shoe that covers the toes and part of the foot; a slip-on (pictured) and an oxford have long vamps while a pump has a a very short one
velvet a clothing and upholstery fabric (as of silk, rayon, or wool) characterized by a short soft dense warp pile; used as an alternative to worsted wool in dinner jackets and as an alternative formal facing especially in the '60s and '70s 
vent an opening in the lower part of a garment seam (as of a jacket or skirt); dinner jackets are most formal when they are not vented but two "side vents" (shown) are a practical and acceptable alternative; a (rear) "center vent" is not appropriate for formal wear

an extremely high quality wool from the fine lustrous undercoat of the vicuña, a South American relative of the llama and alpaca

voile  a fine, lightweight fabric; because of its sheerness voile dress shirts are made with double-layer bosoms and worn primarily for warm weather; pronounced "voil"
waist covering
see "waistcoat" and "cummerbund" 

waist suppression the addition of shape at the waistline of a garment; usually very moderate in dinner jackets (unlike the fashion-forward version shown here)
waistcoat also known as "vest" in North America; a sleeveless garment for the upper body usually worn over a shirt; evening waistcoats are traditionally low cut and lapelled as shown; can be "backless" or have a "full back"  
welt pocket   an inset pocket with the lower lip finished by an upstanding welt (extra strip of fabric or stitching that is sewn or otherwise fastened to a pocket to strengthen or adorn it); typically used for breast pockets on suit jackets

white tie

the most formal type of civilian dress code consisting of specifically defined attire
(note: written as "white-tie" when used as an adjective)

wing collar a standup shirt collar with the front tips folded over to form tabs called "wings"; not to be confused with "wing tips" which is a shoe toe decoration; traditionally detachable but usually attached today
worsted a firm, napless (free of fibrous texture) fabric made with a smooth, compact yarn from long wool fibers; can be "finished" (treating the surface of the fabric to improve its appearance) or "unfinished"














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