Entertainment Style What on earth is a gilet? Fashion terms explained
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What on earth is a gilet? Fashion terms explained

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As someone who has been in the fashion business for more years than I care to remember, I often forget that fashion speaks in a shorthand and with references that would confuse a layperson.

I realised this recently when I said to my son: “That would look nice put back with a classic grey marle sweat and a sneaker, Steve McQueen in his late 1960s motorcycle period.”

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Or when I said to my friend: “You could do Jackie Kennedy, not in her Skorpios period, but the Doubleday book editor years.”

Here’s a little chart to explain a few mysterious fashion terms.

Couture

This term can only be used if you are a designer house that has been accepted by the storied Chambre Syndicale in Paris, that has a certain number of experts or “petit mains” in the atelier and that uses specific luxury suppliers, textiles and techniques.

Not if you have run something up at home on the Singer and a WAG has worn it to the Brownlow Medal awards evening.

Christian Dior haute couture on the runway in 2014.
Christian Dior haute couture on the runway in 2014.

A pant

When we talk about a look, we tend to turn things into the singular, for example: “Put a sheer blouse back with a black pant.” We mean pants.

We don’t say it, however, when we are talking about menswear. Men wear pants. We also say a T when we mean tshirt. Again, men have t-shirts.

Gigi Hadid rocks a pant on the catwalk.
Gigi Hadid rocks a pant on the catwalk.

A slide

This is a flat, backless sandal, such as a Birkenstock or one of those dreadful black and white plastic Adidas things. Different to a thong, which is held by your toe. Which is, of course, different to a thong which is held by something else.

A typical "slide".
A typical “slide”.

Pared back

This means an outfit devoid of ornamentation or excessive, extraneous design. For example “She was very pared back chic, in a simple black sheath, her hair pulled loosely into a low ponytail and a pair of ballet flats”.

Hugely different obviously to “She paired her sweater back with a cute pair of cut-offs”.

Rooney Mara is a model of pared back elegance.
Rooney Mara is a model of pared back elegance.

A playsuit

This is a sort of all-in-one shorts outfit, not to be confused with a romper suit which would be more bib-and-brace with bloomers, a pitsuit which is more like a racecar driver outfit (mostly seen in skintight denim like on Farrah in her Charlie’s Angels period) or a jumpsuit which is an all-in-one pantsuit that is slightly more loose fitting and can come with or without sleeves.

Perplexed? Don’t wear any of them.

Taylor Swift wears a playsuit.
Taylor Swift wears a playsuit.

A gilet

This is a posh way to say sleeveless vest. As in: “Hey, I like your chinchilla gilet. It’s nice paired back with that pant. And so en pointe with a slide.”

Olivia Palermo wears a black-and-white gilet.
Olivia Palermo wears a black-and-white gilet.

En pointe

In styling terms it means you got it right. You are en pointe. Your shoe choice is perfect. This should all be making sense now.

Olivia Wilde and Naomi Watts are always en pointe.
Olivia Wilde and Naomi Watts are always en pointe.

‘She looked really French’

That means, very specifically, jeans, a tshirt ( also known as a “t” as we now know) long, centre-parted vaguely unwashed hair, no thighs to speak of, a subtle Cartier something, Isabel Marant boots, a Saint Laurent leather jacket and a Chanel 2.55 handbag. No makeup. Cigarette de rigeur.

French actress Clemence Poesy epitomises French style.
French actress Clemence Poesy epitomises French style.

Redux

Means a revival of sorts. Like “Marc Jacobs’ show had a hint of 70s redux”. A future season show review would probably also be redux because Marc Jacobs shows were always 70s redux.

Redux style at a Marc Jacobs show.
Redux style at a Marc Jacobs show.

Peasant chic

This is when a peasant blouse is paired back with a pant. But not with a peasant skirt. That would just be peasant.

Boho chic at Isabel Marant.
Boho chic at Isabel Marant.

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