23 items of men’s clothing jargon that you don’t know the definition of and are too afraid to ask

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Getty/Jason Merritt

Magazines and websites will often use fancy jargon when talking about men’s clothing and fashion. Though not on purpose, this can actually alienate a lot of readers.

What’s a lapel? Who has ever heard of the difference between an Oxford and a blucher?

But just because these terms are treated like common knowledge and bandied about doesn’t mean everyone knows what they mean.

So, if you’re not all caught up with these terms and you’re too afraid to ask, we created this handy men’s fashion jargon cheat sheet.


Lapel

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Mark Metcalfe / Stringer / Getty Images

The folded fabric on the front of a suit jacket’s collar. It’s usually notched or peak and should be in proportion, width-wise, to your tie.


Shawl Collar

A type of lapel with no notch or fold. A shawl collar, also known as a shawl lapel, runs unbroken from the top of the collar to the buttons.


Bespoke

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Suitsupply

A piece that has been crafted to the customer’s specifications. The client is measured and has the option to choose everything from fabric to stitching.


Black Tie

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Samir Hussein / Stringer / Getty Images

Code word for a completely black tuxedo with a white formal shirt and a black satin bow tie. Sometimes a black satin cummerbund is added, but that is becoming less and less common. Black socks and black patent leather shoes are non-negotiable for black-tie.


White Tie

The most formal dress code that is rarely seen. This style of dress differs from black-tie in that the tie is white (surprise), a white vest is required (and often quite starchy), and the coat has tails. White gloves are optional.


Bootcut

An often unflattering pant where the ankles are cut wider to fit over large work boots.


Button-Down

A button-up shirt with a button-down collar.


Oxford

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Brooks Brothers

A button-down shirt made of Oxford fabric, which uses a special weave that gives it some luster. It’s a dress fabric on the more casual end of the formality spectrum. An Oxford can also refer to a non-boot dress shoe.


Cardigan

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Bonobos

A V-neck, open-front sweater, usually with a buttoned front.


Chino

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Club Monaco

Refers to the cotton twill fabric that pants are frequently made from.


Crewneck

A T-shirt that has a neck hole that hugs the neckline.


V-Neck

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Shutterstock

A T-shirt that has a neck hole that comes down in the front in the form of a V shape. It often shows a bit more chest.


Boatneck

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Shutterstock

A T-shirt that has a neckhole designed to be much larger than a crewneck, and does not hug the neckline.


Double-Breasted

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YouTube

A jacket with two sets of buttons visible when buttoned and an extra flap of fabric.


Raw Denim

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Levi’s

Denim that has never been washed after dying. This differs from commercial denim that’s washed to give it a distressed or faded look. Raw denim is usually indigo, black, or gray.

Prized for its ability to fade naturally over time in a way unique to the wearer.


Selvage

A portmanteau of “self edge.” It refers to the edge of a piece of denim that was woven on a vintage shuttle loom to keep the fabric from unraveling. Denim today is usually crafted with one large sheet and cut into the necessary pieces, but some connoisseurs prize selvage denim as it is thought to be more durable and interesting.


Brogues or broguing.

A shoe with ornamental perforation patterns in the leather. This is a more casual style than plain leather shoes.


Corduroy

A ridged velvet fabric. The ridges are referred to as wales.


Blucher or Derby

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Shutterstock

A shoe made with an “open lacing system,” where shoe laces are attached over the vamp (the upper front part of the shoe under where the shoelaces are tied).


Oxford or Balmoral

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Shutterstock

A shoe that employs a “closed” lacing system, where the shoelaces are attached underneath the vamp. Considered more formal than shoes.


Pleats

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Shutterstock

Stitched and folded fabric that forms a permanent crease on pants. Pleats have fallen out of fashion, as the extra fabric often makes men’s legs look wider than they actually are.


Merino Wool

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Shutterstock

Wool from a Merino sheep. Considered softer than wool from other kinds of sheep.