A Girl's Guide To Understanding Fashion Writing

As previously reported, in 1950, British novelist/critic Marghanita Laski (aka Honorary Jezebel No. 1) called bullshit on women's magazines. She also turned her piercing, unwavering eye on those who critique and write about clothes (Lucky editors, are you listening?). "My study is of the fashion writer in the glossy monthlies whose language, while representing the quintessence of glamour to thousands of women, must be still virtually incomprehensible to millions more," she wrote. "It is in the bold misuse of our contemporary vocabulary that the art of the fashion writer is seen at its best; and for those who may wish to penetrate into hitherto unexplored fields I append an all too short glossary." "Cheap Clothes For Fat Old Women", Laski's informative and quite funny glossary, after the jump.



"I should add that the abbreviation G.W. indicates a Glamour Word, extremely evocative in the right context and of no real meaning whatsoever." — Laski

Amusing: cheap.
Bold: G.W.; e.g., b. back-sweeping fullness.
Brief: very short in length: e.g., b. bolero, b. panties.
Bulge, Unseemly: stomach fat.
Classic: English garment (shoes, hat, suit) barely susceptible to fashion changes.
Crisp: G.W.; e.g., a c. silhouette, c. touches of white.
Demure: (of hats and hair styles) those which symmetrically frame the face.
Dignified: (i) of women: old; (ii) of clothes: for old women.
Dramatic: virtually unwearable, but photographs well.
-Est: Intensive used instead of "very" ; e.g., palest gray, softest and finest worsteds.
Everywhere: in a very few places; e.g., sable stoles are e.
Flattery: G.W.; e.g., the f. of mink, diamonds, orchids against your skin.
Frankly: would be ugly if we didn't tell you it wasn't; e.g., a f. jagged hemline.
Fuzz, Unsightly: superfluous hair on the legs.
Generous: (i) the designer is making nothing out of the dress length; e.g., g. cuffs; (ii) fat.
Hairs, Obstinate or Recalcitrant: the unwanted mustache; e.g., tweak out those o. (or r.) h.
Important: G.W.
Jaunty: G.W.
Limited-Income: cheap.
Midriff: stomach
Nostalgic: G.W.
Older: (of women) old.
Team: to wear one thing with another; e.g., t. your palest gray dress with the subtle flattery of a brief scarlet bolero.
That, Those: adjectives of distaste and elimination; e.g., eliminate t. unsightly bugle, or, as above, tweak out t. recalitrant hairs.
To sum things up, Laski translates the title of her column, "Cheap Clothes For Fat Old Women" into fashion editor speak: "Limited-Income Clothess for Dignified Maturity." Were she alive today, surely Lucky would drive Ms. Laski insane.

Cheap Clothes For Fat Old Women [The Atlantic, fee req'd]

Earlier: Awesome British Lass Gives Women's Magazines Her Best Left Hook
Lucky Magazine's Sexy, Glamorous "Caption Dementia"