Any style connoisseur or budding fashionista has to admit, that even for those who try to keep track of fashion terms and trends, the jargon; vernacular; names of colors; shape; and designers, can be difficult for many to remember. That is where Alex Newman and Zakee Shariff’s Fashion A-Z: An Illustrated Dictionary comes in handy.

We have the miniature version (the book is about as tall as my hand), but the content mirrors the regular volume; this one is simply easier to travel with. The book literally breaks down terms alphabetically and is incredibly detailed. It also includes cultural significance and historical facts for listed items.


Like most other dictionaries, this book is arranged alphabetically and, when applicable, lists multiple definitions for each word. Words that relate directly to other listings are cross-referenced for a better understanding of the terminology. The dictionary lists alternative names and spellings for entries with differing spellings or meanings.

If you were wondering what an “arrowhead stitch” would look like, the book tells you it is “a stitch that consists of pairs of straight lines at tight-angles to one another, thus forming the shape of an arrowhead.” What is a “tifter”? It is a British slang term for a hat. The authors also make sure to include modern-day items, like “man bag.” To accentuate the wealth of information, the book includes a number of well-rendered drawings, should you need to picture Chantilly lace, a leg-of-mutton sleeve, a pork pie hat, and saddle bags, among other items. There are listings of garments, textiles, embroidery and needlework, and other fashion-related terms derived from varying cultures and countries. The authors modestly say that the book is not all-inclusive, but we think this list is as close as anyone can get and still fit the information into one volume.


The book’s Foreword states the dictionary will “save us all from the lengthy explanations, diagrams, and gesticulations that occur in many a sample room, classroom, or factory floor.” We’re hoping that is true, and plan on keeping copies on-hand for just those instances.


Fashion A-Z: An Illustrated Dictionary, by Alex Newman and Zakee Shariff is published by Laurence King Publishing.

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