The origins behind some common fashion terms

  • Sol Rivero

Chic, fashionista, glamour, trend… we’ve all used those words before, but where do they really come from? If you like to know a lot about fashion, then read on to discover the origins behind some common fashion terms.


The origins behind the term “fashion”:

We love it and we use it daily to describe the wide variety of clothes, accessories and beauty trends that define an epoch or season. Yet, “fashion” comes from the Latin word factionem, which designates a “group of people acting together”. This term later derived on the French word façon, which was used to define various things: something created by humans, a defining property of something, or even a pattern.

It wasn’t until the early 15th century when the word was employed to define a type of attire that was used by many and regarded as a convention. However, the term really gained its contemporary sense during the 20th century, when it was linked to the artistic work of designers and as a mark of socioeconomic status.  


The origins behind the fashion term “style”:

While “fashion” designates some conventions shared by a usually large crowd, “style” is used to define the unique use of fashion in each individual. Although the term derives from the Latin word stilus, which is used to name a writing instrument, its contemporary meaning comes from the French term stile or estile, which is used to define a way of life or a particular mannerism.

The use of the word “style” in relation to fashion and beauty began in the midst of the 20th century, and it has grown in popularity since then.


The origins behind the fashion term “chic”:

One of the most beloved fashion words is the term “chic”, but although it’s very popular amongst fashion-lovers, the origins of the word are not so clear. Chic is a French word from the 19th century which was apparently used to name a non-French place. However, it was soon used to define a particular fashion style, and some believe that it originated from the German term schick or schikken, which are used to designate tact or an appropriate arrangement of something.

Nowadays, the word can be used in a myriad of different ways, although it’s usually employed to describe a person with a great sense of style.


The origins behind the fashion term “glamour”:

Like “chic”, “glamour” is a term usually employed to describe someone with a great fashion sense, although it’s more commonly associated with a person who also excels at being graceful and elegant. Yet, the term derives from a Scottish word used to designate an enchantment or a spell.

Its link to beauty and fashion began in the 19th century, first through the idealized world of the Romantic Movement, and later used as a way of defining a particularly fascinating female.


The origins behind the fashion term “trend”:

Nowadays, we use the term “trend” to define a particular way of dressing that becomes extremely popular during a specific season, especially due to the influence of fashion designers. However, the term actually originated as a way of designating how the rivers and other water sources bent in a particular direction. The word derives from Old English and Germanic terms used to designate the act of rolling or round-shaped things.

During the late 19th century, the term was also used to define a general course, thus coming closer to its current use, and in the midst of the 20th century it began being applied to fashion. Terms like “trendy” and “trendsetter” are related derivations which have been coined since then.



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Sources: Style. The History of Fashion. Online Etymology.
Online Etymology Dictionary. Chic, chic, chic.