Fashion is as much about language, as it is about clothes

Fashion is as much about language, as it is about clothes



Do you date yourself every time you offer an opinion on the latest fashions? If so, you’re not alone. Thanks to the internet and social media, men’s fashion jargon changes daily. To keep up, you’d literally have to be connected 24/7. For example, would you say the well-dressed guy in the corner is “dressed to kill” or that his look is “on point?” How about “on fleek?” Careful. Whatever your answer, your response is likely to be a fairly good indicator of the generation you hail from. Nothing pegs a person’s age quicker than his or her fashion speak.


Despite having access to a lexicon of more than 170,000 English language words, each generation has felt compelled to invent its own distinct lingo – one that reflects its particular values. And those values are often linked to the way someone looks and dresses. If you’re a Baby Boomer (or older), you’re likely to recognize what’s meant by a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” but would you understand a teen or twenty-something’s reference to a guy whose appearance is “sus?”  How about equating someone who is “putting on airs” with a “poser?” If these expressions are new to you, it’s not surprising. They are the product of a wired generation, one whose language is deeply rooted in social media, gaming and popular song lyrics.


Today’s youth are undeniably the most digitally connected ever. They communicate in texts, tweets, and emoji’s. They don’t have time for wordy and long-forgotten colloquialisms. In fact, for this bunch, acronyms and abbreviations rule – the shorter, the better!  “Pretty” becomes “p” and “very” – “v”, as in “Your kicks are p dope” or “Your new aesthetic is v lit.” Of course, these examples work better if you also know the current urban definitions for “dope” and “lit.” And even that might not be enough. To really understand a millennial or post-millennial, you have to appreciate what makes him or her tick. Unlike earlier generations whose clothes-related vernacular often elevated and emphasized industriousness (roll up your sleeves, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, buckle down…), millennials’ word choices routinely hype the traits they value the most: authenticity, originality, innovation and optimism. Add some wit and humor, along with a bit of drama, and that works too. A word of caution though. Many of the phrases millennials love to use can mean different things in different situations. Misuse them and you could come off sounding sexist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic – well you get the picture. A slip of the tongue can definitely send the wrong message.


But if you’re pushing 50 and looking for ways to better connect with your internet-savvy, soon-to-be adult kids, nieces or nephews – or even with the new college hire in the next cubicle, try out a few of the Urban Dictionary entries below. On the other hand, if you are the new college hire in the next cubicle, teach the old guy sitting next to you one or two of your favorite go-to expressions. If he resists, remind him you’re only as old as you “sound.”


Urban Dictionary redefines the way we think and talk about fashion:

Aesthetic (noun):  A certain vibe or look. Ex: “Hey, I just went shopping. Check out my new aesthetic.”


Banging (adj):  Excellent, great. Ex: “That jacket is banging!”


Basic (adj):  Ordinary. Ex: “No one will notice him; his outfit’s so basic.”


Cancel (verb):  Reject. Ex: “Do you like this shirt?” “Cancel.”


Cray (adj): Crazy, out-of-the box. Ex: “His Fu Manchu stache is cray!”


Dead (adj):  Really, a lot. Ex: “That psychedelic tie is dead lit!”


Dope (adj):  Stylish (also see swag). Ex: “Those shoes are dope.”


Extra (ad):  Over the top. Ex: “He’s wearing an all-velvet ensemble – extra.”


Fashion 2.0 (adj):  The next new look. Ex: “Knitted sneakers are definitely Fashion 2.0.”


Fashion drag (noun):  Someone obsessed with fashion and style. Ex: “He loves to shop. He’s such a fashion drag.”


Fashion drops (adj):  Knock-off garments, shoes and accessories. Ex: “Are those really Gucci? They look like fashion drops.”


Fashion faker or fashion victim (noun):  Someone who follows the crowd, wearing trendy clothes he doesn’t actually like. Ex: “Look at him squirming in those skintight leather pants. He’s such a fashion faker.”


Fashion-forward (adj):  Hip, slick, cool. Ex: “GQ has a fashion-forward audience.”


Fashion tribe (noun):  Group of people identifiable by their clothing style. Ex. “He only wears black. It’s easy to see what fash tribe he belongs to.”


Ferosh (adj):  Combination of fierce and ferocious. Ex: “OMG, that black power suit and silk tie are ferosh!”


Garms (noun):  British term for cool clothes. Ex: “Let’s head downtown to pick up some new garms.”


Jorts (noun): Denim shorts. Ex: “Jorts are for kids. Guys should never wear jorts, especially short jorts.”


Kicks (noun):  Shoes. Ex: “Check out my new Nike kicks.”


Like (verb): To approve. Ex: “Their new spring line is lit. Like!”


Lit (adj):  Amazing. Ex: “I told him he looked especially lit today in that wool blazer.”


Manbun (noun):  Man’s hairstyle where hair is pulled back and coiled into a bun. Ex: “A lot of women think guys with manbuns are hot.”


Mandals (noun):  Men’s sandals. Ex: “Mandals should only be worn in the summer and never with socks.”


Man-kini (noun):  Man’s bikini brief swimsuit. Ex: “Only body builders should wear man-kinis.”


Man tiara (noun):  Sunglasses worn on your head to make a fashion statement. Ex:  We’re indoors now. You can nix the man tiara.”


Mega (adj):  Really cool. Ex: “Kanye looked mega awesome in his Prada Impossible True Love shirt.”


Murse (noun):  Man purse.  Ex: “Several A-listers have been spotted around town carrying murses.”


Normcore (adj):  Making obviously acceptable choices, conformist. Ex: “He only wears T-shirts and jeans; he’s totally normcore.”


On-fleek (adj): Perfect. Ex: “His brows and hair are on fleek, just like that fitted white suit he’s wearing.” 


On-trend or on-point (adj): Trendy, up-to-date. Ex: “Stripes are so on-trend this fall.”


P (adj):  Pretty. Ex: “Those Ray-Bans are p cool.”


Poser (noun):  Someone who tries to blend in. Ex: “He is such a poser-hipster; he wouldn’t know vintage if it bit him.”


RompHim (noun): One-piece rompers for men. Ex: “Did you see Trevor by the pool? He’s really rockin’ that sky blue RompHim and matching mandals.”


Shacket (noun):  Cross between a shirt and a jacket. Ex: “Sun’s out. Just throw on a shacket.”


Slay (verb):  To do something exceedingly well; dominate. Ex:  “He slayed in that velvet tux at the Oscars.”


Speaking to me (verb):  A look that is ostentatious, impossible to ignore. Ex: “Wow, that bow tie you’re wearing is really speaking to me.”


Sus (adj):  Suspect, sketchy, shady. Ex: “She thinks he’s sus cause he’s always hiding behind dark shades and a hoodie.”


Swag (adj):  Stylish, dope. Ex: “His snakeskin belt is totally swag.”


td (noun):  Short for “trend jumper.” Someone who jumps from fad to fad in an attempt to fit in. Ex: “Do you like the way he dresses? Nope, he’s too much of a td.”


V (adj):  Short for very. Ex: “She thinks your manbun is v hot.”


Wowzers (exclamation):  Good or bad. Ex: “Did you see his platform shoes? Wowzers!”


What do you think? Ready to expand your fashion horizons and vocabulary? Good, just slip one of the colorful terms above into your next text or tweet. But don’t wait too long. Most of these newly minted words and expressions have the shelf life of an over-ripe banana. If you’re not quick about it, your descriptor of choice could be long out-of-vogue before you even get the chance to hit “send.” 


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