The Curious Case of the Fashion Singular

September 6, 2016
The Curious Case of the Fashion Singular

The fashion lexicon is a thing all of its own. There’s talk of diaphanous silks, jarring textures, theatrical silhouettes and unapologetic volume. I wholeheartedly indulge in this somewhat absurdly lyrical rhetoric because I think fashion can be genuinely magical, and slightly OTT write ups are my ode to all of those collections that make my heart stop for a split second. I think a beautifully crafted dress deserves to be described as ‘striking in its fluidity’ or ‘a densely layered exercise in modern decadence’. Fashion is poetic and at times ridiculous and so too can be the language to describe and pay tribute to it.

That said, there is one element of the fashion vocabulary which I will not partake in and that is the fashion singular. For the unaware, when I say fashion singular, I’m talking about certain editors’ and designers’ propensity to refer to ‘a boot’ or ‘a jean’. This particular linguistic quirk seems to be exclusive to the fashion and beauty industries. Never have I heard my dentist refer to ‘a gum’ or a chef say that ‘a noodle’ is the perfect foundation for a stir fry and yet it prevails in design studios and magazine offices throughout the style universe.


What works with a cropped jean? An ankle boot. How do you dress up a casual trouser? A heel. Want a new stand out look? Try a statement sleeve. Want to look subtly sexy? How about an exposed shoulder? Need a flash of colour? Debut a bold lip.

So why do people insist on using this awful phraseology? Well, I have an unscientific theory, which I have taken precisely no steps to prove and here it is:

Almost everyone, on some level, partakes in fashion. Most people have an idea of what they like to put with what, and almost everyone can go to the high street and pull a trend-led outfit from the rails. In many ways, fashion belongs to everyone, so how do industry insiders set themselves apart from the ‘amateurs’? They create a language to establish a sense of authority.

Your mate might say she’s going to wear some boots with her dress but an expert would suggest toughening up a simple dress with a chunky boot. You might stick on some trainers with a denim dress but an editor might prompt you to add a sports luxe edge with a fresh white trainer. A patent boot or a blouson sleeve sound more like tools of the trade and less like something anyone can get their hands on in Topshop. It conveys a sense of knowledge and credibility. Unfortunately, it also sounds completely ludicrous. Do we wear only one boot or a single trouser leg? Do we pop on only one sleeve or sport a solitary heel? No. So it needs to stop. Immediately.

Please, just let boots be boots.

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