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10 Phrases Fashion Writers Should Stop Using Immediately

By Sarah Miller August 18th, 2016

Fashion is an endless topic. What we adorn ourselves with is always changing, and we’re always going to write about it. Not surprisingly, then, fashion writing has spawned an endless amount of signature phrases. Some of these phrases are classics, like “little black dress” or “updo.” Or “pants.”

Listed below, however, are the ones that are so last-season, and, in some cases, never looked good in the first place.

1. Rocked

Already barely tolerable in speech—“Hey, you’re really rocking that vintage Van Halen concert shirt!”—this word loses all of its negligible charm once in print.

“Rocked” is particularly odious when applied to a woman over the age of 40 who has been deemed deserving of astonished praise for having left the house in something other than a muumuu and a bag over her head, as in “Check out Jennifer Aniston rocking a pencil skirt” or “See Charlize Theron rock high-waisted jeans.”

2. Boho chic (this includes boho chic’s mala-wearing cousin, hippie chic)

Recall, if you will, the first few lines of George Eliot’s Middlemarch: “Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.” I doubt Dorothea Brooke was boho chic.

Very beautiful people can appear to be even more beautiful when they are wearing expensive pajamas. “Unfair” is not a look.

3. Channeling your inner _____.

Thirty, sometimes 40 times a day, we are instructed to “channel” everything from our inner goddess, to our inner fashionista (double awful!), to our inner Rihanna. It is remarkable we have any room left in there for our inner innards.

The term’s popularity is surprising enough—even more so is that those who are responsible walk around the world as if they have done nothing wrong.

4. I am obsessed with ____.

“I am obsessed with cherry lip balm.” “I am obsessed with Beyonce’s yellow dress in Lemonade.” “I am obsessed with statement furs.”

Oh, so you lie awake thinking about these things, tossing and turning in your sheets while rosé facial spray tramples through your brain. That’s… weird.

I am not the first to notice this. A New York Times article from more than three years ago explored this phenomenon, not just in fashion, but in everything. And yet it persists. Do not let yourself be part of why. (I am kind of obsessed with Beyonce’s yellow dress in Lemonade, though.)

5. Bodycon

I feel like we already have such a nifty word for describing clothing that is bodycon, and that word is “tight.”

6. Jorts and jeggings

The “Bennifer” and “Brangenlina” and “Kimye” of fashion words. Except—why bother? “Bennifer” and “Brangenlina” and “Kimye” are funny. There’s a joke there. Like, you get one, you get the other! Their coupledom is a person unto itself, distinct from each individual!

Jeans and shorts don’t go everywhere together. Jeans and shorts don’t adopt kids together or get in fights with Taylor Swift together. I don’t even want to think about jeans and leggings as one thing, even for a second, so we’re done here.

7. Cozy sweaters

As if women are not under enough pressure to exude sultry feminine sexuality all summer, the cozy sweater asks that we be adorable all winter too.

One wonders: If cozy sweaters could speak, would they have vocal fry?

8. Sartorial

The only person who ever made this word sound good was P.G. Wodehouse, who has been dead for many years. Plus, when he used the word, he was laughing at it, not with it.

This term is used by writers who have already typed “clothing,” “tailoring,” “dressing,” and “fashion,” and have run out of words. I sympathize with that writer. I am that writer.

Does that mean when you find yourself in the same situation you should throw up your hands and use the word “sartorial”? Not unless you want to sound like a person who uses words because they can’t think of other words. You don’t want to sound like that person.

9. A red lip

“The red lip is back for fall.” “Don’t pair a pink dress and a red lip.” “Pair a red lip with a neutral shadow.”

I’ll tell you what “red lip” needs to be paired with: the letter “s”. Also, if the letter “s” is not too tired after paying a much-needed visit to lip, it could perhaps call upon the word “pant,” also in desperate need of company.

10. Pop of color

“Pop of color” is how your describe what happens when you wear a neutral outfit but add a necklace with a blue stone, or a pair of orange sandals or, if you’re rich, one of these pink Mulberry Bayswater bags that I deserve and yet will never ever own. In other words, getting dressed.

“Pop of color,” thanks. We enjoyed you from 2011 to 2015, and that was enough.

More in this series:

10 Phrases Travel Writers Should Stop Using Immediately

10 Phrases Food Writers Should Stop Using Immediately

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