Glossary of Menswear Terms

Barchetta
Italian for small boat, it’s a type of pocket design that originated in Italy. The pocket curves up at an angle (like the bow of a boat) opposed to being cut straight across. All Beckett & Robb breast pockets are cut using the barchetta style. 

Besom Pockets
Flapless pockets set into the jacket or trouser.

Blake Welting
A method of shoe construction in which the welt, the sole, the insole and upper are sewn together using a single seam, creating a more sleek and comfortable shoe.

Break
Refers to how much of the bottom of the trousers fold where they meet the shoes. A full break is a lot of folding, no break is no folding at all.

Brogue / Brogueing
The small ornamentations added to a leather shoe through patterns of small holes that are punched through the leather.

Cap Toe Shoe
A piece of material that covers the front upper of the shoe and may include decorative brogueing.

Cashmere
Very fine goat hair that originated from the region surrounding Kashmir.

Chukka Boot
An ankle-high shoe with two pairs of eyelets for laces. 

Cordovan
Horsehide tanned with chrome salts. It is used for shoe and boot uppers.

Cowhide
The raw material for shoe manufacture. The strongest and most massive part of the hide is located on either side of the spinal column. The neck section is used for the insole and middle sole, the belly for the welt, the toe cap, and counter. Vegetable-tanned leather is suitable for the lining and the lower parts of the shoe, chemical-tanned leather for the upper. 

Derby
An open-laced style of shoe widespread in Europe, often double stitched and double soled. Also known as "Bluchers." The most common variants are plain, full-brogues, and semi-brogues. 

Donegal
Originating in Donegal county, Ireland, this type of tweed is characterized by bright flecks of color (sometimes called "slubs") that are randomly woven throughout a cloth.

Double Twist
When two threads of yarn are twisted together, effectively doubling its density. Typically referred to as "2-ply" or "double twist."

Eyelets
Holes one-eighth to one-twelfth of an inch [2-3mm] across at intervals of two-fifths to three-fifths of an inch ]1-1.5cm] through which the shoe laces are threaded. Classic gentlemen's shoes normally have five pairs of eyelets. 

Finishing
The final process undergone by the shoe once its construction is complete, consisting of washing, creaming, and polishing the upper; inking, heel balling, and polishing the edges of the sole and the heel. The edge of the sole is pressed with the edge iron and the edges of the heel smoothed with the dummy iron, and both are then individually patterned with the fancy wheels. The top piece and sole are creamed or inked. 

Flap Pockets
Besom pockets covered by a flap.

Four-in-hand Knot
The most common tie knot, it can be worn with any collar style. It gives a clean and simple look, with its slight asymmetry handsomely offsetting the balanced lines of the shirt and suit.

Full Break
Covers almost the whole top of the shoe and leaves a deep horizontal crease at the front of the pant leg.

Full Brogue
A type of shoe decorated with perforated patterns, with winged toe caps and rows of perforations. 

Full Canvas
The gold standard of jacket construction in which an interlining of canvas, made up of wool and horsehair, is sewn in between the inner suit lining and outer fabric and extends the full length of the jacket. A full canvas adds structure and padding through the chest, creating a clean drape that subtly takes the shape of the chest of the wearer over time.

Full Windsor Knot
A large, symmetrical knot created by wrapping both sides of the necktie.

Fused
A method for constructing a suit jacket using glues and adhesives. A non-woven paper or plastic product saturated with glue bonds the cloth you see to the interlining you don’t see. It gives the cloth more rigidity and form, but does not mold to the body due to its stiffness. Fusing is the most common method used today for lower-end ready-to-wear and “custom” suits.

Glenplaid
A checked pattern. Visually it appears as a combination of a prince-of-wales and windowpane.

Goodyear Welting
A method of shoe construction in which the insole, upper, and welt are sewn together. The welt is then stitched to the outsole as to leave the upper surface of the insole free of tacks and stitches. This method allows for resoling and is virtually waterproof.

Grenadine
A woven pattern for ties, made up of a repeating, open-weave construction.

Half Canvas
A form of jacket construction in which the canvas extends over the chest to around the top of the rib cage. This differs than Full Canvas construction in that the canvas extends the full length of the jacket. 

Half-Windsor Knot
Not as large as the full-windsor and a touch more formal than the four-in-hand, its goes well with any occasion.

Hand Basted
A method for attaching cloth to the interlining using temporary stitches that will be removed after the parts of the garment are sewn together. This method uses canvas and other materials that can be molded to the shape of a person’s body. Basting is the traditional method and is more time consuming.

Herringbone
A pattern consisting of parallel lines that slant in opposite directions forming V shapes.

Houndstooth
A repeating duotone pattern characterized by small (sometimes large for jackets), abstract four-pointed shapes.

Heel Construction
Several leather lifts, a top piece, and a quarter rubber are assembled to form the heel. 

Hopsack
A rough-surfaced, loosely-woven clothing fabric. Commonly used in summer-weight suits, especially unlined ones.

Insole
The foundation of the shoe: a piece of leather between one-tenth and one-seventh of an inch [2.5-3.5 mm] thick, depending on the robustness of the shoe, on which the shoe is built. The initial stage is to nail the insole to the last. A feather is then formed with the gouge. 

Last
An instrument used for making shoes. Its shape and dimensions represent the customer's foot and the required type of shoe in abstract form, the leather is stretched over the last and the shoe takes the shape of the last.

Lining
The inside of the jacket. Usually linings coordinate subtly with the color of the jacket, or sometimes are bold colors and patterns. The best linings are made from cupro, oft times seen under the brand name Bemberg.

Medium Break
The most popular option, this break stops at the highest point of the instep of the shoe.

Mohair
A silk like hair that comes from the Angora Goat and is notable for its high luster and sheen. A wiry fiber that is virtually wrinkle resistant and is often blended with other fibers, such as wool and silk, to soften its springiness.

Monk Strap Shoe
A puritanical-looking shoe, as its name suggests. Its most striking feature is the fact that its quarters are fasted together with a buckle, or even two, and it is often richly decorated. It owes its elegance to its long vamp. 

Notched Lapels
Lapels with a triangle "notch" cut out of the upper edge near the collar bone. They are the most conservative choice and are less formal than a peaked or shawl lapel.

One Button Jacket
Traditionally was reserved for tuxedos, in recent years the one button jacket has become more popular in less formal wear. It looks great in peaked lapel suits and with a modern silhouette. 

Oxford
An esthetically elegant style with closed lacing. It typically comes in plain, full-brogue, and semi-brogue versions. 

Peaked Lapels
Lapels with little "peaks" that point upward. A slightly less conservative choice that is considered more formal than a notched lapel. Peaked lapels are usually found on double breasted jackets, though in recent years it has become common to find them on single breasted jackets. A peaked lapel is also a common choice for a tuxedo lapel.

Pick Stitching
Visible stitches around the lapels and edge of the jacket. Pick stitching conveys craftsmanship and touch of old-fashioned tailoring. 

Pinking
Shoe detailing, typically along the edges of a seam, characterized by a sawtooth edge.

Plain Toe Shoe
Style of shoe in which the toe box is without any cap or perforations.

Pocket Square
A small piece of fabric worn in the jacket pocket. Oft times nothing more than a handkerchief folded neatly into straight lines, a pocket square can also be much more colorful and decorative. It’s a great finishing touch that needn’t be overdone to lend distinction, modernity, and luxury to your look. The pocket square should not match your tie.  

Prince of Wales
A twill weave of broken checks in a large pattern form. Very similar to glen plaid but without the intersecting windowpane pattern. 

Quarter
Part of the upper. The two quarters cover the inner and outer sides of the foot, reaching from the instep to the back of the heel (where they meet). The height of the quarters at the inside of the ankle bone is 2 inches [5 cm] in shoes and an additional 2-4 inches [5-10 cm] in ankle boots. 

Rise
Refers to the length of the crotch to the waistband. The rise on a pair of suit trousers should fit as high and close as possible, as it makes moving easier and decreases the stress on the fabric.

Semi-Brogue
A shoe style with perforated decoration, a plain toe cap, and brogueing rows. Also know as a half-brogue. 

Shank
A steel spring doe 4 inches [10 cm] long and three-fifths of an inch [1.5 cm] wide that strengthens the region of the waist in the gap formed by the welt and the insole. It stiffens this part of the shoe, which must not move when walking. 

Sharkskin
A smooth worsted fabric, used for suits, with a soft texture and a two-toned woven appearance.

Shawl Lapel
A continuous lapel without a notch or a peak breaking the outer line. It is a simple, elegant choice and is rarely seen on anything other than a tuxedo.

Short Break
Covers just the top quarter inch of the shoe. Currently a fashion-forward choice, it can give the appearance of the pants being a bit too short.

Show buttons
Cuff buttons that don’t have any functionality, they are just for show. See "Working Buttons" below.

Slanted Pockets
Pockets set diagonally instead of horizontally. Also known as "hacking" pockets in England.

Slip-on
A shoe style with no laces, or buckles, into which the wearer simply slips his foot (also called a loafer). Its forebear is the Indian moccasin. Today slip-ons also exist in welt-stitch form. One of these is the Penny Loafer, where the tongue is covered by a leather cross-strap under which wearers used to place a coin. 

Sole
A component in the lower part of the shoe. Single-soled shoes have only a top sole, which makes contact with the ground. Double-soled shoes have a top sole and a middle sole.

Spalla Camicia
Meaning "shirt shoulder" in Italian, this type of Italian shoulder construction is crafted without padding as to create a soft and natural transition from shoulder to arm.

Suede
A soft leather that has been rubbed on one side to make a surface that has the appearance and feel of velvet. A versatile material that can be continually reconditioned back to like-new.

Tanning 
The treatment of skin with tanning agents to render it durable, resilient, hard-wearing, and soft. There are two main types of tanning.

  1. Vegetable tanning, in which skins are tanned in pits with plant extracts such as spruce, oak, or alder wood; oak galls, pomegranates, or acorn seed husks. It is mainly the lower parts of the shoe that undergo vegetable tanning.
  2. Mineral tanning, in which skins are tanned in drums with alum or chromium salts, the latter shortening the otherwise protracted tanning period to six or seven weeks. It is mainly the upper leather that undergoes mineral tanning. 

Three Button Jacket
A classic look that has fallen out of favor for the past decade or so, the lapel is pressed so that all 3 buttons on the front are visible.

Three-Rolls-Two 
Also called a three-two or a false three. A hybrid of a two-button and a three-button jacket. A three-rolls-two has three buttons, but the lapel is shaped to roll as above the second button but below the third button, which hides the top (third) button under the roll. A classic choice preferred by many suit aficionados for both sport coats and suits, the third button is not used.

Ticket Pocket
A narrow, single pocket set above a flap pocket on the right side of the jacket. Uncommon on ready-to-wear suits, the ticket pocket has been around for many decades and continues to be a good choice both for slanted or straight pockets.

Toe Cap

  1. Internal: leather stiffener at the tip of the shoe. It is used in shoes with a one-piece upper, in which case it is not immediately apparent whether the shoe was made with or without a toe cap. If the vamp is divided, the toe cap can have a straight (semi-brogue) or winged (full-brogue) shape.
  2. External: that part of the upper that corresponds in shape to the internal toe cap. 

Tongue
A leather flap attached to the inside or outside of the upper to protect the lacing area from friction, pressure, and penetration by extraneous objects. It also often functions as a decorative component. 

Tweed
A rough woolen fabric made usually in twill weaves, commonly associated with Ireland and Scotland.

Twill
A pattern that is made in a way as to produce a sequence of diagonal lines. The diagonal direction, unlike the way clothing is stressed when worn, makes twill very strong and durable.

Two-Button Jacket
The most common jacket, it’s timeless and flattering on most body types because its V points the eye to the slimmest point of a man’s waist (the area near the top button).

Upper
The topmost part of the shoe. Depending on the shoe type and style, it consists of one or more components: the toe cap, vamp, tongue, quarters, and back. 

Upper Leather
Leather from the highest-quality layer of the hide, tanned with chrome salts. It is used to make the upper. Upper leather is normally between one-fifteeth and one-twentieth of an inch [1.2-1.5 mm] thick. 

Vamp
The front of the shoe, consisting of one piece (in the slip-on) or several (toe cap, vamp insertion). Its shape depends on the shoe style. 

Vents
A vent allows for both a tailored fit and easy movement. A center vent is traditional; two side vents are more modern and give the jacket a more fitted silhouette. 

Vicuña
A very expensive and exotic wool material harvested from a rare llama-like animal only found in a small area of the Andes mountains in Peru, South America. Due to the protected status of the animal and the limited number of them, vicuña is extremely rare. As a result, vicuña is the most expensive cloth on earth. The lustrous wool is prized for its ability to trap air inside itself which makes the cloth extremely warm. 

Warp
The sequence of threading yarn over and under vertically on a loom. 

Weft
The sequence of threading yarn horizontally through the warp while on the loom.

Welt
This strip of leather, an average of 24 inches [60 cm] long, four-fifths of an inch [2 cm] wide, and one-eighth of an inch [3 cm] thick, is the foundation of the shoe. It holds the upper, insole, and sole together. 

Welt seam
The seam that holds the upper, insole, and welt together.

Windowpane
A large square or rectangular pattern that resembles the pattern of panes on a window.

Wingtip
Heart-shaped toe cap. The elegant line extends along the vamp almost as far as the heel. 

Working Buttons
Also called “Surgeon’s Cuffs”, working buttons are functional and can be unbuttoned to allow the sleeves to be rolled up. Working buttons on a suit are indicative of a custom-made suit.