Olga Totskaya — The Concept Female fashion in the English Discourse

Nr. 18    Juni 2011 TRANS: Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften

Section | Sektion: Semantik, Diskurs und interkulturelle Kommunikation aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive

The Concept Female fashion in the English Discourse

Olga Totskaya (Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University, Russia) [BIO]

Email: tanyavip7@mail.ru

 Konferenzdokumentation |  Conference publication



The general problem of the phenomenon of female fashion is a key notion of culture, ethics and knowledge, finding out its position in the English-language map of the world, as it now occupies the central ground in the popular understanding of modern culture [Breward 2006]. The whole specificity of female fashion may be summed up in a mental construction – concept – viewed from a linguo-cultural perspective.

As an inventory of basic conventions for linking meanings with phonological sequences, lexicon represents a distillation of shared human experience [Langacker 2000].

It is well known that language is the universal form of the initial conceptualization of the outside world. An emphasis on the linguistic representation of the concept female fashion helps to point out the correlation between the concept itself and the lexical units possessing the semantics of fashion.

One line of conceptual research was to trace the role of perception concept formation. A number of scientists have concluded that the visual perception plays here the most important role [Broadbent 1971, Erikson 1987, Norman 1976]. The formation of any concept is based on the selective perception of the environment.

The concept of female fashion can be viewed as the mental unity of our perception and memory reflected in the mind of the man. It has a “stratified” structure and it is a sediment of different cultural epochs. The structure of the concept female fashion includes:

  • the main conceptual feature accessible to anyone: Sleevepart of a garment that covers all or part of the arm [Oxford Dic. 1982], where we see the general notion of the sleeve as a part of the clothing.
  • the additional conceptual feature accessible only to professionals in a certain sphere: Victorianagarments and accessories from the Victorian period (1837-1901) or that reflect the tastes of the time [The Visual Dictionary of Fashion Design 2007].

Drawing on the fashion-related lexis of the English language it’s possible to combine the lexical units of the sphere of female fashion according to: 1) age-related indication; 2) the ways of production; 3) season; 4) professional appliance; 5) style; 6) piece of clothing in costume; 7) part of the body the clothing is put on; 8) pieces of clothing; 9) accessories.

Drawing on the fashion-related lexis of the English language it’s possible to combine the lexical units of the sphere of female fashion according to: 1) age-related indication; 2) season; 3) style; 4) method of manufacturing; 5) part of the body to wear clothes; 6) sphere of wearing; 7) usage in costume; 8) parts of the garment.

According to the age-related indication we can distinguish the following:

  1. the youth clothes:
    1. bandanaa piece of cloth tied around the head, neck or over the mouth [Macmillan Dictionary, 2002];
    2. leggings close-fitting trousers worn by women and children [Collins Dictionary, 2005]
    3. Worn the right way, leggings are now a DO: They look great under a skirt or dress, especially if you are shy about showing your legs. Or try them under a long tunic top with a belt. Finish with flats and you’re good to go [Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts, 2006]
  2. Clothes for the middle age:
    1. blazera fairly lightweight jacket, often striped or in the colours  of a sports club, school, etc.
    2. Blazers should be fitted and hit at your hipbone [Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts, 2006].
    3. For the oldest age:
    4. cardigana knitted, woolen garment similar to a sweater or a jacket, but with an opening down to front, which can be fastened with buttons or a zip [The Visual Dic. of Fashion Design, 200.
  3. Children’s clothes:
    1. biba piece of cloth that is tied round a baby’s neck and hangs down to protect its clothes while eating or drinking [Collins Dic., 2005].
    2. The next group is composed of items according to the season. Here one can find: 1) off-season clothes:
    3. capri pantswomen’s narrow trousers that end just below the knee [Collins Dictionary, 2005];
    4. skirta garment hanging from the waist, worn chiefly by women and girls [Collins Dictionary, 2005]:
    5. Do dress up a casual skirt with a sweater and blazer [Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts, 2006]
  4. Summer clothes:
    1. mini(of a woman’s dress, skirt, etc) very short; thigh-length [Collins Dictionary, 2005]:
    2. The mini length says student, not entrepreneur [Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts, 2006]
  5. Winter clothes:
    1. coat outerwear worn by men and women over an outfit to provide protection from the elements [Macmillan Dictionary, 2002]:
    2. Sure, it keeps you warm (or it should), but your coat is also a major style statement, offering coworkers (and interviewers) an instant first impression [Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts, 2006].
  6. Clothes for spring and autumn wear:
    1. sweatera garment made of knitted or crocheted material covering the upper part of the body, esp. a heavy one worn for warmth [Collins Dic., 2005]:
    2. When you’re in the store, try on coats with a sweater to check for wiggle room [Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts, 2006].
    3. The items of female clothes can be distinguished on the basis of style, where such groups as classical style, folkloric style, athletic style, romantic style can be found.
  7. The athletic style includes:
    1. baseball capa close-fitting cap with deep peak [Collins Dictionary, 2005].
    2. According to our investigation such lexical units as:  
    3. maxi-skirt – an ankle-length skirt [Collins Dictionary, 2005];
    4. cardiganthe larger variety of corgi, having a long tail [Collins Dictionary, 2005], etc. can be refered to the classical style.
  8. The group romantic style is made up from:
    1. flappera loose-fitting shift dress with little shape and no sleeves [The Visual Dictionary of Fashion Design, 2007].
  9. The  folkloric style is represented with the help of:
    1. sarafanruss. peasant women’s dress, without sleeves and buttoning in front [Collins Dictionary, 2005

According to the method of manufacturing there are sewing garments and knitted garments.

As to the next sign – part of the body to wear clothes – we’ve singled out: 1) waist clothes; shoulder clothes; headdress; breast clothes; footwear; neck clothes; hand clothes.

The following group is a unity of items covers the sphere of wearing.  And here we’ve singled out:

  1. everyday clothes:
    1. cargo pantsloose trousers made of heavy cotton with six pockets, two of which are at the side of the legs just above the knees [The Visual Dic. of Fashion Design, 2007]; an
  2. festive clothes:
    According to the usage in costume we have the ability to distinguish: underclothes:
    1. camisolea short, sleeveless undergarment for women, similar to a vest, covering the top of the body, but with skinnier straps [Collins Dictionary, 2005];
  3. as well as overclothes:
    1. bekishea long coat, usually made of patterned black silk [The Visual Dictionary of Fashion Design, 2007].

While classifying the items of female fashion we can sort out the group, known as parts of the garment:

  • pocketis a kind of a small bag which forms part of a piece of clothing and which is used for carrying small things such as money or a hanky [Macmillan Dictionary, 2002];
  • sleeve – the part of a garment covering the arm [Collins Dictionary, 2005]:
  • Rolled-up sleeves show slender arms [Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts, 2006].

Each of these groups represents a concrete conceptual sphere of female fashion.



  1. Breward C.P. Oxford history of Art Fashion. NY, 2006.
  2. 2. Broadbent D.E. Decision and Stress. London: Academic Press, 1971.
  3. 3. Collins Cobuild advanced Learner’s English Dictionary [Text]. – 2005.
  4. Erikson C.W., Yeh Y.Y. Allocation of Attention in the Visual Field // Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 1987. Vol. 11: 583-597.
  5. Langacker Ronald. W. Grammar and Conceptualization. London, 2000.
  6. Macmillan English Dictionary [Text]. – London: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2002. – 1692 p.
  7. Norman D.A. Memory and Attention / 2nd ed. NY: Wiley, 1976.
  8. The Visual Dictionary of Fashion Design. New York, 2007.
  9. Hornby A.S. Oxford Advance of Learner’s Dictionary of Current English.  Moscow, 1982.


 Inhalt | Table of Contents Nr. 18

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Olga Totskaya: The Concept Female fashion in the English Discourse –
In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 18/2011.
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