Lingerie Glossary

Technical vocabulary of lingerie


BED JACKET: Little vest or cape for the inside that stops at the waist and that women wear to bed over their night clothes.

BIAIS: The diagonal thread of a fabric in relation to straight weft or warp yarns.

BOBBIN LOOM: Loom on which a braid (elasticized or not) is obtained by criss-crossing bobbins around a production axis.

BODICE: Wide belt often laced up at the front, which can expand to up to the diaphragm. Also called corselet.

BODY: A garment that covers the upper body and which is buttoned up between the legs. It can have a loose or snug fit and is worn either as an over or under garment.

•  Underwired balcony body: body with a balcony neckline.

•  Body stocking: a body with no side seams that goes down to the ankles.

•  Body "top" with long sleeves, and a high neck: body that is used as a "blouse” and is worn with a skirt or trousers.

•  Suspender Body: body with a built in suspender belt to wear stockings.

•  Body short: body in the form of a short.

•  “Stretch” Body with Lycra®lace: an all elastic body.

•  Thong Body: a body with a string back.


BRA: A more or less flexible woman’s undergarment which surrounds the bust. It is intended to support and enhance the breasts. Made up of two cups, with or without underwire, it is held up by straps and most often fastens at the back by means of two elastic strips of material that hook together.

•  Brassiere: a little top with no underwire

•  Basque: extensible or reinforced bra of variable width that ensures good support of the bust.

•  Bra with removable straps: bra for wearing with strapless dresses (the shoulder pieces are removed).

•  Padded bra: foam bra which increases the bust (synonym for preformed bra).

•  Minimiser bra: bra that de-emphasizes the bust.

•  Balconette or half-cup bra: underwire bra that reveals the top half of the bust. Its straps are positioned wide against t the shoulders, and usually meet up with the underwire at the side of the cups.

•  Bandeau: non underwire bra made from a simple strip of fabric.  Comes with or without straps.

•  Underwire bra: bra that frames the bust with an underwire and centrally positioned straps.

•  Demi-cup bra: plunge bra with cups that go in a straight line across to the shoulder straps. Bra with a diagonal neckline.

•  Back crossover bra: bra for American armholes (armholes that leave the shoulder bare).

•  Moulded bra: bra without seams on the cups, made from a pre-formed, moulded fabric.

•  Multi-way bra: multi-way straps that enable plunging necklines, bare-back, etc.

•  Plunge bra: usually a pre-formed very low-cut bra with wire underwire that pushes the bust high and makes it round.

•  Pre-formed bra: bra with shaped cups or cups reinforced with synthetic foam that accentuate the bust (synonym for push-up bra).


BRAID: Narrow accessory, elastic or otherwise, woven or knitted, made from 2 identical fashion trimmings.

BUSTIER: Strapless article that only covers the bust, in the past often whaleboned and tucked.

Piece added to a garment with buttons or button holes - or both.


CAMISOLE: Small, straight top with thin straps, worn loosely over the chest.

or TEDDY: Light undergarment worn underneath dresses in the 1920s, comprised of a top with thin straps joined to a loose panty, often buttoned up between the legs.

CORSELET: A support garment that covers the upper body but without a crotch strap.
Step-in corselet: a slip that ends with knickers.

CORSET: Undergarment of resistant fabric, most often whaleboned in the past.  It is adjusted with lacing and designed to mould to the body from the bust to the bottom of the hips. Often comes with a suspender belt to hold up stockings.


CORSET COVER: Item of lingerie that covers the torso and which women used to wear over the corset.

CORSETRY: This term applies in particular to all types of support underwear, including the corset, the girdle and the bra.
PAD: an insert made of foam (or another material) which fits inside bra pads to increase the volume of the bust (synonym: padding).

Hoop made from whalebones or metal wires on a hair-cloth base which allows skirts to be puffed-out. Used in the 19th century.

CULOTTE-SUIT: A slip combined with a short. Also called a Teddy.

Each of the pockets of a bra that support the breasts and shape the bust.


DRESSING GOWN: This was originally a garment designed to be put on over an outfit so that hair could be combed freely. Currently used as a synonym for robe.


ELASTOMERS: Elastic yarn used to manufacture girdles, swimwear and other "figure-hugging" lingerie. Latex and Elastane are among these yarns, of which one of the most well-known patented brands is Lycra®.

EMBROIDERY: Ornamentation of a fabric with decorative motifs made from threads, pearls and a variety of different objects and textiles.


FABRIC: Material obtained through the process of weaving, which consists of crossing the warp thread over the weft thread.

FARTHINGALE: Dating back to the 16th century, this hooped skirt is the ancestor of 19th century crinolines.

Warm dressing gown often made of quilted material.


G-STRING: A narrow piece of string-fabric that women wear instead of traditional underwear. Narrow string rides up the buttocks and small piece of fabric covers crotch.

GIRDLE: Supple support garment made from a stretch fabric. The shape is more or less tubular, and often comes with a suspender belt and an abdominal plate. It is designed to shape the waist and the hips.
Panty girdle: knicker-shaped girdle.

GUEPIERE: Garment that shapes the upper body like a "wasp".
Suspender guepiere: as above, with a suspender belt.

GARTER: Elasticized band attached vertically at the bottom of a girdle, corset or suspender belt, with a clamping system at its lower edge that is used to hold up stockings.


HEEL: Designates the part of a stocking or sock situated at the back of the foot and which covers the heel.

HALF-SLIP: Undergarment made up of a lingerie skirt attached at the waist to apiece of elastic.

HOLD-UP STOCKING: A stocking which is kept in place by means of an elasticized or silicone strip attached to the top of the stocking and which is often decorated with lace.

HOOK: A small metal device that allows two parts of a garment to be fastened together.

HOSIERY: All the manufacturing and sales activities relating to knitted underwear.


JERSEY: Knitted fabric with a thread whose stitches are interwoven.


KNEE-HIGHS: Short stockings which do not go beyond the knee, usually worn under trousers.

Undergarment that covers the lower trunk, held in at the waist by elastic. The top of each thigh is enclosed separately or simply has two openings for the legs. Close-fitting knickers are also called panties.

•  Boxer: small short, tight or otherwise.

•  Padded knickers: knickers stuffed with foam (to lift the buttocks).

•  Loose knickers: wide boxer (satin or weft and warp weave).

•  Girdling knickers: support knickers.

•  High-waist knickers: knickers that come above the belly button.

•  Bottom-lifting knickers: a girdling material is placed below the buttocks to lift them up.

•  Waist knickers: the knickers continue upwards with a panel.

•  Ruffled knickers: knickers with a ruffle around the thighs.

•  Cycling short: short that comes up to the mid-thigh, usually made of Lycra (sport).

•  Panty: mid-thigh short.

•  Brazilian brief: high leg up to the hips.

•  Mini brief: low-waist brief, straight and slim on the hips.

•  Tanga brief: brief that only covers a small part of the buttocks.

•  Thong or G-string: the rear part of the brief is reduced to a very thin strip of material.


LACE: Openwork textile with patterns, often floral. Contemporary lace is manufactured on different types of mechanical looms.

•  Mechanical lace woven on Leaver looms.

•  Rachel lace knitted on a Rachel loom.

LINGERIE: The term applies specifically to all underwear. It can extend to items of clothing that have the same characteristics as lingerie (fine, washable fabrics, embroidered or decorated with lace) such as negligees, children’s dresses, overalls, shirts, night clothes. (Also called “intimates.”)


MACRAME: Coarse knotted lace of Arab origin.

MATINEE: Women’s garment worn in the morning. Also called dressing gown or negligee.


NEGLIGEE: A type of light slip of variable length that women wear in private. It often comes with a matching nightdress in the same material.

NIGHTDRESS: night garment that looks like a dress that comes in varying lengths.

NUISETTE: Short night dress, also called a "baby-doll".


OPENWORK: Decoration generally reserved for items of lingerie. Openwork is a "hole" formed by pulling on and tearing out a certain number of threads in both directions.


PANEL: Abdominal reinforcement inserted into the middle of a girdle to hold in the stomach or any other garment that has the same function. Also refers to the front panel of a shirt that can be used as a bodice or blouse.

PANNIER: Hoop that was put under skirts to give them fullness. They were so named because they were made of wicker, just like the utensils of the same name.

PANTY: Undergarment consisting of short knickers with a low waist, no leg, and cut away at the thighs. Worn next to the skin.

A word of Indian origin, this is a two-piece night garment: jacket and trousers.


ROBE: Term that refers to a garment worn inside over a night dress.


SATIN: A variety of fabrics, usually soft and shiny, the finest of which are used in lingerie.

SET: Coordinated items of lingerie that can be worn together.


SLIP: Undergarment that combines a vest and a half-slip which is worn under a dress. A slip with thin straps becomes a slip dress when it has wide straps.
Full-slip: feminine undergarment consisting of a sort of dress, A-line or princess-line, with thin straps. The part that covers the bust is usually in the form of a bra.
Cat-suit: undergarment that combines a vest and feminine trousers.


SLIPOVER TOP: Small top that can be seen under a woman’s suit.
In two-tone lace or dual-coloured lace.

STOCKING: An item of clothing which covers the foot and the leg that goes higher than the knee.  Worn with a suspender or a suspender belt.

narrow bands of material, adjustable or not, which go over the shoulders and join up the front and back of a bra. Also called shoulder pieces.

Ribbon or elasticized band used to hold up the stocking on the thigh.

SUSPENDER BELT: Belt worn at the waist and fitted with garters to hold up stockings.


T-SHIRT: Shirt with small sleeves.


TIGHTS: Tights are made by joining two stockings and a panty made of stretchable fabric.  It has a gusset that makes movement possible.

•  Anti-fatigue tights: tights made from a special yarn that has a massaging effect on the leg.

•  Lacy fashion tights: tights made entirely from lace (up to the waist).

•  Suspender tights: tights with a suspender belt cut out.

•  Bottom-shaping tights: tights with panels under the buttocks designed to lift them.

•  Panty tights: tights with a sewn-in panty.

TULLE: Originally a light, openwork material forming polygon-shaped holes, manufactured on a tulle loom. By extension, any fabric that imitates this and is produced on a Rachel loom.


UNDERPANT/LEGGING: Originally a masculine undergarment covering the lower body, equipped with legs of varying length. Ladies underpants were also called "modesty pipes". Nowadays, underpants/leggings are worn as an over-garment.

UNDERWEAR: Name given to all garments worn under clothes.

A metal or plastic semi-circle placed underneath both cups of a bra, which provides better support for the chest whilst separating the breasts.


VEST: Light, sleeveless feminine undergarment worn next to the skin, under the corset.
Men’s undergarment made of jersey, worn under the shirt. It sometimes has short sleeves.


WASPIE: Article that highlights the waist with the aid of whalebones and fitted with suspenders.

WEAVE: A system of weaving in which the warp and the weft cross over each other.

WOMEN’S TROUSERS: Pants that went right down to the ankles at first and that were later shortened to the knee. Often split at the crotch.

WRAP-OVER: Small top with short or long sleeves, which crosses over at the front to form a V-neck. It is knotted at the waist.