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Because sometimes it feels like we need a dictionary just to navigate our closets, we've gone ahead and put one together. Click through for a shoppable crash course in this season's trend terminology.

What: Cropped, wide-legged pants designed to hang like a skirt.

What's With The Name?: The original culottes were designed for aristocratic Frenchmen and looked quite a bit different from the roomy trousers we've been seeing on the runways lately (and have heralded as a trend worth trying). They were tight breeches that fastened just below the knee, and became (probably) the most politically-charged pants in history during the French Revolution, when the name "sans-culottes" was given to antimonarchists who rejected the stuffy style. While the king was beheaded, the garment lived on elsewhere in Europe and North America, and a swingier, "split-skirt" style was adopted by women in the Victorian Age for the purpose of horseback riding. They had a moment in the '80s, as part of a new take on the skirt suit, but still had their fair share of haters (fashion critic Robin Givhan, for one, called them "the fashion equivalent of processed cheese"—ouch).


What: Cropped, wide-legged pants that traditionally end at mid-calf.

What's With The Name?: Gauchos today may look indistiguishable from culottes—but unlike their flowy counterpart, they were never meant to impersonate a skirt. The pants get their name from South American gauchos, or cowboys, whose traditional clothing includes billowy, wide-legged trousers, and were co-opted by the fashion world in the 1920s after they were worn in a hit silent film by the actor Rudolph Valentino (can you guess which designer is named after him?). Gauchos really came into their own in the '70s, however, and experienced their most recent renaissance at the hands of (who else?) Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.


What: A one-piece women's swimsuit.

What's With The Name?: Is it really just a fancy word for a one-piece? In short, yes. Pam Anderson’s Baywatch suit and Marilyn Monroe's iconic skirted bandeau are both technically "maillots", but the term first referred to the then-scandalous fitted woolen beachwear that migrated from Paris in the 1800s ("maillot" means "shirt" in French). The word officially earned a spot in the OED in 1928, and has stuck around since, with Vogue proclaiming the maillot “the suit of the year” in 1947, featuring versions with bloomers, shirring, stripes and tied backs. When spandex was popularized in the '70s, the maillot became a sleek alternative to the bikini, with designers nixing straps, adding cutouts and producing ever-sexier styles.


What: A small, decorative evening bag, usually box-like and heavily embellished.

What's With The Name?: The first minaudière was designed by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1935, spangled with diamonds and kitted out with pockets for your pill box, comb and dance card (for recording the names of your handsome suitors, natch) as well as a built-in cigarette lighter. A very fancy word for a very fancy bag!


What: A style of shoe with an open back and a wide upper portion (called the "vamp" in footwear lingo). Mules can be either closed- or open-toe, and the heel can vary from flat to wedge to stiletto.

What's With The Name?: We may talk about mules as if they were a child of the '90s, but in reality, these slip-on numbers have been around for much longer—centuries longer, in fact. The name "mule" comes from the Latin mulleus calceus, which is what the Romans called the red, high-soled shoes worn by the highest-ranking patricians, and the style has gone in and out of fashion since, being adopted by
everyone from Catherine the Great to King Louis XIV. While today's designs look quite a bit sleeker than their predecessors, one thing has remained the same: mules are best suited to a certain leisurely lifestyle. Don't try running a marathon in these babies.


What: A style of sleeve, where the seam continues on a diagonal all the way to the neck.

What's With The Name?: While nowadays, raglan sleeves are a token feature of bomber jackets, baseball tees, and similarly sporty styles, the garment that started it all was actually an overcoat designed for the special needs of a one-armed general in the Crimean War in 1852. His name? Lord Raglan.