When I was an editor, I was pretty tough on my writers about using cliched fashion words. No “cutting-edge” designers. No “whimsical” patterns. And definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY no “rocking” a piece of clothing in any circumstance. But I must admit that I am, like most people, a hypocrite. While I’d never use any of those phrases in my own writing—okay, I’ve used whimsical occasionally, but only when it actually made total sense, really!—I have adopted fashion speak in real life.
Take the phrase “maj.” I don’t watch The Rachel Zoe Project, so I only began hearing “major,” “maj,” and “bananas” when my friends who did watch the show were (fondly) imitating the superstar stylist. Soon enough, I began using the phrase “maj” with a hint of sarcasm. Eventually, my use of the word spun of control. So out of control, in fact, that I was referring to restaurant meals as “maj” much to the chagrin of my husband. I mean, “this steak is so maj,” sounds even dumber than “that look is so maj.” My latest in terrible fashion speak is “amaje,” a combination of amazing and major.
Of course, it’s all a joke, but a pretty terrible one at that. I polled a handful of fashion and beauty editor friends to see which choice words are killing them right now.
Nick Axelrod, editorial director, Into the Gloss: “At ITG, we have a moratorium on ‘obsessed,’ which is violated occasionally because someone can’t help themselves. They. Are. Obsessed. On the verge: strings of One. Word. Sentences. for emphasis, and ‘feeling’ anything (e.g., ‘We’re really feeling a bold lip,’ or ‘I’m really feeling your hair right now’). Also alarming (and I’m definitely guilty here): the trend of discussing anything in terms of whether it’s ‘about’ it or not–as in, ‘Is it about Tevas?’ or ‘Is it about sushi for lunch?’ or ‘I’m all about ____.’”
Kerry Folan, editor, Racked National: “‘Everything.’ As in, ‘That Altuzarra fringe jacket is everything.’ Gag.”
Hillary Kerr, co-founder and editorial director, Who What Wear: “I’m really ready for ‘you can’t sit with us’ to go away. I swear one out of every ten Instagrams has that hashtag in it and I’m just done. And the phrase ‘arm party’ just gives me nerdy chills now. I also feel like ‘fashion forward’ and ‘directional’ have basically lost all their meaning at the point in time because they’ve both been used—usually incorrectly—way too much. I think that ‘adorbs’ and ‘totes’ can be evicted as well, even though they are relatively benign and neither one makes me want to claw my eyes out. Oh, and can nail art die a fiery death please? I realize that’s not really a fashion word, but it’s definitely adjacent.
Ray Siegel, senior online editor, CR Fashion Book: “Go ‘curate’ your own ‘fab’ ‘pops of color’.”
Britt Aboutaleb, beauty director, Who What Wear: “‘Obsessed.’ And the word ‘glow’ is totally overused. I loathe the word ‘chic,’ but nobody uses it in LA.”
Claire Mazer, co-founder, Of a Kind: “Everyone is going to say this, but ‘obsessed’ definitely tops this list. I’m trying to quit using it but it’s tough. It works pretty well. Others we are sitting here brainstorming: ‘graphic’, ‘beachy’, ‘body-con’.”
Erica Cerulo, co-founder, Of a Kind: “‘Swoon’. Ewwwwww.”
Leah Chernikoff, editorial director, Fashionista: I’m with Britt, I hate chic, and people do say it all the time in NYC. Also on my hit list: curate, and organic–as in, “oh this collection just happened organically.” No, it happened because you had lots of money.
Hayley Phelan, senior editor, Fashionista: “‘SITUATION!’ As in, ‘Loving the Louboutin situation you have going on.’ Or, ‘This is a delicious breakfast situation.’”
Dhani Mau, associate editor, Fashionista: “‘Icon/iconic’ is so overused that it barely means anything anymore. Also, ‘tastemaker’, which never meant anything and isn’t an actual occupation, as some event tip-sheet writers seem to want us to believe.”
Tyler McCall, editorial assistant, Fashionista: “I’m an empathetic person, so I tend to pick up mannerisms/expressions from people easily. One that I started picking up is ‘game.’ Like, ‘Oh your shoe game is on point.’ Or, ‘Your lipstick game is on lock.’ I’m 99% sure we jacked that from hiphop culture. Just a guess.”
Oh, and please feel free to add your own in the comments.