What is Garment in Fashion? A Complete Guide

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What is a Garment?

The word “Garment” originates from the Old French verb ‘garnir’ – to equip or adorn the body with an article of clothing.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘garment’ has been used¬†since the 14th century to describe anything from simple clothes to complex costumes. [1]

However, compared to cloth’s functional attributes of covering and protecting the body, garments have structural and aesthetic constructs that carry cultural symbols or social messages.

Renaissance dress
“Garment” comes from the Old French “garnir,” meaning to dress. It’s been used in fashion since the 14th century to describe various clothing, from simple to high fashion.

‘Garment’ is one of the most common terms in textile and fashion industries, in particular in fashion design, often used as a synonym for¬†clothing, apparel, outfit, and attire.

However, each of these terms has unique meanings, as we’ll see below:




Garment vs. Clothing vs. Apparel vs. Outfit vs. Attire

Off-White Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Bella Hadid – Off-White Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection

While Garment, Clothing, Apparel, Outfit, and Attire are used interchangeably, each term has unique meanings that suit different contexts.

Garment Vs. Clothing

'Garments' are individual clothing items, while 'clothing' encompasses everything you wear to cover and protect your body.
‘Garments’ are individual clothing items, while ‘Clothing’ encompasses any garments you wear to cover and protect your body.

‘Garments’ refers to single pieces of clothing, such as a dress, a pair of pants, a suit, a jacket, or a jumper, that has a certain stylistic construct.

On the other hand, ‘Clothing‘ describes all kinds of clothes one could use to cover and protect the body, such as shirts, pants, dresses, and coats.

Garment Vs. Apparel

garment vs apparel
‘Garments’ are single clothing items like the top above, while ‘Apparel’ refers to everything wearable, including clothes, shoes, sunglasses, earrings, bracelets, etc.

‘Garment’ describes single pieces of clothing, such as a dress, a pair of pants, a suit, a jacket, or a jumper.

Apparel describes anything that can be worn on the body, whether clothing, garments, footwear, or accessories.

Garment Vs. Outfit

'Outfit' is a collection of clothes, shoes, and accessories meant to be worn together to create a specific fashion style. Unlike 'garment,' which refers to a single piece of clothing.
‘Garment’ refers to a single piece of clothing, while ‘Outfit’ is a collection of ‘Apparel’ meant to be worn together to depict a specific fashion style.

Unlike ‘Garment,’ which describes a single piece of clothing, anOutfit is a combination of ‘Apparel’ (garments, footwear, and accessories) intended to be worn together (as in curated and assembled to depict a fashion style or way of dressing.)

Garment Vs. Attire

garment vs attire
‘Garment’ refers to a single piece of clothing, while ‘Attire’ refers to outfits for specific occasions, like this cocktail attire on the right.

Unlike ‘Garment,’ which describes a single piece of clothing, ‘Attire‘ describes outfits created for specific occasions or professions.

The word attire highlights the need to wear outfits that respect the situational context.

For example, business attire requires semi-formal suits, footwear, and accessories.

Wedding attire requires formal dresses and outfits comprised of dinner suits and formal shoes for men and long dresses, high-heel shoes, and floral accessories for women.

Similarly, cocktail attire requires a specific semi-casual way of dressing according to unwritten rules.

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Keep up with the latest in fashion, beauty and style!

After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.

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