What's Your Fashion IQ?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Getty Images via Tony Anderson

About This Quiz

As any casual walk through a university campus will demonstrate, the world is full of people who have mastered advanced physics or can read Shakespearean English as though it were the directions on a can of soup, but just can't put a decent outfit together in the morning. So you'll have to excuse us if we refer, proudly and unapologetically, to "fashion IQ." Because understanding textiles and fabrics, color theory, and so on doesn't just come naturally. It takes effort. While academics might sniff at the idea that style is something worth putting time and thought into, it clearly is. No matter what else you bring to the table, a stranger's first impression of you usually starts with how you're dressed. 

We're talking about two things here. Fashion history is about big-name designers, their breakthrough contributions, and the dates that they debuted their most iconic designs. Theory of fashion is more about understanding fabrics and colors or being familiar with particular designs or design elements. Our quiz will test you on a little bit of both. You'll need to know argyle from windowpane check, as well as which innovations Coco Chanel and Diane von Furstenberg gave to the world. 

So set aside that copy of Vogue and try our quiz. If nothing else, it'll keep you out of the stores for a little while!

A "dandy" is a ____ who likes to dress well.

When you hear the word "dandy," you know you're talking about a sharp-dressed man. A woman would be more likely called a "clotheshorse" or "fashionista."


Which of these fabrics is most associated with the grunge movement?

Grunge fashion was reliant on flannel and thermal-cotton shirts, denim jeans or corduroy pants, and canvas sneakers. It had its roots in a Pacific Northwest music culture where underemployed young people hunted the thrift stores for cheap clothes.


Which of these Italian cities is synonymous with fashion?

Milan is one of the four cities that hosts a Fashion Week event. The other three are Paris, New York, and London.


"Argyle" is a pattern marked by which geometric shape?

Argyle is a pattern that began in Scotland. It features diamond shapes in a multicolored pattern.


Which of these is NOT a type of sleeve?

Cigarette pants fit close to the leg and taper to the ankle, where they stop. They can give shorter women the illusion of long legs.


Which of these is NOT a type of hat?

The D'Orsay (pronounced "Dorsey") is a type of woman's shoe. Whether a heel or a flat, it's cut away sharply on the side, providing no support there. That can be a little hard to get used to, but if the shoe is well made, it won't fall off or trip you up.


A style of jeans or pants which flares slightly from the knee to the cuff is called what?

Bootcut jeans were all the rage in the 2000s when every woman swore she needed them to balance out a big bottom. Oddly, though, when the fashion industry decreed that skinny jeans were back, suddenly no one seemed to need that balance anymore!


An espadrille is a type of what?

Espadrilles are very casual cotton-topped shoes. They are named for esparto rope, which makes up part of the sole.


A (usually) leather jacket with an elastic waistband and a slightly puffy cut is called a ____ jacket.

The bomber jacket had a vogue in the mid- to late-80s. Attempts to revive it in the 20-teens have so far not been tremendously successful.


Which 20th-century designer shared a name with a 17th-century astronomer?

Oleg Cassini's family, who were Russian but of partly Italian origin, claimed Giovanni Cassini as an ancestor. Giovanni Cassini first observed the division in Saturn's rings; it is now named the Cassini division.


Which decade saw a vogue for padded shoulders?

At the risk of editorializing, we say, why? They didn't look natural, and cheaply made ones could come loose and migrate down the wearer's back or chest - not a good look.


Who is the longtime editor-in-chief of "Vogue" magazine?

Anna Wintour is perhaps the only fashion journalist recognized on sight by people outside the business - she has a signature pageboy haircut and usually wears oversize dark glasses. Her longtime second-in-command, though, Andre Leon Talley, is nearly as visible, being 6-foot-6 and a judge on "America's Next Top Model."


What is the main thing that separates a cocktail dress from a ballgown/evening dress?

A cocktail dress, generally considered to be for "black tie" occasions, usually ends at the knee. A "white tie" evening dress should fall to the ankle or floor.


Which term, from the French for "curly", describes a fabric with outcropping loops in the texture?

A boucle fabric has little loops that stick out, adding textual interest. It was popularized by the house of Chanel.


Which of these was Coco Chanel's real first name?

The fashion icon was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. The middle name means "happiness."


The fashion industry, and particularly the editor of Vogue, was sent up in the 2006 comedy "The Devil Wears ____."

"The Devil Wears Prada" was originally a book by a former Vogue assistant named Lauren Weisberger. Anne Hathaway played the Weisberger character, "Andrea," while Meryl Streep was the autocratic fashion editor, "Miranda Priestly."


Which of these designers was, by marriage, a princess?

Diane von Furstenberg married Prince Egon von Furstenberg of Germany. She kept his name after their divorce in 1983.


What is a pattern of black and white checks, which look a bit like apostrophes, called?

This kind of check pattern is either classy or staid, depending on your tastes. It hasn't been in fashion for a while, but it never really goes away.


With which item is Coco Chanel most identified?

Of course, it's her famous scent, Chanel No. 5. Its primary notes are rose and jasmine.


Which First Lady did Oleg Cassini famously dress?

Oleg Cassini is probably best known for his work with Jackie Kennedy. Some people called him her "Secretary of Style."


Though it was invented in 1958, Lycra didn't really blow up until which decade?

Lycra, a human-made stretch fabric, was huge in the 1980s. However, it's not true that everyone who wears Lycra is trying to cover up excess weight. Even on a slender person, the addition of Lycra or elastane can make the garment follow the body a little a better, providing a better fit.


In fashion lingo, what does "LBD" stand for?

According to fashion experts, there is a "little black dress" suitable for everyone, even older women and heavier ones. A lot depends on the cut and style.


Which designer is credited with popularizing the little black dress?

Chanel and, to a lesser extent, Jean Patou, are credited with making the short black cocktail dress a fashion must-have. Women everywhere love it for making getting ready to go out so easy!


What style is associated with London of the 1960s?

While Americans may associate the 1960s with all-natural, artless hippie style, that was more the late 1960s in the U.S. In the early 1960s, London was awash with the bright colors and synthetic fabrics beloved by the Mods.


Also in 1960s England, what style was the "rival" to the Mod look?

The Mods and Rockers were rivals in the early 1960s, and the division went beyond fashion to taste in music and cars/motorcycles. But the Rocker look was longer unkempt hair, jeans, leather jackets - the opposite of the Mods' neater clothing and short hair (on men).


Which of these designers is credited with the wrap dress?

The wrap dress is a forgiving design that women with a variety of figures can wear. However, it's not loose and frumpy. For this reason, a lot of women really appreciate it.


A simple blue-and-white or red-and-white check pattern on lightweight material is called _____.

For a long time, gingham was mostly for girl's clothing, especially dresses. Then, in the last decade, gingham shirts became the hottest thing in men's fashion. Go figure.


The sharply-rectangular elements on each side of a jacket's front are called what?

These can be wide or narrow. For extra style points, some designers use a slightly different fabric, like satin, on them.


Which of these fabrics is natural?

Mohair is made from the hair of angora goats. It was popular in the "organic" fashions of the 1970s and 1990s.


The flax plant gives us which fabric?

Linen is a comfortable lightweight fabric, but it wrinkles if you so much as look at it funny. Sidenote: If you said "cotton," go to your room! It's the cotton plant that gives us cotton.


What nationality is minimalist designer Jil Sander?

Jil Sander was born Heidemarie Jiline Sander. Perhaps chopping her name down to "Jil" was an early sign of her commitment to minimalism!


A girl's or woman's shoe with a rounded toe and strap across the foot is called a _____.

Though Mary Janes are associated with little girls (hence the name), they can add a relaxed, lighthearted touch to an adult woman's outfit. Just avoid the shiny black-patent type that scream "schoolgirl."


True or false: There is a type of shoe called the "brothel creeper."

You probably guessed this one on the grounds of "Nobody would make that name up!" And we didn't. These are crepe-soled shoes that don't make much sound when you walk, although why someone associated this with sneaking around bordellos, in particular, isn't clear.


Which designer often dressed actress Audrey Hepburn?

Hubert de Givenchy first met with Audrey Hepburn before she filmed "Sabrina." They clearly saw eye to eye on clothing, and Givenchy dressed her many films, including "Funny Face" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's."


Which of these designers made Michelle Obama's inauguration gowns?

Michelle Obama is often credited with discovering Jason Wu. Even so, he isn't as much a household name as McCartney or Wang -- yet.


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