How to Speak Fashion Week


The columnist Russell Baker complained about the overuse of the word “icon” in this newspaper back in 1997. Since then, its adjectival form has spread like an invasive species. It holds a special place among the fashion set as a descriptor for an outfit that puts one in mind of a look from myth, legend or classic movie. A poncho can be “iconic” if it looks like the one worn by Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” for instance.

But like fashion, language is always evolving, and in recent months, the word has sometimes been used as a pejorative. Upon seeing a get-up that mimicked the look of Marlon Brando in “The Wild Ones,” an underwhelmed critic may say, “Points for trying, but isn’t it a bit … iconic?”


Why say “shirts” when you can say “shirting”? In defense of this term, it…

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