Fashion Dictionary: A Romanian to English Guide (Tongue in Cheek)

Writing a style blog in English as a native Romanian speaker is certainly fun, but sometimes also challenging. Luckily my English is near native (so I’ve been told), so I can easily express myself in my second language- chances are if I don’t know a word in English, I probably don’t know it in Romanian either. But even so, sometimes there are some specific Romanian words related to style or fashion that I know since I’ve been a child, and which can’t be fully translated into English without losing their essence.

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Which is why I thought I’d put together a fun little “Fashion Dictionary” for you- just in case you’re ever in Romania and you get called a Pitipoanca, you might want to know what that means (hint: it’s not a compliment!) Hope you find it amusing and informative- and if you want me to do some sequels, you can always let me know in the Comments section.

Romanian to English Fashion Dictionary

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Pitipoanca (Pron. Pee-tzee-pwun-kuh)- A woman of great taste and knowledge- if you’re in the market for a neon pink lipstick, a buff jock to carry your (fake) Louis Vuitton bag or a salon that does cheap but totally believable (ahem…) hair extensions. She does like to be dressed up and wear makeup 24/7, and to portray a heavily feminine image- but be warned: her taste runs more towards Jersey Shore than Ulyana Sergeenko. Usually travels in expensive cars (not her own) and drinks expensive champagne (bought by the aforementioned jock) and will look at you like you are an inferior form of life unless you are like her (but just a tad uglier), or a rich dude.

Ie (Pron. Ee-yeh)- The traditional Romanian blouse (La Blouse Roumaine)- can be mistaken for a mere boho top. But don’t be fooled, a Ie is a whole different animal. On a more serious note, the Ie is something that women in the countryside used to make themselves, while weaving prayers and bits of their heart and soul into these garments. It was a celebratory gathering of the fairer sex, spending nights together to produce their own Ii (plural form of Ie). This was a sacred and beautiful ritual, that resulted in unique pieces, many of which are now in museums. Fast forward a few decades, and all the big retailers have “adopted” the concept of the traditional embroidered boho tops, producing them in crammed, dingy factories with poorly paid laborers (not exactly a celebratory gathering) and taking our all the heart, joy and simple beauty out of them in the process. Flower-power? Perhaps. Unique? …. not exactly.

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I’ll take a pre-loved, vintage Ie over its modern counterparts any day of the week

Tinuta (Pron. Tzee-nuh-tuh). See also Prestanta (Press-tahn-tzuh)- This one is a biggie, and it irks me to no end that I can’t find a suitable English equivalent (if you know one, help a girl out!) This term could be placed somewhere between “posture” and “stature”- concepts that can obviously be applied to inanimate objects (like fabrics, clothing or accessories) in the eyes of Romanians. In the eyes of English speakers… eh, not so much. And while a semi-suitable translation could be “structure”, it doesn’t quite touch on the grandiose nuance of the word- which many Romanians are big on (grandiosity that is).

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Now this bag certainly has a lot of prestanta. (And so does that tiny cactus next to it)

A face Parada Modei (Pron. Ah Fah-czeh Pah-rah-duh Moh-day)- This is an ironic and usually pejorative way of referring to someone that is way overdressed for the situation; and it literally translates to “putting on a fashion show”- although there is no way that that benign phrase could capture all the sarcasm and shade of a well timed “Face Parada Modei”- usually given with a heavy dose of side eye. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no minimalist myself (hah, have you seen my jewelry?) and am a fiery supporter of the popular saying “In case of doubt, overdress!” But be forewarned: if you’re going to be wearing heels to an underground club in Bucharest, or think of joining your grandma in church while wearing a bodycon dress, prepare for an avalanche of “There goes that one… Face Parada Modei”

Cocheta (Pron. Coh-kett-uh, also coquette-uh)- Now this one is a pretty cutesy and sweet term- one that could be likened to “flirty”. But the word cocheta goes far beyond the shallowness and girlishness that come from being flirty. For one, cocheta can also be applied to an older lady, even a very classy and elegant one. It’s a term which indicates rather a poised woman who enjoys dressing beautifully and looking put together, than simply a googly eyed youngster who frantically (and quite honest desperately) looks for attention from the opposite sex. While the cocheta also enjoys the attention of men, she is more refined and graceful in receiving it than a flirt is.

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18 thoughts on “Fashion Dictionary: A Romanian to English Guide (Tongue in Cheek)

    1. Hahah, awesome! I guess there’s a first time for everything 🙂 And I agree, I think it’s a beautiful, rich language

    1. Thank you, lovely Stella, so glad you enjoyed it! Romanian is a beautiful language to learn, just saying 🙂

    1. I have to say we’re quite into fashion as a nation- must be that combination of Latin roots plus our vicinity to the Eastern block beauties 🙂

    1. Hi Nina, you’re absolutely right- we have the word “cocheta” in Romanian thanks to the heavy influences of Latin and especially French on our language across the 19th century.

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