A reader recently asked this question, which I thought could use general clarification. I use the two terms, “outfit” and “ensemble”,  throughout YLF. They are often thought of as interchangeable, but over the years we have come to use them to distinguish between two specific things. 

An outfit is a complement of clothing, footwear and accessories that is on your body. It is more personal, and the wearer is an integral part of the whole. Their hair, complexion and body all participate in making a great outfit. 

An ensemble is a complement of clothing, footwear and accessories that is off the body. It is less personal and does not include the wearer. When I present an ensemble I might talk about how it would work with different body types and colourings, but that isn’t essential.

Whether it is on me or one of my clients, I like showing outfits because it is a more complete picture. But I like ensembles just as much because I think presenting the items without the wearer leaves more to the imagination. 

So wear an ensemble and it becomes an outfit. What you are wearing right now is an outfit! Take it off, assemble it on the bed, and it becomes an ensemble. This isn’t really a strict definition, but it is the way we use the terms at YLF to keep things straight. I hope that all makes sense.