Taffeta is a crisp, smooth, plain woven fabric made from silk or cuprammonium rayons. The word is Persian in origin and means “twisted woven”. It is considered to be a “high-end” fabric, suitable for use in ball gowns, wedding dresses, and in interior decoration for curtains or wall coverings. It is also widely used in the manufacture of corsets and corsetry: it yields a more starched-like type of cloth that holds its shape better than many other fabrics. An extremely thin, crisp type of taffeta is called paper taffeta.
There are two distinct types of silk taffeta: yarn-dyed and piece-dyed. Piece-dyed taffeta is often used in linings and is quite soft. Yarn-dyed taffeta is much stiffer and is often used in evening dresses. Shot silk taffeta was one of the most sought-after forms of Byzantine silk, and may have been the fabric known as purpura.