So buckle yourself in, sweethearts! Here's my basic breakdown- I'm sorry it's very long but there's a lot of genres! It's taken me the best part of 3 hours to do this!
African - fairly straight forward- anything that has a style of Africa. Animal prints, safari fashion, primitive shapes and natural materials in deep rich earth tones.
Art Deco - 1920s-1930s, geometric designs, stylised figures, straight lines. The Chrysler building, Miami hotels, flapper girls.
Art Nouveau - rich flowing lines, earthy colours, beautiful women, insects and flowers. The most widely known (and pure example) of Nouveau style is of Gaudi's buildings and Mucha's illustrations.
Asian - pretty straight forward, though given we have 'zen' down there as well, I'm going to assume Asian is anything that looks Chinese. Red and black, feng shui symbols- think Chinatown.
Athletic - Just think of the local sportwear shop, that's athletic. Tight fitting, simple lines, little in the way of pattern. I would assume yoga wear, leggings and gym bags would go in here.
Avant Garde - this is tricky- it's sort of art fashion. It literally means 'the new guarde' and it's anything hyper-modern and a bit out there, stuff you look at and think 'woah, that's...different.' If you consider yourself ahead of your time, then your stuff goes in here!
Boho - Boho is short for bohemian, it means long romantic dresses, beads, big handbags, ethnic prints, sun hats, 70s sunglasses, long hair, sandals... it's a sort of glamorous hippy.
Country Western - Cowboys, cowgirls, cowkids. The boots, the hat, the longhorn skulls, cactus, blue jeans, fringed leather. Yippee Ki-Yay!
Fantasy - anything with dragons, fairies, dwarves and elves (oh my!). Think Lord of the Rings, Labyrinth, Brian Froud, Conan. You can add romantic, tribal, gothic or steampunk to this style as well, it's quite broad.
Folk - this is a narrow field between 'woodland' (see below) and boho- folk is Scandinavian prints, 70s ethnic and mod all bundled together. Think gypsy caravans, gingerbread houses and bundled up Russian maids.
Goth - black black black. Usually with skulls and crosses as motifs, think Addams Family, The Craft, The Cure... goth is emo with drama. Goth has a million different sub-genres but there's usually something particular about a piece- you can have boho goth, industrial goth, romantic goth, Victorian goth, kawaii goth... you'll know which one you're looking for if you want to make/buy goth items.
High Fashion - designer wear, tailored forms, good quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. High Fashion is like a delicate way of saying 'very well made and very expensive'.
Hip Hop - Think Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Hip Hop is 80s and 90s street style- bright colours and sportswear brands paired with over-the-top gold jewelry and the most ridiculous Nikes you can find.
Hippie - hippie is boho with the addition of tie-dye, acid bright colours, big floral prints and ethnic prints. Think Hair, Woodstock and 60s Haight/Ashbury.
Hipster - barnwood, moustaches, black triangles, geometrics in primary colours, pared-back native style, nerd glasses, bikes, etc. If you make something that's hipster, you will know. Other attributes that go along with this are Industrial, tribal, woodland and Edwardian.
Historical - Anything that looks of a time period, usually pre-1920s. It's more specifically Victorian, Georgian, Elizabeth, Tudor... If you're going to label something historical it should be accurate for it's time- i.e. a Victorian style corset is not historical if it's not accurate to a decade (1880 for example), it's just a Victorian style corset. Most people who use/search historical will probably be looking for re-enactment gear and they want accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!
Hollywood Regency- part Moroccan bazaar, part Georgian townhouse, part Art Deco palace. Think 20s/30s/40s old-school glamour, Spanish architecture, silks and satins, creamy jewel colours and opulent rooms. Modern Hollywood Regency seems to have lost alot of the Moorish influence but still carries the elegant glamour of big old 1920s houses.
Industrial - this is a sort of modern look, but with very factory-style lines. Industrial is a very simple almost severe look, and is most often comprised of vintage salvaged things like steel-topped tables, trestles, product moulds from factories and big signs. Industrial has the feel of a big old factory, with lots of metal, chunky wood and hazard colours.
Kawaii - this is a Japanese fashion term, meaning 'cute'. Anything girlish and romantic with a serious addition of kitsch. Big eyed girls, anime, baby animals, candy colours. Anything a 14 year old girl would look at and think 'oh that's soooo cute!!!!' A hefty dose of pink.
Kitsch - Kitsch is retro tacky. Think of your grandmother's donkey shaped salt and pepper shakers, 1970s tourist souvenirs, 1960s paintings on velvet etc. Anything 60s/70s, colourful and humorous. Think Hairspray, Pee-Wee Herman and old-school Disneyland.
Mediterranean- a sort of rustic with a dose of preppy nautical and a touch of high-end resort. Mediterranean is hard look to pin down- it's usually white, terracotta, and bright blue. Nautical themes, summer style. Think of the Greek Islands and 1990s Ralph Lauren.
Mid-Century - Pure 1950s! Everything that was modern and clean lined in the 1950s. Soft colours such as lemon yellow, aqua, baby pink and sea green are used. There's not much pattern but when their is it's usually shapes like atoms, kidneys, arrowheads and boomerangs. Dior's 'new look' (despite it being 1947!) and the TV show Mad Men are perfect examples. A lot of stuff that's mid-mod is also called Eames era and atomic age.
Military - army style! Kahki greens and browns, brass buttons, soldiers uniforms, big black boots, tailored shapes, earth tones. Think M.A.S.H or the movie Stripes.
Minimalist - following the mantra 'less is more', this is modern with the most simple terms. Natural materials, stainless steel, straight lines, smooth textures, functional. Think of old movies when they show people in heaven. (Though ironically it's most people's idea of hell!) Minimalist style contains objects and fashion that does little more than serve it's function- all adornment is shunned.
Mod - sharp graphics, black and white, tight fitting clothes, geometric shapes, Mod is a sort of Mid-Century avant guarde. It was the stuff in the 60s that was diametrically opposite to the hippies and predominantly a UK style. Micro length shorts and skirts, knee high go-go boots, Perspex jewelry, tailored lines and sharp cuts. Think Austin Powers, The (original!!) Italian Job and model icons like Twiggy.
Modern - Modern is a sort of generic term for anything that's made now and is the typical example of it's time. IKEA furniture, Crate and Barrel...The thing about the modern attribute tag here is that it will put a modern angle on anything else you choose. Use modern with tribal if you make runway style, use modern with traditional if you've taken an antique dresser and painted it pink, use modern with Romantic if you've made a necklace that's a tea cup shape cut from white perspex, etc.
Nautical - nautical is black, blue and white, tailored shapes and anything you can attribute to yachting, so anchors, grommets, rope, etc. It's preppy at sea. Think Ralph Lauren, Miami Vice, The Love Boat. Nautical was huge in the 80s and 90s.
Neo-classical- a bit tough to pin down, this is a sort of historical modernism. Usually Italian style of the 17th and 18th centuries with a fresh, modern twist. It's marble columns, Georgian features, pale colours and elegant forms. Think the great cotton mansions of the South, Italian Renaissance details, 80s country club decor.
Preppy- think upper class, All-American, 1950s society athletics. It's country club golf lunch, private schools, tennis, yachting, croquet and equestrian pursuits. Think well-fitting clothes, clean lines, blazers, loafers, slick hair. Pattern is limited but is usually Argyle, checks and plaid.
Primitive - from a style point of view, this is usually American primitive (also called 'prim'). Colonial furniture, muddy colours, rusty metals and faded prints. Harvest themes and simple solid farmhouse aesthetics. Other attributes that will go with this include Rustic, Country and Tribal (for when you mean primitive man).
Resort - glamorous super models lounging by the pool. Kaftans, giant sunglasses, cocktails, swimwear (especially skimpy or classically tailored) and anything floaty and simple. There's a good dose of tropical in resort style.
Retro- I like to think of retro as 'kitsch vintage'. Retro is the period from the 60s to the 70s where things got a little out of control- think bold wallpaper, loud shirts, big patterns, wide flares and luminous colours. Disco meets Pop.
Rocker- this is sort of punk without the overkill. Rocker style is all about adding glam to a motorbike gang. Black leather, studded belts, cowboy boots, lightening bolts, skulls, electric guitars, stars and big hair. Colours are usually red, yellow, pink or lime green with a good dose of black. Think Aerosmith, 80s hair bands, Alice Cooper.
Rustic - texture! Anything that's rough, simply made and a little bit country. Raw wood, rusted metal, neutral colours. It's country pared right back and primitive without the colour.
Sci-Fi - Think star wars, star trek, Buck Rogers... lots of white, silver, clear, plastics and chrome. Colour is rare but it's usually fire engine red and royal blue in luminous 'what does this button do?' tones.
Shabby Chic - I think we all know what this looks like. I will delicately mention that Shabby Chic is a copyrighted term by Rachel Ashwell, and many people simply call it 'shabby cottage' instead (I would suggest Etsy changes this as soon as they can). It's white one white, lots of lace, faded natural tones, pink, roses, chandeliers, zinc buckets... you get the picture. Other attributes that will go with this include traditional, Boho, Victorian and Edwardian.
Southwestern- I only just learned this one the other day, back in the olden days they used to call this 'tex mex' or Santa Fe. It's part cowboy, part Indian. Desert colours, Native patterns, natural materials.
Spooky - I would guess this is what I call Halloween gothic. Ghosts, spiders, haunted houses, graveyards etc. It's the more cutsey side of gothic, usually with bright colours and lots of black.
Steampunk - Despite it's now ubiquitous place in modern lifestyle, a lot of people don't seem to know what steampunk is. Essentially it's anything of a mechanical nature given an overly Victorian appearance. It has a very flexible boundary, but for 'pure' steampunk it's earth and jewel tones, opulent design, Victorian lines and usually either clockwork, boiler rivets, old keys or some kind of industrial flair.
Techie - Bit unsure on this, I would assume they mean computer hackers and science geeks. We used to have a Geekery section on Etsy, so I would think anything in there goes in this. The goth, sci-fi and modern attributes would also fit well with this.
Traditional- Typically considered to be Georgian/Victorian, traditional is often a colonial look with handsome furniture, antique details and elegant patterns. Anything antique and grand usually fits the style perfectly. Relaxed dark colours and comfortable furniture, stately homes, gentleman's clubs and respectable hotels.
Tribal - much like African, tribal has a primitive barbarian feel to it. Bone beads, earth tones, geometric shapes like arrows and triangles, native style, simple construction, rough cast metal and natural materials.
Victorian - pretty straight forward- anything that's Victorian in style. You don't have to be accurate (that's what the historical tag is for!) but anything modelled to the last half of the 19th century is 'pure' Victorian, with the high peak being 1860s- 1880s. Though the Victorians were mad for colour, Victorian style now days is usually the ornate, lace-and-beaded black-on-black that was popular in the 1880s and 1890s, with high button boots, lace cuffs and cameo jewelry.
Waldorf- this one I had to look up, with mixed results! (I'm sure they don't mean 'looks like a salad'.) I assumed it was traditional meets Deco, typical of the famous hotel of the same name. If that is what Etsy's referring to, think 1930s New York, with refined elegance and classical lines. It's Annie's Daddy Warbucks- classic 20th century wall street style meets Art Deco glamour.
Woodland - sort of folk meets fairy tale. Anything with forest creatures such as deer, rabbits, foxes, birds and bears as well as flora like acorns, walnuts, blackberries, ferns, ivy and birch. Woodland stuff is very sweet and old-fashioned, like a children's story. Think Hansel and Gretel, Bambi and Goldilocks.
Zen- this is the Japanese side of Oriental. Clean lines, modern shapes and simple construction, Zen is clam, neutral in tone and almost minimalist in design
So there you go! I hope this helps everyone. If you're still unsure which attributes suit your items, do pop it in a comment here and I'll see if I can help. And maybe Admin will pop in and help with other related questions too!