Taffeta is known as a luxury fabric. It comes in both a stiffer and softer form. The stiffer form is called yarn-dyed taffeta, and the softer form is called piece-dyed taffeta.
Taffeta has a crisp feel, and often a shiny, smooth surface. Its stiffness can cause it to stand out more, giving it greater volume.
Taffeta can be made from silk or synthetic fibers such as nylon. It was originally made from silk, but synthetics have become more popular in recent years.
Taffeta is often used for evening gowns. It has a reputation as being a quality fabric suitable for elegant attire. A softer form of taffeta is also used for linings.
Taffeta can crease easily, as Sandra Betzina says in "More Fabric Savvy." In an evening gown, linings help to keep it from creasing, she adds, in addition to increasing volume.
Taffeta has been used for hundreds of years, first in the Middle East and Asia, and later in Europe. It's believed to originally come from Persia.