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Learning French: A Dress By Any Other Name...

By Tommy Carlton

Part of everyday life, clothing is very important to talk about in a foreign language. Learn how to refer to both women's and men's clothing, both vocabulary and some basic phrases.

Why Clothing?

When first learning a foreign language such as French, it is imporant to learn basic vocabulary and phrases that cover parts of everyday Clothing life, because that is what we use most often. Clothing is important because it comes up at home, when you're shopping, and when you're talking with other people, so it is an easy boost to your vocabulary, and one that will definitely be useful for anyone. While there are many, many words for clothing in French, learning the basics is a great way to strike up a conversation with someone. You can also combine these words with words for colors, giving you a bit more detail in your descriptions or requests.

Generic Clothing

Some clothing is gender-specific, but first we'll learn clothing that is worn by both women and men. Make sure to pay attention to the gender of each word as well, as that is an important part of the language.

des vêtements (m) | clothes

des sous-vêtements (m) | underwear

des chaussures (f) | shoes

des chausettes (f) | socks

un pantalon | pants (notice that the French word is singular, as opposed to the plural "pants" in English)

un jean | jeans (same as pants, the French word is singular)

un pull | a sweater

un manteau | a jacket

un imperméable | a rain jacket (sometimes abbreviated as "un imper")

un t-shirt | a t-shirt (but pronounced with a French accent, of course!)

une chemise | a shirt (this can also refer to a woman's blouse, but is the generic word for "shirt")

un chapeau | a hat

Women's Clothing

Here are some types of clothing for women:

une jupe | a skirt

une robe | a dress

un collant | pantyhose (singular in French, but plural in English)

un sac à main | a purse

un chemisier | a blouse (similar to "une chemise," but always means a blouse)

un soutien-gorge | a bra

une culotte | panties (singular in French, but plural in English)

Men's Clothing

Here are some types of clothing for men:

un caleçon | boxers (singular in French, but plural in English)

un slip | briefs (singular in French, but plural in English)

un costume | a suit

une cravate | a tie

un veston de sport | a sport coat

un smoking | a tuxedo

Useful Phrases

When talking about clothing, here are some phrases you can use:

Je veux acheter ____________, en avez-vous? (I'd like to buy __________, do you have any?)

J'aime bien votre _____________ ! (I really like your ____________ !)

Avez-vous _____________ que je pourrais emprunter? (Do you have _____________ that I could borrow?)

Je préfère _______________, c'est mieux. (I like the _____________, it's better.)

Combien coûte ______________ ? (How much does _____________ cost?)