English vocabulary for clothes and shoes

Here is some useful vocabulary for men's and women's clothes and shoes, for both winter and summer.

Clothes

coat / overcoat (also raincoat) = what you wear in winter over your other clothes, to keep warm. You either have buttons or a (metal) zip to do up (= close) the coat.

jacket = short coat. You also have a jacket (and trousers / skirt) as part of a suit.

Men's suits are a formal pair of trousers and a jacket of the same material. With it, men often wear a formal long-sleeved shirt, with a tie around the collar of the shirt.

Women's suits are a formal skirt and jacket of the same material.

A tracksuit is a pair of trousers and a jacket that you wear for playing sports.

With trousers, jackets and coats, you normally have pockets (where you can put things in like tickets, tissues, your hands…) The pockets on a jacket are inside pockets or side pockets. With trousers you have side pockets and back pockets.

A jumper / sweater / pullover is often made of wool and you wear it over a shirt / under a jacket to keep warm in winter.

A cardigan is similar to a jumper, but it is open at the front, with a zip or buttons to do it up.

Note: you can say a pair of trousers (pants in US English) or a pair of jeans, or just trousers and jeans. Remember that in both cases, the verb is plural:

"My jeans are old."

A shirt is long-sleeved (with sleeves going down to your hands) or short-sleeved (with sleeves ending above your elbow) and it normally closes with buttons. Women can also wear shirts, or a blouse – a more feminine version.

A t-shirt is a short-sleeved (or sleeveless) cotton shirt for summer, or for under your shirt.

A sweatshirt is a heavy shirt, sometimes with a hood (to cover your head) that you can wear for sports, or instead of a jumper.

A top is anything that you wear above your waist, either casual or smart.

A dress is one piece and often with sleeves. It can be long or short, for winter or for summer.

A skirt goes from your waist to around your knees, but there are also mini-skirts – very short skirts.

In summer, you can wear shorts – a type of trousers that are short, going to your knees or above.

To go swimming, women wear either a swimming costume (one piece) or a bikini (two pieces). Men wear swimming trunks.

Shoes

You can also add "a pair of" to all the following types of shoes.

shoes = there are lots of types of shoes, such as high-heeled shoes or flat shoes (for women), dress shoes (formal shoes for men).

boots = mostly for winter, these are shoes that go up to your knees, or ankle boots which go up to your ankles (just above your feet)

Also football boots / rugby boots for playing football or rugby, and hiking / walking boots for walking long distances.

Wellington boots (or "Wellingtons" / "Wellies") are rubber boots that you can wear when you walk in the rain.

sandals = these are "open" shoes for summer.

flip flops = these are made of rubber or plastic, and there is a strap that goes between your first two toes. They make a "flip flop" sound when you walk in them.

trainers = you wear these when you play sports.

slippers = you wear these in your house to keep your feet warm.

Accessories

hat = you wear this on your head. (Also cap, which is a more informal type of hat.)

gloves = you wear these on your hands when it is cold

scarf = you wear this around your neck. (The plural is scarves or scarfs.)

belt = you wear this around the waist of your trousers or jeans

bag = you carry this because it contains money, phone, keys, etc. You can also use a briefcase to carry documents and papers.

Other types of accessories are jewellery. This includes a necklace (around your neck), a bracelet (around your wrist), a ring (on your finger) an earring (a ring in your ear) and a watch (to tell the time).

Underwear

Men wear (a pair of) pants (or underpants), a vest (under a shirt) and (a pair of) socks (on their feet).

Women wear (a pair of) knickers (or panties), a bra (under a shirt), (a pair of) socks or tights (pantyhose in American English) on the legs.

At night time, men, women and children can wear pyjamas, and a dressing gown to cover their pyjamas when they first get out of bed.

Types of material / fabric

The different types of material (also called fabric) are uncountable nouns in English.

"Cotton comes from plants." (Not "A cotton comes from plants.")

cotton – usually for underwear, or t-shirts

linen – summer material, more rigid than cotton. Often in long-sleeve or sleeveless shirts and in suits

wool – comes from animals like sheep and lambs, used in jumpers.
(Adjective form = woollen in British English, woolen in American English)

nylon – man-made or synthetic material found in tights

silk – a delicate, thin material used for all types of clothes

denim – material for jeans

Useful verbs

wear = the clothes you use: "I wear a suit to work."

get dressed = the process of putting on clothes: "I get dressed after I have my shower."

get undressed = the process of taking off clothes

do up = to "close" a piece of clothing: "Do up your coat before you go outside."

undo = to "open" clothing: "My hands are so cold I can't undo the buttons."

zip up = to use the zip to close some clothing: "Zip up your jacket."

unzip = to use the zip to open some clothing: "Help me! I can't unzip this jacket."

You also put on and take off pieces of clothing.

Other useful vocabulary about clothes

Clothes often have two labels on them: one label gives you the washing instructions and size information, and the other label shows the designer or manufacturer.

Clothes can also be hand-made by a tailor.

Now try the quiz!

Clothes and shoes exercise

Click the Start button below to begin the exercise. For each question, select the missing word from the choices. Then click the arrow on the right to go to the next question.
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