Here is some useful vocabulary for men’s and women’s clothes and shoes, for both winter and summer.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
Clothes and Shoes Exercise
Choose the correct answer.
Now go to the next page where you can learn shopping phrases to talk to the shop assistant – and practise your listening skills: English Conversations – Shopping