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

written by: Tommy Carlton • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 6/29/2014

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.

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    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.

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    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

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    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)

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    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

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    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?)