Look good and feel great with our complete guide to clothing in French

Elinor Zucchet

Elinor Zucchet

Look good and feel great with our complete guide to clothing in French

Paris is often considered the capital of fashion: la capitale de la mode. Who hasn’t heard of “haute couture”? So it made sense to dedicate an entire article to clothes in French.

But even if you're not a fashionista, it always comes in handy to know the basics, such as “dress” or “underwear” in French. For the latter, you never know what situation you might use it in ;-)

So here are more than 160 words and sayings to add to your clothes in French vocabulary. If this is overwhelming, keep your shirt on and take French lessons!

Woman looking to try on some clothes in French.

Clothes in French

The French word for clothes in French is “vêtements” (plural) and “vêtement” (singular). The slang term “fringues” is also widely used.

Here are a few examples of typical situations where you need to be able to talk about clothes.

When trying clothes in a store.

  • Vous avez ce jean en taille 40 ?
    Translation: Do you have these jeans in size 40?
  • Où sont les cabines d’essayage ?
    Translation: Where are the fitting rooms?

When complimenting somebody on their apparel.

  • J’adore ta robe !
    Translation: I love your dress!
  • Où as-tu acheté ta chemise?
    Translation: Where did you get your shirt?

When asking a friend for her/his opinion on your outfit.

  • Que penses-tu de ma tenue ?
    Translation: What do you think of my outfit?
  • Tu aimes ce pantalon ?
    Translation: Do you like these pants?

When inquiring about the dress code for an event or a job.

  • Que dois-je mettre ?
    Translation: What should I wear?
  • Quel est le code vestimentaire ?
    Translation: What’s the dress code?

Dress codes in French

Although dress codes in France are less common than in the US, here is a little guide to avoid any faux-pas. Quelle classe !

EnglishFrenchIPA
CasualDécontractédekõtɾakte
Smart casualDécontracté chicdekõtɾakte ʃik
Semi-FormalSemi-formel/habillésəmi-fɔɾmɛl/abije
FormalFormel/Habilléfɔɾmɛl/abije
Office attireProfessionelpɾɔfɛsjɔnɛl
Cocktail dressRobe de cocktailɾɔbə də kɔkktaj
Evening wearTenue de soiréetənɥə də swaɾeə
Evening gownRobe de soiréeɾɔbə də swaɾeə
Ball gownRobe de balɾɔbə də bal

Underwear in French

Oh là là, voici les sous-vêtements en français !

EnglishFrenchIPA
UnderpantsSous-vêtementssu-vɛtəmɑ̃
BoxersCaleçonskalɛsõ
BriefsSlipssli
BraSoutien-gorgesutjɛ̃-gɔɾʒə
SocksChaussettesʃosɛtə
PantiesCulotteskylɔtə
StockingsBasba
PantyhoseCollantskɔlɑ̃

Outerwear in French

French might be the language of love, but it doesn’t mean you only need to learn underwear in French! Whatever your style, we have you covered. Literally..

Dress in French

Woman trying on some dresses in French.

EnglishFrenchIPA
DressRobeɾɔbə
Long dressRobe longueɾɔbə lõgə
Short dressRobe courteɾɔbə kuɾtə
Maxi dressRobe maxiɾɔbə magzi
Formal dressRobe de soiréeɾɔbə də swaɾeə
Semi-formal dressRobe semi-formelleɾɔbə səmi-fɔɾmɛlə
Cocktail dressRobe de cocktailɾɔbə də kɔkktaj
BallgownRobe de soiréeɾɔbə də swaɾeə
Summer dressRobe d'étéɾɔbə dete
Midi dressRobe mi-longueɾɔbə mi-lõgə
Off the shoulder dressRobe décolletéeɾɔbə dekɔləteə
Wedding gownRobe de mariéeɾɔbə də maɾjeə

Shorts and pants in French

EnglishFrenchIPA
Pants/trousersPantalonpɑ̃talõ
TrousersPantalonspɑ̃talõ
Tracksuit pantsPantalons de survêtementpɑ̃talõ də syɾvɛtəmə
Suit pantsPantalon de tailleurpɑ̃talõ də tajœɾ
ShortsShortsɔɾ
BermudaBermudabɛɾmyda
Capri pantsPantacourtpɑ̃takuɾ
Cargo pantsPantalon cargopɑ̃talõ kaɾgo
JeansJeanʒɛɑ̃
Jog pantsPantalon de joggingpɑ̃talõ də ʒɔgɛ̃
Yoga pantsPantalon de yogapɑ̃talõ d jɔga
LeggingsLegginglɛgɛ̃
Lounge pantsPantalon décontractépɑ̃talõ dekõtɾakte
Slim pantsPantalon slimpɑ̃talõ slɛ̃
Skinny pantsPantalon skinnypɑ̃talõ skini
Flare pantsPantalon patte d’éléphantpɑ̃talõ patə delepɑ̃

Shirts and tops in French

EnglishFrenchIPA
ShirtChemiseʃəmizə
T-shirtT-shirt-siɾ
BlouseChemisierʃəmizje
Button up shirtChemise à boutonsʃəmiz a butõ
Polo shirtPolopɔlo
TopTopto
SingletDébardeurdebaɾdœɾ
Halter topTop dos nuto do ny
BustierBustierbystje
BraletteBralettebɾalɛtə
Oversize t-shirtT-shirt oversize-siɾt‿ ɔvɛɾsizə
HoodieSweat à capucheswɛat‿ a kapyʃə
SweaterSweatswɛa
PulloverPullpyl
FleecePolairepɔlɛɾə
Thin strap topDébardeur à fines bretellesdebaɾdœɾ a finə bɾətɛlə

Jacket or coat in French

Coat or jacket in French.

EnglishFrenchIPA
JacketVestevɛstə
CoatManteaumɑ̃to
BlouseBlousonbluzõ
GabardineGabardinegabaɾdinə
Puffer jacketDoudounedudunə
Denim jacketVeste en jeanvɛstɑ̃ ʒɛɑ̃
WindbreakerCoupe-ventkupə-və
Leather jacketVeste en cuirvɛstɑ̃ kɥiɾ
Bomber jacketBlouson bombersbluzõ bõbe
CardiganCardigankaɾdigɑ̃
ParkaParkapaɾka
Trench coatTrench coattɾɑ̃ʃ koa
AnorakAnorakanɔɾak
Rain coatVeste de pluie/K-wayvɛstə də plɥjɛ/k-wɛj
PonchoPonchopõʃo
VestGiletʒile
WaistcoatVestonvɛstõ

Skirt in French

EnglishFrenchIPA
SkirtJupeʒypə
Long skirtJupe longueʒypə lõgə
Short skirtJupe courteʒypə kuɾtə
Mini skirtMini-jupemini-ʒypə
Pleated skirtJupe plisséeʒypə pliseə
A-line skirtJupe trapèzeʒypə tɾapɛzə
High waist skirtJupe taille hauteʒypə tajə otə

Shoes and boots in French

No style would be complete without an awesome pair of shoes. Time to step up your vocab and learn shoes in French!

Mans shirt and shoes in French.

EnglishFrenchIPA
ShoesChaussuresʃosyɾə
BootsBottesbɔtə
High heelsTalons hautstalõ o
SandalsSandalessɑ̃dalə
Flip flopsTongs
Formal shoesChaussures habilléesʃosyɾə abijeə
Flat shoesChaussures platesʃosyɾə platə
SneakersBasketsbaske
ClogsSabotssabo
StilettoTalons aiguillestalõz‿ (e)gijə
SlippersChaussons/Pantouflesʃosõs/pɑ̃tuflə
Ankle bootsBottinesbɔtinə
LoafersMocassinsmɔkasɛ̃
Brogue shoesChaussures richelieuʃosyɾə ɾiʃəljø
Ballet flatsBallerinesbaləɾinə
Athletic shoesChaussures de sportʃosyɾə də spɔɾ
EspadrillesEspadrillesɛspadɾijə
Oxford shoesChaussures Oxfordʃosyɾəz‿ ɔksfɔɾ
Platform shoesChaussures compenséesʃosyɾə kõpɑ̃seə
Hiking bootsChaussures de randonnéeʃosyɾə də ɾɑ̃dɔneə
Wellington bootsBottes de pluiebɔtə də plɥjə
Cowboy bootsBottes de cow-boybɔtə də ko-bwaj
Snow bootsBottes de neigebɔtə də nɛʒə

Hats in French

EnglishFrenchIPA
HatChapeauʃapo
CapCasquettekaskɛtə
BeretBéretbeɾe
BalaclavaCagoulekagulə
Winter hatBonnetbɔne
Cowboy hatChapeau de cow-boyʃapo də ko-bwaj
FedoraFedorafədɔɾa
Cloche hatChapeau clocheʃapo klɔʃə
Kepi hatKépikepi
Bowler hatChapeau melonʃapo məlõ

Other important clothing-related terms

Young woman searching for clothes in a secondhand fashion store in France.

EnglishFrenchIPA
Bathing suitMaillot de bainmajo də bɛ̃
ScarfEcharpeɛʃaɾpə
ShawlChâleʃɑlə
FoulardFoulardfulaɾ
GlovesGantsgɑ̃
School uniformUniforme scolaireynifɔɾmə skɔlɛɾə
UniformUniformeynifɔɾmə
BikiniBikinibikini
OverallCombinaisonkõbinɛzõ
Ski suitCombinaison de skikõbinɛzõ də ski
WetsuitCombinaison de plongéekõbinɛzõ də plõʒeə
JewelryBijouxbiʒuks
AccessoriesAccessoiresakɛswaɾə
PurseSac à mainsak a mɛ̃
ApparelVêtementsvɛtəmɑ̃
ApronTabliertablje
StrapsBretellesbɾətɛlə
BeltCeinturesɛ̃tyɾə
Bow tieNœud papillonnø papijõ
TieCravatekɾavatə
CufflinksBoutons de manchettebutõ də mɑ̃ʃɛtə
PajamaPyjamapiʒama
TracksuitSurvêtementsyɾvɛtəmə
BathrobePeignoirpɛɲwaɾ
Woman’s suitTailleurtajœɾ
Man’s suitCostardkɔstaɾ
Shoe lacesLacets de chaussureslase də ʃosyɾə
Swimming trunksShort de bainsɔɾ də bɛ̃
SizeTailletajə
Fitting roomsCabines d’essayagekabinə dɛsɛjaʒə

Clothing-related French idioms

  • Tirer son chapeau

    Literal translation: To pull one’s hat
    Actual meaning: To congratulate
  • Avoir le moral dans les chaussettes

    Literal translation: To have the mood in one’s socks
    Actual meaning: To be down
  • Être à côté de ses pompes

    Literal translation: To be on the side of one’s shoes
    Actual meaning: To be out of it
  • Retourner sa veste

    Literal translation: To flip one’s jacket
    Actual meaning: To be an opportunist (usually regarding politics)
  • Se serrer la ceinture

    Literal translation: To tighten one’s belt
    Actual meaning: To save, to avoid spending
  • L’habit ne fait pas le moine

    Literal translation: The outfit doesn’t make the monk
    Actual meaning: You can’t judge a book by its cover
  • Aller comme un gant

    Literal translation: To fit like a glove
    Actual meaning: Well… to fit like a glove
  • Prendre des gants

    Literal translation: To take gloves
    Actual meaning: To act carefully, to be gentle (usually not to hurt someone’s feelings)
  • Lâcher les baskets

    Literal translation: To let go of sneakers
    Actual meaning: To leave alone
  • Gros bonnet

    Literal translation: Big winter hat
    Actual meaning: Someone important
  • Lécher les bottes

    Literal translation: To lick the boots
    Actual meaning: To suck up
  • Tailler un costard

    Literal translation: To tailor a suit
    Actual meaning: To criticize
  • Se faire remonter les bretelles

    Literal translation: To get one’s straps rolled up
    Actual meaning: To get in trouble, to be scolded

Clothes related verbs in French

Woman sewing clothes in French.

EnglishFrenchIPA
To get dressedS'habillersabije
To get undressedSe déshabillersə desabije
To try onEssayerɛs(e)e
To wearPorterpɔɾte
To attireS'habillersabije
To buckleBouclerbuckle
To buttonBoutonnerbutɔne
To fastenAttacherataʃe
To unfastenDétacherdetaʃe
To sewCoudrekudɾə
To zipFermer la fermeture éclairfɛɾme la fɛɾmətyɾ eklɛɾ
To unzipOuvrir la fermeture éclairuvɾiɾ la fɛɾmətyɾ eklɛɾ
To dress upS’habillersabije
To take offEnleverɑ̃ləve
To hang up (clothes)Étendre (le linge)etɑ̃dɾə (lə lɛ̃ʒɛ)
To throw onEnfilerɑ̃file
To foldPlierplje
To washLaverlave
To ironRepasserɾəpase

Clichés when it comes to clothing in French

Cliché #1

Everyone wears a striped shirt, a beret and a red scarf.

Even though it’s a cliché, A LOT of French people LOVE white and blue stripes — marinière style — and beret fashion comes and goes. Most men and women also wear a foulard or scarf, when not too hot obviously. Check out this article to know more about French fashion clichés!

Cliché #2

French people are always elegant and in-style.

In large cities, you’ll see a lot of elegant and stylish people. But I think this applies to most countries. I’ve personally seen more sleek looking people in cities like London or Stockholm than in Paris, for example.

French people are not overly formal, so as long as your outfit is “correct” and respectful, don’t worry! Québécois tend to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to clothing, and in general actually.

Calling all fashionistas: Check out this video to learn the French style wardrobe essentials!

Can you remember all these new words and expressions? Je vous tire mon chapeau ! If you dream about French clothing while watching Emily in Paris, find out how Parisians react to the show in this fun video. You are now ready to conquer French fashion… and French vocab!

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