Clothing and Fashion in German

Learn these fashion shopping phrases before your next trip

Woman clothes shopping
Sigrid Gombert / Getty Images

Are you ready to shop for clothes in a German-speaking country and want to be prepared with the right phrases and vocabulary?

Germans may not be known for their fashion sense or a flair for dressing up, but a list of famous international fashion designers (der Modeschöpfer) includes Germans and Austrians with names like Karl Lagerfeld, Jil Sander, Wolfgang Joop, Hugo Boss and Helmut Lang. And don't forget the avant-garde stylings of Rudi Gernreich in the 1960s. Plus, in the highly competitive field of fashion modeling, Germans Heidi Klum, Nadja Auermann and Claudia Schiffer claimed fame as top models (das Modell, das Mannequin).

But our interests here are much more modest. We want to introduce the essential German vocabulary related to clothes, duds, clobber, threads or gear—in German: die Klamotten. That would also include related phrases ("to get dressed") and descriptive terms ("the pink blouse"), accessories and makeup, clothing and shoe sizes, plus some shopping terms.

Ein Mode-Sprachführer - a Fashion Phrasebook

Here are sentences and phrases to use when you are shopping for clothing and shoes.

Pay attention to certain grammatical changes (der/denist/sind, etc.) and adjective endings found in the expressions below. As with all German nouns, when referring to clothing items as "it," gender is a factor: it (tie) = sie, it (shirt) = es, it (skirt) = er.

Beim Kleiderkauf -  Buying Clothes

I need...
Ich brauche...
  a dress ein Kleid
  a pair of shoes ein Paar Schuhe
  a belt einen Gürtel
  shirts Hemden

I looking for...
Ich suche...
  a pink blouse eine rosa Bluse
  a black sweater einen schwarzen Pulli

What size are you?
Welche Größe haben Sie?
I take (a) size...
Ich habe Größe...

May I try it on?
Darf ich es anprobieren?

It's/This is too...
Es ist/Das ist zu...
  big groß
  small klein
  bright grell
  long lang
  narrow eng
  short kurz
  tight eng/knapp
  wide breit (tie)
  wide weit (dress, pants)
The waistline is too big.
Die Bundweite ist zu groß.

It fits...
Es passt...
  perfectly genau
  well gut
It doesn't fit.
Es passt nicht.

How much is the sweater?
Was kostet der Pulli?

This sweater is very expensive/dear.
Dieser Pulli ist sehr teuer.
This sweater is very cheap.
Dieser Pulli ist sehr billig.
This sweater is a good buy/deal.
Dieser Pulli ist sehr preiswert.

How much are the shoes?
Was kosten die Schuhe?

These shoes are very expensive/dear.
Diese Schuhe sind sehr teuer.
These shoes are very cheap.
Diese Schuhe sind sehr billig.

Beschreibung - Describing

What color is the shirt?
Welche Farbe hat das Hemd?

The shirt is light blue.
Das Hemd ist hellblau.

He has a light blue shirt.
Er hat ein hellblaues Hemd.

The shirt is plaid.
Das Hemd ist kariert.
It (shirt) is plaid.
Es ist kariert.

The tie is striped.
Die Krawatte ist gestreift.
It (tie) is striped.
Sie ist gestreift.

What do you think of...?
Wie findest du...?
  the purse die Handtasche
  the sweater den Pulli

I think it's chic/fashionable.
Ich finde es/sie/ihn schick.
I think it's ugly.
Ich finde es/sie/ihn hässlich.

Anziehen/Ausziehe - Dressing/Undressing

I'm getting dressed.
Ich ziehe mich an.
I'm getting undressed.
Ich ziehe mich aus.
I'm changing (clothes).
Ich ziehe mich um.

I'm putting on my pants.
Ich ziehe mir die Hose an.
I'm putting on my hat.
Ich setze mir den Hut auf.
He's putting on his hat.
Er setzt sich den Hut auf.


What is he wearing?
Was hat er an?
What is she wearing?
Was trägt sie?
What are they wearing?
Was tragen sie?

Clothing Size Conversion Chart

When it comes to clothing and shoe sizes, Europeans, Americans and the British use very different systems. Not only is there the difference in metric versus English measurements, but there are different philosophies in some areas, especially in children's sizes. And not even the British and American sizes are always the same.

For children's clothing, Europeans go by height rather than age. For instance, a kid's size 116 in Europe is for a child 114-116 cm (45-46 in) tall. That equals the US/UK "age 6" size, but not all six-year-olds are the same height. When converting children's sizes, you should remember that difference.

See the conversion charts below for more information.

KonfektionsgrößenClothing and Shoe SizesMetric (German) versus English

Damenbekleidung (Ladieswear)Ladies' Sizes - Dresses, Suits

Metric 38 40 42 44 46 48
US 10 12 14 16 18 20

Herrenbekleidung (Menswear)Men's Sizes - Jackets, Suits

Metric 42 44 46 48 50 52
US/UK 32 34 36 38 40 42

Hemden (Shirts)

Kragenweite - Neck Size

Metric 36 37 38 39 41 43
US/UK 14 14.5 15 15.5 16 17

Damenschuhe (Ladies' Shoes)

Metric 36 37 38 39 40 41
US/UK 5 6 7 8 9 10

Herrenschuhe (Men's Shoes)

Metric 39 40 41 42 43 44
US/UK 6.5 7.5 8.5 9 10 11

Kinderbekleidung (Children's Clothing)Children's Sizes - Ages 1-12

80 92 98 104 110 116
1 2 3 4 5 6
122 128 134 140 146 152
7 8 9 10 11 12

Note: Take care in converting children's sizes since the two systems use two different criteria (age vs height).

English-German Clothing Glossary

The vocabulary in this glossary is related to naming and describing items of clothing, getting dressed and shopping for clothing. It includes Herrenmode (men's fashions), Damenmode (women's fashions),as well as fabrics and accessories. From shoelaces to hats, here are the words you need to know.

To learn more current fashion and clothing terms, visit one or more of the German online clothing catalog stores (Otto, Quelle).

Note: Noun gender is indicated by r (der), e (die), s (das). The plural ending/form is in ( ).

accessories  s Zubehör (-e)
apron  e Schürze (-n)
attire  e Kleidung
  formal attire  e Gesellschaftskleidung

baseball cap  e Basecap (-s)
bathing cap  e Bademütze (-n)
bathing suit  r Badeanzug (-züge)
bathing trunks  e Badehose (-n)
bathrobe  r Bademantel (-mäntel)
belt  r Gürtel (-)
bikini  r Bikini (-s)
blouse  e Bluse (-n)
blue jeans  Bluejeans (pl)
  Note: Some Germans use Jeans as a fem. sing. noun, but it should be plural.
bodice  s Mieder (-)
boot  r Stiefel (-)
  laced boot  r Schnürsstiefel (-)
bow tie  e Fliege (-n), e Schleife (-n)
boxer shorts  e Boxershorts (pl)
bra  r BH [BAY-HA] r Büstenhalter (-)
bracelet  s Armband (-bänder)
briefs  r Herrenslip (-s)
brooch  e Brosche (-n)
button  r Knopf (Knöpfe)

cap  e Mütze (-n)
clothing  e Kleidung, e Klamotten
  Kleider machen Leute.
  Clothes make the man.
coat  r Mantel (Mäntel)
collar  r Kragen (-)
corduroy  r Kord(samt)
costume jewelry  r Modeschmuck
cotton  e Baumwolle
   coarse cotton cloth  r Nessel
cuff (pants)  r Hosenaufschlag (-schläge)
cuff (sleeve)  r Ärmelaufschlag (-schläge), e Manschette (-n)
cufflink  r Manschettenknopf (-knöpfe)

dirndl dress  s Dirndlkleid (-er)
dress  s Kleid (-er)
dress (v.)  anziehen
   dressed (adj.)   angezogen
   get dressed   sich anziehen
   get undressed   sich ausziehen
   well dressed   gut gekleidet
dressing gown  r Morgenmantel (-mäntel)
dress up (costume)  sich verkleiden/herausputzen
dress up (formal)  sich fein machen/anziehen
duds (clothes)  e Klamotten

earring  r Ohrring (-e)
ear muffs  Ohrenschützer (pl)
evening attire (tails)  r Frack (Fräcke)

fabric  r Stoff (-e)
fashion  e Mode
fashionable  modisch
fashion plate, clothes horse (m.)
  der Modegeck (-en)
fashion plate, clothes horse (f.)
  die Modepuppe (-n)
    someone indifferent to fashion der Modemuffel (-)
flannel  r Flanell
fly (pants)  r Hosenschlitz (-e)
  Hosenschlitz or Hosenmatz is also slang for a "tot" or "toddler."
folk costume  e Volkstracht (-en)
  See photo at top of page.
formal attire  e Gesellschaftskleidung
fur coat  r Pelzmantel (-mäntel)

glasses (pair of)  e Brille (-n)
glove  r Handschuh (-e)
girdle  s Mieder (-)

handkerchief  s Taschentuch (-e)
hat  r Hut (Hüte)
hose, hosiery  Strümpfe (pl)

jacket  e Jacke (-n)
jacket (lady's)  s Jackett (-e)
  sports jacket  s Sportjackett
jeans  Jeans (pl)
  Note: Some Germans use Jeans as a fem. sing. noun, but it should be plural.

knee sock  r Kniestrumpf (-strümpfe)

ladieswear  e Damenbekleidung, e Damenmode
lapel  s Revers (-)
leather  s Leder (-)
leather jacket  e Lederjacke (-n)
leather pants (short)  e Lederhose (-n)
lederhosen  e Lederhose (-n)
linen  s Leinen
lingerie  Damenunterwäsche (pl),
  s Dessous (-)
lining  s Futter (-)
loafer, slip-on (shoe)  r Slipper (- or -s)

menswear  e Herrenbekleidung, e Herrenmode
mitten  r Fausthandschuh (-e)

necklace  e Halskette (-n)
necktie  e Krawatte (-n) Also see "tie" below.
nightshirt  s Herrennachthemd (-en)
nightie  s Nachthemd (-en)
nylon  s Nylon

overalls  r Overall (-s)
  The German word for "overalls" is singular unless speaking of more than one pair of overalls.

pajamas  r Pyjama (-s)
panties  r Slip (-s), r Schlüpfer (-), s Höschen (-)
  panty liner  e Slipeinlage (-n)
pants  e Hose (-n)
pants suit  r Hosenanzug (-züge)
panty hose  e Strumpfhose (-n)
parka  r Anorak (-s), r Parka (-s)
pendant  r Anhänger (-)
petticoat  r Unterrock (-röcke)
pocket  e Tasche (-n)
purse  e Handtasche (-n)

raincoat  r Regenmantel (-mäntel)
ring  r Ring (-e)

sandal  e Sandale (-n)
scarf  r Schal (-s), s Halstuch (-tücher)
seam  e Naht (Nähte)
  aus allen Nähten platzen
  to be bursting at the seams
shirt  s Hemd (-en)
shoe  r Schuh (-e)
shoelace  r Schnürsenkel (-)
shorts  Shorts (pl), e kurze Hose (-n)
silk  e Seide
ski pants  e Skihose (-n)
skirt  r Rock (Röcke)
slacks  e Hose (-n)
sleeve  r Ärmel (-)
  short-sleeved  kurzärmelig
slip  r Unterrock (-röcke)
slipper  r Hausschuh (-e), r Pantoffel (-n)
  Er ist ein Pantoffelheld.
  He's henpecked.
  Caution! In German Slipper refers to "loafers" or slip-on shoes. German Slip means briefs or panties!
sneaker, gym shoe  r Turnschuh (-e)
sock  e Socke (-n), r Strumpf (Strümpfe)
sports coat  r/s Sakko (-s)
suede  r Wildleder (-)
suit (man)  r Anzug (-züge)
suit (lady)  s Kostüm (-e)
sunglasses  e Sonnenbrille (-n)
suspenders (US), braces (UK)  r Hosenträger (-)
sweater  r Pullover (-s), r Pulli (-s)
sweatshirt  s Sweatshirt (-n)
swimsuit  r Badeanzug (-züge)
synthetic (fabric)  e Kunstfaser (-n)
  made of synthetics aus Kunstfasern

tails, formal wear  r Frack (Fräcke or -s)
tank top  r Pullunder (-s)
tennis shoe  r Tennisschuh (-e)
tie, necktie  e Krawatte (-n), r Schlips (-e)
  Ich will ihm nicht auf den Schlips treten.
  I don't want to step on his toes.
tie clip  r Krawattenhalter
tie pin  e Krawattennadel, e Schlipsnadel
   (neck)tie required  (der) Krawattenzwang
tights  e Strumpfhose (-n)
top hat  r Zylinder (-)
track suit  r Trainingsanzug (-züge)
traditional costume  e Tracht (-en)
trousers  e Hose (-n)
t-shirt  s T-Shirt (-s)
turn-up - See "cuff (pants)"
tux, tuxedo  r Smoking, r Frack (tails)
tweed  r Tweed

umbrella  r Regenschirm (-e)
underpants  e Unterhose (-n)
undershirt  s Unterhemd (-en)
underwear  e Unterwäsche (-n)

velvet  r Samt (-e)
vest  e Weste (-n)

waist  e Taille (-n)
  at the waist  in der Taille
waistcoat  e Weste (-n)
waist size  e Bundweite (-n)
wallet  e Brieftasche (-n), s Portmonee [Portmonnaie] (-s)
windbreaker  e Windjacke (-n)
wool  e Wolle
wrist watch  e Armbanduhr (-en)

zipper  r Reißverschluss (-e)

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Flippo, Hyde. "Clothing and Fashion in German." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Flippo, Hyde. (2020, August 27). Clothing and Fashion in German. Retrieved from Flippo, Hyde. "Clothing and Fashion in German." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 29, 2023).