French Vocabulary: Clothing

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Ahhh, French fashion. There are a zillion specific words to describe French clothes, however lists on the web are usually very limited. Here is a longer list which will help you master French clothing vocabulary. 

Les vêtements: Clothes

  • Les fringues : clothes in slang (ends on a G sound)

Les vêtements d’extérieur: Outerwears 

  • Un manteau : a coat, a dress coat, usually long. It’s also the generic word to say something warm to wear outside.
  • Une veste : a blazer, also generic for outerwears.
  • Un imperméable : a raincoat. 
  • Un K-way (pronounced "ka way"), un coupe-vent : a rain jacket. K-way is a brand, but it's so popular that it became the word used to describe this very thin plastic jacket that you can fold into a small bag and then tie around your waist. Most kids have one for Spring days!
  • Un blouson : an waist length jacket, a bomber jacket, often used to describe a leather jacket : un blouson en/de cuir.
  • Un anorak : a ski jacket.
  • Une doudoune : that’s somewhat a new word. It's a sort of padded/ski jacket, parka

Les hauts: Tops

  • Un chandail : a sweater - sounds like “eye”, and a bit old fashion.
  • Un tricot : a (knitted) sweater - very old fashion
  • Un pull : a sweater - most commonly used word nowadays
  • Un (pull à) col-roulé : turtle neck sweater
  • Un pull en V : un pull à col en V - V neck sweater
  • Un pull à col rond : round neck sweater
  • Un cardigan, un gilet : cardigan sweater (open in front with buttons) 
  • Une chemise : a shirt (usually for man, but could be used for women also).
  • Une chemise à manches courtes : short sleeve shirt
  • Une chemise à manches longues : long sleeve shirt
  • Une chemise à manches trois quarts : 3/4 length sleeve shirt
  • Une blouse : a lady’s shirt (a bit old fashion)
  • Un chemisier : a lady’s shirt - yes, I know it's a masculine word to describe women clothes, whereas "une chemise" for man is feminine... go figure!
  • Un T-shirt : Tshirt, pronounced in Franglish “ti sheurt”
  • Un débardeur : tank top


Un Costume: Men's suit

  • Also means a costume as in a disguise.
  • Une veste: a blazer, a sports coat. Un gilet : a vest - watch out for the false cognate - “un gilet” is the 3rd part of a 3 piece man suit, the one you wear under the jacket ≠ “une veste” which is the blazer part. “Un gilet” is also a cardigan sweater. “Un gilet” is also called “un veston” but it’s old fashion.
  • Un complet: a man’s suit - very old fashion. 
  • Un tailleur: a lady’s suit. You can say “un tailleur pantalon” : lady’s pants suit, or “un tailleur jupe”: skit’s suit. "Tailleur" as the sound of "Thai" in it.
  • Un smoking : a tuxedo. 

Les bas: The bottoms

  • Un pantalon: pants - note this word is usually used in the singular. “Des pantalons” to refer to one pair of pants is possible, but quite old fashion.
  • Un jean: jeans. Singular as well. Not pronounced like the French name “Jean” but like the English word “jean” (djin).
  • Un short: shorts. (singular)
  • Un bermuda: knee length shorts
  • Un Capri: above the ankle pants.
  • Un caleçon: leggings (a sort of stretchy pants). Watch out, this is also the word for men’s underwear: boxer shorts.

Pour les femmes: For ladies

  • Une robe: a dress – not a robe which is « un peignoir ». 
  • Une robe du soir: an evening dress. Do not mistake it with "une chemise de nuit" with is a nightgown to go to bed...
  • Une robe bustier: a strapless dress
  • Une robe sans-manche : a sleeveless dress
  • Une robe à manches longues/courtes : a dress with long/short sleeves
  • Une robe avec des petites bretelles - a dress with small straps
  • Une jupe: a skirt.
  • Une mini-jupe: very short skirt
  • Une jupe au dessus du genou: above the knee length skirt
  • Une jupe au dessous du genou: under the knee length skirt
  • Une jupe longue: long skirt
  • Une jupe plissée: pleated skirt
  • Une jupe droite: straight skirt
  • Une jupe fendue: a skirt with a slit

Pour la nuit: For the night

  • Une chemise de nuit: a night gown.
  • Un pyjama: PJs. Singular in French.
  • Une robe de chambre: a robe (to be inside the house)
  • Un peignoir (de bain): a bathrobe
  • Des pantoufles : slippers

Vêtements spéciaux: Special clothing

  • Une salopette: an overall
  • Un bleu de travail: it's a type of overall protection clothing that contractors wear... usually blue.
  • Un uniforme: a uniform
  • Un tablier: an apron
  • There is no word for "scrubs." We'd say "une blouse d'infirmier/infirmière, de docteur...".
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Your Citation
Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "French Vocabulary: Clothing." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. (2023, April 5). French Vocabulary: Clothing. Retrieved from Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "French Vocabulary: Clothing." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).