Italian Vocabulary for Clothing

Laundry hanging from apartment buildings in Venice
Laundry hanging from apartment buildings in Venice. Walter Zerla

I walked into a boutique shoe shop on the main corso in Viterbo, Italy looking to buy some shoes to match my outfit later that evening. La commessa (the saleswoman) greeted me with a salve! and I smiled and waved back.

Pairs of shoes sat on lit up shelves, many of them which I couldn’t imagine wearing without twisting an ankle on the cobblestone streets that lined the center of the city. (If you must know, I did buy a pair of too-high-for-cobblestone heels and almost became very intimate with the ground.)

Each time that I walked into un negozio (a store) to find a sweater, a pair of jeans, or a new top, I found myself acquiring new, specific vocabulary for not just the items themselves but colors, sizes, and material.

Below you’ll find a list of common vocabulary and phrases that can be used when shopping in Italy or just talking about clothes.

Accessories - gli accessori

Clothing - l’abbigliamento/ il vestiario

Shoes - le scarpe

  • Flip-flops - le infradito
  • High heels - le scarpe col tacco
  • Hiking boots - le scarpe da trekking
  • Rainboots - i stivali di gomma/stivali da pioggia

Vocabulary - Descriptions

  • Cotton - il cotone
  • Leather - il cuoio
  • Linen - il lino
  • Polyester - il poliestere
  • Silk - la seta
  • Wool - la lana
  • Loose - largo
  • Tight - stretto
  • Striped - a righe/strisce

If you need to learn or review the colors in Italian, read this article: Colors in Italian

Phrases

  • Cerco una felpa a righe. - I’m looking for a striped sweatshirt.

TIP: Notice that in Italian there is no preposition used after the verb “cercare - to look for”. The “for” is implied within the verb.

  • Sono/Porto/Indosso una taglia…(media). - I’m a medium.

  • Vuole provarlo? - Do you want to try it on?

  • Vorrei provare questi, dove sono i camerini?- I’d like to try these on, where are the fitting rooms?

TIP: In the phrase above, “lo” would be used if the item were singular and masculine, like "il vestito - the dress". However, if it were singular and feminine, like la sciarpa - the scarf, it would be “Vuole provarla”? While it’s important to make everything agree, don’t stress if you can’t remember the gender of the object you have. You’ll be safe with using the pronoun “lo”.

  • È comodo. - It’s comfortable.

  • Il vestito è troppo stretto, avete una taglia più grande? - The dress is too tight, do you have a larger size?

  • Questi (stivali) sono scomodi. - These (boots) are uncomfortable.

  • Preferisco il rosa. - I prefer pink. (As a colour)

TIP: Notice the differences in meanings below.

  • Preferisco la rosa. - I prefer the rose (flower).

  • La preferisco rosa - I prefer it (something feminine like: la gonna, la sciarpa, la maglietta...etc) in pink.

  • Lo preferisco rosa. - I prefer it (something masculine like: il golf, il pantalone, il papillon...etc) in pink.