How the French Describe Clothing Shape, Texture and More

French Adjectives and Expressions for Clothing

woman looking at red dress in closet

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The French are specialists in great clothing and shoes. They differentiate them endlessly according to shape, texture and more. As a result, there are plenty of adjectives and expressions that are used every day to describe the attributes of clothing.

Before using all these adjectives, it is an opportune moment to review the basic rules of adjectives, what an adjective is and its grammatical behavior in French.

Basic Rules for French Adjectives

These terms must follow the basic rules of agreement for French adjectives.

For example, if an adjective ends in a consonant, add an e to make it feminine, a silent s to make it plural. Adjectives are usually placed after the noun in French. Plus, the final consonant of adjectives is silent. It is pronounced only in the feminine when followed by a silent e. A quiz can be used to practice adjective agreement.

To modify fashion adjectives, the French commonly use the adverbs trop ("too"), pas assez ("not enough") and vraiment ("truly").

The adjectives and expressions here are worth knowing, chiefly because they'll be incredibly useful in everyday life. Ironically, fashion is the field where students lack vocabulary the most, even though it is a major theme in French conversations. 

To remedy this lack, here are French adjectives and expressions commonly used to describe clothes. In every case, the masculine form is listed; the feminine form follows in parentheses only if the adjective is irregular.

'La forme' ('the shape')

  • Droit > straight
  • Plissé > pleated
  • Fendu > with a split
  • Serré > tight
  • Moulant > clingy
  • Ample > large
  • Évasé > flare
  • Décolleté > low cut
  • Cache-coeur > crossed/wrapped over the chest

'L'aspect' et 'la texture' ('the appearance' and 'the texture')

  • Doux (douce) > soft
  • Rugueux (rugueuse) > rough
  • Épais (épaisse) > thick
  • Fluide > fluid
  • Fin > thin
  • Chaud > warm
  • un pull qui gratte > a sweater that itches (there is no French term for "itchy")
  • Confortable > comfortable (note the n in French)
  • Transparent > see-through

'Le look' ('the look')

  • Chic (the same in feminine) > stylish
  • Élégant > elegant
  • À la mode > fashionable 
  • Démodé > old-fashioned
  • Branché > trendy
  • Cool > hip, cool
  • Sympa > nice
  • Joli > pretty
  • Beau (belle) > beautiful
  • Magnifique > gorgeous
  • Pas mal > not bad
  • Laid > ugly
  • Moche > ugly (slang)
  • Uni > plain
  • Chargé > busy
  • Sobre > understated
  • Voyant > gaudy
  • Vulgaire > vulgar
  • Sexy > sexy
  • Uni > plain  
  • Imprimé > printed  
  • Rayé > striped

'La taille' ('the size')

  • Grand > big 
  • Large > broad, wide, large
  • Long (longue) > long
  • Court > short
  • Étroit > tight

'Le Prix' ('the price')

  • Cher (chère) > expensive
  • Hors de prix > super expensive
  • Pas cher > inexpensive, cheap ("inexpensive" is literally bon marché, but that's never used)
  • Soldé > marked down


Cette robe... "this dress"...

  • ...tombe bien sur toi > falls nicely on you
  • ...te va bien > fits you nicely (we use an indirect object pronoun and the verb aller)
  • ...t'amincit > makes you look thinner

Ce pantalon... this pair of pants...

  • te va pas du tout > doesn't fit you at all
  • ...te grossis > makes you look fat
  • gratte > is itchy / itches 

Now that you know how to describe many kinds of clothing, you may want to know how to say their colors, too. Study how to say various colors in French and the very strict rules you must follow when using them.

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Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "How the French Describe Clothing Shape, Texture and More." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. (2023, April 5). How the French Describe Clothing Shape, Texture and More. Retrieved from Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "How the French Describe Clothing Shape, Texture and More." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 3, 2023).