The French are famous for their fashion sense, and if you want to be à la mode, you’ll have to buy some clothes and accessories in France. Some French words translate differently to US or UK English regarding clothing and the sizing is different too. Also, some French terms are singular or plural – often contrary to how we refer to them in English – so beware!

Here are some helpful words and phrases for when you hit the boutiques:

At the store

FrenchEnglish
un magasin des vêtements (m.)a clothing store
à vendrefor sale
les soldesa sale
une braderie (f.)a clearance sale
un dressing (m.)a dressing room / walk-in wardrobe
une mercerie (f.)a notions/sewing store (US) or a haberdashery (UK)
la dernière tendance (f.)the latest fashion or trend
la taille est ... (f.)the (clothing) size is ...
ma pointure de chaussure est… (f.)my (shoe) size is ...

Adjectives

FrenchEnglish
court(e)short
long(ue)long
petit(e)small
grand(e)/largelarge
chicchic
(pas) confortable(un)comfortable
élégant(e)elegant
modernemodern
saledirty
neuf(/neuve)new
mocheugly

Examples

  • “Mon pantalon est trop long” – my pants/trousers are too long
  • “La chemise est sale” – the shirt is dirty

Verbs

FrenchEnglish
Je vais me changerI’m going to go change
enlever to take off (for example, take off one specific article of clothing)
s’habillerto get dressed
se déshabillerto undress
bien allerto look good on/to suit

Examples

  • “Je m’habille” – I’m getting dressed
  • “Est-ce que le chapeau me va bien ?” – does the hat look good on me?

Fabrics/Materials

FrenchEnglish
le tissu (m.)the fabric/cloth
le coton (m.)cotton
le cuir (m.)leather
la laine (f.)wool
le nylon (m.)nylon

Clothing

FrenchEnglish
des vêtementsclothes or clothing (plural)
un vêtement/habit (m.)a piece of clothing
un tee-shirt (m.)a t-shirt
une chemise (f.)a button-down shirt/collared shirt
un pull/gilet (m.)a sweater/jumper
une robe (f.)a dress
une (mini) jupe (f.)a (mini) skirt
un short (m.)a pair of shorts
un débardeur (m.)a sleeveless vest/t-shirt
un pantalon (m.)a pair of pants/trousers
un jean (m.)jeans/a pair of jeans
un jogging (m.)sweatpants
un cardigan (m.)a cardigan
un smoking (m.)a tuxedo/dinner jacket
une cravate (f.)a necktie
un pyjama (m.)pajamas/pyjamas
les manches (f.)sleeves
sans manchessleeveless
une capuche (f.)a hood
un maillot (m.)a sports top/vest

Footwear

FrenchEnglish
les chaussures (f.)shoes
les baskets (f.)sneakers/trainers
les sandales (f.)sandals
les talons (m.)high-heels
les ballerines (f.)flat shoes
les bottes (f.)boots
les tongs (f.)flip flops
les chaussures compensées (f.)wedge heel shoes
les chaussons (m.)slippers

Footwear Sizing

US menUS womenUK/AUFR/EU
0.52032
12.50.532.5
1.53133
23.51.533.5
2.54234
34.52.534.5
3.55335
45.53.535.5
4.56436.5
56.54.537
5.57537.5
67.55.538
6.58639
78.56.539.5
7.59740
89.57.540.5
8.510841
910.58.541.5
9.511942.5
1011.59.543.5
10.5121044
1112.510.544.5
11.5131145.5
1213.511.546
12.5141246.5
1314.512.547
13.5151347.5
1415.513.548.5
14.5161449
1516.514.549.5
15.5171550

Outerwear

FrenchEnglish
un manteau (m.)an overcoat
un blouson (m.)a jacket/windbreaker (outwear sort of jacket)
une veste (f.)a vest/blazer
une veste d’hiver (f.)a winter jacket
une veste polaire (f.)a fleece jacket
un imper(méable) (m.)a raincoat/trenchcoat
un gilet (m.)a waistcoat

Underwear

FrenchEnglish
des sous-vêtements (m.)underwear
les chaussettes (f.)socks
un slip (m.)briefs
un caleçon (m.)boxers (single pair)
une culotte (f.)panties (single pair)
des culottes (f.)panties/knickers (multiple pairs)
un soutien-gorge (m.)a bra
un collant (m.)tighs/pantyhose

Bra sizing

US/UKFRAUEU
2875660
3080865
32851070
34901275
36951480
381001685
401052095
421102095
4411522100

Accessories

Standard SizeSMLXL
US246810121416
UK68101214161820
FR/EU3234363840424446

Jewelry

Plus Sizes (US)14W16W18W20W22W24W26W
UK18202224262830
FR/EU44464850525456

Swimwear

US/UK (inches)323436384042
FR/EU81869197102107

*note that longer swim shorts are not usually permitted swimwear in public swimming pools!

General Sizing

Women

GeneralSMLXL
US/UK/AU3234363840424446
FR/EU4244464850525456
FrenchEnglish
un chapeau (m.)a hat
des gants (m.)gloves
un bonnet (m.)a beanie/winter hat
une écharpe (f.)a scarf
une ceinture (f.)a belt
un sac à mains (m.)a handbag

Men (jackets)

FrenchEnglish
des bijoux (m.)jewelry
une montre (f.)a watch
un bracelet (m.)a bracelet
un collier (m.)a necklace
des boucles d'oreilles (f.)earrings

Men (trousers)

FrenchEnglish
un maillot de bain (m.)a swimsuit/bathing suit
un maillot de bain deux-pièces (m.)a two-piece bikini
un bikini (m.)a bikini
un peignoir de bain (m.)a bath robe
un slip de bain (m.)swimming briefs/speedos
un short de bain (m.)loose swimming trunks/bermuda shorts*

We hope this article covers enough information and phrases for you to make the most of those gorgeous French boutiques, especially during les soldes!

Dennelle Taylor Nizoux

Dennelle Taylor Nizoux

Dennelle is the President of Renestance and a bilingual American who’s lived in France since 2000. She loves so many things about France, its language, culture, geography, quality of life... that she started a business to help others realize their dreams of living in this incredible place.

All articles by: Dennelle Taylor Nizoux

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