In the fashion world, you’re either in or out.
Just ask Heidi Klum!
The clothing we wear says something about us, whether we realize it or not. Even your most basic clothing choices—jeans vs. sweatpants, skirt vs. suit—makes a statement.
You might be someone who enjoys vibrant colors and bold patterns, or you might be more comfortable in neutral colors. Sometimes clothing is a product of your profession. We associate white lab coats with doctors and scientists, and suits with lawyers and politicians.
You may not realize the judgments you make based on what other people are wearing, but subconsciously they’re almost always there.
That’s part of what makes clothing vocabulary such an essential topic for German learners. Even basic conversations with native German speakers will at some point inevitably turn to clothing.
If you know the German clothing vocabulary terms in this post—including essential clothing items, descriptors and clothing-related verbs—you’ll be prepared for conversations with even the most fashion-forward German speakers.
Why Is German Clothing Vocabulary Important?
Whether or not you’re a fashionista, clothing is an important part of your daily life. You’ll especially need this vocabulary if you’re going out shopping for new clothes in a German-speaking region and looking for something specific.
Knowing German clothing vocabulary also gives you a chance to tell others what your clothes mean to you or practice your conversational skills more generally. Once you learn the basic vocabulary for your clothing, you can then focus on making sure you nail those adjective endings and use proper word order and conjugation.
German words mean nothing unless you use them! The next time you go shopping, try to name articles of clothing in the store. After you’ve figured out what each item is in German, see if you can describe it using descriptive words you may know.
Another great way to practice these words in context is to watch the authentic German videos on FluentU. For example, you can watch this clip about a trend called “upcycling” in Berlin. You’ll hear lots of German clothing vocabulary terms used naturally, among other types of vocab.
FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or practice anytime, anywhere on the mobile app for iOS and Android.
Increasing your vocabulary will improve your fluency. The more German you know, the more native you’ll sound—and the easier it’ll become to speak, read and write!
Dress Up Your German Vocabulary with 90+ Trendy Clothing Terms
Here are some of the most common German clothing vocabulary words you’ll need to know.
die Unterwäsche (underwear)
der BH — Büstenhalter (bra)
die Socke (sock)
die Strumpfhose (pantyhose)
die kurze Hose/die Shorts (shorts)
das Trägerhemd/das Tanktop (tank top)
das Hemd (shirt)
das T-Shirt (T-shirt)
die Bluse (blouse)
die Ärmel (sleeves)
die Hose (pants)
die Jeans (jeans)
der Rock (skirt)
die Leggings (leggings)
das Kleid (dress)
der Anzug (suit)
die Krawatte (tie)
die Jacke (jacket)
der Kapuzenpulli (hoodie)
der Pulli, der Pullover (sweater)
der Blazer (blazer)
der Mantel (coat)
der Schal (scarf)
der Hut (hat)
der Handschuh (glove)
der Schuh (shoe)
der Tenisschuh (tennis shoe)
der Stiefel (boot)
die Absätze (heels)
die Sandalen (sandals)
Fashionistas everywhere will be shocked at the short list below, but here are some of your basic, most necessary accessories. What’s your favorite accessory? Look it up in the dictionary and add it to your list!
die Uhr (watch)
die Halskette (necklace)
das Armband/das Armkettchen/die Armkette (bracelet)
der Ring (ring)
die Ohrringe (earrings)
Regional Clothing Terms
Cultures differ across the globe, and so does clothing! Below are a few types of regional clothing items.
der Kilt, der Schottenrock (kilt)
der Hidschab/Hijab (hijab)
die Lederhose (leather trousers — the traditional Bavarian outfit you might already be familiar with)
das Dirndl (dirndl — a dress that’s another traditional Bavarian outfit)
der Sari (sari)
der Kimono (kimono)
It’s crucial to know what you’re wearing, but it’s just as important to know how to describe it.
What if you’re shopping with friends and you want to tell them you like that green shirt, or that blue dress, or that the cotton sweater will irritate your skin?
Here are some adjectives to help you describe the clothing around you.
die Baumwolle (cotton)
der Polyester (polyester)
der Jeansstoff (denim)
das Elastan (spandex)
die Wolle (wool)
Now it’s time to learn how to describe what you’re doing with your clothes. Grab your laundry basket and soap! Study these verbs.
anziehen (to put on)
tragen (to wear)
ausziehen (to take off)
waschen (to wash)
trocknen (to dry)
kaufen (to purchase)
einkaufen (to shop)
zurückgeben (to return)
zerreißen (to rip)
reparieren (to mend)
falten (to fold)
einpacken (to pack)
tragen (to carry)
geben (to give)
hängen (to hang)
mögen (to like)
gefallen (to appeal)
ablehnen, nicht mögen (to dislike)
wollen (to want)
sich umziehen (to change)
wegstellen (to put away)
aufräumen (to pick up)
Putting It All Together: Example Sentences
Let’s look at a few examples to put it all together.
English: I want to wear my green shirt.
First, ask yourself, “what’s the German word for shirt?”
- If you look above, you can see it’s das Hemd.
What’s the German word for green?
- You can see above that it’s grün.
How do you say want and wear in German?
- Wollen and tragen are the proper verbs. I want translates to Ich will, as you conjugate wollen to ich.
My green shirt requires using the possessive mein and the adjective ending for green.
Das Hemd is neuter, so the adjective ending must reflect that: mein grünes Hemd
Together, it would be:
Ich will mein grünes Hemd tragen.
Now, if we wanted to say a red shirt or a soft shirt, instead of green, all we would need to do is use the corresponding adjective (rot or weich) and add the proper adjective ending:
Ich will mein rotes Hemd tragen.
Ich will mein weiches Hemd tragen.
But what if we wanted to talk about something other than our shirt? We’d have to switch out das Hemd for the correct noun, and then redetermine our adjective endings accordingly:
Ich will meinen schwarzen Pulli tragen. (I want to wear my black sweater.)
Ich will meine kurze Jeans tragen. (I want to wear my short jeans.)
Let’s look at another example of this.
English: She buys her mother a new blue dress.
What’s the German word for dress?
- das Kleid
How do you say new in German?
How do you say blue in German?
Find the proper adjective ending for blau and neu.
- Since new and blue are adjectives, they both have the same adjective ending for das Kleid. Kleid is neuter and it’s the direct object, since it’s being acted upon (bought). That leaves us with neues and blaues.
What’s the verb for to buy?
Now conjugate kaufen for the subject sie (she).
- sie kauft
Use the possessive ihr for “her mother.”
Since she’s buying a new blue dress for her mother, her mother is the indirect object. Therefore, it’s in the dative case.
- Proper German word order states that indirect objects come before direct objects.
- A new blue dress is the direct object, or accusative case.
Putting it all together, we get:
Sie kauft ihrer Mutter ein neues blaues Kleid.
Again, if we wanted to change anything about the sentence, we could change the verb, to say:
Sie gibt ihrer Mutter ein neues blaues Kleid. (She gives her mother a new blue dress.)
Or, we could say it’s a soft white dress:
Sie kauft ihrer Mutter ein weiches weiβes Kleid. (She buys her mother a soft white dress.)
As you can see, there are unlimited possibilities to describing different types of clothing. Start here to begin building your German clothing vocabulary and soon enough, you’ll be able to speak about what you’re wearing like the pros do!
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