El hábito no hace al monje. (The habit doesn’t make the monk.)
In other words, clothes don’t make the man (or woman).
But they sure do get our attention, don’t they?
Knowing how to describe clothes is essential in any language. You want to be able to talk about what you’re wearing or even ask the trendsetter passing you on the crowded calle (street) where she picked up her botas negras brillantes (shiny black boots)!
Wherever you are in the world, whatever you’re doing, clothing is (usually) a necessity.
Unless you actually are a monk who only wears el hábito (the habit), you’ll certainly benefit from finding clothing that suits your travel plans.
Planning on going shopping in Barcelona? You’ll definitely need to have clothing vocabulary under your cinturón (belt).
Thinking of clubbing in Madrid? You’ll need to know how to ask a local what to wear!
The snorkeling in Mexico is amazing, but here again, if you don’t know how to pick up a new traje de baño (bathing suit) you won’t be the best-dressed snorkeler swimming with the fishes!
There’s no getting around it: Your Spanish speaking skills need to include how to describe clothing.
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled an awesome apparel list that’ll dress you from head to toe… in Spanish!
Whether you’re talla pequeña (size small), talla mediana (size medium) or talla larga (size large), we can help you find what you need to put your best fashion foot forward.
Let’s go shopping!
Shopping for Clothing in Spanish-speaking Countries
Shopping in Spanish-speaking countries can be a wonderful adventure.
There are some cultural practices you’ll experience that may seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry! You’ll get the hang of them.
Haggling over prices, for example, is often part of the fun of buying from local craftsmen. It’s fine to ask at your hotel or with your host family if the fine art of price bargaining is practiced where you’re visiting. In many places, it’s not just accepted—it’s expected!
If you’re in a big city like Madrid or Panama City, you’ll find plenty of department stores to help get your shopping mojo on. Those places are like the ones in the States, and have a set price on merchandise (no haggling necessary).
In smaller villages, you’re more likely to find bargains and authentically made goods in family-operated boutiques.
Many places even allow you to have alterations done on the spot, often by the seamstress who made the garment.
Other great shopping venues include plazas and markets. Many towns and smaller cities allow vendors to set up their goods in the town’s main plaza. Markets usually carry a bit of everything, so take a stroll to find pretty shirts or handmade sandals displayed beside local produce.
Shopping for clothing can be a culturally immersive experience. Take the time to chit-chat with sellers. It never hurts to make friends!
But be conscious to check for operating hours: Many shops close at midday and reopen again later, after la siesta (the nap). So know the times and shop accordingly.
Finally, look for items that are unique to the country you’re visiting. For example, Guatemalan textiles are gorgeous. And where else but in Mexico would you want to pick up a handmade Mexican serape?
The last time I was in Madrid I bought the prettiest pair of red sandals in a store recommended by a waitress at a café where I’d had breakfast. So talk with the locals: they know the best shopping places!
33 Stylish Spanish Clothes Vocabulary Words for Ladies and Gentlemen
When you use these words, remember that Spanish nouns are paired with gender-specific articles. Nouns are words that indicate people, places or things—like items of clothing!
Appropriate articles are paired with the nouns that follow but if you need to ask for multiples of an item rather than just one, remember to change the noun from the singular to the plural.
Here’s the article “the” in all its Spanish forms:
masculine singular — el
masculine plural — los
feminine singular — la
feminine plural — las
Let’s dress for success with some clothes vocab!
Ladies First: Spanish Clothes Vocabulary Words for Women
1. La falda (Skirt)
2. El suéter (Sweater)
This term is used for both cardigan and pull-over type sweaters.
3. La blusa (Blouse)
Usually a bit “dressier” than una camisa (a shirt), una blusa (a blouse) is worn for business or slightly formal events.
4. La camiseta (T-shirt)
If you’re searching for a wearable souvenir of your trip, check out las camisetas (the t-shirts) in your hotel gift shop or at las tiendas (the shops) in the plaza where you’re visiting.
5. El sostén (Bra)
6. Las bragas (Panties)
7. Las medias (Stockings/tights)
8. Zapatos de tacón alto (High-heeled shoes)
9. El vestido (Dress)
10. El bolso (Purse)
Spanish Clothes Vocabulary All Gentlemen Need to Know
11. La camisa de vestir (Dress shirt)
Una camisa de vestir is worn by men to their jobs (if they’re employed in an office-like environment) or on special occasions. It’s the typical button-down shirt worn with a suit and tie.
12. El traje (Suit)
13. La corbata (Necktie)
14. La chaqueta (Jacket)
Una chaqueta can be made of any kind of fabric (denim, fleece, etc.) and be an assortment of weights (lightweight for summer or warmer and heavier for cooler weather conditions.)
15. El pantalones vaqueros (Jeans)
16. Calzoncillos de hombre (Boxer shorts)
General Spanish Clothing Words
Some items of apparel are fairly unisex so there’s no need to differentiate between men or women’s clothing.
Whether you’re looking to find something in a street market or department store, use these go-to words to find exactly what you want!
17. Los pantalones (Pants)
18. La camisa (Shirt)
19. Los zapatos (Shoes)
20. Los pantalones cortos (Shorts)
21. El cinturón (Belt)
22. El sombrero (Hat)
23. Las botas (Boots)
24. Las sandalias (Sandals)
25. Las chancletas (Flip-flops)
26. Los calcetines (Socks)
27. Los anteojos (Eyeglasses)
28. Las gafas de sol (Sunglasses)
29. El traje de baño (Bathing suit)
30. El pijama (Pajamas)
31. La bata de baño (Bathrobe)
32. El impermeable (Raincoat)
33. Los guantes (Gloves)
How to Ask for Clothing Items When You’re Shopping
Clothes shopping can be a highlight of any trip!
In many Spanish-speaking countries, there are colorful, locally woven textiles to feel and fall in love with. That’s a bonus that powers up an ordinary shopping excursion!
If you’re wondering how to start the shopping spree, just say “Necesito ropa nueva” (“I need new clothes”).
Of course, if you’re looking for something in particular, choose from the list above and ask for that particular item.
To get the perfect fit, remember these important terms:
Uso una talla… (I wear a size…)
Talla pequeña (Size small)
Talla mediana (Size medium)
Talla larga (Size large)
Tamaño de ropa pequeña (Size petite clothing)
¿Tiene usted una talla más pequeña? (Do you have a smaller size?)
Más pequeña (Smaller)
¿Tiene usted una talla más grande? (Do you have a bigger size?)
Más grande (Bigger)
Traveling with children? Or maybe you’re thinking of bringing a unique gift home with you for a sobrina o sobrino (niece or nephew)?
Ask for ropa de niños (children’s clothing) to find the perfect item!
Spanish-speaking countries are filled with so many amazing sights—and that goes for what’s on the clothing racks!
Browse the shops to find the perfect article of clothing to round out your wardrobe. If you can’t find what you want, ask for help! Shopping is the ideal way to chat to and learn from the locals.
Unlike the monk, you’ve got more than a habit to choose from!
¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)