by Kate Woodford
Whether we like it or not, most of us have to shop for clothes. For some of us, it is a pleasure and for others, it is a chore (= something that we have to do but do not like). This week, we are looking at the language that we use to talk about this activity.
Once you have found a nice piece of clothing in a shop, you will want to try it on (= put it on to find out if it is suitable): Can I try this on? You will probably try it on in a fitting room. If you need to find out if it is the right size and shape for you, you might say you will try it on for size. If you are lucky, and it is the right size and shape for your body, you can say that it fits you: That jacket fits you perfectly! If it fits you very well, you might say it fits like a glove: The dress fitted like a glove. You might also use the noun ‘fit’ to say the same thing: The jacket was a good/perfect fit./The fit was good, but I didn’t like the colour.
Of course, you may not be so lucky. The jacket/dress, etc. may not fit: The skirt didn’t fit. It might be too tight, fitting your body too closely so that it is not comfortable. Or you may have the opposite problem – it might be baggy (= too big and hanging loosely). Sometimes a particular part of the jacket/dress etc. is too tight. For example, it could be tight across the shoulders or tight in the arm. If it is the wrong size but you still like it, you might ask the shop assistant if they have it in a larger/smaller size: It’s a bit small. Do you have it in a larger size?/The shirt is the wrong size. Do you have it in a medium? Perhaps the jacket/dress, etc. fits you like a glove, but you don’t like the colour of it. You can ask the shop assistant: Do you have this in black/any other colours?
There may be a particular feature of a piece of clothing that you like (or don’t like). You may like its style, meaning its shape and general appearance: I liked the style of the coat. We also use the word cut to mean the shape: The cut of the jeans is great. You may like the material of the clothing (wool, cotton, etc.) or its pattern (= the design of shapes, flowers, etc. on the material). If the style of a piece of clothing or its colour makes someone look attractive, you may say it suits then: You should wear more red – it suits you./Dresses really suit you.