Fashion Police Glossary

Glossary: UK and American English fashion terminology explained

You say tomAYto, we say tomAHto… readers, let’s just call the whole thing off, OK?

OK, so maybe not. There are so many differences between UK and American English when it comes to fashion, though, that it can get mighty confusing sometimes, so we’ve rounded up some of the most commonly confused terms below, to try and shed some light on things. Of course, just to make things even MORE confusing than they already were, there are regional differences in terminology in both countries, and the word you use for a certain item can depend, not only on what part of the world you’re from, but where exactly you live, what kind of upbringing you had, and what your family and friends call it. Oh, and some terms can make their way across the Atlantic in either direction, too:  we can think of quite a few US phrases which have become reasonably common here in the UK, probably because we’re so used to hearing them on American TV shows.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, then (and we haven’t even started on the differences in terminology in other parts of the world) so feel free to drop us a comment with any words we’ve missed, and we’ll add them to the list!

UK: Jumper
US: Sweater

UK: Pinafore
US: Jumper

UK: Trousers
US: Pants

UK: Pants
US: Panties/underwear

UK: Tights
US: pantyhose/hose/stockings (although opaque tights are still referred to as “tights”)

UK: Trainers
US: Sneakers

UK: Court shoes
US: Pumps

UK: Waistcoat
US: Vest

UK: Vest
US: Tank top

UK: Wellington boots/wellies
US: Rain boots

UK: Braces
US: Suspenders

UK: Suspenders
US: garters/garter belt

UK: Tracksuit bottoms
US: Sweatpants

UK: Shirt (a garment with a collar that buttons up the front)
US: Shirt (can refer to any item worn on the top of the body)

UK: Bag
US: Purse/Bag (in the UK a “purse” is used to keep coins and other currency in, and is never used to refer to a larger bag)

And, just to completely lower the tone:

UK: Bum bag
US: Fanny pack

Any you’d like to add?

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