Italian Language Blog

Buying Clothes in Italy – Part 2 Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Vocabulary

Shopping for clothes, like any other category of activity, has its own specific vocabulary. How do you ask for the right shoe size, or say that the jacket sleeves are too short? What size waist are those jeans, and is that shirt going to fit your neck?

Here is some key vocabulary to help you communicate your needs when buying clothes in Italy:

provare = to try on
guardare allo specchio = to look in the mirror
modello = design/shape
stile = style
fantasia =
a righe/tinta unita = striped/plain
taglia = size (for clothes)
numero = size (for shoes)
corto = short
lungo = long
largo = wide
stretto = narrow
aderente = close-fitting
tirare = to be tight
grande = large
piccolo = small
comodo = comfortable
scomodo = uncomfortable
portare = to wear (used for sizes): che numero porta? (what size do you wear?)
provare = to try on
andare = to fit: ti va? (does it fit you?)
stare = to suit: come mi sta? (how does it suit me?)
maniche = sleeves
gambe = legs
vita = waist
sedere = backside
spalle = shoulders
collo = neck/collar
polsi = wrists/cuffs
polpaccio = calf
coscia = thigh
orlo = hem
tacco = heel
tacco alto/medio/basso = high/medium/low heel


Our couple are still searching through i banchi (the stalls) at il mercatino delle pulci for vintage clothing so that they can dress up as Bonnie and Clyde, see Part 1. Today it’s the woman’s turn to find the right clothes.

Uomo: “D’accordo! Adesso tocca a te: cosa ne pensi di questo berretto?”
Man: “All right! Now it’s your turn: what do you think of this beret?”

Donna: “Mm, il modello è quello giusto, ma il colore non è il mio … mi fa troppo pallida. Intanto cerchiamo la gonna … mi serve una gonna in tinta unita, lunga a mezzo polpaccio
Woman: “Hmm, the design is the right, but it’s not my colour … it makes me look too pale. In the meantime, let’s look for the skirt … I need a plain skirt that reaches half way down my calf”

Uomo: “Che taglia porti?”
Man: “What size do you wear?”

Donna: “La 44”
Woman: “44″ (US size 10, UK size 12)

Uomo: “Non ho gli occhiali, non riesco a leggere. Questa che taglia è?”
Man: “I don’t have my glasses, I can’t read. What size is it?”

Donna: “Nooo, questa è una 40, è piccolissima. Questa è una 44, e il modello andrebbe bene … la provo
Woman: “Nooo, this is a 40 (Us 6, UK 8), it’s far too small. This is a 44, and the design would be right … I’ll try it”

Uomo: “Come ti va?”
Man: “How does it fit you?”

Donna: “Mi tira un po’ sul sedere
Woman: “It’s a bit tight on my backside”

Uomo: “A me non dispiace!”
Man: “I don’t mind!”


Donna: “No, è scomoda. Vediamo quest’altra … è appena troppo corta, ma c’è abbastanza orlo per allungarla, la prendo. Ora il top … un maglioncino aderente, possibilmente a collo alto. Una M dovrebbe andare bene … cosa ne dici di questo?”
Woman: “No, it’s uncomfortable. Let’s have a look at this other one … it’s slightly too short, but there’s enough hem to lengthen it, I’ll get it. Now for the top … a close-fitting sweater, possibly with a high neck. A Medium should fit well … what do you think about this one?”

Uomo: “No, il colore fa a cazzotti con la gonna. Prova quest’altro”
Man: “No, the colour clashes with the skirt. Try this other one”

Donna: “Oddio che orrore! … guarda che carino questo maglioncino a righe, speriamo che mi vada bene! … come mi sta?”
Woman: “Oh my god, it’s horrible! … look how pretty this striped sweater is, let’s hope it fits me right! … how does it suit me?”

Uomo: “Perfetto!
Man: “Perfect!”

Donna: “E ora le scarpe … décolleté, con la fibbietta e tacco medio, numero 38 … eccole qui, sono proprio quelle che cercavo”
Woman: “Now the shoes … décolleté, with a small buckle and medium heel, size 38 (Us 7, UK 5) … here they are, exactly what I was looking for”

Uomo: “Tu hai sempre culo!”
Man: “You’re always bloody lucky!”

Donna: “Tutta invidia!”
Woman: “Just jealous!”

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  1. Jackie:

    Culo means lucky? Really? Most dictionary definitions give a very different translation! This sounds like one of those Italian words that could really get me into trouble. Can you give a few more examples of the use of ‘culo’?
    Many thanks for your excellent blog, and especially the conversations.

    • Geoff:

      @Jackie Hmmm … it’s about time I wrote another ‘rude’ blog, and offended a few readers!!!
      I’ll see what I can come up with, stay tuned 🙂

  2. Louise Varrall:

    Grazie per un blog molto utile e interessante! Mi aiuta molto.

  3. giovanni coletti:

    Buonissimo riesame.

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