How to describe your clothing

How to describe your clothing

In order to describe your clothing, the general pattern is:
[colour] の [clothing item name] を きて/はいて/かぶって/かけて/して います
[pattern] の [clothing item name] を きて/はいて/かぶって/かけて/して います

If you need to describe a more complex pattern, you can use patterns like:
[back ground colour]に [pattern colour] の [pattern name] の [clothing item name] を きて/はいて/かぶって/かけて/して います
[back ground colour] に [pattern colour] の [pattern name] の [clothing item name] を きて/はいて/かぶって/かけて/して います
Click the highlighted part for an explanation about which verb to use.

Now, you need to know the words for colours, patterns and clothing items.


blackくろlight green若草色わかくさいろ
redあかyellowy green黄緑きみどり
blueあおlight blue水色みずいろ
yellow黄色きいろnavy blue紺(色)こん(いろ)
pinkピンク/桃色ももいろlight purple藤色ふじいろ
beigeベージュnatural/unbleached colour生成りきなり
grayグレー/灰色はいいろdark brown焦げ茶(色)こげちゃ(いろ)
the parts in brackets ( ) can be omitted

All Japanese words for colours are nouns. The first 6 above, しろ (white)、くろ (black)、あか (red)、あお (blue)、黄色きいろ (yellow) and 茶色ちゃいろ (brown) can be used as an い adjective by adding い at the end of the word. However, colour adjectives are usually used to describe a natural colour, so for clothing, using a noun is more common although it is OK to use an いadjective. In short, くろのスカート would be more commonly used than くろいスカート.

If you have to mention more than 1 colour, you can use (exclusive “and”) or (non-exclusive “and”) between colours (i.e.あかあお for “red and blue only,” and あかあお for “red, blue and something else”).

“Dark” and “light” in colours are often described as い and あわい respectively but like “light blue” and “dark brown” above, there may be a different word to describe a particular colour.

  • dark orange: いオレンジ
  • light pink: あわいピンク


In Japanese both 模様もよう and がら are for the English word “pattern” but they are used differently.

  • 模様もよう is a general word for a pattern drawn on any surface. When the word 模様もよう is used for clothing, it is usually a generally recognised pattern like:
    • 水玉みずたま模様もよう: polka dots – in 水玉模様, dots are usually placed regularly. Some people describe irregular dots as 不規則ふきそく水玉みずたま模様もよう
    • 幾何学きかがく模様もよう: geometrical figures
    • 市松模様いちまつもよう: two-tone check (see below)
    • しま模様もよう: stripes (see below)
      When it is clear that you are talking about the pattern of your clothing, the word 模様もよう is often omitted from the sentence.
  • がら is a pattern drawn or printed on a fabric, like:
    • はながら: floral
    • ヒョウがら: leopard’s spots, leopard print
    • [noun]のがら: with (a) picture(s) of [noun]

Other Patterns (the words which are not used with the word 模様もよう or がら)

  • 無地むじ means “plain” in clothing. So a “plain black” skirt can be (the word in the brackets can be skipped):
    • くろの(無地むじの)スカート
    • くろ無地むじのスカート
  • ストライプ or しま or  縞々しましま: stripes (ストライプ or しま or  縞々 are interchangeable)
    • 縦縞たてじま: vertical stripes
    • 横縞よこじま: horizontal stripes
  • チェック or 格子こうし: check, checkered – see different checks below

あか くろ チェック 
If you want to mention white as well, あか(じ)に しろ くろ チェック

あおと しろ いちまつもよう (all blocks are of the same size and only 2 colours)

みずいろ (しろ ギンガムチェック
As gingham is usually a colour and white, としろ can be omitted.

しろ くろ ちどりごうし or
しろくろ* ちどりごうし or
くろ しろ ちどりごうし

*for “black and white”, you can say 白黒しろくろ(の) without の in between but you can’t say 黒白くろしろ

Combination of Colours and Pattern

(top left) しろ くろ ストライプ* or くろしろ しま* or しろくろ しましま*

(top middle) as the white is more predominant, しろ(じ) くろ しま*

(top right) “contrast” is not a pattern but if 2 colours make a contrast and it cannot be described in any other way, you can use the katakana word コントラスト like a name of a pattern.

(middle left) くろ しろ はっぱ がら

(middle middle) くろ しろ きかがくもよう

(middle right) くろ むじ or くろむじ

(bottom left) くろしろ みずたま
If the dots are in various colours くろ いろいろな いろ みずたま (いろいろな is a なadjective for “various”)

(bottom middle) くろ(じ) チェック or くろ(じ)に みどりあか チェック

(bottom right) くろ(じ) はながら or くろ(じ) ピンクあかの はながら

Clothing Items

Example Sentences

ベージュの ぼうしを かぶっています。

みどり(に しろの チェック)の ジャケットを きています。 (If you ignore the white grid pattern, skip the part in the brackets)

グレーと みずいろの よこじまの Tシャツを きています。
(If gray parts are wider than the blue parts, グレーに みずいろの よこじまの Tシャツを きています。)

ベージュの ズボンを はいています。

ちゃいろの くつを はいています。

If you don’t remember what verb to use for each item of clothing, click here.

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One thought on “How to describe your clothing

  1. Reply
    28 June 2021 at 10:11 am

    I forgot to mention lengths of sleeves. As wearing kimono has strict rules about when to wear what, wearing short sleeves in winter and long sleeves in summer used to be frowned upon.
    長袖/ながそで – long sleeves
    半袖/はんそで – short sleeves
    七分袖/しちぶそで – 3/4 sleeves
    ノースリーブ or 袖なし/そでなし – no sleeves
    フレンチスリーブ – short sleeves that are coming out of the body parts without any seam between the sleeves and body parts.

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