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Top 10 British Fashion Terms

Written by: Editorial Staff

June 7, 2012
Filed Under Fashion 


british fashionContributed by Info Guru Paul Seaburn

Most American tourists think Great Britain would be just wonderful if they only spoke English … or at least a version we can understand.

That’s especially true if you decide to shop at Harrods department store for some clothing. British fashion terms rarely make sense and often sound dirty. If you don’t want to come home looking like a character in a Monty Python movie, take along this English-to-American-English fashion dictionary on your next trip.

10. Wellies


“Wellies” is short for Wellington Boots made popular by Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. Now used generically, the term “wellies” can refer to the rugged rubber boots worn just below knee-high. They’re loved by hunters and gardeners and will keep your feet dry in any London downpour.

9. Boob Tube

boob tube

You watch the boob tube in England too, but for a different reason than in the U.S. because it’s not a television … it’s a tube top.

8. Bum bag

bum bag

This one always gets Americans in trouble in England. The fashion accessory known as the bum bag is that nylon sack you wear around your waist with the pouch in the back. Don’t call it a fanny pack because ‘fanny’ means something vulgar there (look it up).

7. Jumper


On a cold day in England, putting on a jumper means wearing a pullover sweater. In the U.S., a jumper is a dress with a coveralls top and a skirt bottom, which in England is a “pinafore.”

6. Cagoule


This ghoulish-sounding item is actually a light waterproof jacket which we would call a windbreaker or a poncho. It sometimes has a hood, which is why in the U.S., the sorcerer’s hood that some magicians wear is called a cagoule.

5. Trainers and court shoes

top 10 british fashion terms trainers

Don’t ask a Brit if they’re bringing wearing sneakers for a stroll in the park. In the UK, what we call sneakers are dubbed “trainers”. And lest you think what they refer to as “court shoes” are something to wear while playing tennis, think again. Court shoes are women’s closed-toe dress shoes we would call pumps!

4. Mac


American baby boomers learned from the Beatles that it’s strange when a banker never wears a Mac in the pouring rain. That’s because a Mac is short for Macintosh, a lightweight waterproof jacket or trenchcoat that can be folded up into a tiny bundle and carried in a pocket or briefcase.

3. Vest


Another item that will have you shopping in the wrong aisle at the British clothing store, a vest in England is an undershirt, while the sleeveless jacket worn under a suit coat is in the waistcoat aisle

2. Knickers


Golf originated in nearby Scotland and is popular throughout the British Isles, but don’t tell a British golfer is stylish golf pants that you like his knickers. In England, knickers are women’s underpants, which could be why the basketball team in New York is simply called the Knicks.

1. Swimming Cozzie

swimming cozzie

Short for “swimming costume,” it’s not what you wear to a Halloween party if you want to be Michael Phelps. A swimming cozzie is a one-piece women’s bathing suit worn on those English beaches that are too cold for bikinis.


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