1 – S’Habiller and se Déshabiller – Getting Dressed
These French verbs describe the act of getting dressed and undressed. They are usually NOT followed by a direct object (like a piece of clothing).
- le matin, je m’habille. Le soir, je me déshabille. (In the morning I get dressed. In the evening, I undress).
You can however say “ce soir, je m’habille EN pantalon” (tonight, I’ll get dressed in pants) but the focus here is that you are wearing pants and not a skirt, so you won’t talk about the precise pair of pants you are going to be wearing (you cannot say “ce soir, j e m’habille en pantalon noir et court”… for this you need to use “porter” ou “mettre”).
For this notion, we also use the expression “être en”.
- Ce soir, je suis en pantalon. Je m’habille en pantalon. (Tonight, I’m wearing pants).
Check out my blog post about the “se verbs in French” – the French Reflexive Verbs.
2 – S’habiller – to Dress Up in French
An idiomatic use of the verb s’habiller means “to dress up”.
- Est-ce que je dois m’habiller pour aller chez Anne ? (should I dress up to go to Ann’s)
3 – Porter and Mettre – to Wear
To describe what you are wearing, use the verbs porter (to wear) or mettre (to put on).
- Ce soir, je porte un pantalon noir et un pull rose.(Tonight, I’ll wear a black pair of pants and a pink sweater)
- Demain, je vais mettre une robe bleue. (Tomorrow, I’ll wear a blue dress)
4 – Other French Verbs Related to to Dress
Other French verbs commonly used with clothes are :
- enlever (to take off),
- retirer (to take off),
- enfiler (to slip in),
- essayer (to try on),
- se changer (to change clothes),
- rester en… pyjama (to stay in… my pyjamas)
5 – Common French Expressions Related to to Dress
Note these common expressions that can be a bit confusing:
- “Comment tu t’habilles ce soir?” what are you going to wear tonight?
- “Qu’est-ce que tu mets demain?” what are you going to wear tomorrow?
- “Elle portait quoi ?” what was she wearing?
- “Je ne me change pas, je reste en jean” I won’t change outfit, I’ll keep wearing my jeans.
6 – Clothes Related French Idioms:
There are a lot of French idioms about clothes. Here are a few of my favorite French expressions about clothing, with a literal English translation and then the English meaning. Don’t hesitate to suggest some more in the Disqus section below and I’ll add them up to the list!
- “Il est sur son trente-et-un”: he is on his 31st : he is dressed very chic
- “Je n’ai rien à me mettre”: I have nothing to wear.
- “Dans le couple, c’est elle qui porte le pantalon”: in the couple, she wears the pants: she is the decision maker
- “Il l’a laissée tomber comme une vieille chaussette” : he dropped her like an old sock : he ditched her badly
- “ce politicien a souvent retourné sa veste” : this politician often turned his jacket inside out: he changed his opinions
- “Elle n’a plus d’argent : elle doit se serrer la ceinture” : she is broke: she has to tighten her belt : she has to be very careful about her spendings
- “Finalement, il a vidé son sac” ; finally, he emptied his bag ; finally, he spilled the beans.
- “Je t’ai vu venir avec tes gros sabots” : I saw you come with your large wood clog : I saw you come from far (you were not very discreet)
- “J’étais tellement en colère… Je n’ai pas pris de gants” : I was so mad: I didn’t take gloves : I was so mad, I spoke directly and frankly.
- “J’en ai plein les bottes !” : I have plenty on my boots : I’m very tired / I’ve had enough.
- “Elle n’a toujours pas trouvé chaussure à son pied” : she hasn’t found a shoe that fits her foot : she hasn’t found the perfect match
- “Son frère essaie toujours de lui faire porter le chapeau” : his brother always tries to make him wear the hat : to make him be the guilty one
- “Son café, c’est du jus de chaussette” : his coffee is sock juice : it’s a very bad coffee
- “Ce type est un coureur de jupons” : this guy runs after half-slip : he is a womanizer
- “Il lui a demandé de sortir avec lui mais il s’est pris une veste” : he asked her out but he got a jacket : she turned him down
- “Elle change d’avis comme de chemise” : she changes her mind like she changes shirts : she changes her mind all the time
- “Ne t’inquiète pas : j’ai plus d’un tour dans mon sac” : don’t worry, I have more than one trick in my bag : I’ll find a solution
To learn all these notions in context, I suggest you check out my unique downloadable French audiobooks, featuring different speeds of recording and enunciation, and focussing on today’s modern glided pronunciation.
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