Clothing is another fun item to shop for while you're traveling. You can find the latest fashions in Spain a year before they get to the United States, or get fabulous deals on alpaca sweaters in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. If you enjoy ethnic clothing, you're sure to find beautiful handwoven and hand-embroidered treasures in Mexico, Guatemala, and many South American countries at a fraction of the price you would pay at home. Let's start with a review of clothing vocabulary:
el vestido (dress)
la falda (skirt)
la blusa (blouse)
el pantalón, los pantalones (pants)
la camisa (shirt)
la camiseta, la playera (T-shirt)
el traje (suit)
el chaleco (vest)
la chaqueta (jacket)
el suéter (sweater)
el cinturón (belt)
los calcetines, las medias (socks, stockings)
el pañuelo (scarf)
el sombrero (brimmed hat)
la gorra (cap)
la bufanda (warm scarf, muffler)
los guantes (gloves)
el abrigo (overcoat)
Clothing terminology varies from country to country. A falda in one country may be a pollera in another. A chaqueta may be anything from a cardigan sweater to a sport or outer jacket.
Sizes (las tallas) also vary from place to place. Small, medium, and large will likely be pequeño, mediano, and grande, but they might be indicated by the numbers 1, 2, and 3. More specific sizes, like ladies dress sizes 6, 8, and 10, for example, will likely be indicated by the numbers 36, 38, and 40. Children's, teen's, and men's clothing each follow a unique size system. And, as in the United States, the real size of a garment depends more on the manufacturer than on any established standard.
Try It On!
The verb used in Spanish “to try on” clothing or other items worn on the body, like jewelry, is the reflexive verb probarse. If you want to try on dress in a store, for example, you would ask the salesclerk something like: ¿Puedo probarme este vestido, por favor? The dressing rooms are los probadores. If you're not sure where they are, ask: ¿Dónde están los probadores? Once you try something on, you might want to know what it's made of and how to care for it. Look at the following list for fabric and care information.
Fabrics and Materials
el algodón (cotton)
la seda (silk)
la lana (wool)
el lino (linen)
la microfibra (microfiber)
el nylon (nylon)
el poliéster (polyester)
la piel (fine leather, fur)
el cuero (heavy leather)
el ante, la gamuza (suede, chamois)
lavar a mano (hand wash)
lavar a máquina (machine wash)
lavar en seco (dry clean)
con agua tibia (with warm water)
con agua fría (with cold water)
con agua caliente (with hot water)
planchar con vapor (steam iron)
planchar sin vapor (iron without steam)
no planchar (do not iron)
You can't know for certain how a garment will survive washing or dry cleaning. It may shrink (encogerse) or the colors may run or fade (despintarse, desteñirse), or it might turn into a wrinkled mess (arrugarse) or fall apart (deshacerse).
You Love It!
You've been using the verb gustar to say what you like. Spanish actually has a number of verbs that work just like gustar and will come in very handy during your shopping trip. Let's look at a few of the most useful ones for this purpose.
encantar (to delight, to love)
parecer (to seem)
interesar (to interest)
quedar (to fit)
molestar (to bother)
caer bien, mal (to like, dislike someone)
As you may recall, gustar takes indirect object pronouns to refer to the person or people to whom something is pleasing. These other verbs work exactly the same way. Me encanta esta camisa translates into English literally as “This shirt delights me,” though the colloquial equivalent would be “I love this shirt.” Other verbs are more similar to the English way of expressing the same idea, for example, Esos pantalones me parecen muy caros translates literally into English as “Those pants seem very expensive to me.”
Keep in mind that not all of these verbs translate easily into English. For example, the verb caer is used in a very special way with indirect object pronouns to describe the effect a person has on you. La dependienta me cae mal means “I don't like the saleswoman.” The literal translation “The saleswoman falls on me badly” doesn't make any sense in English. Nevertheless, this is the structure you use in most cases to talk about people you like or dislike.
To talk about how something fits, use the verb quedar or andar. In some contexts, quedar can also refer to how something looks on a person. Review the following examples to learn how to talk about different fit issues.
How Does It Look?
Listen to each example on Track 64 as you follow along in the text. Repeat each statement after you hear it.
La blusa me queda grande.
(The blouse runs big on me.)
Esa chaqueta te queda bien.
(That jacket fits you well. That jacket looks good on you.)
Estos pantalones nos andan estrechos.
(These pants are too tight on us.)
Ese sombrero le queda horrible.
(That hat fits him terribly. That hat looks horrible on him.)
Let's summarize some fit vocabulary for convenience:
Andar o quedar…
estrecho (tight, narrow)
ancho (loose, wide)
Keep in mind that most of these terms are adjectives, so they agree in number and gender with the item described: Esta blusa me queda estrecha, pero los pantalones me quedan anchos (This blouse is too tight on me but the pants are too loose on me). To say that something fits well or badly, however, you use the adverbs bien and mal: El suéter te anda bien pero la falda te queda muy mal.