man wearing evening wear

Difference in Terms for Men's Clothing Items - UK vs US

When it comes to men's clothing and knowing the meaning of terms used, it can be tricky ground to walk on. The confusion can be furthered depending on your whereabouts around the globe and, indeed, which era your language was formed in. The starkest differences lie between, potentially, the most similar countries with the same vocabulary: the UK and the USA.

This article will look at the most common differences in the menswear arena, Starting with our particular garment of expertise – the men's shirt.

Lost in Translation

Let’s be clear: we are differentiating and debunking between the standard terms in clothing for blighty Brits and their counterparts across the pond in the good ol’ US of A. Sadly, our linguistic limitations deny us the opportunity to research differences in other languages, though we would be interested to hear any should you wish to share!

So first of all, shirts. In America, the term shirt applies to all garments worn on the top half of the body, short or long-sleeved. A dress shirt is what an American might also refer to as a Tuxedo Shirt; in the UK, this would be called an evening shirt – a particularly formal shirt that is usually worn as part of a ‘Black Tie’ to events and occasions of importance. A Brit would refer to any shirt with a collar, cuff and buttons as a dress shirt.

It is not just in the ‘Shirt’ area where the confusion lies. Here is a quick rundown of some of the most common differences.

While we don’t suggest this is an all-encompassing list, we will look at the most common terms that can cause confusion.

We have the Tuxedo (U.S), following Dress Shirts and evening wear. In the UK, it is referred to as a Dinner Jacket and is a particularly formal suit jacket, usually black, often having ‘Tails’ and silk or satin Lapels and detailing.

To describe a garment that covers the legs, Brits say trousers, Americans say pants. Brits use the term pants to describe men's underwear; Americans may say shorts or underpants.

In the UK, the word Suspenders refers to an item of undergarment a lady would wear to hold up her stockings – racy! In the US, suspenders are an item constructed from elasticated fabric that attaches to the trouser top and goes over the shoulders to hold up the trousers. In the UK, these are called Braces.

In the UK, in cold weather, you’d wear a jumper, pullover, or sweatshirt – in the U.SThe . they would say sweater. 

UK describes a ‘vest’ as the undergarment worn under a shirt. In the U.S., it is called an undershirt. British folk refer to a waistcoat as the third piece in a three-piece suit; American friends would say vest.

So there it is – our list of the most common differences in terms used for men's clothing garments! Let us know if you have any additions to make or can enlighten us on words in other languages – we love to hear from you!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.