Finding What Suits You: Shopping in Arabic for Clothes

Buying clothes can be a hassle, especially if you are in a foreign country and can't speak the language. Check this article about vocabulary and sizes

Finding What Suits You: Shopping in Arabic for Clothes

Whether you’ve started working in an Arabic speaking country and need a new suit or are just visiting and looking for a souvenir t-shirt, learning Arabic for ملابس malaabis (clothes) is essential for getting exactly what you want in your size.


The following table shows you some vocabulary for clothes and accessories in Arabic:

EnglishTransliterationArabic
Pants in ArabicbinTaalبنطال
Shirt in Arabicqameesقميص
Coat in Arabicmi’Tafمعطف
Dress in Arabicfustaanفستان
Belt in ArabicHizaamحزام
Hat in Arabicqubba’ahقبعة
Socks in Arabicjawaaribجوارب
Shoes in ArabicHithaa’حذاء
Ring in Arabickhaatimخاتم
Watch in Arabicsaa’ahساعة


Once you’ve found the clothing item that you are looking for, next you have to make sure it’s the correct (size) / حجم / hajim. Be careful when shopping in Arabic stores for malaabis, as many carry products from China which tend to run smaller than those found in the West. For example, what might be an XL in America may actually be an XXL in an Arab clothing store.


The three standard clothes sizes are:

EnglishArabicTransliterationSize
smallصغيرSagheerAmerican size (Men’s):
34–36
American size (Women’s):
6–8
mediumوسطwaSatAmerican size (Men’s):
38–40
American size (Women’s):
10–12
largeكبيرkabeerAmerican size (Men’s):
42–44
American size (Women’s):
14–16


When shopping for clothes, one more important thing to remember is the لون lawn (color). Certainly, الألوان al’awaan (colors) are adjectives that describe nouns. Thus, colors absolutely have to agree with the noun in terms of gender in Arabic.

For example, if you’re describing a feminine noun, you have to use the feminine form of the lawn.

Likewise, when describing masculine nouns, you have to use masculine forms. Now the question that always arises when it comes to gender in Arabic nouns is: How do you know whether a noun is feminine or masculine? Well, almost all, but not exactly all situations, feminine nouns end with a fatHa, or the “ah” sound. Also, for the rest, simply look up the word in the qaamuus (dictionary) or search for using Google on your mobile phone, to determine its gender.


The masculine and feminine forms of some common colors appear in the table below for your reference:

EnglishColor (M)ArabicColor (F)Arabic
white‘abyaDأبيضbaydhaa’بيضاء
black‘aswadأسودsawdaa’سوداء
red‘aHmarأحمرHamraa’حمراء
green‘akhDarأخضرkhaDraa’خضراء
blue‘azraqأزرقzarqaa’زرقاء
yellow‘aSfarأصفرSafraa’صفراء


It is important to remember that, unlike America, it is sometimes very difficult in Arabic countries to get a refund or exchange when you buy something that either doesn’t fit you properly or is not the right color for you, so do yourself a favor. Most stores have a fitting room. Try the clothes on and make sure they fit and are suitable for you before you make a purchase.

Otherwise, like those ugly sweaters Grandma used to get you for Christmas or your birthday, you’re going to be stuck with it for quite a while.

By the way, the next time you buy something from a clothing store, the salesperson may complete the sale with “Mabrook!” (meaning “Congratulations!” when translated from Arabic to English). You can answer with a simple Shukran, or “thank you”.


Remember, kaleela is always the perfect fit for anyone who wants to learn Arabic online. If you have any questions or comments or simply want to learn more Arabic, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments section. We’re happy to suit all of your needs.