Jul 10, 2023

Beginner Vocab: Top 10 Chinese Words for Summer Fashion

The sun feels warm on your skin, and lively chatter about hosting a barbecue beside the glistening swimming pool fills the air. Plans to attend yet another electrifying summer music festival are in motion. Yes, summer is officially here! As you gear up for this season of fun-filled activities, one thing needs your immediate attention – your closet. But fear not, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Chinese words for summer fashion to ensure you’re well-prepared. Are you ready to transform your Spring wardrobe into a Summer fashion spectacle with us? Let’s dive right in!

Hat 帽子

hat in Chinese

Who can resist the inviting warmth of the sun? Its glow is a gentle caress that seems to signal the promise of summer adventures. But while the sun beckons us outdoors, we must remember it also brings Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a hidden danger for our skin.

One simple yet stylish solution? Hats!

A hat isn’t just a fashion statement. It’s a shield, a protector, and a guardian of your skin against harmful UV rays, significantly reducing the chances of unwelcome sunburns.

In Chinese, the word for “hat” is 帽子 (mào zi). Here, 帽 stands for “hat” or “cap,” while 子 is a suffix that doesn’t carry a specific meaning in itself. Think of 帽子 as your passport term – it can whisk you away to the realm of various hat styles, from sun hats (太陽帽/太阳帽; tài yáng mào), cowboy hats (牛仔帽; niú zǎi mào) to baseball caps (棒球帽; bàng qiú mào). Interestingly, when it comes to specific types of hats, the suffix 子 takes a bow and steps back. In other words, it should be omitted.

Skirt 裙子

skirt in Chinese

Imagine a summer breeze softly billowing a comfortable, stylish skirt. It’s an image synonymous with summer – and with good reason! Skirts are not only fashionable but also practical and an absolute essential for those long, hot summer days.

In Chinese, “skirt” translates to 裙子 (qún zi). Notice the familiar suffix 子 again? Similar to its role in 帽子, it doesn’t carry any particular meaning in 裙子, but it does play a vital role in steering clear of any potential homophone confusion as there are many Chinese words sharing the same pronunciation as 裙 (qún).

Just like 帽子, 裙子 is an all-encompassing term referring to a variety of skirts. Whether you’re slipping into a long skirt (長裙/长裙; cháng qún), a short skirt (短裙; duǎn qún), or a playful jumper skirt (背心裙; bèi xīn qún), 裙子 is your go-to word. And remember, when it comes to a specific type of skirt, the suffix 子 gets to sit this one out!

Shorts 短褲/短裤

shorts in Chinese

The eternal summer question: skirts or shorts? Everyone has their preference, and for many, shorts win the day. Offering optimal comfort, freedom of movement, and an unbeatable way to beat the heat, shorts are a go-to garment for many on those sweltering summer days.

In Chinese, “shorts” translate to 短褲/短裤 (duǎn kù). The term is quite literal, with 短 meaning “short” in length and 褲/裤 translating to “pants” or “trousers.” This gives you an easy way to remember the term: “short pants”!

But the world of shorts isn’t one-size-fits-all. The term 短褲/短裤 encapsulates a variety of styles. You could be reaching for your gym shorts (運動短褲/运动短裤; yùn dòng duǎn kù) or maybe your denim cut-offs (牛仔短褲; niú zǎi duǎn kù) for a beach day. No matter the style, the term 短褲/短裤 has got you covered.

T-shirt T恤

T-shirt in Chinese

Isn’t it fascinating to find English letters in the midst of Chinese characters? This is exactly the case with T恤 (T xù), a loanword that comes directly from the English term “T-shirt.” It might seem unusual, but such is the charming surprise language brings us!

When it comes to casual summer attire, a T恤 undoubtedly tops the list. Once relegated to the status of an “undershirt” back in the 1960s, it was hardly considered suitable to be worn in public. Thankfully, those days are a mere echo in fashion history. Today, T恤 have not only claimed their rightful place in our everyday wardrobe but are increasingly becoming an accepted part of many workplace dress codes.

With the arrival of summer comes the season of T恤. Pack a handful of these, mix and match them with a pair of 短裤 (duǎn kù) or two, don’t forget your 帽子 (mào zi), and voila! You’re all set for your sun-soaked summer vacation.

Swimsuit 泳衣

swimsuit in Chinese

Already curated your collection of swimsuits for this year’s summer season? Nothing says summer like a swimsuit – it reminds us of sunny beach days and happy times by the pool.

In Chinese, “swimsuit” translates to 游泳衣 (yóu yǒng yī), a term that quite literally translates to “swimming clothes.” But in daily conversation, Chinese speakers often opt for brevity and drop the first character, using 泳衣 (yǒng yī) as a shorthand for all types of swimming attire, regardless of gender or number of pieces.

But what about when you need to specify the gender? Don’t worry! The Chinese language has got you covered. For women’s swimsuits, simply add the word for “woman” 女, yielding 女泳衣 (nǚ yǒngyī). Likewise, men’s swimsuits become 男泳衣 (nán yǒngyī) by appending the word for “male” 男.

Swim trunks 泳褲/泳裤

swim trunks in Chinese

Now, here’s a bit of a linguistic win for you – the characters in 泳褲/泳裤 (yǒng kù) should look quite familiar to you. Remember the character 泳 from swimsuits (泳衣) and 褲/裤 from our exploration of shorts (短褲/短裤)? Put them together, and you’ve got “swim trunks” or, more literally, “swimming pants”!

Not only are swim trunks comfortable for a swim, but they are also often cherished for their convenience and flexibility. No need to change clothes to grab a bite after a refreshing dip in the water; your 泳褲/泳裤 (yǒng kù) is perfect for the beach bar or the poolside lounge!

Swimming goggles 泳鏡/泳镜

swimming goggles

Let’s keep the ball rolling with our swimming-themed exploration. Next up: the Chinese term for “swimming goggles,” 泳鏡/泳镜 (yǒng jìng). As you’ve already mastered the character 泳, all that’s left to tackle is the new character 鏡/镜 (jìng), which translates to “glass” or “mirror.” So, when you put it together, 泳鏡/泳镜 (yǒng jìng) literally means “swimming glass.”

Are you in the habit of donning 泳鏡/泳镜 (yǒng jìng) when taking the plunge? These pieces of equipment serve two primary purposes: they make it easier to keep your eyes open underwater, and perhaps more crucially, they act as a shield against harmful chemicals that may be present in the pool or open waters.

But did you know that there are different types of swimming goggles, each suited for specific conditions and swimming styles? For instance, you’ll find mirrored goggles that reflect light away from the eyes, making them an excellent choice for outdoor swimming. Then there are prescription swimming goggles for those of us who wear glasses, offering clarity both above and below water.

Bikini 比基尼

bikini in Chinese

Diving deeper into our swimming theme, let’s talk about the ultimate beachwear – the bikini. This two-piece swimsuit symbolizes femininity and freedom of expression.

The Chinese term for “bikini” is 比基尼 (bǐ jī ní), which, similar to T恤 (T xù), is a loanword from English. So, while learning how to pronounce it, you can rely on your familiarity with the English term. Fashioned for the beach, 比基尼 are the symbol of summer relaxation.

Sunglasses 墨鏡/墨镜

sunglasses in Chinese

Next on our list is another summer essential – sunglasses, or 墨鏡/墨镜 (mò jìng) in Chinese. The character 墨 translates to “ink,” and 鏡/镜 is from our exploration of swimming goggles (泳鏡/泳镜). So, the term 墨鏡/墨镜 can be literally translated as “ink glasses,” a poetic nod to the tinted lenses that protect our eyes from the sun’s glare. Not only do 墨鏡/墨镜 shield your eyes, but they also add an extra touch of style to your summer outfits.

Sandal 涼鞋

sandal in Chinese

Last but not least, let’s talk about sandals, or 涼鞋 (liáng xié) in Chinese. The word 涼 (liáng) means ”cool,“ and 鞋 (xié) means ”shoe,“ making 涼鞋 a ”cool shoe“ – an apt description of this summer footwear. Sandals, with their open design, keep your feet cool and comfortable, even on the hottest summer days. Whether you’re headed to the beach or exploring the city, a pair of 涼鞋 is your perfect summer companion!

And there you have it – your guide to 10 essential Chinese vocabulary words for summer fashion, and we have you covered from head (帽子; hat) to toe (涼鞋; sandal). With these words in your Chinese vocabulary, not only will you be prepared for summer, but you’ll also be able to discuss your summer wardrobe with ease!

By Chineasy | A Super Chineasian

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