Thursday, January 8, 2009

Real Men Don't Wear Knickers

It may be apparent from occasional oddities of spelling or expression that I'm writing this blog in two different languages--American and British English. I was born in the USA, but have lived in London for so long now that my writing has started to go native. All the same, key differences in vocabulary still cause occasional stumbles. 

Example: I was off to see a client after my son's violin lesson. I mentioned to his teacher, a plain-speaking Englishwoman, that I did closet consultation. Her reply: "what, does that involve toilets or something?" 

Other examples of British/American fashion terms separated by a common language:

Pants. In British English, these are strictly men's underpants. Also, a term of derision: "Mate, the Madonna concert was pants."

Vest. In British English, this is a sleeveless top, usually worn as underwear.

Waistcoat. Pronounced--insanely--"weskit," this is what Americans call a vest.

Pumps. These are American sneakers, more like Keds than Pumas.

Court shoes. What Yanks call pumps.

Tights. What Americans call pantihose.

Stockings. What Americans call tights.

Pop socks. In American English, knee-highs. The entire hosiery department is a minefield, I tell you.

Swimming costume ("cozzie"). This, in American, is bathing suit. If "swimming costume" sounds strange to you, take a moment to think about "bathing suit" and how weirdly Victorian that one is. 

Purse. For a Brit, this is a mere wallet, not a full-blown handbag, capacious enough to carry an Olsen twin.

Fanny. The British word for a lady's Lady Region. Why Brits crack up when tourists refer to their "fanny pack."

Mac. Neither a burger nor a computer, this is a (oft-needed) raincoat.

Blouse: In Brit, this means an exceedlingly froufrou blouse. Otherwise it's a shirt. A "big girl's blouse" is a man who is notably wimpy.

If anyone could explain this last one to me I will provide an hour of toilet consultation free of charge.


  1. Great blogs, Christa...especially enjoyed the video clip of Rosamund Bernier. Quite a gal!
    Thanks for the blog tip...I adore vintage!

  2. Christa! Priceless! Love it all, especially "fanny" and "Madonna's concert was pants".

  3. Stockings are 'TIGHTS' in the US? So you wear a suspender belt and tights? I didn't know that. So what does 'stockings' mean in Americlish?

    Really enjoyed it. Mxxx