15 clothing and fashion idioms to make your writing more stylish

Published: 
  • Put on your thinking cap and take a look at these useful phrases that will make your writing more interesting
  • These terms may even help you think off the cuff
Wong Tsui-kai |
Published: 
Comment

Latest Articles

Top 10: If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Girls fly around the skate park in Brazil after Tokyo Olympics sparks an interest in skateboarding

Billie Eilish, BTS, and Camila Cabello to perform in live-streamed concert on Saturday

Make your writing a bit more stylish with these useful phrases.

Want to bring a bit of style and fashion to your English? Buckle down (which means to start working hard) and take a look at these clothing idioms.

Roll up your sleeves

Meaning: to prepare for hard work. This is very similar to the term, “buckle down”.
Example: Let’s roll up our sleeves,  everyone. There’s a lot of  work for us to  get through done today.

Below the belt

Meaning: something, for example, a remark, that is very insulting and unfair. The expression comes from boxing, where it is illegal to hit an opponent below the belt. 
Example: We might not agree with the government on everything, but doxxing officials is below the belt. 

via GIPHY

An ace up your sleeve

Meaning: a secret plan, idea, or advantage that can be used if and when it is needed. The expression comes from card games, where the “ace” is usually the highest-ranking card. It also refers to cheating at a card game by hiding a favourable card up one’s sleeve.
Example: Taking the dog to the vet is going to be hard, but I’ve got an ace up my sleeve – a big steak.”

Caught with your pants down

Meaning: to be completely surprised by something because you are not prepared for it. The idiom is similar to “caught red-handed” except that it does not involve being caught committing a crime.
Example: The history pop quiz caught the entire class with their pants down.

Dressed to the nines/dressed to kill

Meaning: wearing nice clothes for a special occasion. Another idiom with a similar meaning is “dolled up”,  or “gussied up” which refers to a woman wearing make-up and fashionable clothes for a special occasion
Example: Everyone was dressed to the nines for the graduation dinner.

Fine-tooth comb

Meaning: if you go through something with a fine-tooth comb, you examine it very carefully.
Example: Go through your essay with a fine-tooth comb before handing it in to your teacher. 

Kid gloves

Meaning: If you treat someone with kid gloves, you deal with them very gently or carefully. The term comes from gloves made from the leather of a young animal, in this case the goat, which are very soft and not meant for hard work.
Example: A social worker complained that some parents treat their teenage children with kid gloves, and they end up acting like spoiled brats.

Birthday suit

Meaning: If you are in your birthday suit, you are not wearing any clothes. This refers to the fact that people are naked when they are born.
Example: “I didn’t bring my pyjamas on this trip, so I plan to sleep in my birthday suit,” my friend joked.

Walk a mile in someone’s shoes

Meaning: you should try to understand someone before criticising them. The full idiom is: Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
Example: My brother can come across as selfish or mean-spirited, but you should try walking a mile in his shoes before criticising him; he was bullied a lot in school.

 

 

via GIPHY

Tighten your belt

Meaning: to spend less money than you did before
Example: With the economy so bad and thousands of people losing their jobs, we all have to tighten our belts.

Dirty laundry 

Meaning: questionable activities that one wants to keep secret. “To wash your dirty laundry/linen in public” or to “air your dirty laundry/linen in public” means to talk about things that should be kept private.
Example: My mum said she hates people who wash their dirty laundry in public. 

Hot under the collar

Meaning: very angry about something
Example: When I rejected my friend’s idea about eating at a fancy restaurant, he got rather hot under the collar. 

Off the cuff

Meaning: if you speak off the cuff, you say something without having prepared or thought about your words first
Example: He didn’t have time to prepare the presentation, so he just spoke off the cuff. 

Hat / cap in hand

Meaning: being very humble, usually asking for a favour or apologising for something bad you have done 
Example: He was late for our study session, so when he finally arrived, hat in hand, he brought chocolates for everyone.

Thinking cap

Meaning: if you put on your thinking cap, you think seriously about something
Example: As organisers of the debate competition, it is time for us to put our thinking caps on and decide the topics for this year. 

Comment