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Clothing Idioms

He'd better pull his socks up.

Here are some common idioms based on clothes and clothing. Each entry includes the meaning of the idiom and shows the idiom in context in an example sentence. At the end is a clothing idioms quiz to check your understanding.

idiom meaning example sentence
at the drop of a hat without needing any advance notice My Grandma will babysit for anyone at the drop of a hat.
(have a) bee in one's bonnet something that is annoying someone Milan has had a bee in his bonnet all day, but he won't tell me what's wrong.
below the belt beyond what is fair or socially acceptable His comment about Manfred's handicap was below the belt.
bursting at the seams not fitting anymore I ate too much. I'm bursting at the seams in these jeans.
caught with one's pants down unprepared My students caught me with my pants down on Monday. I forgot about the field trip.
(have a) card up one's sleeve have a secret or reserve plan I think Josh has a card up his sleeve cause he wants me to wear a dress to the fast-food restaurant.
buckle down work extra hard It's almost exam time, so I need to buckle down this weekend.
burn a hole in one's pocket money that one is tempted to spend Let's go to the mall after school. There's a hundred dollar bill burning a hole in my pocket.
dress to kill, dress to the nines dress in nice or sexy clothes My cousin was dressed to kill on her birthday.
fit like a glove fit perfectly (tight to one's body) Anita's prom dress fits me like a glove.
fine-tooth comb in great detail, extremely carefully The police looked for fingerprints with a fine-tooth comb.
fly by the seat of one's pants do by instinct, not by plan I had never taught art to kids before. I had to fly by the seat of my pants.
handle with kid gloves treat delicately Please handle my grandmother's tea set with kid gloves.
hand-me-down used clothing We buy hand-me-down skates because the kids' feet grow so quickly.
hat trick three goals scored by one person The fans cheered when the hockey player got a hat trick.
in one's birthday suit in the nude The swimmers in the lake were in their birthday suits.
keep one's shirt on try to stay calm I know you're in a hurry, but please keep your shirt on.
keep something zipped keep something a secret We know we're having a boy, but we're keeping it zipped from the grandparents.
off the cuff said without planning I didn't have a speech prepared. Everything I said was off the cuff.
pull up one's socks try harder Marco will have to pull up his socks if he wants to make the football team.
put a sock in it stop talking Put a sock in it! I'm trying to tell a story.
put one's thinking cap on think hard in order to solve a problem I can't remember where the Christmas decorations are. I'll have to put my thinking cap on.
put oneself in someone else's shoes imagine what it would be like to be in someone else's situation Put yourself in Amber's shoes. She doesn't even have a car to drive.
ride one's coattails let someone else do all of the work It was a group project, but everyone rode Andrew's coattails.
roll up one's sleeves get down to hard work The celebrities rolled up their sleeves and washed cars for charity.
take one's hat off to someone recognize or honour someone for something I take my hat off to Jim. The doctors said he'd never walk, and he just ran a marathon.
wear one's heart on one's sleeve display emotions openly My Dad's not afraid to cry. He always wears his heart on his sleeve.
wear the trousers be in charge, make the rules By the looks of things, the kids wear the trousers in this household.