[VS-series] Japanese Verbs for “to wear” and “to put on”

There are many verbs in Japanese for wearing clothes, even though in English, they can be expressed simply as “to wear” or “to put on”.
Let’s take a look at each word and its related outfit vocabulary!


This is the most common word for “to wear”. The word 「着る」 is mainly used for clothing to wear something on the upper body or body including the upper body. It is used for items you wear by putting your arms or neck through the holes.

Items for「着る」

  • Tシャツ (“t-shirts”)
  • シャツ (“shirts” and “undershirts”)
  • セーター (“sweater”)
  • パーカー (“hoodie”)
  • コート (“coat”)
  • ジャケット (“jacket”)
  • カーディガン (“cardigan”)
  • ワンピース (“[casual] dress”)
  • ドレス (“[formal] dress” and “gown”)
  • エプロン (“apron”)
  • スーツ (“suit”)
  • 着物 (“kimono”)
  • 制服 (“uniform”)
  • 水着 (“swimsuit”)
  • かっぱ or レインコート (“raincoat”)


「履く」is used for clothes worn on the lower half of the body, with the foot passing through the holes. Sometimes it is written as「穿く」, but it is not common, so there is no need to remember it.

Items for「履く」

  • ズボン (“pants” and “trousers”)
  • パンツ (“underwear”)
    We also call pants and trousers 「パンツ」. In this case, 「パンツ」 are pronounced as LHH pitch. (For underwear, it is pronounced as HLL pitch.)
  • オムツ (“diaper”)
  • レギンス (“leggings”)
  • タイツ (“tights”)
  • ストッキング (“pantyhose”)
  • スカート (“skirt”)
  • 靴 (“shoes”)
  • サンダル (“sandal”)
  • ビーチサンダル (“flipflops”)
  • 靴下 (“socks”)


「羽織る」is used for lightweight items (cardigans, light trench coats, etc.) to be worn over clothing. Use it whether your arms are through the sleeves or not.

We also use「着る」for cardigans and trench coats. When we use「着る」, we are simply stating the fact that we are wearing it. When we use 「羽織る」, it implies that we are wearing cardigans and coats on top of the main clothes to protect ourselves from the cold or wind.

Items for「羽織る」

  • コート (“coat”)
  • ジャケット (“jacket”)
  • カーディガン (“cardigan”)
  • ショール (“shawl”)
  • 白衣 (“white lab coat”)
  • バスローブ (“bathrobe”)
    You usually do not wear anything under a bathrobe, but I think this verb is used because it is worn over the normal outfit for taking a bath, which is naked.


「かける」is used for items that are placed on your body and hang from there or for items that are held by a body part. It is not used for items you put your arms, neck, etc., through the holes. This verb is mostly written in hiragana.

A scarf, for example, is normally wrapped around the neck, but if it is used to drape around the neck or shoulders,「かける」is used instead.

Items for「かける」

  • 眼鏡 (“glasses”)
  • サングラス (“sunglasses”)
  • ストール (“stole” and “scarf”)


「巻く」is used for items that wrap around a part of your body

Items for「巻く」

  • スカーフ (“silk scarf”)
  • マフラー (“muffler”)
  • ストール (“stole” and “scarf”)


「被る」is used for items worn over the head or head and face.

Items for「被る」

  • 帽子 (“cap” and “hat”)
  • フード (“hood”)
  • ヒジャブ (“hijab”)
    ”niqab” and “burqa”, too
  • 赤ずきん (“Red riding hood”)

「付ける / 着ける」(つける)

「つける」is mainly used for something that is worn on one part of the body, like an accessory. 「つける」can be paraphrased as「する」.

Items for「つける」

  • アクセサリー (“accessories” and “jewelry”)
  • リボン (“ribbon”)
  • 腕時計 (“watch”)
  • マスク (“mask”)
  • コンタクト[レンズ] (“contact lens”)
  • ブラ[ジャー] (“bra[ssiere]”)
  • 香水 (“perfume”)


「はめる」is mainly used for a ring-shaped object to be fitted to a body part.「はめる」can be paraphrased as「する」.

Items for「はめる」

  • 指輪 (“ring”)
  • ブレスレット (“bracelet”)
  • バングル (“bangle”)
  • 手袋 (“gloves”)


「召す」 is an honorific for all verbs that can be expressed with “to wear” or “to put on”.
The noun form of this honorific is「お召し物」(おめしもの), which can be used for all clothes worn by considerable superiors.

This word is used by store staff to talk to customers or by young people to those who are much older or higher in age or status than they are.
For example, if I were 30 years old and complimenting someone on their outfit, I would generally say「素敵なお召し物ですね」(すてきなおめしものですね) to someone over about 70 years old, but to someone younger than that I would compliment them by saying「素敵なお洋服ですね」(すてきなおようふくですね).

This word is at the N1 level of the JLPT, so if you’re a Japanese beginner, you don’t have to learn it yet 😉