Clothes do (not) make the man sequel


This is an activity to introduce and practise clothes idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing items of clothing, match the expressions to their definitions and complete the sentences with the missing items of clothing.

Teacher tips (Me being wise after the fact and after testing the activity with a few groups): 

  1. Make sure students know that the clues in Exercise 1 are clues to help them determine the items of clothing missing from the expressions. The clues are NOT the definitions of the idioms.
  2. Draw students’ attention to the fact that below the belt and to have under one’s belt are TWO different idioms with two different meanings. My students got a bit confused since the idioms are quite similar. I guess studying expressions that are alike is not the best strategy as it’s easy to get them mixed up, but I didn’t want to eliminate either of the two.
  3. Show students a picture of a bonnet. None of my students were familiar with the word so showing them some photos definitely helped. I don’t think the definition itself was enough to drive it home. I also showed them images of different types of hats especially cowboy, straw and top which were the last clues on the list.
  4. Research the origin of each idiom before the class. It is not only entertaining but also helpful for students to know the story behind the expressions they are studying and it is so much easier to memorise something you can associate with an image, an anecdote, a joke etc. 
  5. The examples in Exercise 3 are all true for me. I have noticed students really appreciate it if I personalise the activities or reveal something about myself so I would encourage you to create your own memorable examples to help your students get to know you better. It encourages discussion and cements your relationships.

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes


  1. To introduce clothes with idioms.
  2. To complete the idioms with the items of clothing.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To complete the sentences with the missing items of clothing.



  1. Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss the three fashion quotes below: 1. “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” —Miuccia Prada. 2. “Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress on their days off that are the most intriguing.” —Alexander Wang. 3. “Elegance is elimination.” —Cristóbal Balenciaga
  2. Hand out a copy of Clothes do (not) make the man sequel to each student or display it on the screen.
  3. In pairs, ask students to complete the expressions with the missing items of clothing. I have come up with some clues (on the right) to help students out and to make it less daunting. Even if the students don’t know any of the expressions they will still be able to complete the task with the clues provided which sets them up for success from the start. 
  4. Check together as a class.
  5. Ask students to match the idioms to their definitions (Exercise 2).
  6. Check together as a class but again ask students to first compare their answers with their partners and justify their answers to their classmate(s).
  7. Go to Exercise 3 and ask students to complete the sentences with the missing items of clothing. Encourage them to do the exercise without looking at the expressions. Turn this into a mini competition, provide students with new clues, images etc. or ask them to give clues to each other if they know the answers but their classmates don’t. 
  8. Check together as a class.
  9. In pairs or small groups students now tell their classmates if the sentences in Exercise 3 are true for them.
  10. Last but not least go to Exercise 4 and ask students to complete the sentences with the missing clothes again and yet again try to do it from memory. 
  11. Check together as a class.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to choose 4 or 5 idioms and draw their literal and figurative meaning
  2. Order the idioms according to how often you wear (Can you wear a pocket ?) the items of clothing in each idiom. I have a feeling a bonnet will not make it to the top of any list 😉 Just a wild guess
  3. Choose 3 idioms and write down what an antonym of each idioms is 
  4. Research the origin of a chosen idiom and later share your findings with the rest of the class

Related posts:

Clothes do (not) make the man

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Describe me

Somewhere over the rainbow 

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