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0053 Picking a Wardrobe

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 53 – Picking a Wardrobe.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 53. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

In this episode, we're going to discuss picking clothes to wear. Let's get started.
[start of story]

I'm one of those people who don't have much of a fashion sense. I mean, I know that I shouldn't wear a pink shirt with green pants, but beyond that I'm pretty much a basket case when it comes to picking my wardrobe.

I have plenty of short-sleeve and long-sleeve dress shirts; some have a button-down collar and some have a shirt pocket in them. I also own some more casual shirts with a collar, and a ton of T-shirts with just about every logo you can think of. I have a couple of good pairs of black slacks for formal occasions, along with khakis and jeans for more informal events.

Naturally, I have one nice suit to wear to weddings, funerals, and job interviews, with a suit coat, tie, a belt with a nice-looking buckle, and pants. I also own a sports coat, but I don't use it much. Well, I better stop talking and start dressing. I'm late for work!

[end of story]

Today’s story is about picking a wardrobe. A “wardrobe” – all one word (wardrobe) – means all of the clothing that you can wear. “I have a very small wardrobe” means I don’t have very many things I can wear. A wardrobe is all of your clothing that you own. A wardrobe can also mean a place where you put your clothing – it’s like a tall cabinet. We call that a wardrobe as well.

I started by saying that I didn’t have “much of a fashion sense.” “Fashion,” you probably know, means a kind of clothing. The kind of style that someone has, the way they look, is part of fashion. And a “fashion sense” (sense) is the ability to know what would be a good look for someone. That’s someone with a good fashion sense. I don’t have a good fashion sense.

I then said, “I mean, I know that you shouldn’t wear a pink shirt with green pants.” The expression “I mean” at the beginning of the sentence is a very common conversational, informal way that we sort of fill up the space when we are talking, fill up time. It’s like “ah” or “um.” Sometimes we use it, however, a little more specifically, to clarify – to make clear – our meaning. So, I could say to someone, “I’m going to the store. I mean the grocery store down the street.”

I said that when it comes to fashion, “I’m pretty much of a basket case.” “Basket case” usually refers to someone who has mental or emotional problems, and they have so many problems that they can’t do what they are supposed to do in their job or in their work. We use it here kind of in a joking way. I say, “I’m pretty much a basket case when it comes to picking my wardrobe,” meaning I’m not very good at it – I can’t do a very good job.

I said I had “short-sleeve and long-sleeve dress shirts.” The sleeve of your shirt is the part that goes on your arms, and you can guess that “short-sleeve shirts” are shirts where the sleeve only goes down part of your arm, usually just covering your biceps. Your biceps are those muscles that are in the top part of your upper arm. Those are biceps, and triceps are on the bottom part of your upper arm. “Long-sleeve shirts” are shirts where the sleeve goes down to your wrist. Your wrist is what connects your hand to the rest of your arm. That part is called your wrist. So, a “long-sleeve shirt” would go down to your wrist.

I mentioned that I also own some “button-down collar shirts.” You have buttons on your shirt. Usually you put each button into a little hole called a “buttonhole,” which keeps the shirt from coming off of you or from opening in the front. The “collar” is the part of the shirt that goes around your neck, and a “button-down collar” is a collar that has buttons in the front that keep it attached to the rest of the shirt. So, a “button-down collar shirt” would be a shirt with a button-down collar.

I also said that some of my shirts have a “shirt pocket” in them. A “pocket,” like a pocket in your pants, is a little place where you can keep things, where you can hold things. A “shirt pocket” is a place where you can find your glasses, or a pen, or a piece of paper, and so forth – an iPod, perhaps.

I said that I had “a ton of T-shirts with just about every logo you can think of.” “T-shirts” – which is just the letter T - (shirts) – “T-shirts” are shirts that don’t have a collar, that are usually short sleeve, and that are used for very informal occasions. Or, you sometimes wear a T-shirt underneath a more formal shirt, usually a white T-shirt. Nowadays, you have T-shirts that have all sorts of things printed on them, and companies that have their logos printed on them use them as advertising. A “logo” is a symbol that a company uses. For example, the logo for Nike sportswear – (nike), Nike – is a little check mark. That would be a logo.

I used the expression “every logo you can think of.” This is a common way of saying “lots and lots” of a particular thing. “Every person you could think of was there,” meaning everyone that you know was there. So, lots of people. I said that I have a couple of “pairs of black slacks.” We talk about pants or “slacks,” and “slacks” is just another word for pants. It’s usually more formal pants. We sometimes call those “slacks” (slacks). We always talk about a “pair” of pants or a “pair” of slacks.

I mentioned that I own some “khakis and jeans.” “Jeans,” you probably know, are usually blue and are made out of a thick cotton material. “Khaki” is a brownish-yellow material that you can make pants, called “khakis,” out of. And they’re very popular. “Khakis” were originally used for the military, but now anyone can buy pants made from that material.

I said I own “one nice suit.” A “suit” describes pants, shirt, and a suit coat – a coat that goes over your shirt – and usually a tie. All those things together are a “suit.” Usually, you’ll also have a “belt,” which is what goes around the top of your pants and holds them up. It keeps your pants from falling down. You wouldn’t want that to happen. A belt has a “buckle,” and the buckle is the part that you use to hold the belt together. It’s in the very front of your pants.

Finally, I said I own “a sports coat.” A “sports coat” is a jacket or coat that is used for more informal occasions. So, you wouldn’t go to a wedding or a funeral with a sports coat. You’d use a “suit coat.” A sports coat is a little less formal.

Now let’s listen to our story, this time at a normal speed.

[start of story]

I'm one of those people who don't have much of a fashion sense. I mean, I know that I shouldn't wear a pink shirt with green pants, but beyond that I'm pretty much a basket case when it comes to picking my wardrobe.

I have plenty of short-sleeve and long-sleeve dress shirts; some have a button-down collar, some have a shirt pocket in them. I also own some more casual shirts with a collar, and a ton of T-shirts with just about every logo you can think of. I have a couple of good pairs of black slacks for formal occasions, along with khakis and jeans for more informal events.

Naturally, I have one nice suit to wear to weddings, funerals, and job interviews, with a suit coat, tie, a belt with a nice-looking buckle, and pants. I also own a sports coat, but I don't use it much. Well, I better stop talking and start dressing. I'm late for work!

[end of story]

Thanks to our great scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, for all of her hard work. And thanks to you for listening.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

ESL Podcast is produced by the Center for Educational Development in Los Angeles, California. This podcast is copyright 2006.

Glossary
fashion sense – knowledge about how to dress well; the ability to choose clothing that looks good

* Lieselotte has great fashion sense and people frequently tell her that they like the outfits she wears.


basket case – someone who feels helpless in stressful situations

* Caesar was a good driver during the day, but he had bad eyesight at night and was a basket case when he needed to drive in the dark.


wardrobe – the clothing one owns and wears

* Vivian had many jeans and skirts in her wardrobe, but she did not own many dresses.


short-sleeve – a piece of clothing that covers the upper portion of the arm, stopping at the elbow

* Once the weather got warmer, Justin began wearing short-sleeve shirts to stay cool.


long-sleeve – a piece of clothing that covers the entire arm, stopping just before the hand

* During the winter, Luanne usually wore thick long-sleeve sweaters to keep herself warm.


button-down – closed in the front by a line of buttons (small objects sewn onto fabric that fit into holes placed in the fabric, bringing the fabric to a close)

* Brent wore a button-down shirt and nice pants to attend church.


collar – the neckline of a shirt; a strip of folded fabric at the top of a shirt, around one's neck

* Mable did not like wearing shirts with a collar because she did not like the way it felt on her neck.


shirt pocket – a fabric pouch on a shirt; a patch of fabric sewn onto a shirt with an open top, where small objects can be stored

* Juan kept a pen in his front shirt pocket because it was easy to reach.


t-shirt – a casual shirt made from simple material; a simple shirt that looks like the letter "T" when laid flat

* Anastasia did not plan on going anywhere fancy that day, so she wore a casual t-shirt and shorts.

just about – nearly or almost; most but not all

* The water bowl for his pet dog was just about empty before Claude noticed and filled it with more water.


logo – a image that serves as a symbol for something else; a picture that represents something, such as a company or sports team

* Tanesha knew which baseball team her neighbor supported because he wore the team’s logo on many of his clothes.


slacks – pants or trousers; a type of clothing that covers the lower part of the body, from the top of the foot up to the top of the waist and wrapping around each leg

* Wesley wore a nice white shirt and black dress slacks to the job interview.


khakis – pants made of a thick cotton fabric that are light brown in color

* Karen almost wore black pants, but she decided that light brown khakis matched her shirt better.


suit – a set of formal clothing; formal clothing that is made from nice material and that comes in set, including a jacket and pants

* The businessman wore an expensive suit and tie to the meeting.


suit coat – the jacket from a suit; a formal jacket (clothing worn over a shirt) that matches a pair of formal pants

* The weather was very warm, so Zachariah took his suit coat off and went to work without it.


belt – a thick strip or band of fabric that wraps around one's waist or hips, usually meant to keep one's pants from slipping down

* Sonya wore a silver belt around the waist of her dress.


buckle – the clasp on a belt; a metal device that holds together the two ends of a belt

* The buckle broke on Reggie’s belt and his loose pants almost fell down.


sports coat – a formal jacket that is not part of a suit (a set of formal clothes)

* Mr. Laxson did not want to wear a suit, but he still wore a sports coat to look somewhat formal.

Culture Note
Calm Californians and Neurotic New Yorkers

When most Americans think of a “Californian” (someone who lives in California), they think of someone who is very relaxed, someone who is “laid-back” (calm and relaxed). A “New Yorker” (someone from the state of New York) is often seen as having the opposite personality, someone who is “stressed out” (feeling very anxious; under a lot of stress). These are very popular images, but are they true?

Some psychologists have begun to test the “residents” (people who live in a certain place) of different states to see if they have certain personality traits. A “trait” is a characteristic, something that is “stable” (the same) over time. These psychologists gave a 44-question personality test that looked at five different personality traits: “extraversion” (how much you like to talk to other people), agreeableness, “conscientiousness” (how careful you are or how carefully you follow the rules), “openness” (whether you are open to new ideas and experiences), and “neuroticism” (having a mild mental disease usually related to stress and anxiety).

What did they find? The most open people tend to live on the West Coast and western U.S. states, including the states of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. People who live in New York and Massachusetts were also very high in openness. The most extroverted people tend to live in the upper Midwest, which includes the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota. These are states where people are more likely to talk to people they don’t know and to interact with other people.

People in the upper Midwest also tend to be the most agreeable, meaning they tend to be perceived as being nice to other people. The state of New York is the opposite, with people who are considered very disagreeable in terms of their personality test results. People who live in the central part of the United States tend to be the most conscientious. This would include the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

What about neurotics? These people tend to live in the eastern part of the United States, including the states of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio, although people who live in the south-central part of the U.S., in places such as Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, also score high on the neurotic test.