6 Minute English - Fashion and Shopping Mega Class! One Hour of New Vocabulary!


Hello. This is 6 Minute English from  BBC Learning English. I'm Georgina

And I'm Neil.

In this programme, were talking about buying  

clothes and only wearing them a few  times before buying more clothes!

This is something known as  fast fashionit’s popular,  

it might make us feel good, but  it’s not great for the environment.

Which is why lots of people this year are pledging  – or promising publicly - to buy no new clothes.

I for one am wearing the same  shirt I bought seven years ago.

Youre certainly not a fashion  victim, Neil! But first,  

let’s test your knowledge of  fast fashion with a question.  

Do you know how many items of clothing were  sent to landfill in the UK in 2017? Was it… 

a) 23 million items, b) 234 million items or 

c) 2.3 billion items What do you think, Neil?

I’m sure it’s lots, but not billionsso I’m going to say 23 million items.

I shall tell you if youre right  at the end of the programme.  

Let’s talk more about fast fashion, which is  being blamed for contributing to global warming.

And discarded clothesthat means ones  that are thrown away - are also piling  

up in landfill sites, and fibre fragments are  flowing into the sea when clothes are washed.

It’s not greatand I’ve heard the average  time someone wears something is just seven!  

So why is this, and what is driving  our desire to keep buying more clothes?

I think we should hear from  fashion journalist Lauren Bravo,  

who’s been speaking on the BBC  Radio 4 programme, You and Yours.  

She explained that clothes today are relatively  cheaper than those from her parentsdays

A lot of clothing production got outsourced  - offshored over to the developing world,  

so countries like Indonesia, India, Bangladesh  and China are now responsible for making the  

vast bulk of all the clothes that are sold  in the UK. And with that, we've seen what  

we callchasing the cheapest needlearound  the world, so the fashion industry constantly  

looking to undercut competitors, and with that  clothes getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper.

Right, so clothesin the developed  world at leasthave become cheaper  

because they are produced in developing countries.  

These are countries which are trying to become  more advanced economically and socially.

So production is outsourcedthat means work  usually done in one company is given to another  

company to do, often because that company  has the skills to do it. And in the case of  

fashion production, it can be done cheaper by  another company based in a developing country.

Lauren used an interesting expression  ‘chasing the cheapest needle’ – so the  

fashion industry is always looking to  find the company which can make clothes  

cheapera company that can undercut another  one means they can do the same job cheaper.

Therefore the price of  clothes gets cheaper for us.

OK, so it might be good to be  able to buy cheaper clothes.  

But why do we have to buy more –  and only wear items a few times?

It’s all about our obsession  with shopping and fashion.  

It’s something Lauren Bravo goes  on to explain on the You and Yours  

radio programme. See if you can hear  what she blames for this obsession

Buying new things has almost become a trend  in itself for certain generations. I think  

that feeling that you can't be seen in the same  thing twice, it really stems from social media,  

particularly. And quite often people are buying  those outfits to take a photo to put on Instagram.  

It sounds illogical, but I think when all of your  

friends are doing it there is  this invisible pressure there.

Lauren makes some interesting points. Firstly,  

for some generations, there is  just a trend for buying things.

It does seem very wasteful, but, as Lauren sayssome people don’t like to be seen wearing the same  

thing twice. And this idea is caused by social  mediashe uses the expressionstems from’.

She describes the social pressure of needing  to be seen wearing new clothes on Instagram.  

And the availability of cheap  clothes means it’s possible to post  

new images of yourself wearing  new clothes very regularly.

Hmm, it sounds very wasteful and to  me, illogicalnot reasonable or  

sensible and more driven by emotions  rather than any practical reason.

But, there is a bit of a backlash nowthat’s  a strong negative reaction to what is happening.  

Some people are now promising to buy second-hand  clothes, orvintage clothes’, or make do with the  

clothes they have and mend the ones they needIt could be the start of a new fashion trend.

Yes, and for once, I will  be on trend! And it could  

reduce the amount of clothes sent to  landfill that you mentioned earlier.

Yes, I asked if you knew how many items  of clothing were sent to landfill in the  

UK in 2017? Was it… a) 23 million items

b) 234 million items or c) 2.3 billion items 

What did you say, Neil?

I said a) 23 million items.

And you were wrong. It’s actually 234  million itemsthat’s according to  

the Enviro Audit Committee. It also found that 1.2  

billion tonnes of carbon emissions is  released by the global fashion industry.

Well, were clearly throwing away too many clothes  

but perhaps we can recycle some of  the vocabulary weve mentioned today?

I think we can, starting with pledging  - that means publicly promising to do  

something. You can make a pledge to do something.

When something is outsourced,it  is given to another company to do,  

often because that company has the skills  to do it or it can be done cheaper.

And if one company undercuts another, it  charges less to do a job than its competitor.

The expression stems from meansis caused byor  

‘a result of’. We mentioned that rise in fast  fashion stems from sharing images on Instagram.

And we mentioned this being illogicalSo it seems unreasonable - not sensible,  

and more driven by emotions  rather than any practical reason.

And a backlash is a strong negative  reaction to what is happening.

And that brings us to the end of our discussion  about fast fashion! Please join us again next  

time. Bye. Bye.

Hello and welcome to Six Minute EnglishI'm Neil and joining me today is Danwho  

is weighed down with shopping bags and wearing  something verystrange. What's going on, Dan?

Hi everyone. Well, I was feeling a bit miserable  so I decided to cheer myself up by going shopping!

Well that's lucky because the link  between shopping and mood is what  

we're looking at in this 6 Minute  Englishand of course we'll be  

giving you six mood and shopping-related  vocabulary items. But first, our quiz:

Online shoppers in which  country spend more per household  

than consumers in any other country, according  to a report from the UK Cards Association?

a) The USA

b) Norway

c) The UK

Norway seems to come top of lots of lists, so  for that reason alone I'm going to say Norway.

We'll find out at the end of the show.  

Now, Dan, you said just now that you went  shopping because you were feeling down.

That's rightI like a bit of retail therapy.

Retail therapy is a humorous expression which  means going shopping to make yourself feel better.

Oh, I do that all the time.

Yes, I can see. And you're not aloneAccording to some research done by the  

website moneysupermarket.com, people are more  likely to buy things they'll later regret  

when they're feeling sad, bored or stressed.

Well I was feeling a bit down in the  dumps. And that's a way of saying 'sad'.

Oh dear, Dan. Sorry to hear you've been down  in the dumps. I only hope you don't also get a  

pang of regret about your purchases when you get  them homethe research suggests that you will.

A pang is a sharp pain. We often  hear it used figuratively to talk  

about strong emotions like guilt, regret and  remorse. You're making me feel worse, Neil

Sorry Danit's all for educational purposesOur audience will learn from your pain!  

Remorse is like regretand there's a good  expression to describe exactly that bad feeling  

you get when you realise you don't really need  or want the thing you've bought. Buyer's remorse.

OK, OK, OK enough about me. Let's hear from SamPhil and Catherine from the Learning English team  

to see if their mood affects the shopping  choices they make. Listen carefully. Can  

you hear the three types of things they say  that they buy when they're down in the dumps?

Honestly, I tend to buy food. Anything that  will bring me comfort, so it can be any sort of  

warm drink, hot drink but also anything kind  of warm and cosyso like a nice jumper.

Definitely, if I've had a bad day at workor for whatever reason or I feel terrible,  

tired, I am more likely to  buy something on the way home.

Oh when I'm feeling sad, I probably buylittle bit of wine and often something to  

wear. I find that a bit of retail therapy when  I'm sad usually does the trick at the time,  

so it makes me feel better. But I do  find that when I look in my wardrobe,  

the things that I bought when  I was sadI never wear them.

Sam, Phil and Catherine there  from the BBC Learning English team  

talking about what kind of things they buy  when they're feeling down. What were they?

Food, drink and clothes.

That's right. Sam mentioned she buys  food, warm drinks and a nice jumper  

to keep her cosy. That's the feeling  of being warm, comfortable and relaxed.

Catherine also mentioned drinksthis time  wine. And she also said that buying clothes  

does the trick. That means achieves the result  

she intended. She feels down, she buys  clothes, she feels betterit does the trick.

But what's interesting is that  Catherine said she never wears the  

clothes she buys when she's feeling  sad. That's exactly what the survey  

foundpeople regret the purchases they  make when they're sad, bored or stressed.

Sounds like a case of buyer's remorse.

Indeed. Well, time now for the answer  to our quiz question. I asked this:  

Online shoppers in which country spend more per  household than consumers in any other country,  

according to a report from the  UK Cards Association? Is it:

a) The USA 

b) Norway c) The UK

I said b) Norway.

And I'm afraid you might need to go  and buy some more stuff to cheer you  

upyou're wrong! The correct  answer is the UK. Apparently,  

UK households spent the equivalent of $5,900  (£4,611) using payment cards online in 2015.

Well, I hope they were happy when  they made those purchases or they  

may feel the pang of regret I'm scared  I might get after today's discussion!

Well, a good recap of the vocabulary  from this programme might do the trick.

Shall we start with the first word? Do you  ever go in for a bit of retail therapy, Neil?

Actually, I try to avoid it. Especially after  reading this surveyI don't think the happiness  

you feel after buying something lasts very longIn fact, you can end up feeling down in the dumps.

Down in the dumps - meaning sad/unhappy. Yes  and a pang of regret might follow once you  

realise you've spent a lot of money  on something you don't really need.

A pang is a stabused here  figuratively to mean a sharp pain  

used to talk about strong emotions. And  after the pang can come buyer's remorse.

Hmm, I'm beginning to feel buyer's remorse from  

this leopard skin onesie. Seemed  like such a good idea at the time.

Well it does look cozy –  warm comfortable and relaxed,  

so I think if that's what you  wanted, it does the trick.

Does the trick, meaning  achieves the result you wanted.

OK before Dan heads off to buy even more stuff  he doesn't need, please remember to check out our  

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. Bye!

Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.

And hello, I'm Rob.

Now, then, Rob, what do you know about unicorns?

Ah, well, the unicorn is a fantasy  creature from history. In our tradition,  

it looks like a white horse with a single spiral  horn coming out of its head. Why do you ask?

Well, funnily enough, unicorns are the topic  of this programme. Before we learn more though,  

a question. What do we call the study of  legendary creatures like the Loch Ness Monster,  

Big Foot and unicorns? Is it: a) Cryptozoology

b) Protozoology, or c) Paleozoology

Have you got any idea about that, Rob?

Ah, well, I know this because it was the topic  of a 6 Minute English programme a while back,  

in 2008, to be exact. So I think  I'll keep the answer to myself.

OK, well for everyone else, we'll have  the answer later in the programme.  

Over the last few years unicorns have been popping  up all over the place - on T-shirts, in movies,  

as toys and even in political conversations. Why  is this? Natalie Lawrence is a natural historian.  

She appeared on the BBC's Woman's Hour  programme to discuss the topic. Listen out  

for the answer to this question: Why does she  say people used to drink out of unicorn horns?

Those original stories were developed in a time  when magic actually existed in the world. The  

world was still very enchantedthe idea that  the unicorn is a very strong animal and also that  

could achieve magical feats, so unicorn horn  used to be seen as a panacea for all sorts of  

ills and a guard against poison. So people  used to drink out of unicorn horn cups to  

prevent themselves getting poisoned, and  I think that idea of it being magical and  

having magical powers has  still come through today.

Why did they drink from unicorn horn cups?

Well, they were supposed to have magical powers  

so people drank from them so  they wouldn't get poisoned.

Yes, she said they could perform magical featsA feat is something that is difficult to do  

or achieve - like recording this programme  without making a mistake, that's a real feat!

Well, we usually do it. It  must just be unicorn magic.

No, just the magic of editing, Rob!  

Now, she also said that unicorn horn was  seen as a panacea. What does that mean?

A panacea is another word for a cure  - something that can protect you from  

illness or help you recover if you are sickBut is all this true, about the unicorn horn?

Well, seeing as how unicorns  don't and never have existed,  

it's unlikely to be true. She says these stories  come from a time when the world was enchanted.  

This means it was a time when people believed in  magic and the possibility of mysterious creatures  

from mysterious parts of the world. It seems as if  these days people are looking for a bit of magic,  

a bit of enchantment in their lives. The  unicorn has also come to be a term commonly  

used in politics to refer to unrealistic ideas and  plans. Why is this? Here's Natalie Lawrence again.

Because it's such a potent  cultural symbol at the moment  

it's being deployed in one of the  most pressing issues of our time,  

as well, soand the idea of the UK trying  to be its own special unicorn potentially

So Rob, what is she talking about here?

Well, we are in a very complicated time  politically in the UK at the moment.  

She says they are pressing times. A term which  means something important but difficult has to be  

done in a very short time. A pressing matter is an  important one that has to be dealt with urgently.

Now, at the time of recording our parliament can't  agree on the current pressing matter of Brexit and  

each side says the other has unicorns. There's  nothing special or magical about these unicorns -  

it's a negative comment - a unicorn is a fantasy  idea - a plan that has no chance of working,

She says unicorns are a potent  symbol - which means they are  

a very strong and recognisable symbol.

And this symbol is being used, or as she said  being deployed. This is the same word that would  

be used when you send a military force somewhereYou deploy the army in a military conflict, and in  

the current political conflict they are deploying  the word 'unicorn'! Here’s Natalie Lawrence again.

Because it's such a potent  cultural symbol at the moment  

it's being deployed in one of the  most pressing issues of our time,  

as well, soand the idea of the UK trying  to be its own special unicorn potentially

Right, our pressing matter now is the vocabulary  review. Before that though, the answer to this  

week's question: What do we call the study of  legendary creatures like the Loch Ness Monster,  

Big Foot and unicorns. Is it: a) Cryptozoology

b) Protozoology, or c) Paleozoology

Rob, you knew the answer to this, didn't you?

I did, yes. If you look back at  our archive to September 2008  

you will find an episode  all about a) Cryptozoology.

Well done, if you got that right - particularly  if you remember that programme! Now, vocabulary  

from this programme. There was enchanted to talk  about a time when magic was believed to be real.

A feat is something that is very difficult  to achieve and a panacea is a cure.

Something that's potent is strong and powerful  

and if you deploy something, you  use it, you put it into operation.

And something pressing is  urgent, it needs to be done soon.

Right, that's it from us for now. Hope you  can join us again soon. If you can't wait,  

you can find bbclearningenglish on social mediaonline and on our very own app. Bye for now.


Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute EnglishI'm Neil. And joining me it's Rob.


Today, we'll be discussing whether wearing  high-heeled shoes is a fashion statement or a  

sign of oppressionand by that I mean something  you have to wear because someone has told you to.

Now Neil, whatever style of shoe you choose to  wear, it's good to polish them and keep them  

looking shiny and newbut one man from India  called Vickrant Mahajan, set the Guinness World  

Record for polishing the most shoes. Do you know  how many pairs he polished in eight hours? Was it

a) 151 pairs

b) 251 pairs, or

c) 351 pairs?

Well, if it was me, it would be no more than one  pairbut as it's a world record, I'm going to  

go for 351 pairs. Hopefully you'll give me the  answer later! But let's focus now on high heels.

Yes. It's a style of shoe worn  by women around the world.  

But why do millions of people choose  to walk on strange, stilt-like shoes?

Studies have suggested wearing high heels can  lead to damage to the muscles and skeleton.  

But despite this, they are worn to look  professional in the workplace or for  

glamoura word to describe the quality  of looking fashionable and attractive.

And of course, they are associated with female  glamour, which is something Tim Edwards,  

Honorary Fellow in Sociology at the University  of Leicester, has been talking about on the BBC  

Radio 4 programme, Thinking Allowed. Here  he is describing why he thinks that is

Women's shoes in particular kind of have this kind  of transformative or even magical quality - they  

can do something for a woman, and it's quite  difficult to kind of draw parallels quite  

like that with men in a sense of which it almost  becomes something slightly otherworldly. However  

one views it, as something which is a kind of act  of subordination or an act of empowerment etc,  

there is a sense in which your experience  is changed - you are suddenly raised 3-4-5-6  

inches higher, your balance is alteredyour experience is transformed.

So, he describes high heels as having a magical  quality. He uses the word transformativemeaning  

a great improvement or positive changeso  they transform or improve how someone looks.

Well, they do make you taller and that can  make you feel more powerful or important.  

Tim even said it becomes otherworldly  – an adjective to describe belonging  

to an imaginary world rather than the real world.

Magical shoes do sound otherworldly but Tim also  mentioned that wearing high heels could be seen  

as an act of subordinationthat's making someone  do something to give them less authority or power.

Well, I guess that's only if you are  forced to wear them. But there's another  

interesting point heremen don't have  a style of footwear that can define them.

Yes, it's just sandals for you  and sports trainers for me.  

In fact Tim Edwards says it's difficult to  draw parallels with men's shoes. When you  

draw parallels between two distinct things, it  means you highlight the similaritiesbut here  

he's saying it's difficult to find similaritiesMen have nothing special to wear on their feet.

Of course, there is nothing to stop men  wearing high heelsalthough personally  

I don't think I'd be able to keep my  balancebut Tim Edwards suggests it  

would be viewed with suspicionLet's hear what he has to say

I think the issue with men and footwear is that  if you think of more contemporary culture - I  

mean the guy who kind of wears overly-flamboyant  shoes or shoes which are not black, brown or flat  

is viewed with a degree of suspicion  - either in terms of his sexuality,  

or in terms of his work ethic - or in  terms of his kind of general moral, well,  

you know, his moral standards  in other kinds of ways.

He says that if you don't wear a regularordinary black, brown or flat style of shoe,  

you might be viewed with suspicion. Men who  wear shoes that are flamboyantthat's brightly  

coloured and that attracts attentionhave  their sexuality or their attitude to work judged.

He mentions someone's work ethicthat's the  belief that working hard is morally right.  

A man who wears flamboyant shoes  may have a different attitude to  

work. It sounds like quite an old-fashioned view.

It does, and let's hope people don't judge you  when you go out wearing your sandals and socks!  

But now, how about giving us the  answer to the question you set earlier.

Yes. I told you about Vickrant Mahajanwho set the Guinness World Record for  

polishing the most shoes. I asked if you knew  how many pairs he polished in eight hours.

And I guessed 351 pairs. Come on, was I right?

I'm afraid not, Neil. The answer was 251  pairs. It's still quite a lotthat's 502  

individual shoes and I'm not sure if  he actually got paid for doing it.

Right, let's polish up some  of our English vocabulary  

and remind ourselves of some of the words we've  discussed today, starting with oppression.

Oppression is when you are forced to  do something by someone more powerful.

We talked about glamoura word to describe the  quality of looking fashionable and attractive.

Our next word was transformativemeaning  a great improvement or positive change.

Otherworldly is an adjective to  describe belonging to an imaginary world  

rather than the real world  – it's magical or special.

We also discussed an act of  subordinationthat's making  

someone do something to give  them less authority or power.  

To draw parallels is an idiom meaning to highlight  the similarities between two distinct things.

And we mentioned flamboyant  – that describes someone or  

something brightly coloured  and that attracts attention.

Finally, we talked about work ethicthat's  the belief that working hard is morally right.  

Something that both Neil and I have!

And that brings to the end of the programme.  

Don't forget to visit our website at  bbclearningenglish.com. Bye for now.

Bye bye.

Hello. This is 6 Minute English and  I'm Neil. And joining me today is Rob.

Hello. Rob, how do feel about shopping?

Urgh! Mooching around a shopping  mall from one shop to another,  

spending money - it's my idea of hell!

How about shopping online?

Ah yes, much bettersitting in front of  the TV and browsing online is much easier.

Well, that can be a problemit's sometimes  too easy, especially when we are tiredand we  

sometimes make purchases we regret. That's what  we'll be talking about in this programmean  

activity known as 'vampire shopping'. But  before we continue, it's my job to set you  

a quiz question, so here goes. According  to the UK's Office for National Statistics,  

at the end of 2018, what percentage of all  retail sales took place online? Was it… 

a) 9.8%, b) 19.8%,  

or c) 29.8%?

Buying things online is big  business now, so I'll say c) 29.8%.

Well, youll have to wait a bit to find out. But  let's talk more now about vampire shoppingthis  

term refers to shopping late at nighttraditionally a time when vampires appear.

Most of us are asleep at this  time but sleep-deprived parents,  

shift-workers and gamers might not beIf you're an insomniacsomeone who  

can't sleep easilyit's tempting to  open up your laptop and start shopping.

Online shops are open 24 hours a day so it's  easy to get sucked in and do some shopping!

When you get sucked into something it  means you can't stop yourself getting  

involved with something that you didn't want  to do. So what you're saying Neil is at night,  

when we're very tired, we don't always think  straight and can make some bad decisions.

That's right. And this shopping temptation can  be particularly problematic for those with mental  

health issues. It's something Helen Undy has  been talking about on the BBC Radio 4 programme,  

You and Yours. She is the Chief  Executive of the Money and Mental  

Health Institute. Let's hear what she had to say

Our ability to control our impulse to  spend and to resist things like advertising  

is reduced when we're sleep deprived. Well  mental health problems can have a similar  

effect so the mental health problems themselves  make it harder to resist the urge to spend  

and they also cause sleep deprivation, so you're  alone possibly surfing the internet, and both the  

lack of sleep and the mental health problems make  it harder to resist the things that you can see.

Helen said that for all us, when  we're sleep deprivedthat means  

not having enough sleepwe find it  harder to resist the urge to shop.  

We're more sucked in to shopping  by the advertising we see.

And resist the urge means stop  yourself acting on a strong  

feeling to do something. But this is more  serious for people with mental health  

issues. They are particularly sleep deprived  and along with everything that's going  

on in their minds, they find it harder to  resistto stop themselves buying things.

I suppose buying things at night, if you're  alone, gives you some comfort - even a feel-good  

factordoing something that gives someonehappy and positive feeling. I certainly feel  

good when I've bought something. But Robhave you ever bought something you regret?

Yes. Bits of tech, even flight  tickets to somewhere I didn't  

really want to go tobecause they were cheap!

Regret is a sad feeling you get when you've  made a mistake and wished you hadn't made  

the mistake in the first place. We  all have regrets Rob, particularly  

when buying thingsbut there's usually the  option to return something and get a refund.

That's true but it's not always easy. Let's  hear what Helen Undy had to say about that.

We found in our research that 75% of people,  

so regardless of whether you've got a mental  health problem or not - three-quarters of people  

didn't send back the last thing they bought  online that they regretted. We found that 4  

in 10 people with mental health problems didn't  send things back because they were so ashamed of  

the things that they were buying that they  just wanted to pretend it never happened.

So, she says that three-quarters of  people didn't send back the last thing  

they bought that they regrettedMaybe they were too embarrassed?

Possibly. But it's not  always easy to return an item  

and for those with mental health  issues it can be a struggle,  

a great effort. Helen Undy says that  sometimes they were ashamed of their purchase.

Well, I think we have all bought  things we are ashamed of. But while  

online shopping continues to expand  the temptation will always be there.

Well, your question earlier was about the rise  in online shopping, so what's the answer, Neil?

I asked according to the UK's Office for National  Statistics, at the end of 2018, what percentage of  

all retail sales took place online? Was it… a) 9.8%, 

b) 19.8%, or c) 29.8%?

I said c) 29.8%. I've got to be right!

Well, you're not. The rise was a bit  smaller at b) 19.8%. But that's still  

large compared with ten years previously, when  the figure was just 5.8% of all retail sales.

No doubt the figure will continue to rise. And  before I nip off to do a bit of vampire shopping,  

let's recap some of the vocabulary we've  mentioned today. Starting with insomniac.

An insomniac is someone who can't sleep  easily. They suffer from insomnia.

Next, we talked about to get sucked into  something. This informal phrase means not  

being able to stop yourself getting involved  with something that you don't want to do.

If you are sleep deprivedyou do not have enough sleep.

And if you resist the urge, you stop yourself  acting on a strong feeling to do something.  

For example, resisting the  urge to buy something online.

But if you don't resist the urge to buy  something, it might have a feel-good  

factor. A feel-good factor is something  that makes you feel happy and positive.

But after buying something you may have  regret. That's a sad feeling you get  

when you've made a mistake and wished you  hadn't made the mistake in the first place.

Well, hopefully you haven't regretted spendingminutes listening to us! Please join us next time  

and in the meantime, why not check us out on your  favourite social media platforms and on our app.

Goodbye! Goodbye!

Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Dan.

Neil Let me just sit down. Ah! And I'm Neil.

Dan Neil, are you wearing high heels?

Neil Hang on. Ah! Not any more!

Dan How did they feel?

Neil Agony! How do women do this?

Dan Why on earth are you wearing them?

Neil Well,  

I wanted to look fashionable and coolEveryone knows that high heels are the  

height of fashionon the street, at work  and at parties. I'm ready for anything!

Dan I'm not so sure you're right there,  

Neil. Our topic for this 6 Minute English is about  the rise in popularity of the comfy shoe. However,  

before we step into that, let's have our quiz  question. Which famous sports clothing company's  

first pair of running shoes was inspired by the  square pattern on a waffle-making machine? Was it:

a) Adidas

b) Nike, or

c) Puma

Neil Well,  

I have no idea, so I'm going to say  Adidas because that's got marks.

Dan We'll have  

to wait until later to find out. So, what  do you think of when I say comfy shoes?

Neil Well,  

comfy is an adjective which is an informal way  of saying 'comfortable'. So, I suppose we're  

talking trainers. But I was always told that  trainers weren't appropriate for everywhere,  

like work and many formal or social  places, such as parties, bars and clubs.

Well, that certainly used to be the case, but  that may not be as true any more. Victoria Moss  

is the Senior Fashion Editor at the Telegraph  newspaper in the UK. Here she is speaking on  

BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour about why trainers  are considered more fashionable these days.  

Is it something that's happened very recently? Well I think it's been, sort of, coming on for  

a while. And I think one thing in fashion in  the last 10 years has been a, sort of, mass  

casualisation of everything. And there's beenbig streetwear trend, which has filtered through.

So, is it something that's happened very recently?

Apparently not, no. She said  that there has been a mass  

casualisation of things over the last 10 years.  

Casualisation here means 'the process of becoming  less formal and more relaxed' – 'more casual'.

Yes! Society has relaxed its idea of  what is considered formal or appropriate.  

In addition, we're told there has beenbig streetwear trend. Streetwear is a style  

of casual clothing worn especially by young  people from urban settingsthat's the city.

This trend has filtered through.  

If something filters through, it  appears or happens gradually over time.

So, presumably, the trend for  streetwear filtered through  

from its specialised area into mainstream  fashion until everyone was following it.

Well, that explains why trainers  are more fashionable these days,  

but it doesn't explain why people are wearing  them more. Not everyone follows fashion, you know.

Yes, Neil I can see that when I look at you. But  you're forgetting the comfy part. Emma Supple is  

a podiatrista foot doctor - who also spoke  on Woman's Hour. Here she is explaining why  

being comfy is so important. What are people  doing more these days that they weren't before?

So what we're actually talking about isactually, people, for wellness walking more  

and doing moreand they're not going to do that  in a lot of high heelsso trainers are changing  

the materials. There are now a lot of fabric  trainers and if you've inherited foot problems,  

then that kind of fabricthey're wrapping  around knobbly bits, and knobbly bits hurt.

What are people doing more?

They're walking more and they're doing it for  wellness. Wellness is the state of being healthy.

As a result, trainers have had to  change their materials to fabric  

to make themselves more comfortable.

Not only that, but if you have any  foot problems, these fabric, or cloth,  

trainers are better at fitting to the shape  of your foot. That means if you have any  

knobbly bits, they won't hurt as much, which  makes trainers more comfortable for everyone!

Knobbly is an adjective that means 'lumpy'  – 'having many raised areas on the surface'.

So, it's the combination of a change  in fashion and a change in materials  

that's made trainers and other comfy  shoes more popular than ever, right?

Exactly! And hard on the heels of that  revelation, we can reveal the answer to our  

quiz question. Earlier I asked which famous sports  clothing company's first pair of running shoes  

was inspired by the square pattern  on a waffle-making machine. Was it:

a) Adidas

b) Nike, or

c) Puma

Neil, you said?

I said Adidas

Sorry. The answer is Nike. In 1971  their co-founder Bill Bowerman was  

having breakfast when he saw the waffle machine  

and it inspired the design of Nike's first  running shoe. Let's hope it was comfy one.

Aha! It must be time to review our vocabulary!  

So, first we had comfyan adjective which  is an informal ways of saying 'comfortable'.

Then we had casualisation. This  describes the process of things,  

such as fashion or behaviourbecoming less formal and more casual.

Next was streetwear. That describes a style  of casual clothing that is worn especially  

by young people who live in cities.

Then we heard filtered through. If something  filters through, it appears or happens gradually  

over time. For example, has it filtered through  to you yet, Neil, that high heels were a mistake?

Yes it has! They didn't do  anything for my wellness,  

I can tell you, which means'the  state of being healthy'.

And lastly, we had knobbly. This adjective  means 'lumpy' or 'having many raised areas  

on the surface' - like skin when it gets coldDo you have anything knobbly on your foot, Neil?

Probably! My feet are killing me!

I think we've found your Achilles  heel! However, it's time to go.  

But we will be back. In the meantimeyou can find us in all the usual places  

online and on social media, just look  for BBC Learning English. Bye for now.


Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English, I'm Neil.

And I'm Rob.

Rob, it's good to see you keeping up  with fashion by wearing the high-vis  

jacketalthough I have to  say it is a bit dazzling.

Neil, I'm no fashion victimthis high-vis  or high-visibility jacket is for safety.  

I wear it when I'm cycling around London  and I've just forgotten to take it off.

And a fashion victim, by the way, is someone who  always wears what's thought to be fashionable,  

even if it doesn't actually look good  on them. But wearing high-vis clothing  

has become the latest fashion statement  – that's something you wear to attract  

attention and people who  know something about fashion.

Well, I can assure you, I don't wear my bright  jacket to look cool but in today's programme we'll  

be discussing why some people do. But first Neilhave you got a question for us to think about?

OK, we know that fashions come and go but in which  decade were leg warmers worn as a popular fashion  

accessory? Was it… a) the 1970s, 

b) the 1980s or c) the 1990s?

I do remember these so I'll say b) the 1980s.

Well, we'll reveal the answer at the end of  the programme. Now let's talk more about the  

oddest item of clothing to hit the catwalk  this year - the humble high-vis jacket.

Yes, they were designed to be worn  for safety by people like cyclists  

and pedestrians and by workers who  need to be seen if, for example,  

they're working in the road or directing  traffic. So it's strange to think that now  

people choose to wear them to be on-trend  – that's following the latest fashion.

Hannah Marriott is the Fashion Editor of  the Guardian newspaper. She told the BBC  

Radio 4 programme You and Yours, why she  thought people were turning to bright,  

luminous clothing. What was the reason?

There's also just a trend at the moment for people  wearing very bright things, very eye-catching  

things, it feels that with social media, you  know, everyone's scrolling down their Instagram  

screens at such speed and anything that sort of  catches the eye, that seems yeah, like a bit of a  

talking point, something that's going to get a bit  of attention - those kind of trends are getting a  

bit more traction at the moment - than the sort  of understated cashmere jumper kind of fashion.

So her reason is social media. In our fast-paced  lives, we're quickly scrolling through our  

social media feeds and people want to stand  out, attract our attention and be noticed.

And these attention-seekers need to  wear some eye-catchingsomething  

that will catch your eye and be noticedHigh-vis clothing certainly does that!

Hannah mentioned that wearing something different  creates a talking pointsomething that you or I  

may discuss at work or on social mediaeven  if it is to say "that guys looks ridiculous"!  

And she also mentions that  people are becoming interested in  

and accepting these kinds of trends  – the word she used was traction.

Traction here means this fashion  trend is starting to stick.  

Of course fashion comes at a priceWhile an ordinary high-vis vest  

used for workwear is normally affordable, when  they're sold as a fashion item they can go for  

much higher prices, particularly if they  have a designer label showing on the front.

This raises an important question. We  know that many people wearing high-vis  

jackets are doing important jobs, so does  this fashion devalue what they're doing?

Yes, it's something Hannah Marriott talked about.  

Let's hear from her again. What word does  she use to describe a difficult issue?

Every time fashion borrows from  workwear, there're always some  

sort of thorny issues around it - particularly  when you're charging £2000 for something that  

is actually very similar to, you know, a  uniform that somebody might be wearing who  

doesn't actually make that much money, you knowthere's obviously some thorny class issues there.

So she used the word thorny to describe the issue  of things worn at work becoming expensive fashion  

items. Thorny issues are subjects that are  difficult deal with. Here she particularly  

mentioned the issue of classso different  groups of people in society in different  

economic positionssome can afford clothing for  fashion, others can only afford clothing for work.

And the other issue is that if everyone  starts wearing high-vis clothing,  

then the people who need to stand out for  their own safety may not stand out as easily.

And we wouldn't want to miss you when you're out  cycling on your bike, Rob. But would we miss you  

if you were wearing a pair of leg warmers? Earlier  I asked in which decade were leg warmers worn  

as a popular fashion accessory. Was it… a) the 1970s, 

b) the 1980s or c) the1990s?

Yes, and I said b) the  1980s. It's got to be right!

Well, you know your fashionRobit was indeed the 1980s.  

Leg warmers were originally worn by dancers to  keep their muscles from cramping after stretching,  

but in the early 1980s they became  fashionable for teenage girls to wear.

OK, let's move on and recap on some of the  vocabulary we've mentioned today. Starting  

with fashion victimthat's someone who always  wears what's thought to be fashionable, even  

if it doesn't actually look good on them. Like  that pair of red jeans you used to wear, Neil.

They, Rob, were on-trendthat means 'in  keeping up with the latest fashion'. Of course  

wearing something red is very eye-catching which  means attracting attention and being noticed.

Next we mentioned traction. If something gains  traction it becomes accepted and popular.  

And then we had understated. In fashion,  

this describes something that does not  attract attention and is not that impressive.

And then we discussed the word thorny. A tree or  bush with thorns is difficult to touch and handle  

and similarly a thorny issue is a subject  that is difficult to deal with and discuss.

Well, we've covered some thorny  and less thorny issues today  

but we know that fashions change and maybe  high-vis fashion won't be here forever.

That's it for now but please join us next time  for 6 Minute English. See you soon. Goodbye.

Bye bye!

Hello. This is 6 Minute English  from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil.

And I’m Sam.

Are you a saver or a spender, Sam?

Well, I’m trying to limit my spending right now  

because I’m saving up for  a deposit to buy a house.

Saving money is not always easy - as well find  out in today’s programme, which is all about  

thrift’. ‘Thriftis not a simple idea to define.  

It’s to do with living a simple life free from  the need to constantly buy the latest products.

Today’s consumer culture encourages  us tospend, spend, spend’,  

but it hasn’t always been that way. The  Victorians for example told people to  

save up for a rainy day’, meaning to keep some  money back in case of unforeseen emergencies.

But before we discover more about thatit’s time for today’s quiz question.  

If youre trying to save money you probably  know how hard it can be. So my question is:  

what percentage of people in the UK, do  you think, have less than £1000 in savings?  

Is it: a) 5%, 

b) 15 %, or c) 30%?

Well, if I’m anything to go by I’d say c) 30%.

OK. Well, well find the correct answer out later.  

I mentioned before thatthriftis a difficult  idea to define, so here’s Alison Hulme, a lecturer  

at the University of Northampton, explaining  more to BBC Radio 4’s programme Thinking Allowed:

There are two dictionary definitions of thriftThe older of the two comes from the wordthrive’  

etymologically, and described thrift as  the ability to live well and to flourish,  

so it’s that sense of human flourishingThe more recent definition is the one were  

probably more familiar with which is about  frugality. All of that said, it’s been used  

historically of course by various people in  various moments in various different places  

in very different ways and theyve  often had a social or religious agenda.

It seems the oldest definition ofthrift’  has nothing to do with saving money and is  

connected to the verbsthriveandflourish’  - meaning to grow or develop successfully.

It was only later with the Puritans - 16th  century English Christians with a reputation for  

strict discipline - that the meaning of  thrift changed and became associated with  

frugality - being careful not to spend  too much money or eat too much food.

The Puritans believed that  being frugal was a religious  

virtue and that people ought to save  money in order to give to others in need.

Later on the meaning ofthrift’  changed again. During the Victorian era,  

it was connected to the idea of managing your  own money in order to be a responsible citizen.

Throughout history then, there have  been different versions ofthrift’,  

and this may be because different religions  or social groups had their own agenda - a  

specific aim or reason for a particular group  to do something. For example, the Victorian  

definition of thrift was based on a social agenda  about being a respectable member of society.

Ideas about frugality and thrift changed again  during the Second World War when the public  

was encouraged to avoid waste so that every  material resource could go into the war effort.

And in the post-war period, it changed again as  

people’s wealth and standard of living  increased. Here’s Alison Hulme again:

It’s the idea that once people had  enough to meet their kind of basic needs  

there was this kind of moral  slide into consumerism.  

It’s not a view that I subscribe to insimplistic sense myself - I think there’s  

a very fine line to tread here. There’s no point  denying that, certainly in the developed world,  

there’s been a rise in consumer capitalismthat’s just a truism, but thrift hasn’t declined.

In modern times, people’s motivation  to save up and be thrifty declined once  

they had enough to meet their basic needs - the  basic necessities needed to survive, like food,  

clothes and shelter and nothing extra.

Alison mentions that once these basic  needs were satisfied, people moved  

away from thrift into consumerismthe desire to buyluxuryproducts  

which were not absolutely necessary. According  to some, this created a moral slidea decrease  

in the standards of behaving  in good, fair and honest ways.

The rise in consumer capitalism we  have seen around the world is an  

example of a truism - something that is so  obviously true it is not worth repeating.

What is worth repeating is  the quiz question, Neil.

Yes, I asked you how many British  people had savings of under £1000.

And I said, c) 30%.

In fact, Sam, it’s b) 15%.

So I guess I’m not such a bad saver after all!

OK. Well, today weve been talking  about the changing meanings ofthrift’,  

an idea connected to frugality - being  careful not to spend too much money.

The original meaning ofthrift’  was to flourish - grow or develop  

successfully - but that definition  changed as different religious groups,  

like the Puritans, promoted their own agenda - aim  or reason for a particular group to do something.

In recent times, people’s ability to meet  their basic needsthe necessities for  

survival like food and shelter, have  reduced the importance ofthrift’,  

which some believe has created a moral slide  – a reduction in standards of moral behaviour.

And the associated rise of consumer capitalism  

is an example of a truism - something that is  obviously true and generally accepted by all.

That’s all for now. Join us  again next time for more topical  

discussion and vocabulary. Bye for now!

Bye bye!

Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob.

And hello, I'm Neil.

Now, Neil, how do you feel about surf and turf?

Surf and turf? Love it. What's  not to love? Some lobster,  

a juicy steakfries on the side. Mmm, delicious.

Ah, you know what you've done there?

No, do tell.

You've got completely the wrong end of the stick.

I said steak, not sticka juicy steak.

No! Wrong end of the stick. You misunderstood me.  

I'm not talking about the surf and turf meal, but  the online shopping habit of surfing and turfing.

Oh, my badbut to be fair, this is quite  a new use of this expression, isn't it?

Yes, it is. Now, you probably know that 'surfingis a verb we use for looking at things on the  

internet. Surf and turf refers to when we go  to an online store, select lots of things for  

our virtual shopping basket but when we get to  the checkout, which is the place where we pay  

for our shopping, we don't actually complete the  purchase. We turf out the basket. We abandon it.

To turf something out is a phrasal verb for  'throwing something out'. Although it's normally  

used about peoplefor example, someone who is  behaving badly might be turfed out of a club.

Indeed. Well, I'm sure I'll get  turfed out of the presenter's union  

if I don't get to today's quiz  question. According to recent research,  

which items are the most likely  to be surfed and turfed? Is it:

a) Books

b) Watches

c) Women's knitwear­­

What do you think, Neil?

Right, I think... I'm also certain it's a) books.

Well, we'll find out if you're right later in the  programme. Now, this research also revealed that  

approximately 40% of people have abandoned  an online shopping basket in the last year.

And it was calculated that this meant there  

was approximately 18 billion  pounds worth of lost sales.

I have to say, I'm a bit sceptical about that  figure. I don't trust it. We don't always intend  

to buy everything we put in our baskets. It's  a bit like window shopping. We just browse and  

find it convenient to put things in our basket  to think about later. Have you ever done that?

Sure. It's a bit like browsing inshop, isn't itexcept you can save  

items you are interested in to look at laterYou might also make a basket in one online store,  

then go to another to see if you can get the  same or similar items cheaper there. So I agree:  

I don't think that the figure of 18 billion  represents a total. Some of that was never  

intended to be spentand some  would have gone to other stores.

But there are other reasons we don't complete  our purchases. For some it's finding out at  

the end that there will be a high delivery  cost or that paying is very complicated.

Yes, I agree with that. That's so annoying.  

You spend time collecting all the things in the  basket, then find you have to create an account,  

or you can't use your favourite payment methodor have to pay more to use a credit card and you  

have to fill out so many details. Sometimes  you get so frustrated that you just give up.

Exactly, and this is a subject that  retail expert Clare Bailey discussed  

in the BBC programme You and  Yours. She talks about retailers,  

which are the businesses that sell thingsWhat does she say 70% of retailers hadn't done?

We found that something over 70% of the  retailers hadn't invested in the payment process  

in the last two years, so the technology  is really out of datewhereas they have  

potentially invested in getting us  to that page and then they fell foul.

70% of retailers hadn't  invested in the payment process.  

They hadn't changed the way people  pay online for at least two years.

Because online technology develops so  quickly, that means that their systems are  

out of date. Something that is out of  date is too old, it's no longer suitable.

She says that companies invest in the shopping  experience of their sites but have ignored the  

checkout process. This is where they fall foulThis is where they make a mistake and get into  

troublewhere they can lose customersRight, before we fall foul of the listener,  

let's have the answer to the quiz. I asked you  which items were the most commonly abandoned  

at the virtual checkout. Was it books, watches  or women’s knitwear? So Neil, what did you say?

I'm pretty certain it's books.

The answer was actually women's  knitwear. Not books, as you thought.

Ah well, I can't be right all the time.

Some of the time would be nice. Anywaylet's have a look at today's vocabulary.  

First surf and turf is an  expression for online shopping  

without the actual shopping. You put items  in your basket but never actually buy them.

It's also a delicious meal  of seafood and red meat.

Not if you're a vegetarian, Neil.

Ah, good point, good point.

The verb to turf out means 'to remove  someone from a place or organisation,  

possibly because they've broken  the rules or behaved badly'.  

For example, if we don't finish the programme  on time we might be turfed out of this studio.

The place where you pay for your shoppingeither in a real shop or online is the checkout.  

That can be a verb as well asnoun: you check out at the checkout.

The businesses that sell you things are retailers.

And with hope they don't sell  you things that are out of date  

because that would mean they are past  their best; too old to be suitable.

And finally there was to fall foul of something  or someone, which is 'to make a mistake and get  

into trouble with someone'. And as we don't  want to fall foul of the next team who need  

to use this studio, it's just time for us to  say goodbye and to remind you to join us again  

for 6 Minute English next time - and if you  can't wait, you can always catch us on Facebook,  

Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and our website  bbclearningenglish.com where you can find lots  

of useful audio and video programmes to help you  improve your English. That's all for now. Bye bye!


Welcome to 6 Minute English, the programme  where we explore an interesting topic and bring  

you some useful items of vocabulary. I'm Rob. And I'm Neil. And today we are discussing manbags.

Yes, manbags - they are the height of fashion at  

the momenta stylish accessory that  modern men are carrying. An accessory  

is an additional item added to something  to make it more useful or attractive.

I'm not so sure Rob. I mean, I wouldn't  be seen dead carrying a manbag!

Really! So what do you carry your lose changeyour credit cards, tickets and mobile phone in?

I just stuff everything in my pockets Rob  – it's better than being a laughing stock,  

carrying a handbag around!

By laughing stock you mean everyone  thinking of you as sillybut you  

wouldn't be because it's a manbag  Neilnot a woman's handbag.  

Maybe I can convince you to change your mind  by the end of the programme. But now let's not  

forget to ask you today's questionIs it about manbags by any chance?

It is so it might be tricky for you to answerAccording to market research company Mintel,  

how many men bought a manbag  in the UK last year? Was it

a) 5% b) 15% 

c) 25%

Well obviously not many, so I'm going  to say 5%. And I'm not one of them!

OK, you've made that very clear! We'll find  out the answer at the end of the programme  

anyway. Now let's talk more about manbagsFor hundreds of years women have carried  

their possessions around in handbags, so  why can't a man do the same with a manbag?

Maybe it's the name. Why can't it just bebag? Why does a bag have to have a gender?

It's a trend Neila stylish fashion item  designed to look good on men. Many big names have  

flocked to adopt the trend. Pharrell WilliamsDavid Beckham and Kanye West, are just some  

of those who've been spotted rocking a manbagRocking is an informal way of saying 'wearing'.

But what's wrong with a sturdy briefcasesturdy  

means strong and not easily damaged. Are  you saying manbags are just fashionable?

No, they're practical too. We've always  needed bags to carry stuff around  

but what we carry these days  has changedyou know laptops,  

mobiles, even our lunchso why not have a trendy  looking bag to carry these things around in?

I think part of the problem is carrying  one is not seem as very a British by some  

people. We're not always as stylish as our  some of our European neighbours, are we?

Well, speak for yourself! But Nick Carvell, GQ  Contributing Fashion Editor has a reason for this.  

Here he is speaking on BBC Radio  4's You and Yours programme

In Britain we are still very tied up  with that idea of masculinity that is  

almost so fragile that it can  be dented by carrying a bag.  

We think a lot about that in this country inway that I don't think a lot of European men do.

So Nick feels some British men  are still tied up with the idea of  

masculinitythese are the characteristics  traditionally thought to be typical of men.  

And for us British men, these characteristics  are fragilethey can be easily broken.

Yes, we can also call it manlinessthings like  not crying during a sad film. It's a slightly  

old-fashion idea but it could still be dentedor  affectedif a man was caught carrying a manbag.

Whereas some European men don't give itlot of thought, according to Nick Carvell.

But with people like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci  and Dolce and Gabbana designing these bags,  

they're bound to have a hefty price tag –  that's an informal way of saying a high price.

Well fashion comes at a price Neilyou  need to shake off your inhibitionsthat's  

a feeling of embarrassment that  stops you from doing something.  

And if you really want to be on trend  you could also splash out on a 'murse'  

that's a man's purse, or a 'mote' – a  man's tote bag? Have I convinced you?

No, not really Rob. I have a feeling  that a manbag by any other name is, well,  

a bagand I have one - my trusty backpack.

Well for some people, manbags are the thing –  but, as I asked earlier, according to market  

research company Mintel, how many men actually  bought a manbag in the UK last year? Was it

a) 5% 

b) 15% c) 25%

And I said a) 5%. Come on, I must have been right!

You were wrong Neil. The answer was actually 15%.  

And nearly a quarter of 16-34  year olds have bought one.

Well as I say Rob, a good practical backpack  is for me. But now shall we unpack some of the  

vocabulary we've discussed today. Starting with  'accessory' which is an additional item added to  

something to make it more useful or attractive.  "A tie is a smart accessory to wear with a suit."

Maybe, but you wouldn't catch me wearing  a suit in my media jobit's all  

t-shirts and jeans for us! Ifcame to work in a suit I would be  

a 'laughing stock' – I mean, I would be seen  as someone who people think of as silly.

Our next word was 'sturdy' – something that  is sturdy is strong and not easily damaged.  

"If you're walking up a mountain you  need to wear some sturdy walking boots."

Good adviceif I was going  up a mountain, which I'm not.  

Next we mentioned 'masculinity'. These are the  characteristics that are traditionally thought  

to be typical of men. So we sometimes  refer to it as being macho! Like:  

"Neil went swimming in ice cold  water to prove his masculinity."

That I would never do –  I'd rather carry a manbag –  

despite their hefty price tag  – that means 'high price'.

Finally, we also mentioned the word 'inhibitions'  – that's feelings of embarrassment that stop you  

from doing something. "Neil's inhibitions  are stopping him from carrying a manbag."

It's a bag Robjust a bag! But we've  talked enough about this so that's it for  

this edition of 6 Minute English. But before  you rush off to purchase a designer manbag,  

don't forget to visit our Facebook, TwitterInstagram and YouTube pages. Bye for now.