In part 2 of the IELTS speaking test, you could be asked to describe a person. There are all sorts of people you might be asked to talk about, but one possibility is a person you know who dresses well. In this article, I’ll show you how to do that.
Cue Card: Describe a person you know who dresses well
Here’s our cue card for today:
Describe a person you know who dresses well.
You should say:
– who this person is
– what kinds of clothes this person likes to wear
– how you know this person
and explain why you think this person dresses well.
Of course, this is just one of many possibilities. It could be phrased in other ways, such as “Describe a well-dressed person.” Note that it says “you know” so this should be someone like a friend or family member.
When you are given this cue card, you will need to think quickly. First, decide on a person, then think of a few things to say. This might be difficult for some people. Not everyone will be able to immediately think of a person they know who dresses well. If you can’t, you’ll have to make up a person and then try your best to describe them.
Before we go any further, I want to look at the sort of vocabulary you might need here. For this cue card, we’ll no doubt need to say a little about clothes. That’s a pretty big area of discussion, so you can check the prior link for some clothing vocabulary.
Note that the cue card asks us to talk about the “kinds of clothes this person likes to wear.” Obviously, it would be good to be specific here, but “kinds” tells us that we could get away with being a little vague. We could, for example, use an adjective and then a noun for a “kind” of clothing:
This is a great way to create descriptive phrases that implant a visual idea in the examiner’s mind. Note that you don’t need any really specific vocabulary here. You don’t need to know advanced terminology for clothing because you can just mix and match broad categories with those adjectives. (Read more about Lexical Resource.)
Because this is a “well-dressed person” or a “person who dresses well,” we should definitely be able to use some language that shows that idea. Here are some synonyms for “well-dressed”:
- dapper (this applies to men, not women)
- chic (mostly for women)
Just be careful with how you use these words. They are not completely interchangeable. We talk about someone “looking sharp” or “being a sharp dresser” but we don’t say “she/he is sharp.” That would more than likely imply intelligence. However, we can say “she/he is fashionable.” Try using a thesaurus to find more useful words.
Planning your Answer
When you’re planning your answer, you need to think quickly and come up with a basic outline. It is true that you can just follow the ideas on the cue card, but this often leads to dull and difficult answers. I find these are usually not very impressive.
As I explain in the following video, one of the best ways to approach part 2 is to begin with a personal anecdote, such as a memory.
Here’s an example:
- When I was about fifteen years old, I met this guy called Robbie, who dressed unlike anyone I had met before…
This sounds much better than beginning with a tedious, memorised introduction, such as:
- Today I want to talk about…
- A well-dressed person that I know is…
Aside from just sounding better, when you start with a personal anecdote, it is much easier for you to then continue in a logical fashion. Instead of thinking about both what to say and how to say it, your brain will naturally associate ideas, leaving you free to focus on vocabulary and grammar.
Sample Band 9 Answer
When I was about fifteen years old, I met this guy called Robbie, who dressed unlike anyone I had met before. I was in secondary school at the time and he was an exchange student from America. Back then, we didn’t really meet many people from other countries and so we weren’t familiar with other styles. It was a shock when we got this exchange student from thousands of miles away, dressed in clothes none of us had seen before.
Robbie was our age, of course, but he seemed like he was from another world. He spoke differently and acted differently and, as I said, he dressed differently. For one thing, we all wore school uniforms and he didn’t. As an exchange student, he was exempted from it and so he wore his normal street clothes… but normal for him wasn’t exactly normal for most people. He had a weird style, but it worked for him. He mixed and matched colours that were bright and bold, and he layered one type of clothing over another, such as wearing a sports jacket over a vest, with a tie but no collar. It was really unusual and everyone thought he was cool because of it. He also wore several different types of hat, even though hats weren’t exactly in fashion back then. Still, wearing something that no one else wore just made him seem even more daring.
Most importantly, I think, Robbie seemed confident in what he wore. I guess he just didn’t care what others felt, or maybe he had some special insight into what clothes would look good on him, even if they seemed unusual. In any case, he had a flair for picking out colours and combining clothes to give him this really unique appearance.
Here are some useful phrases from my answer:
- who dressed unlike anyone I had met before
- other styles
- dressed in clothes none of us had seen before
- he dressed differently
- he wore his normal street clothes
- He mixed and matched colours
- He layered one type of clothing over another
- everyone thought he was cool
- made him seem even more daring
- Robbie seemed confident in what he wore
- he had a flair for picking out colours and combining clothes
In terms of specific items, I did not name many. You don’t really need to and it could be detrimental if you just listed lots of types of clothes. However, I did mention “wearing a sports jacket over a vest, with a tie but no collar.” These four types of clothes were combined as an example of how he put together his outfits.