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What is the difference between the following sentences?

There was a woman in red earrings.

There was a woman with red earrings.

There was a woman with wearing red earrings.

I understand that "in" can use with clothes like "a man in the grey suit.", but I'm not sure I can use "in" with other things like earrings and necklaces, etc.

What is the difference between the highlighted sentences, and can I use in with items of jewelry such as earrings?

1 Answer 1

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As a rule of thumb, I would use "in" for larger items of clothing that clearly contain significant parts of the body (shirt, pants; even hats, shoes, and gloves) and "with" for smaller accessories (including earrings and necklaces). "Wearing" can be used for both, but has a more formal/stuffy tone. "With wearing" is never correct -- use one or the other.

Of course there are many nuances; for example all of these are idiomatic:

There was a woman with a red dress (but see the comment below)

There was a woman wearing a red dress

There was a woman in a red dress

There was a woman wearing red

There was a woman in red

but have increasingly strong connotations about how distinctive the red dress was.

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  • This is a good answer, and I've upvoted! :) But I would caution readers that your first example is a bit ambiguous. I would read "...with a red dress" to mean that the woman is holding a red dress, not wearing it. I suppose the interpretation of her wearing it is possible, but I don't think it is likely. I'd like this answer better if the first example were removed, because the rest are excellent!
    – WendiKidd
    Nov 30, 2013 at 2:24

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