Is the order of adjectives in this sentence correct?

I've just bought a new sleeveless blue woolen jumper.

Which category (perhaps size, shape, or something else) is "sleeveless" in? How does this fit with the traditional 'royal order of adjectives'?

order .. relating to .... examples

1 opinion: unusual, lovely, beautiful

2 size: big, small, tall

3 physical quality: thin, rough, untidy

4 shape: round, square, rectangular

5 age: young, old, youthful

6 colour: blue, red, pink

7 origin: Dutch, Japanese, Turkish

8 material: metal, wood, plastic

9 type: general-purpose, four-sided, U-shaped

10 purpose: cleaning, hammering, cooking

[Cambridge Dictionary, reformatted; note the overlaps]

  • 1
    That "category sequence" is only a guide / tendency. It's unlikely (but feasible) that we'd put "sleeveless"first in this bizarre / contrived example, but it could reasonably go in any other position - the more contextually important you think that attribute is, the earlier you introduce it. Dec 23, 2022 at 12:04
  • 1
    A coat without sleeves is not a coat. Maybe a cloak or a mantle.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 23, 2022 at 12:09
  • @Mari-Lou: As an American, I'd call a coat without sleeves a vest. Merriam-Webster: 1c. an insulated sleeveless waist-length garment often worn under or in place of a coat. Dec 23, 2022 at 12:27
  • A vest (UK waistcoat) is usually worn under a suit. It's not as long as a coat or a cloak. If the weather is wet and cold it'd be highly unusual for someone to say they're putting on their sleeveless coat or plain vest.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 23, 2022 at 12:33
  • @PeterShor my point being is the OP shouldn't call a padded sleeveless garment a coat. It's not the best word in this case.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 23, 2022 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


As had been said, the "Royal Order of Adjectives" is guidance - not a rule.

I've just bought a jumper –> minimum information. It is not really "news".

The essence of the jumper is that it is sleeveless; it distinguishes it from all other styles of jumper -> I've just bought a {sleeveless jumper}.

The material is the next most important feature; it distinguishes it from all other materials from which jumpers are made: wool is warm - silk, not so much. -> I've just bought a {woollen sleeveless jumper}.

Then comes the colour -> I've just bought a new {blue woollen sleeveless jumper}. The colour is not very important. Would you have been more or less impressed had it been green or yellow? Probably not. The information is supplemental.

New is the least important. It is hardly worth saying (people rarely announce that they have bought second hand stuff) -> I've just bought a {new blue woollen sleeveless jumper}.


English speakers don't naturally know the right place for sleeveless in adjective order (or maybe there isn't a unique place for this class of adjective). If you look at this Google Ngram, there are reasonable percentages of the three orders:

sleeveless black silk,
black sleeveless silk,
black silk sleeveless,

even though you would never put silk before black.

As a native English speaker, I can say sleeveless definitely has to come after age and before purpose – you wouldn't say sleeveless new dress or evening sleeveless dress, those orders sound unnatural to me, and people don't seem to use them (see this Google Ngram). However, any place between age and purpose appears to be acceptable.

You must log in to answer this question.