Brilli Brilli | Talking About Sparkles

I remember the first time I heard the expression «brilli brilli» on Spanish TV. It must have been a few years ago now… and I totally loved it! I felt like it could even be considered an onomatopeya – think about it, some items have so much «brilli brilli» that you can almost hear them with your eyes closed! Sorry, #nerdmoment!

The word that immediately comes to mind when I hear this Spanish expression is «sparkly» or «to sparkle«, both adjective and noun… kinda like Spanish since «brilli brilli» comes from the verb «brillar». But then after thinking about it a bit more, I realized there are actually several words… and when hearing doubts from my students, I thought «oh, wait!..not all of these words are the same!«. So here’s a little breakdown (desglose) for you…

Brilli Brilli: The Fashion English Translation

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: From «to sparkle» (verb) or «sparkle» (noun). We normally use this word when referring to a garment (prenda) or accessory (complemento) that has sequins (lentejuelas) or glitter (purpurina).

Ex. – Her boots are so sparkly!
Ex. – Her shoes have a lots of sparkles.
Ex. – It just needs a little sparkle!

SHINY: From «to shine» (verb) or «shine» (noun). We use this to talk about the sun («El sol brilla» = The sun shines), or to talk about any surface that isn’t matte. A car surface can be shiny, my skin is shiny when it is oily (aceitoso)…eewww… or, even when talking about food: apples are shiny because they put wax (cera) on them.

Ex. – Patent leather is shiny. (Patent leather = «charol») 
Ex. – Rise and shine! (Example of a typical expression when you wake someone up in the morning).
Ex. – I prefer handbags with a shiny surface for evening.

These patent leateher Repetto shoes are shiny:


This word, like the ones above, also has a noun and verb form (shimmer, and to shimmer). We can use this to talk about things that are sparkly, but really…when I think of something shimmery, I think of a softer sparkle… like, when you look at the ocean and the sun is hitting the water… the water shimmers. So when thinking fashion, you could use this for sparkly garments and accessories that are a little softer (en este contexto con ‘softer’, quiero decir… un brillo más sutil).

In this pic, Beauty Influencer, Tati Westbrook, has shimmery cheeks, but sparkly heels!

brilli brilli

There is so much to learn when it comes to English used in the fashion world! If you want to learn more, I recommend you join my «Introduction to Fashion English» course. Follow this link for more info!

2 Comentarios

    1. Hola Paz,
      Sería un placer que escribieras sobre el blog y curso, estaría encantada. Si te parece bien, podemos continuar esta conversación a través de email. Envíame un correo a contándome lo que tenías en mente y lo organizamos. Muchas gracias y saludos.

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