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衣服 and 衣饰 both mean "clothing"; but are they truly synonymous or is the use of each term confined to its own specific context? Or is it simply a difference between colloquial and formal speech or between the spoken and the written language?

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Is this about Mandarin or Taiwanese or Cantonese? Can you re-tag accordingly? Thank you! –  Alenanno Dec 21 '11 at 21:52
    
@Alenanno - It's about Mandarin (tag added). –  Bjorn Dec 21 '11 at 21:55
    
My nick is Alenanno, just one "na" by the way. :D And thank you again! –  Alenanno Dec 21 '11 at 21:56
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The former refers to clothes in general, while the latter refers to clothing ornaments/decorations (such as embroidery, patterns, etc).

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Do you have a source for this? The context in which I encountered the word strongly implied the meaning of "clothes" and the online dictionaries I checked also don't support your answer. –  Bjorn Dec 22 '11 at 6:57
    
Pinning down a source would be tricky. You'll have to look at the context that it is used online and in publications. 衣饰 is probably closer to "fashion" than clothing in general. The word is made up of 2 characters, 衣 ("clothes/to clothe") and 饰, generally "decoration/to adorn/to dress up/to impersonate (as in to play a role"). On a side note 服饰 means "clothing/apparel." Take a look at this article: women.sohu.com/20080501/n255968988.shtml –  Krazer Dec 22 '11 at 13:16
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Krazer has provided a good answer.

You could think of 饰 in the way it comes in 饰品, which means "jewelry" or "accessories". In that sense, 衣饰 is ornaments of textile, and 衣服 just clothes.

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