Fashion in Spain Today: How to Not Look like a Tourist
Street Style Spanish Fashion: Here’s What to Wear in Spain for Tourists
Traveling to Spain and don’t want to sound the tourist alarm? Everyday street fashion in Spain obviously changes with the seasons, but there are some staples and basic fashion etiquette that each of the largest tourist destinations follows. Here’s a quick look at fashion in Spain today by popular destinations like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville / Granada, and the Basque Country, followed by a list of what not to wear in Spain as a tourist. Look like a local by following our advice.
What to Wear in Spain: Madrid
Wondering what to wear in Madrid, Spain’s bustling capital?
Madrid is well-known for its expansive parks and gorgeous artwork. The tourist attraction that garners the most amount of foot traffic is the Plaza Mayor, with over 6 million tourists every year, just in Madrid.
The style in Madrid varies from bohemian chic (usually the 20-30 year-olds) to fancy or “pijo/a” (preppy in Spanish).
Fashion for Women in Madrid
For women, polka dots, colorful sundresses dresses, and espadrilles are hot in the summer, with jean skirts making a comeback from the 90s. Black coats, boots, and jeans are dominant in the winter looks.
Fashion for Men in Madrid
For men, black, white and grey t-shirts and button-downs are staples with jeans or black pants and a nice watch. For both men and women, white kicks and Vans (or other comparable sliders) are very popular, but you’ll never see flip flops in Madrid.
Tourist Fashion Tip #1:
One thing is for certain when it comes to the dress code in Madrid: Fashion is ruled by the season. Even if it’s hot in winter, you won’t see people in shorts. That’s démodé.
What to Wear in Spain: Barcelona
Wondering what to pack for Barcelona?
This illustrious city is the capital of Catalonia, a proud pro-independence region with a rich history, gorgeous architecture, and amazing wine.
Barcelona is very well established in Spain as the fashion city. This reputation was edified in the very popular Spanish movie (Ocho Apellidos Catalanes, 8 Catalan Last Names), in which they joke about how well-dressed and preppy the people are in the streets of Barcelona.
There is not a particularly wide gamut of styles – the style ranges from slick-looking button-downs, long sleeves, pants, and chic accessories.
Fashion for Women in Barcelona
For women, pants, button-downs, jackets, and sweaters are definitely the norm. Colors don’t stray all that far from white, beige, light blue and black. Women also load up on accessories: classy, dainty necklaces, small handbags, hats, and sunglasses are very common.
Tourist Fashion Tip #2:
Even though you might feel like you are at the beach, wearing shorts and flip flops with socks will definitely send signals that you are a tourist in town.
What to Wear in Spain: Seville and Granada
In Seville and Granada, Andalusia’s most visited cities, the charming Moorish influence draws millions of tourists every year to ogle the impressive architecture and colorful tiles. It’s also the home of flamenco, the most passionate and seductive dance in the world (according to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory).
Spain is generally conservative when it comes to clothing and culture (politics aside), thus even in hotter weather, the dress code tends to lean towards billowy pants, longer skirts, and nothing too flashy.
Fashion for Women in Seville / Granada
In the South of Spain, the climate is HOT. Women often wear cotton or linen clothing that is flowy and colorful. Red and orange hues dominate the color palette, and white tops or skirts help keep cool in the raging heat of the summer.
Spanish Fashion for Men in Seville / Granada
Men often wear shorts in the summer (not basketball shorts, but European style shorts, which are shorter and slimmer than American shorts) with simple cotton T-shirts. The more fashionable men will rock short-sleeve button-ups with a colorful pattern.
Tourist Fashion Tip #3:
Since linen is impossible to not wrinkle while traveling, bring long, cotton skirts. They are even more comfortable when walking around than shorts and will still keep you relatively cool.
For men, if you can’t find fashionable shorts at home, you can buy a cheap pair of black shorts (European style) that double as swimwear in Primark or H&M when you get to Europe.
What to Wear in Spain: Basque Country
Because of the tumultuous Spanish history, there are many regions in Spain that are pro-independence, meaning they want to secede from the nation, like Catalonia. The Basque country (Euskadi) is one of them.
Euskera (the language spoken in the region and still taught in some schools) is one of the few European languages that does not have Indo-European roots. Common Euskera names differ from Maria and Ana to Arantxa, Iñaki, and Nekane (try saying that three times fast)
Walking through the streets of Navarra, tourists see graffiti everywhere saying “This is Basque Country – Not Spain”. The culture definitely has its own style and fashion.
Fashion for Men & Women in the Basque Country
It’s very common to spot the old punk style on the streets. Unlike the economic powerhouses of Barcelona or Madrid, you’ll spot the townspeople sitting on the ground, throwing back some beers with their purple hair and short, edgy bangs. Classic fashion items include a plaid scarf, short sleeves, and earrings.
Here are some classic scenes from the Spanish cult classic Ocho Apellidos Bascos (8 Basque Last Names), based in the Basque country.
Fashion for Women in the Basque Country
There are, of course, exceptions to this trend. Some Basque fashion influencers rival those of the big cities but still remain a bit more punk and retro.
Tourist Travel Tip #4:
For a trip to the Basque country, feel free to pack more casual clothes and T-shirts. One pair of Converse or Vans should be good for the whole trip. You might have to dye your hair and get a cool name like Irati to fit in though!
What Not to Wear in Spain
Similar to many other European countries, Spaniards dress more conservatively. Think pants, long skirts, collared shirts. These rules apply to both men and women.
If you don’t want to be seen as a tourist, avoid the following items:
- Extremely short mini skirts/shorts
- Shirts that show excessive skin (chest or back)
- Flip flops
- Sport tennis shoes that are meant for the gym
- Flashy colors or patterns
- Excessive makeup
- Basketball shorts
- Baseball caps
- Cargo shorts