Don’t get caught looking like a tourist while visiting Spain!
After two years of living in this fantastic city and trying desperately to look less and less like an outsider, I’ve come to several fashion conclusions. There are some definite DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to dressing like a local in Spain.
In other words, fitting in like a local versus standing out like a…tourist! Regardless of what time of year you visit Barcelona, these tips will help you to plan accordingly and look the part!
We first set foot in our new home city during the last week of August. The DEAD of summer. At the time I just couldn’t be bothered with adapting to local styles. So, I relied on simple summer garments to get through those first few scorching days. Items such as flip flops, tank tops and cotton gym shorts were my go-tos!
I quickly realized once school started in September that the Spanish have a definite style. Here’s are some of my observations…and opinions for ALL four seasons.
Consider it your go-to guide if visiting or moving here!
1. What to Wear in Winter
DO cozy up in your warmest down puffer jacket, as temps in Barcelona can get as low as 38 degrees Fahrenheit in January/February. We totally underestimated this and put ALL of our winter coats into storage (yikes!) thinking winters would be super mild.
WRONG! We got a rude awakening that first season. Waist-length fitted puffer jackets for both men and women with fur-lined hoods are the trend here versus oversized knee-length ones.
The Spanish love warmer temps and it shows based on their measures to stay cozy in winter months. Scarves aren’t anything new in colder temps, but if you plan to visit Barcelona (the number one pickpocketing city in all of Europe), you’ll want to consider fashion PLUS security!
Coincidentally, tights/stockings with skirts are HUGE here even on the coldest days. You can find some of the cutest styles/shades of stockings here and although I rarely wore them in the states, I now find them super fun!
Lastly, BOOTS! All shapes, sizes, styles – leather, studded, printed or solid, ankle or shin height. The “bad-ass” combat boot is big here – and I LOVE it. Making a mental note to buy a pair (or two) for myself next year!
2. What to Wear in Spring
This is where things get a little grey for me. Where I come from in New Jersey, the minute temperatures rise to 60 degrees (15C) out come the shorts and sandals. Our hopes are high and sights are set on a fast-approaching summer!
But Spain isn’t fooled by the sometimes tumultuous weather of Spring.
Spring Jackets for Layering
Your best bet is to plan for lots of LAYERS this time of year. Mornings are chilly and daytime can be HOT. Some days I leave the house with a jacket and linen scarf and by noon find myself sleeveless.
Opt for a light quilted jacket like this one from Calvin Klein which can be warm during the chillier parts of the day but not leave you feeling sweaty by lunchtime!
And although Barcelona sees hardly any rainfall during the year, most of it takes place in the Spring. So better equip yourself with a waterproof jacket like this one from PerfectCoco and these popular HUNTER Rain Boots.
Florals and Prints Galore
The flowers are in bloom and so are the clothing store windows! Anything goes in Spring when it comes to prints – floral, stripey, animal, polka dotty! I absolutely love perusing the aisles of Zara, Massimo Dutti and H&M this time of year and seeing all the fresh colors/patterns.
On the flip side please, please NO flip flops or shorts until at least a beach day in June – otherwise you’ll stand out as a TOURIST. Believe me, I’ve done it before and was politely told by a Spanish friend ha!
3. What to Wear in Summer
You know what they say, “skin is IN!” and Spain needs no introduction to this phrase. You might remember from my recent article The Art of Parenting in Spain ( ), locals here aren’t afraid to bare it all including some things on the beach that really should be covered ha!
Bright, Lacy or Ruffled Bathing Suits
One type of bathing suit you’ll find for sure but I won’t be caught dead in is…a THONG! Old, young – you name it! This is the style here and you better take it or leave it.
I much rather prefer something that covers a bit more like this adorable two-piece high-waisted off the shoulder suit – also very popular here!
Word of advice!! The sun here in Spain is extremely strong, so a wide brimmed sunhat or fedora hat (and tons of sunscreen) is wise! We learned this the hard way and got fried our first August here.
You won’t find baseball caps a big trend here and this I figured out after about a month in Spain. Someone called me an American simply because I was wearing one and that told me it’s a quick way to look like an non-local.
These have always been my absolute favorite staple summer item. I must have about a dozen in my closet of different styles and prints. So naturally, I was thrilled to see the Spanish also embrace the romper trend.
Jeweled sandals, strappy wedges like these gorgeous ones from Kenneth Cole and espadrilles are all the rage for summer feet – but of course if you’re a tourist you’ll be doing a ton of walking and comfortable slips like Converse should suffice!
Save running sneakers for the gym, guys.
4. What to Wear in Autumn
Ahh, the refreshing chill in the air that signifies yet another departure of summer. Time to layer up yet again!
While I tend to go for more fitted tops, it seems most of what you find in the stores this time of year is oversized – sweaters, sweatshirts, turtlenecks. Still a super cute and cozy look for Fall.
What I WILL say is…Spain does denim right!!! Think “bedazzled” but on a slightly more tasteful scale with a sparkly pinstripe down the side or embroidered lace up one leg. Too much fun to wear!
Cuts can be quite different here and I’ve noticed everything from the skinny jean and boot cut to above the ankle frayed finishes. Whatever floats your boat I guess!
And last, the puffy sleeve trend so signature of Spanish fashion finds it’s way onto the shelves this time of year . It’s the one trend from here that I could not wait to fill my closet with.
And fill it I have, ha!
My theory about this style? Every woman must have at least ONE top like this in their suitcase for strolling down Passeig de Gracia or sipping cocktails at the W Hotel.
Some personal observations about fashion trends here!
I have a love/hate relationship with the sneakers
Metallic sandals, studded combat boots and even the modern take on the male dress shoe in the form of a formal leather “sneaker” have all won my heart over.
But this idea of platform sneakers (or trainers/tennis shoes, depending on where in the world you’re reading this from!) – I just can’t swallow it!! It reminds me of…an astronaut?! They also don’t appear to be comfortable OR safe to wear… but again, that’s just my opinion.
I’m a much bigger fan of the Softome wedge sneaker I’ve seen around!
If you see a woman in running sneakers and leggings, she is most definitely headed to the gym.
I rarely see spandex with running kicks as the choice for a day of errands or meeting up with friends. This was initially a buzz kill for me ha!
But I’ve accepted it and adapted.
Sizes make us scream!
If you plan for some clothes shopping while visiting Barcelona, DO hit up the dressing room before making any purchases. We’ve learned the hard way that an American Medium is a European Extra Large! Clothes are cut differently and fit much slimmer than back in the states.
Sure, this is motivation to get summer beach body ready – BUT can also be terribly frustrating when you’ve had one too many holiday cookies in December…!
So as you prepare for a trip to sunny Spain, keep these tips in mind and avoid standing out like the tourist you are ha!
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