How to Look Like a Local in Spain

by Published

Planning on traveling to Spain? Make sure you keep it classy. Fashion in Spain is a big deal and there are a vast array of clothing styles and trends to keep up with. However, generally speaking, everyday typical clothing in Spain is conservative. Spaniards have deep roots in the Roman Catholic Church, after all. After the Spanish converted their entire country to Catholicism, they continued to spread the religion through other Spanish-discovered lands. Spain has thousands of gorgeous, ornate churches to show they mean business when it comes to religion. For this reason, you shouldn’t wear anything in Spain that you wouldn’t wear in a church.

How to Look Like a Local in Spain

You want to make a good impression in Spain, whether you are interning, volunteering, teaching, or studying abroad, and also impress your new Spanish friends, which is why it is essential you understand how people dress in Spain BEFORE you pack your bags.

Here are five tips to help you nail the dress code in Spain:

1. Say no to shorts.

In Spain, wearing shorts is a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist. Locals always wear pants, or skirts, and dresses that go past their knees. According to the dress code in Spain, it is common for both men and women to wear nice trousers or jeans on a daily basis, despite the heat. Shorts are acceptable at the beach, but if you are wandering around the city, it is better to stick to long pants. Spain can get hot though, so invest in some lightweight cotton pants, in place of heavy denim jeans. 

Before you begin your meaningful travel program in Spain, keep in mind that dryers aren’t common. In many cases your clothes will need to air dry, so it might be wise to invest in a nice pair of pants that aren’t made of something as heavy as denim. Typical clothing in Spain is lightweight, often made from cotton or other airy fabrics, so ditching the denim will also help you blend in easier.

Gaudi architecture in Barcelona, Spain
Fashion in Spain is as fancy as the architecture

2. Dress conservatively.

You may have guessed by now that Spain is a somewhat conservative country. Modesty is valued highly, so respecting this when you approach the dress code in Spain is a good idea. This doesn’t mean that Spaniards aren’t stylish; they have a very good fashion sense and take great care to dress well. It just means that clothing such as tank tops or miniskirts are frowned upon and generally saved for weekends out late with friends. Casual tee shirts and sweatshirts should also be avoided. Remember to keep it classy, people. 

Insider Tip: Like many other European countries, Spain has an eye for fashion. Emphasis is placed on designer labels and quality clothing that fits well. 

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Traveling in Spain is a great chance to learn more about Spanish culture - and fashion

3. Don’t be flashy.

Bright colors and patterns will make you stick out in Spain. Locals in Spain prefer muted and conservative colors. If you want to adapt to fashion in Spain, wear subdued colors and discreet patterns. Labels or printed words on shirts are also a fashion don’t, so leave the logos at home. Men should always wear polo or button down shirts when out on the town in Spain. Typical clothing in spain for women include more dressy, conservative tops.

4. Leave your tennis shoes at home.

Wearing tennis shoes anywhere in Europe screams “I’m American!” It doesn’t matter how hip or casual your shoes are: if they’re made by a company that largely produces running shoes, you shouldn’t wear them in Spain. Instead, wear nice sandals or leather shoes with rubber soles. And always wear dress socks with your shoes. White, athletic socks with nice pants and a nice pair of shoes is against the dress code in Spain (and everywhere, honestly, come on.). 

Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain.
The Plaza de Espana in Seville is a great place to people watch and spot fashion trends

5. Leather and fur are in.

It won’t take you long to notice that leather and fur play prominent roles in how people dress in Spain. For any young adult travel program in Spain, you’ll need to bring some sort of jacket. During the summer months you should pack a light sweater or coat in order to stay warm on chilly nights. If you’re planning on spending time in Spain during the fall or spring, consider investing in a leather jacket.

Leather is very popular in Spain, so you may want to buy a leather coat once you arrive. Fur coats are popular during the cooler winter months in Spain. You don’t have to buy genuine leather or fur: a good quality faux leather jacket can look just as chic as a real one, without the guilt attached. If you do want to grab a fur clothing item, you should always make sure it is sustainably sourced.

Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain
In Spain, dress like you are going to the Sagrada Familia every day

By keeping in mind that typical clothing in Spain is stylish yet modest, you will be able to tailor your wardrobe so that you blend in with the locals. Keep an open mind, follow the locals’ lead, and people will be mistaking you for a Spaniard in no time.

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