What to Wear in Barcelona, Spain?

When you think of fashion, you probably think of Paris, London and Milan - not Barcelona. But, that is changing.

Barcelona now hosts its own fashion week, and the streets around the Passeig de Gracia are home to high-end designers, like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. In contrast, Barcelona's edgy underground art scene and cheap rents, has attracted many young, up and coming European designers to set up shop in the centuries old buildings in the Raval and Borne districts.

Like most cosmopolitan world cities, you'll see everything on the streets from classic Chanel suits to colorful frocks from famous Barcelona designers, such as Custo and Designal, to jeans and T-shirts. One thing that stands out is the way clothes fit. Barcelonians dress in figure flattering clothes, tailored or cut to show off their best features.

Even if you are a Fashionista at home, when choosing clothes for your trip, focus above all on comfort. After all, you are on vacation. But, if you are looking to stand out without being singled out as "just another American tourist", read our tips below.

Focus on Autumn Colors

Barcelona's most famous resident, the architect Antonio Gaudi said, "Everything comes from the great book of nature." This also applies to Barcelona fashion. The colors you'll see Barcelonians wearing mimic the fall foliage (greens, yellows and orange) the windswept sand beaches (beiges, tans, taupes and browns) and the Mediterranean sea (slate blue and sea greens).


In Paris, a good rule is that you can never go wrong wearing black. Most months in Barcelona its too warm to wear heat-trapping black. But, you'll never look out of place in Barcelona wearing beiges or browns.

Accessorize with Bold Colors

If you think that browns and beiges are "B" for boring, accessorize with bright colors and bold prints. Choose scarves, shawls, necklaces, purses, belts and shoes that make your outfit "pop." For summer, wear a trendy pair of shades, or seductively wave a coordinating fan.

When in Doubt, Choose Conservative over Casual

At the beach, Barcelonians let it all hang out - topless females, men in Speedos, and grandmothers wearing string bikinis are the status quo. But, on the street, Barcelonians dress modestly, leaving most everything to the imagination.

Balance is Key

In Barcelona, there is a saying that you can tell an American women by the shortness of their skirts and the low necklines of their tops. At first, I thought this was ridiculous. Then I started paying attention and realized this was the truth - Barcelonians dress more conservatively than Americans. They still wear mini-skirts and revealing tops, but not at the same time. The key is a balanced look by showing-off their best assets, while camouflaging others.

When deciding what to pack for your Barcelona vacation, focus on balance. Pair a spaghetti-strap, tank-top with a knee-length skirt. Or, wear a tunic top with a skinny jeans.

Dress Your Age

You also won't see many women chasing the youth trends of the moment. Instead, Barcelonians exhibit a timeless style appropriate for their age.

Cover Shoulders and Knees in Churches

Remember that showing bare shoulders and knees in churches is a sign of disrespect, and strictly enforced at the entrance to the Barcelona Cathedral. When planning to visit a religious site in Barcelona, carry a pashmina or long scarf to cover your exposed shoulders or legs.

Pack Light Layers

Barcelona has a mild climate with temperatures ranging from the 50s to the 60s in the winter and from the mid-70s to humid, high 80s in the summer. Mix and match light layers, like a sleeveless top with light sweaters or a skirts with tights for chilly evenings. Even if you are visiting Barcelona in the summer, make sure to pack a light sweater or jacket. Night breezes along the beach front can be chilly.

Keep Beachwear on the Beach

On the beaches, anything goes. But, wearing bathing suits in restaurants, clubs and on the Metro is frowned upon. Even wearing a bikini top with a skirt covering your bottom is a "no-no." If you are traveling to Barcelona in the summer, pack a cover-up or plan to change before leaving the beach.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

On a single day of sightseeing in Barcelona, you may find yourself:

Spending a day on your feet walking on different surfaces is a killer on your calves and feet. To avoid aching, swollen and even blistered feet, invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sandals before your trip.

You may be tempted to pack your favorite white or running shoes, but unfortunately this style is not popular in Barcelona. Instead of large,white tennis shoes, Barcelonians prefer sleek, lightweight sneakers, from Puma or Adidas, in neutral colors.

A few brands of shoes made in Spain that are perfect for walking include Camper and Pikolinos. For stylish sandals and espadrilles, try Bettye Mueller.

Other brands that focus only on walking shoes that you can easily find in the United States include Ecco, Mephisto and Dansko.

Tip: Remember that its never a good idea to break-in a new pair of shoes when you arrive in Barcelona. Wear-in your shoes at home before your trip.

Natural is Better

Good news - You can relax on your trip and not worry too much about your hair and make-up. Spanish women embrace a "natural" look with minimal make-up and loosely, styled hair instead of perfectly, placed locks.

Feeling "comfortable in your own skin" and "aging gracefully" is reflected and reinforced in the Spanish media. An example is the popular Spanish version of InStyle magazine.

One month the cover photo of Julianne Moore was substantially touched-up or photo-shopped in the American version. In InStyle's Spanish issue, the airbrushing was minimal and you could see Julianne's life lines and other small wrinkles characteristic of a women in her forties. Paging through the magazine was an eye-opener. Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Demi Moore and even Madonna looked their age. Don't get me wrong - these ladies still looked glamorous and stunning, but they weren't re-touched to appear the same as they did in their early twenties.

The Bottom Line : Let your hair down, let the sun shine on your skin and relax...You're in Barcelona.


Photo Credits:
1 Tamorlan Wiki Commons
2 Seidenstud Wiki Commons

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