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How to Dress in Spain

Don’t you know what to wear to go to the university? What outfit should you choose at night? Where do you buy clothes? During the last years, fashion has considerably changed in Spain.

You’ll find that most Spanish people tend to dress up a little more than the average American. You will see young men wearing jeans and t-shirts or soccer jerseys, but you’ll also see a lot of people in nice pants and nice shoes. Women generally wear very feminine clothing, even if they’re wearing jeans, and they don’t tend to wear sneakers. Most people get very dressed up to go out at night, and you will probably want to, as well.


Spaniards don’t wear shorts or sneakers for anything other than sports, so if you aren’t planning on working out, leave these at home. Light fabric pants, capris, skirts, dresses are all fine for summer. Daytime and nighttime temperatures can vary by 20 degrees or more, so have a lightweight sweater or jacket on hand for evening (unless you’re in July or August). Browns are preferable to black. For walking the many cobblestoned streets, get a comfortable pair of flat sandals or shoes, this is what Spanish women favor.
Gira, New York, USA

Spaniards are very fashion conscious people so always leave your house looking well groomed. Fitted clothing is preferred as baggy clothes are considered sloppy, and black is a favorite color. No shorts. You don’t have to worry about dressing too skimpy or revealing, however it will bring you extra attention (if that’s what you want).
Rose, Madrid, Spain

Regardless of how wonderful and lightweight your top windbreaker is, if it’s hot pink, leave it at home! I felt that I was sticking out like a sore thumb in Spain where most of the women wear conservative, dark clothes, furs, and heels! Same in Italy. Black is boring but tasteful in most situations.
Kathy, Portland OR, USA

During the eighties or nineties, there were very marked fashions. People dressed all the same way, maybe due to the lack of store variety compared with today or maybe to the force of fashions. Currently, fashion is not so accentuated as before—though trends still changing—, so you can obtain your own style without being out of place. Anyway, take into account that, generally, people from smaller cities dress in a more monotonous way.

How do Spanish People Dress

First thing you should know is that in Spain people prefers casual wear. Normally, suits, high hills or make-up are only used if it is required by their job. Most of Spanish people, mainly young, prefer to wear comfortable clothes, such as t-shirt and jeans. However, there is a common idea that people —especially girls—dress up more here than in other countries such as United States for going to class.
Nevertheless, it does not mean everyone dress that way. In most contexts, weather talking about university or work, you can see a mixed bag style, as clothes are a personal stuff.

In any case, it is unlikely to find at university students wearing ties or stilettos, for instance. Customary clothing is comfortable, such as jeans, shirts or t-shirts, and flat shoes or trainers. In summer, the majority of people use shorts and mini-skirts with sandals. In any case, Spanish public universities do not use to have any clothes regulations, so as long as you do not wear anything over provocative or eccentric, no one is going to complain about your dressing.

At work and other daily happenings, the general rule is applicable, most people dress with casual wear unless companies where they work or they position require wearing formal outfit. In a design studio, for example, you will see workers with jeans and t-shirts, while in a big company or bank, both men and women wear more formal and sober clothes, as suits.

At night, clothing changes depending on the environment. In many bars, pubs and discos, people are dressed exactly in the same way they did during the day, while in other places, girls dress up more than they did for going to class, and, if the environment is a little more posh, there are even boys with pleated trousers and shirt or girls wearing dresses and a lot of make-up.

On the one hand, there are clubs in which entrance is allowed for people dress anyhow. On the other, it may happen they do not allow you to enter in some establishment with trainers or sleeveless shirts—if you are a boy—, for instance. There are not clearly defined rules, each establishment chooses its own, and that can even vary depending on the night and quantity of clients they have.

2013 Winter

Where to Buy Clothes in Spain

Most people buy their clothes in big chains, such as El Corte Ingles or Zara. Young people use to do their shopping in stores as El Corte inglés or Zara. Young people use to do their shopping in stores as Zara, Blanco, H&M, Stradivarius, Bershka, Mango, Massimo Dutti or Pull & Bear, because they offer modern clothes at a reasonable price. That kind of stores can be founded both in the middle of the city and malls (see Shopping Complexes in Alcalá).

Apart from the most popular multinationals, all cities have a couple of streets, or a neighborhood, in which you can find small stores with more original products. In Madrid, if you take a walk by neighborhoods such as Malasaña and Chueca, you will find more modern and original clothing stores than in malls or shopping streets in the middle of the city. In smaller cities, such as Alcalá de Henares, you will not find such variety, but there is always some small store distant from the trends established by superstores.

In Spain almost nobody order their shopping by mail, a regular practice in other countries such as the United States. Instead, people prefer to have a walk, compare prices and try on clothes calmly. However, the influx of visits to online stores is gradually increasing, as well as online purchases, especially related to specific brand not sold in your city or to special sizes not found anywhere.

The tourist says

Laura Cossette, California, USA.

Hello family and friends! I wanted to write you guys about one of the things I like most about being here in Spain, how well the people dress here!

The quality of dress is most notable in the men. Obviously my only point of reference is the United States, and the sad truth is that in the United States, the majority of men do not try very hard to look good.

I have noticed here that men wear very classy petticoats, scarves (something that has a rather negative connotation in the U.S. but it shouldn’t because it looks GREAT), nice pants, and dress shoes. They also are clean-shaven, with their hair styled, and they wear lots of cologne!

Moda el

In the U.S., unless a guy is going out to a bar or on a nice date, you can expect to see him in shorts and a t-shirt or jeans and a sweatshirt. For this reason, many of us American girls have developed numerous crushes on all the Spanish men here, who we consider to be significantly more attractive than men in the U.S.

And more than just being nice to look at, I think the fact that the men here put so much effort into their appearance says something about the society as well. In the U.S., as I’m sure there is in Spain, there is a lot of pressure on women to look beautiful at all times. This pressure does not usually extend to men, however. So to me, it’s a good indicator of a certain type of equality that there is a standard of beauty that is expected of men too.

I like that here it is not only the women who have to impress the men, but the men who also have to impress the women.