Cultural Experience | Spain

What to Wear During Your Trip to Spain

What to wear, where to shop and how to fit in with the locals

About a month before my trip abroad, I realized I had no idea what kind of clothes I was going to wear and pack during my program. I knew I would want to go shopping while I was in Spain, but I also knew clothes were expensive and I was on a budget with limited luggage space. Being 5’10 with blonde hair, I knew I would already stand out in Spain, but I wanted to at least make an effort to fit in with my clothes. Here is a list of different scenarios I encountered everyday and what outfit I chose to wear to them.

 Shopping around the city: Spaniards tend to wear neutral colors with light fabrics so they won’t feel heavy in the heat. Wearing a light gray maxi-skirt with a white tank top would make you fit in very well. While some locals occasionally wear nice linen shorts, Americans clearly stand out as tourists when they wear the short denim shorts. For shoes, most locals don’t wear flip-flops they wear some kind of nice sandals. I made the mistake of wearing flip-flops around the city and not only did no one else wear them, but my feet hurt very badly by the end of the day due to the lack of support! Also, if you are taking the metro, don’t wear any skirts or dresses too flowy during your travel because heavy winds tend to blow from the moving cars.

 Going to the Beach: Most likely you will be taking the metro to the beach. To fit in with most of the other locals taking a trip to the beach, wear your bathing suit with a cute flowing dress or loose fitting shorts and a tank top. That way if you wanted to take a walk around the city after the beach, you would not be clearly wearing a bathing suit! Be sure to bring a large beach bag or backpack that zips or closes all the way and has many pockets. Pick pockets hover around Barceloneta Beach, so always be sure to keep your belongings stored away and out of plain sight.

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Going on a daily excursion: We took many daily excursions to places like Tarragona and Figueres. If you are going to be doing a lot of walking, a nice blouse with capri’s or black capri leggings and comfortable shoes is the perfect outfit for traveling. Never feel like you have to wear anything too fancy! The locals dress nice, but dress for comfort as well.

 Going to Class: Always wear something comfortable for your hours in the classroom. I would always try to look nice for class because usually my friends and I would go out and explore the city afterwards. I would normally wear a casual dress or maxi dress. I invested in a few pairs of the flowy linen shorts from H&M or forever 21 that were not too short to wear, and would wear those with a plain white tank top or fitted t-shirt. It can get pretty warm in the classrooms, so I would try to wear thin and breathable clothing.

 Working out: Really you can wear whatever you would normally wear at home. Most women wear the workout leggings, but shorts are fine with tennis shoes and a workout t-shirt. It is very strange for locals to wear this type of outfit unless they are working out. The locals do not go out dressed in workout clothes like we do in the United States, so keep these kinds of outfits for working out only if you want to fit in.

 Going out to dinner: The locals don’t go out to eat till 9 or 10 pm. Wearing a pair of light jeans and a nice blouse, or a casual short dress with nice sandals will do fine!  The locals look nice for dinner, but nothing too fancy.

Going to a night club (discoteca): Many nightclubs have specific dress codes. For example, some places will not let you in unless you have a platform on your shoe. Since you will probably be doing a lot of walking, I would suggest finding wedges or platforms that are cute yet comfortable to walk in. For clothes, a tight fitting dress or skirt with a nice blouse, any color will work fine! The locals are always pretty well put together, so make sure you have your hair done and your outfit matches.

For your purse, be sure to carry a small bag you can keep close to your body at all times. Many foreigners are targeted in the nightclubs and it is very easy to get your wallet or cellphone stolen. Bring a purse such as a wristlet, where you can keep it in your hand, or a cross body bag, and keep your wallet and cell phone zipped away in different pockets within the purse and not out in the open. (Great options here)

Where to Shop:

Before your trip: You are going to want to stock up on some clothes before you leave the country. Especially since clothes in the United States tend to be a little cheaper. The best places to buy basics such as flowy skirts, crop tops, maxi skirts and maxi dresses are forever 21, H&M, and online shopping at 6pm.com. These type of stores are good for finding clothes in the neutral colors such as beige, white and gray.

 During your trip: In Spain, the pants they sell tend to be a lighter material than the United States. Women will wear skinny jeans daily in the summer, so it might be good to invest in a pair from one of the stores, such as Mango or Zara. While they may be a bit pricey, it is something you cannot buy in the states!

Other affordable women’s stores in Spain (most stores are located in La Rambla):

Oysho     Berksha    Pull & Bear    Zara    Mango    Parfois

Makenzie Piatt

Ohio University | 9 stories

I'm a sophomore broadcast journalism student studying at Ohio University. I am studying abroad for my very first time this summer to Barcelona, Spain. I hope sharing my experiences of my travel abroad will encourage others to explore the world!


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