Saturday, July 23, 2016

Observations on fashion in Madrid

 One evening a couple of weeks ago, I sat on a park bench in a busy residential area of Madrid and watched Madrillenos as they came home from work. I wanted to look at their clothing in particular and try to draw some conclusions about how the people here dress. It was a fun social experiment though I did feel like a creeper secretly photographing people as they walked past me. I 'think' all of these people are local because of either their dress, the items they carried with them, or the fact that I heard them speaking Spanish. Of course, I could be wrong on some accounts. Here's what I concluded from my little experiment. 

1. Spanish women love sundresses of every type, length, and color. The shift dress pictured here in linen seems to be a particular favorite. Also notice the uber popular wedge sandal. 

2. Sleeveless is the norm here because it's so blasted hot. All ages and all sizes wear sleeveless tops or dresses. Even men wear tank tops when they're being casual. That's not something I think of as typical in the USA. 

3. Printed pants are also popular. I've seen every age group and every style of these pants, but the loosely pleated style with narrow legs is the most common. 

4. Maxi dresses are still popular too, but what I love in this pic are the metallic sandals they're each sporting. 

5. Men almost always carry a messenger bag, briefcase, or 'murse' - this isn't an indicator of sexual preference here; it's a matter of convenience and practicality. Men's clothes are also more tailored here although it's hard to tell in this pic.

6. Jumpsuits are popular here too just like in the USA. I've also seen matching printed tops and bottom sets that were big in the 80s, so that's probably a look that headed our way again, folks.

7. Solids are much more prevalent than patterns, and I saw lots of pale colors too (prob as a reaction to the hot sun). The most common thing I saw was flat sandals though. It seems like every woman of every age wore delicate, flat sandals with some sort of decorative element. Big shoulder bags that fit right under the arm are popular with locals too. 

8. Here you can see the combo of trends - bright dress + shoulder bag fitted right under arm + wedge sandals. 

9. Here's another combo of trends - sleeveless top + printed pants +wedge sandals. 

10. In this pic, all three women seem to be right on trend - solid dress + scrappy or wedge sandals.

11. I saw lots of couples out walking their baby carriages. How cool is this style carriage? Dad looks pretty casual but mom is sporting work clothes - bright dress + scrappy sandals + shoulder bag. 

12. I didn't see as many separates like this lady is wearing, but notice the watch. Lots of Madrillenos wear watches which kind of surprised me in this age of cell phones. Maybe that's a trend at home that I'm just not paying attention to yet. Also notice the shoulder bag here.

13. Here's an older lady stepping out in style. She's wearing a kitten heel and a print, not very common among the younger women I noticed here in the city but still quite stylish. Her hair is also more fixed, another generational difference I think. 

14. I think this young woman looks adorable! Her full skirt, tank, and blouse are simple but crisp. Her scrappy sandals and shoulder bag are right on target. And her sleek ponytail kept the fun, young vibe. Also note the man in the background. He's wearing a tailored jacket and pants with an open collar dress shirt and is carrying a sleek leather briefcase. His whole look is very European as well. 

15. Right on trend - bright, solid sundress + wedge sandals + shoulder bag + simple hair and makeup. 

16. Another right on trend young woman - sleeveless dress + small cross body bag + scrappy sandals + a high bun.

17. Casually dressed men - note the fedora style hat (very popular), the cross body 'murse' ( practical and popular), and the sleek, dark tennis shoes.

18. Basic work uniform - brightly colored solid top + black pants + ballet flats or scrappy sandals + shoulder bag, 

19. White pants are very popular here as long as it's a skinny cut. I'm not sure I saw a single pair of flared or boot it pants in the last six weeks. Note that both of the women in white pants are wearing strapped sandals, a shoulder bag, and a focal point blouse.

20. Another great look for Madrid or anywhere - solid shift dress + leather shoulder bag + strappy sandals + loose ponytail + sunglasses. What else do you need?

I like to try to blend in wherever I'm traveling. I think it makes me less of a target for theft and enhances the experience of trying to actually live in a place. That said, I'll make a few changes the next time I travel. For one, I'll try to bring some solid color dresses; all mine this time were prints. Next time I travel, I'll also try to bring some strappy sandals that don't look quite so tourist-clunkified, and I'll bring a leather shoulder bag to fit right under my arm. Look at me, I'm already thinking about the next trip I'll take. Sounds just like me, right? 


  1. This was such a fun read! I love seeing the fashion in other countries. Thank you for sharing! :)

  2. This was fun to read! I wouldn't care about being cute with sandals if I were walking but my feet can't take what yours can. haha!

  3. You are so right!! How fun to sit and watch and how a city dresses. Should do this next time I go into town!

  4. Loved this post. Hilarious btw that throughout most of the post your computer turned "strappy sandal" into "scrappy sandal." I can't imagine why?? Lol.