Observations on the Way People Dress for Winter in Barcelona

These last three weeks I must say have given me a pretty good perspective about how Catalans and study abroad students dress for winter. And, I’ve heard it’s only going to get colder.

First of all, the Catalans. Natives, the locals, anti-tourists, trendsetters, whatever you want to call them. Locals dress for the 50 degree weather in gloves and puffer coats, albeit extremely fashionable outerwear. My cravings for a candy-colored walker coat have only increased about ten-fold since seeing the pastel beauties in every shop I walk in to. Next up, the shoes! Ahh, the shoes. Some amazingly chic options on the feet of Spaniards, while other choices evoke images of moon shoes in my opinion. Example: boots with super chunky platforms, or the sleek oxford shoe top paired with some 3 inches of forest green rubber.

photo 1-4
Oxford Platforms?

Ankle boots are all the rage here, again, sending me into a boot-desiring frenzy. Those who know me know my love of shoes and boots. Choosing only two pairs was one of my more difficult decisions. My riding boots feel too American, too out of place in the land of pointy-toed booties with a slight heel. Yet, I am only two weeks in, who knows if I will give into the cravings. I mean, Desigual had these babies for 50% off, and they are still in my mind a week later.

Desigual “Rose”

Casual is not the look of the day here. Catalans dress up and always look their best. I’ll happily play along too; yesterday on my “lazy Friday” was the first time I went out in public in yoga pants and a quarterzip sweatshirt. However, if you are my neighbor, you are very likely to see me running across the street to the supermarket in my pajama pants, as no one has time to look good for a morning milk run.

Catalans are able to make the sportiest looking pair of Nikes look fashionable and put together with a pair of jeans. I have no idea how they do that. Some locals are able to make comfortable shoes look stylish- a major feat for everyone. Barcelona is definitely a walking city. Don’t get me started on the underground labyrinth of a Metro this city has.

Now for the students at UAB, the bigger and looser the sweater, the better. It appears almost overnight, grungy is the only thing that is in, and my fitted sweaters, striped tees, and colorful blouses seem to be too preppy for this crowd. I think there is a fine line between being stylish and being trendy.  When everyone dresses the same, how are you actually expressing yourself, a key proponent of fashion.

For most of us foreigners, the weather doesn’t feel so bad, so we are the ones walking around without jackets, just sweaters in varying shades of black, grey, and green. I have also yet to spot another soul in my beloved Toms. They have been replaced with white Converse hightops, I can only imagine the dust those pick up from walking around the city. This city is clean, but not THAT clean.

Ironically, the January issue of Vogue Espana had an entire spread dedicated to the iconic qualities of the white sneaker. I tried to thumb through a copy the other day. I must say I did pretty well. I also read that Hunter Original (the rain boot company) is creating it’s own ready-to-wear collection too. And the Mule-boot is apparently a growing popular item in the world of high fashion.

What is this?

So here I go, trying to dress to fit local tastes and those of my classmates. Yet, my own sense of style must prevail, as living out of a suitcase creates only a certain amount of outfit possibilities.


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