Barcelona is known as a cosmopolitan city and heavily influences from around Europe. The same as anywhere in the world, different age groups wear different types and styles of clothing. Another deciding factor of what to wear is seasons as they determine the types and colours of clothes worn.
Catalunya is forward thinking when it comes to clothes and design and there are a whole variety of different clothes and styles worn here. However modesty is valued highly there and the local Catalans tend to dress conservatively no matter the weather or season.
The middle to older generations generally tend towards clothing that is muted and natural colours, whereas the younger generation wear more casual clothes like jeans and t shirts.
The Catalans care about their personal appearance and image. Even though the younger generation wear more semi – casual clothes they still like to look good but in a conservative way. As I have mentioned in a previous article – Spaniards like designer clothes but the quality and fitting of the clothes is far more important. It is not hard to find Catalan clothes of good quality at a reasonable price, which is also good news for visitors.
Although there are no definitive rules to clothing, if you abide by the ‘conservative clothes’ rule you are bound to fit in. The exceptions to the rule are Custo Barcelona and Desigual which are famous brands in Barcelona and are recognised and noted for their vibrant colours.
The material type and weight is especially important to Catalans. Since the Spanish climate is generally warm/hot throughout the year, clothes are manufactured with this in mind and are usually light weight breathable fabrics that allow air to circulate easily, without having to wear less clothes. While also being conservative and therefore following the general status quo, they have the added benefit of protecting your skin from the intense sun.
Clothes and Seasons
• Summer months – lighter colours tend to be worn primarily to keep the wearer cool.
• Winter months – autumnal-type colours are favoured.
Jeans from countered such as the UK, Northern Europe, Canada and Northern USA are heavier than jeans produced/ manufactured in Spain. If you wish to wear jeans in Spain it is recommended to buy them from there as the fabric is lighter and breathable while also being protected from the sun. Although your own jeans will be uncomfortable to wear during the summer, you will be able to wear them during the winter months (typically November – March).
Winter (December, January, and February) – This time of year is cooler so heavy weight denims are good to wear in this time, however it is also recommended to bring some warmer clothes and a jacket. It does not rain too much in Barcelona however this time of year is particularly prone to rainy days, especially in April.
Spring (March, April and May) – In these months you will start to notice it is beginning to warm up, however there will still be cooler days during March.
Summer (June, July and August) – It is very hot and humid in Barcelona at this time of year, particularly in August. You will need light- weight fabric that is preferably light coloured during the day so as not to absorb any more heat. After the sun sets, is when it is still warm but you can wear dark clothes if you prefer.
Autumn (September, October and November) – The weather can be pleasant and sunny during this time but it is becoming cooler – especially in November.
The Do’s and Don’ts
Whilst Barcelona is a cosmopolitan and bohemian city there are some ‘do’s and don’ts, this should make it easier for you to know what types of clothes are suitable for your visit.
• Wear light-weight fabrics during the months of May – September
• Choose lighter coloured clothing during summer months and more muted/autumnal conservative colours during cooler months.
• Respect religion. The church is still a big part of Spanish life, so if you visit a Barcelona Cathedral, men should wear long trousers and women should have a shawl or a full top that covers their shoulders.
• Dress up when you go out for a nice supper. You won’t be turned away if you turn up wearing casual clothing, however an evening out in Barcelona generally means you should be well dressed and looking good.
• Take the time to have a look around the shops and see the types of clothes that are on sale. There is a wide variety of shops there and you will quickly see the styles and fabrics that are popular in the city.
• Choose well fitted clothes. The Catalans dress well and their clothes fit and look sophisticated. In the winter they tend to look quite smart all the time with fitted jackets, boots and darker or autumnal colours.
• Denim is popular in every style and worn throughout the entire year.
• Wear casual shorts in the city, save them for the beach, wearing them elsewhere will generally label you as a tourist. A skirt or loose-fitting light weight fabric trousers are more suitable since they will protect you from the sun. Locals do wear shorts but they are usually conservative and normally of a longer length.
• Do not wear a bumbag. They are useful but are usually worn solely by tourists and are easily removed by slight-handed thieves.
• Avoid shorts and miniskirts with strappy tops or bikinis in the city centre. Catalan women tend to be more conservative.
• Wear bright or garish coloured clothing. You will notice that as a general rule the Catalans prefer muted, autumnal colours, like green, yellow ochre and burgundy. However it is true to say that there are also shops for the younger generation that are full of brighter clothes. Whichever way you choose to go also remember that the Catalans are big on outfit coordination, clashing colours and mismatched styles are a definite no.
• Catalans love shoes, so always make sure your shoes are ‘on point’, however leather sandals are popular in the summer months.
*Information taken from Barcelona Tourist Guide*