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Don’t know what to pack for Barcelona? Dress for the season so you’re comfortable in the underground metro, on a coffee shop terrace, or in the shadowy streets of El Gotic. Let’s talk basic Barcelona fashion, shall we?
A Spanish girl friend told me, “I can tell who’s American by just looking at their back side.” How could she tell? Perhaps it was because Americans as a group are a multicultural bunch — blonds with fair skin, black-haired Asians with yellow undertones, Latin Americans with thick curls.
But it’s also obvious because of their clothes: sporty North Face jackets and white running sneakers. That was a long time ago, but being able to point out tourists can be pretty easy.
I’m going to generalize how people dress in Barcelona for the sake of having a visitor blend in — without looking like an obvious tourist.
Of course the eclectic fashion in Barcelona, Spain, has an array of diverse cultures. You have the fashionistas, the hipsters, the pijos, los hippy, and more. And then there’s the majority, the laid-back people who like to dress comfortably but stylish also.
Let’s start our Barcelona street fashion mini-lesson, starting with the cold season:
Medium-weight coats are great as well as the more casual puffy jackets and coats. Even if the sun is shining, and maybe it’s warmed up a bit in the afternoon, people will still have on their winter jackets. It doesn’t matter what it feels like! It can be 25ºC/77ºF under the sun, but once you hit a block of shade under a building, all of a sudden it’s cold and breezy.
In the afternoon when temps go up, I’ve seen people just wear heavy sweaters under the sun. But if you’re out all day, it’s wise to have an extra layer just in case. On very rare days, mittens and gloves are necessary, but just in the morning until about 9am.
With colors, think rich, dark shades. Black, gray, midnight blue, and fifty shades of brown! If you look at the general fashion panorama of clothing in a crowd, you’ll see lots of dark colors. Going for an all white / snow bunny look is NOT Barcelona style.
A warm scarf (of any color) is a great accessory because you can darken or brighten a whole ensemble. Jeans or thick leggings will keep your legs warm. And leather boots are always in style. Sporty shoes like a classic style like low-top Converse or a sleek athletic shoe.
Try three layers: a blouse, a medium sweater and a coat or a warm jacket. Put on some comfortable boots or urban cool athletic shoes, and you’re set.
Here are a few practical and fashionable items to put in your suitcase!
Alternatively, I love this one, and will probably buy it for next winter:
Jeans or a medium-weight pants like corduroy will keep you warm. Dark leather shoes or dark sports shoes work also. Try a medium-weight jacket like a leather jacket or sports jacket over a shirt and sweater. Since guys dress a little more casually than gals, it’s more of an urban sporty, and not wide and baggy.
[For a more in-depth guide, check out What to wear in Barcelona in the winter post. Brrrr…]
There are longer hours of sunshine, and the temperature is 12°-16°C / 53°-60°F.
March is kind of a milder extension of winter – cold in the morning but a little bit warmer during the day. In 2018, it even snowed a few times in parts of Barcelona, which is very rare.
In the beginning of April, it’s still cool, mornings are about 15ºC / 60ºF going up to 19ºC / 67ºF. At the end of April, it starts to get warm and lovely, and the flowers are starting to bloom. But it’s not so warm that you can go in the sea, although I’ve seen people do it! Some days are gray and overcast, so spring showers can be common.
People are still wearing dark colors in March, although the brighter colors are beginning to creep in their spring wardrobes by April. There is often a light breeze running through the city (depending if you’re close to the beach), so having a sweater, hoodie or jacket will come in handy.
How can I point out tourists in the spring in Barcelona? Because they wear colorful, light-colored strappy dresses or bright-colored shorts and sandals in April. While, yes, it could be a totally glowing day without a cloud in the sky, but locals just aren’t ready to show off their sexy shoulders just yet. And it’s not shorts season!
A big tip is to dress like an onion! That is, dress in layers so you can easily take off a jacket when indoors. Jeans, leggings, skirts with tights on the bottom, and medium jackets and medium sweaters on top. Cardigans are handy because you can easily take it on and off in a pinch.
In March, it’s not warm enough to go bare-legged with a skirt. You’ll rarely see locals wearing shorts or short skirts until it’s really warm or hot. April is a little bit warmer, but you still won’t see a lot of exposed flesh, only from tourists.
Flat shoes come back! You can wear the strappy sandals if it’s warm, but maybe it’s paired with a long skirt or pants. Don’t dress full summer! Women love their scarves here, so lighter fabrics in colors across the board also come in handy.
Jeans or casual slacks are good in earth tones and dark shades work well. A casual button-down shirt or a polo-style shirt are okay during the day. T-shirts are okay, but keep it tasteful, guys. Certain graphic tees in English can be a dead giveaway!
June temps are all over the place but can vary from warm (20ºC – 26ºC / 68ºC – 79ºF) to hot already. Average June temperature is 24ºC / 75ºF.
July is hot (24ºC – 30ºC / 75ºC – 86ºF). August is the hottest month – expect to feel sticky and sweaty. (It’s typical for people to run their errands in the morning, eat lunch, take their siesta break. Then reappear after 5pm.) Temps can go up to 32º-ish C / 90º-ish F degrees (or more!). When you add the humidity factor, it’s even worse, and you might have trouble sleeping at night.
Usually by late June, people have brought out their sleeveless tops and shorts. Sandals and T-shirts are more common. In general, people wear mid-thigh to knee-length shorts. Some nice leather sandals are good. Flip-flops are okay if you’re heading somewhere quick like the supermarket (or better yet, the beach), not so much in a restaurant setting. In June, you’ll need another layer on top for evenings.
All colors are a go! Make sure your clothes are light and airy. Strappy dresses, tank tops, medium-length shorts and skirts are everywhere. No daisy dukes (unless you’re a teen, in 2016 and -17, I’ve seen butt cheeks practically hanging out of shorts). In July and August, you probably won’t need another layer at night.
In general, women are conservative when showing off skin in the city. You won’t see locals wearing their swimsuit tops around. You can wear jeans if that’s your thing, but it might feel very sticky (I never do.)
Men wear short-sleeved shirts, and tank tops are hard to pull off without looking shabby. They also wear long shorts and sneakers or leather sandals. Sporty is more acceptable in the summer, just don’t pair your outfit with a visor, or baseball cap. I know the American casual look is to wear their clothes baggy, but locals wear clothes more fitted, and that doesn’t mean feminine, just slimmer.
It’s still warm in September as the temperatures drop very slightly from summer. The true fall weather doesn’t really start into late October or early November. September has an average temperature of 25º C / 75ºF. October 18ºC / 64ºF. November 13ºC / 55ºF. Like spring, the climate is a mixture of warm during the day and cool at night.
September is still a month where you can get away with dressing for summer. Late October or November (when it cools) is when the muted colors come back into season, and you can bring out your light scarves and boots. Think earth tones and darks again. You’ll probably be warm enough with two layers: a short- or long-sleeved shirt or blouse and a layer over that. It can be cool at night, so a jacket or a thick sweater would work.
In September, you can still wear your tank tops, short shorts, and strappy dresses. You can probably enjoy dressing light the whole month. In late October, you can shift to long-sleeved tops and blouses as it cools down. It’s the season to go back to the dark colors and break out the stylish scarves, and boots. In the evenings, always have a sweater or jacket as it temperatures drop.
[For a more IN-DEPTH GUIDE, check out What to wear in Barcelona in the FALL post]
A light jacket or medium-weight sweater are good for this transitional season. Dark leather shoes or sneakers are good. A few more ideas for guys: down vests, light sweaters, and some chinos, maybe? American guys, try a slimmer fit like I mentioned!
Going out / partying. In general, women are not that much dressier at night. Yes, you can put on your stilettos if you’re going to the opera at the Liceu. But I would not kill myself running around in heels, especially if you’re bar hopping. Find out how to dress when going out to clubs and bars here.
Storing your wallet and other goods. I know that a backpack is essential if you’re touring Barcelona all day. Or you can buy an anti-theft purse – check out my Buyer’s guide on the best anti-theft purses on Amazon!
Check out my post on how to not get robbed in Barcelona for more tips!
It’s your whole “appearance package” when blending in. Sometimes it’s hard to not be categorized as a tourist because you’re sitting casually in a plaza looking at maps, taking photos, etc. I carry my huge DSLR camera around town too. But I try to look dressy casual in general. Remember, the more casual and sporty your look, the more likely you’ll probably stick out.
Again, dress modestly. In Barcelona, locals don’t go overboard with showing flesh, especially in the city during the day. Save your saucy Barcelona outfit for the beach or hitting the clubs!
And at least wear suspenders or a belt if you’re pants are falling, and you’re not following my other rules. 😉
One more thing for the Barcelona dress code…just make sure you at least wear something!
Granted, you may never look like an olive-toned Spaniard with hair of color castaña (chestnut), you can be one step closer to not being the noticeable tourist that makes you stick out like a sore thumb.
Am I right? Anything to add? Now go get your Barcelona outfits ready!
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