Tourist Information Guide

Barcelona Clothes: What to Wear and When To Wear It

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example of good spanish style clothing
Good example of typical Spanish style in Barcelona

This page will give you an outline of the Barcelona clothes to wear (and not to wear) if you want to blend in more with the locals and not appear as an obvious tourist. There are clear advantages to following the general local clothing trends here in Barcelona, namely improved safety (not as easy to single you out as a tourist) as well as giving a valid reason to do a little shopping. We also cover the types of clothes to wear that are appropriate for the climate here.

What this article is not about

This page is not about giving you a rundown on fashion trends or about stereotyping how the Catalan and Spanish dress.

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city with many influences from around Europe. In addition, people from different age groups wear different types and styles of clothes.

The seasons also play an important part in determining the types and colours of clothes worn.

How to blend in

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 it is fair to say that modesty is generally valued here and Catalans tend to dress conservatively.

Middle age and the older generation generally tend to wear clothing with muted and conservative colours. The younger generation tend to wear semi-casual clothes like jeans and T-shirts and comfortable shoes or sandals during summer.

The Catalans care about their personal appearance and image. They wear a wide variety of types of clothes. However, generally, they do not wear overly casual clothes. The Catalans like to look good in a conservative way. They are keen on designer clothes but even more important to them is quality and fitting. It is not hard to find Catalan clothes of good quality at a reasonable price, which is also good news for visitors.

With clothes there are no definitive rules. We have stated that generally, the Catalans are conservative however there are also exceptions to this, e.g. Custo Barcelona and Desigual are famous brands here in Barcelona and are noted for their vibrant colours.

Fabric type is important

The material type is particularly important, especially the weight of the fabric. Since it is generally warm/hot throughout most of the year clothes are manufactured with lightweight, breathable fabrics that allow the air to circulate easily. The clothes feel light and cool to wear and have the added benefit of protecting your skin from the sun.

Clothes for the seasons

During summer months lighter colours tend to be worn primarily to keep the clothing cool. Winter months tend to favour more autumnal-type colours.

If you have jeans from countries with colder yearly temperatures, for example, most of Northern USA, Canada and Northern Europe you will be able to wear these in the winter months (November - March). However, the jeans fabric from these cooler countries will be much too heavy and uncomfortable to wear during the summer months.

If you want to wear jeans during the summer it is recommended to purchase them here in Barcelona since the fabric is much lighter weight than conventional jeans found in USA / Canada and Northern Europe. The aim is for you to feel comfortable in your clothing yet protected from the strong sun.

You will be surprised how much a light-weight cotton fabric can keep you cool and comfortable even in hot sun.

Don't struggle by with clothes that are just not suitable for the climate - you will feel uncomfortable and hot, and it will detract from your visit. If necessary invest in a few lightweight tops and bottoms here in Barcelona.

Winter (December, January, February) - These months are cooler so you can wear your heavyweight denims during this time. It is also recommended to bring some warmer clothes and a jacket. It does not rain too much here in Barcelona. However, there are rainy days, particularly during these months and the month of April. Therefore it is worth bringing a light-weight waterproof jacket and an umbrella.

Spring (March, April, May,) it is beginning to warm up a little however there still are cooler days especially during March. You should be prepared for both warm/sunny days but also cooler weather with occasional rain.

Summer (June, July, August)
It is hot and humid in Barcelona during this time. In August particularly it can be very humid. You will need light-weight fabric clothing that is preferably light in colour during the day. During the evening you can wear darker coloured clothing if you want.

Autumn (September, October and November)
The weather can be pleasant and sunny during this time, but it is becoming cooler - especially in November.

We have produced a day-by-day weather report for each month of the year in Barcelona. It may be a good idea to take a look through this record, so you get a better idea of the temperatures and weather conditions during the year.

Do's and Don'ts

Whilst Barcelona is a cosmopolitan and bohemian city there are some 'do's and don't's which I hope to shed some light on. This should make it easier for you to know what types of clothes are suitable for your visit.

Here are a few general guidelines about the Do's and Don't's when it comes to clothing:

Do wear light-weighted fabrics during the months of May - September.

Do not wear heavy cotton denims typical of Northern Europe and USA/Canada during summer months- choose light-weight denim cotton instead.

Do choose lighter coloured clothing during summer months and more muted/autumnal conservative colours during cooler months.

Do respect religion. The church is still an integral part of Spanish life and wearing shorts or being scantily dressed whilst visiting a church will not be appreciated. If visiting Barcelona Cathedral men should wear long trousers and women should have a shawl or a full top covering their shoulders.

Do dress up a bit if you are going out for a nice supper. You won't necessarily be turned away if you're dressed casually, however, an evening out in Barcelona generally means you should be looking good and well dressed.

Avoid wearing 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.

We have had some tourists write in saying they have seen people wearing shorts in the city. This is true - but the majority of the people they have seen are mostly also just tourists.

Locals also wear shorts (mainly the older generation) however these shorts are generally conservative and normally of the longer type.

Do 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 here, and you will quickly see the styles and fabrics that are popular in the city. If you try on some clothes from shops in Barcelona, you will notice that the fabrics are much lighter weight than most Northern European clothes and much more comfortable and suitable for the climate here.

Do not wear a bumbag. I know they're useful, but tourists mainly wear them, and in fact, they are easily removed by sleight-handed thieves.

Clothes not to wear in Barcelona if you want to blend in with the locals
Spot the tourist! Classic examples of clothes not to wear if you want to blend in with the locals

Avoid wearing shorts/mini skirts with strappy tops/bikinis in the city centre. Despite the fact that on the beach less is better seems to be the rule don't be shocked at topless girls with thong bikinis. In the city however Catalan women tend to be more conservative.

Typical summer clothes worn by the locals in Barcelona

Do choose fitted styled clothes. The Catalans dress well, and their clothes fit well and look sophisticated. In the winter people tend to look quite smart all the time, in fitted jackets, boots and darker or autumnal colours.

Do not wear bright, 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.

Do wear denims but remember that in the summer you will need extra lightweight denim. Your heavy denim fabrics from colder countries will not be comfortable during the summer months, and you won't be able to wear it comfortably. Denims are popular here in every style and worn throughout the year.

Do not forget about your shoes, the Catalans love shoes, and a pair of shabby shoes can let down a whole outfit. In summer leather sandals are also popular.

Business Clothes

If you are coming to Barcelona for business then bring your work clothes. For men, you will be expected to wear jackets and ties for formal business meetings - even if it's hot. But again, your suit fabric weight is an important factor. If you have a heavy fabric suit, you won't be able to comfortably wear it in summer, and it may be worth purchasing a lightweight fabric suit and shirt here if you intend to stay in Barcelona for more than a few days.

Women should wear dresses or skirts for business and a conservative cotton blouse.

As a general guideline, the more casual your clothes are (shorts, vests, flip flops) the more you are likely to stand out as a tourist.

Barcelona is a vibrant multi-cultural city with a good variety of clothes and styles. Nowadays you can find every style clothing here from dreadlocked hippies, trendy denim-clad teenagers to smart, conservative dressers. The aim of this article, however, is to assist you in not appearing like an obvious tourist. It is also to ensure you are comfortable and wear appropriate clothing for the climate. This may mean purchasing a few items of clothes locally which have the correct lightweight fabric suitable for the climate here.

I hope these Barcelona clothes tips and dress code will help you feel more relaxed on your visit to Barcelona. There are thousands of tourists who don't have a clue what to wear and are easily spotted. With this article, you needn't be one of them if you don't wish to be.

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