written by: Ellie Walker•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 3/30/2011
What do college students in Spain wear? Learn the basics of Spanish fashion with this brief guide to common fashion dos and don’ts and popular trends sported by Spanish students.
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The Tourist Look
Perhaps the first question shouldn’t be, “What do college students in Spain wear?" but rather, what don’t they wear? The answer is simple: shorts, sneakers and flip-flops. One of the most certain ways to label yourself as a tourist in Spain is to slip on a comfortable pair of Nikes and gym shorts. Generally, Spaniards dress slightly more conservatively than Americans when it comes to showing off legs, and they dress slightly more formally in their footwear and everyday wear. This means study abroad students should avoid wearing miniskirts, midriff-baring tops or anything that is too revealing.
Swap a comfortable pair of sneakers or flip-flops for a stylish pair of flat sandals. Not only will they help you blend in better with the locals, but they’ll also be relatively comfortable for walking down uneven, cobblestone streets. Don a pair of lightweight trouser pants instead of shorts; even when the weather is warm, fabrics like linen will keep you feeling cool without risking a possible sunburn.
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General Fashion Trends for Students in Spain
The main difference between fashion in Spain and that of other western countries is its penchant for refined, classic style. Both men and women dress more elegantly and formally, with the men frequently sporting suits and the women wearing dresses and trousers.
While college students won’t be dressing up every day, they tend to focus more on long-lasting, quality items. Breezy summer dresses are a common favorite, as are flowing trouser pants. Denim is still very popular, but stay away from ripped, faded or heavily distressed jeans and stick to dark slim jeans to blend in better. Skirts are also common, and many Spanish women enjoy playing with different fabrics, prints and textures, as well as layering during transition periods between seasons. Bring a lightweight jacket or blazer to pair with short sleeves during cooler spring and summer evenings and to wear when entering religious buildings.
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In the warmer months, sun hats are a popular favorite, as they provide decent protection against the blazing sun, while still adding a stylish twist on any outfit. Fans are also a popular and unique statement--and they really keep you cool in hot Spanish summers. Shoe trends will vary depending on the season and on the year, but it’s best to stay with shoes that are comfortable, conservative and classic. Even if heels are the current trend, a timeless pair of well-worn flats will help you stay relatively fashionable while avoiding tumbles on bumpy pavement. Scarves are a popular accessory for travelers as well, as they provide a shoulder covering, necessary for entering religious buildings, and they can be added to accessorize plainer outfits.
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Popular Shopping Destinations
Three of the main places where Spanish students shop are H&M, Mango and Zara for their budget-friendly prices and fashion-forward trend pieces. Other smaller boutiques are also popular, however, and many students studying abroad might find good deals and unique, creative clothes and accessories at less widely known shops.
The answer to the question, "What do college students in Spain wear?" can often be discovered at these popular retail hubs, but students following the basic fashion guidelines listed here should have no problem blending in when traveling to Spain.