So this is a bit of a broad topic, since there’s a lot that I’ve learned with regards to clothing in Seville. Before I left home, I tried to look up blogs and figure out what people were wearing, if it’s super formal, if I needed to wear heels every day, etc. but wasn’t able to find a lot of helpful information. So that’s where I’ll start.
What to Pack, and What to Wear (At Least in Winter Months)
Pack shoes you can walk in. That is the number one most important thing. Converse style shoes are super popular, as well as stylish flats and boots. A lot of “going out” shoes are sparkly oxford-looking platforms, or booties with heels. Side note: Heely’s are also making a comeback, apparently. Tennis shoes are surprisingly common in everyday wear, but if you have brightly colored running shoes, save them for your runs. Black or white tennis shoes can be seen in everyday outfits. Seville’s Mediterranean culture is a bit more relaxed than, say, France (where you’re actually supposed to look nice to go get a coffee), but still a bit more formal than in America.That means you can wear a dress if you want, but you can also wear leggings and a flannel… but probably not at the same time. It is important to note that they do have different clothes for staying in the house and for leaving the house. Within the home, it’s appropriate to wear sweats, but make sure to leave them at the house. On this note, make sure you pick up a pair of house slippers. Those are huge here, and a friend of mine actually was scolded by her host parents for not having them (more like a “you’re going to catch a cold” type thing, but still). Since it’s technically winter, a lot of people also have winter jackets (it was about 40 degrees F on the coldest days, so think accordingly– in Wisconsin it means something very different from Florida). Finding a decent jacket here was pretty easy though, and fairly cheap. Next, scarves. Scarves are huuuuge here. My host mom was stunned that I would leave without something covering my clavicle (like not having my jacket zipped up fully) because she insisted that I would get sick from freezing. Not sure about that, but scarves are a huge part of the style here. If you have a favorite from home, definitely bring it, and if you don’t, you’ll definitely be able to buy some here. In addition, the other big staple of style seen in Seville: leather jackets. For class, for bars, for clubs, for ice cream. Literally everywhere, all day, every day. Again, if you have a favorite from home, bring it and wear it in. If you don’t, no worries, you’ll definitely find some here. So basically, if you want to dress like the typical chica Sevillana, I’d suggest layers of some shirt, sweater combo, with a leather jacket on top, skinny jeans (leather-style leggings work, too), sparkly/platform oxfords, with a scarf and some lipstick to top it off. Also, during the day, don’t forget your sunglasses. As much of a necessity as an accessory.
For men, the general same rules seem to apply… Leather jackets are still big, button downs/sweaters are good, nice jeans, maybe slim shape(?), scarves and sunglasses… yeah. I can’t get too much more specific, since I’ve spent a significant amount of time studying the women and not as much on the men. But they also seem to have a little more flexibility with casual/formal-wear. So you probably have a little more leeway.
Shopping: What are Stores in Spain Like?
Everything is very specialized. So, think of a Target or a Walmart, and then think of all the stores you’d have to go to if those didn’t exist. That’s what my experience has been. Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, as it encourages exploration of the city and usually there’s a better range of products available. It’s just a switch in thinking to have to plan a trip to look for things you never thought twice about before… things like clothing hangers or toothbrushes or gum. Every once in a while you’ll find a store that seems to sell a little bit of everything [[See Tiger]], but for the most part it’s fairly boutique-y. Also important, pharmacies are not like Walgreens. Over-the-counter is not really a thing here. Every pharmacy (and there is one on literally every corner- look for the green plus sign) has a pharmacist working, who went to pharmacy school and has the degree and everything, and you just have to ask them and they will get you what you need. Which isn’t what we’re used to doing, but it might be for the best since they probably know what we need better than we do. ***Note, you still need a prescription to get prescription medications.
Don’t forget to bring your passport if you’re going out shopping (and planning to use a card)! Your passport is functioning in place of a driver’s license– they just need to match the name and face to make sure your card is yours. Some places will take a scanned copy, but it’s up to each individual store to decide whether they will accept copies or not. I was turned away from Zara, surprisingly, when I presented a scanned copy instead of my actual passport. Since then, I just make sure to grab it if I know I want to use my credit card instead of cash. (But for safety’s sake, leave the passport at home the rest of the time!)
One of the most frustrating things during shopping around has been the difference in sizes. It’s also hard to make a general statement about it, since stores seem to have different sizing systems. Some stores will use the S/M/L/XL system, others use numbers, but there seem to be several more systems at play– one with dress sizes, one with jeans, and another with bras… though one store so far that I’ve seen also has the American system for bra sizing labeled underneath (score). So basically, my best advice to you would be to look up some European sizing charts and seeing what you think you’ll be looking for size-wise. That includes shoe sizing!!!!!!!! Aldo uses European sizing, so I already knew my shoe size before coming, but several girls were annoyed to find that they had to try on shoes repeatedly before figuring out their approximate size. Obviously you can trial-and-error it out if you need to, but it can be annoying and time consuming, so if you go in knowing your size, it might be a smoother ride all around. Side note, if you have a special size that you need (bras, wide shoes, etc.) and you know some stores don’t stock it, it might be best to look up some stores in your area ahead of time or to bring a few of the item with you. Just something to be aware of!
Probably the least glamorous of the subtopics, but still important… Laundry. Laundry, from my experience, is done about once every week or two, on the weekends. The important thing to note is that THERE ARE NO DRYING MACHINES HERE. NONE. AT ALL. YOU LINE-DRY EVERYTHING. EVERY TIME. This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, and really, it’s not, but it took me by surprise, and the first time my host mom washed one of my cardigans, it took about a week to dry. Which means I scrambled for a few days to find something else to wear, since I wasn’t thinking about it and was unprepared. It also means that if the weather is super gross and rainy, you might not be washing your sweaters too soon. My host family will bring the clothesline inside if it’s necessary, but it’s easier to avoid hanging out laundry to dry if you know it’s going to be raining. Oh, and it also means that you need to get over someone else touching your undies like right this second. I get it, it’s weird. And it can be kind of strange to see your bra flapping in the wind on the balcony where anyone can see. But it’s not weird here, and no one else is thinking about it, so you need to just take a deep breath and relax, and embrace it. Someone else is doing your laundry. Enjoy it.