Traveling to another country can be a bit overwhelming, heck traveling overall is a pain. You begin by brainstorming about all of the necessary items you need to bring. Toiletries, electronics, money, and clothing are some of the many things we as travelers consider heavily. Personally speaking while planning for my trip to Madrid I neglected to research just what fashion was like here for men, and that, my friends, was a mistake. Forget the cargo shorts and get your hands on a pair of linen trousers ‘cause I’m going to give you the rundown on the “do’s and don’ts” for fashion here in Madrid.
Like I said before, lose the cargos, leave your favorite jean shorts at home, too. The summer heat here fluctuates uncontrollably so it is best to wear fabrics with a looser knitting textile like cotton. Unfortunately I didn’t get the memo, so on my first beautiful summer outing with the crew I threw on a pair of my favorite denim shorts. Let me set the scene, it was about 10am and roughly 76 degrees out… accompanying the nice weather was the most beautiful music by street artists and the scent of freshly brewed coffee, so I was pretty optimistic! Casually strolling through the city, emphasis on “casually,” I literally felt bullets of sweat streaming down my calf muscles, I then looked around and realized not only was I the only black guy around, but I was the only guy wearing denim shorts. Needless to say I was pretty “shook” (American lingo for shocked or dumbfounded), and after that I began taking notes! Jean shorts, cargos, sweat pants, and thick denim trousers are a major DO NOT, unless you want an early death cause by a heatstroke or in my case a dramatic amount of embarrassment. Since that incident I’ve grown much, much wiser and decided to do a little shopping, thankfully that’s the easy part about visiting here in Madrid. One of the major places I hit up was the big Spanish fashion store “ZARA” over on Calle Del Conde De Peñalver, 16, which was literally walking distance from where I am staying. Now this place was basically a kingdom of everything fashion plus the simple fact that certain items were affordable made it even better. Other do’s pertaining to men’s fashion here were various items like Chinos, thin button downs, rich colored items paired with a simple white shirt! A few more don’ts include denim shirts, jersey tank tops, and flip flops!
Keep in mind that if you aren’t aware of what to wear not only will you be sticking out like a sore thumb, but the locals notice and it seems like the majority of them think it’s rather funny. An employee at another big fashion emporium “Mango Man,” named Ashley C., who is a 27-year-old man born and raised right here in Madrid, said, “A majority of the male tourists that come into our store are dressed poorly, and seems as if they could care less about how they present themselves.” I was surprised by his comment not only because it is indeed true because I have seen it myself, but because it is a common stereotype that I realized circulates throughout the Calle Fuencarral shopping capital! I proceeded asking Ashley a few more questions, “What summer style do you hate seeing?” response-“ I really dislike seeing jean trousers that aren’t cuffed or cropped at the bottom, it is too hot to wear full length jeans during summertime.” Many Madrid men wear cotton shorts that aren’t your typical colors. Many of the men wear colors such as light pink, yellow, light or dark blue, various shades of greens, and my favorite a salmon color! Those vibrant colors symbolize something more than just summertime, they symbolize the personal connection men here have with their fashion here in Madrid.
After conversing with Ashley I then grew a tad bit curious and wanted to know what would a woman think about various do’s and don’ts for the summertime here also? Luckily I bumped into Mara Gonzalez, 32, who has lived in Madrid for most of her life. I began by first asking her “What is one item you would never wear during summertime here in Madrid?” response-“Something I wouldn’t wear in Madrid? Perhaps jeans because it is really hot, even if it is distressed I wouldn’t wear it!” “So what do you find yourself wearing?” response-“Dresses, shorts… preferably made out of cotton, and I love silk also.” “Does that mean you wouldn’t wear linen?” response-“Linen not so much.” The women here in Madrid dress beautifully and strategic, planning their wardrobe around their entire day. Various patterns on their skirts and shirts, sometimes matched with a dramatic heel or trainers. Maria’s insight plus my own fashion knowledge has brought me to the conclusion that there is no dressing down for women here. The women here rarely put on jeans in the summer when planning on hitting the streets, they either wear very flattering dresses or skirts, and if they do decide to put on any type of trouser it’ll be one made of light fabric! As for myself, leaving Madrid I’ll definitely be taking home pretty cool fashion tips from the way the men of this city carry themselves!
Zara; Calle Del Conde de Peñalver, 16; +34 917 81 87 88; 10am to 9pm.
Mango Man; Calle Fuencarral, 4; 91 524 9640; 10am to 930pm.