Greetings from Barthelona, home of incredible pork products, the second best football team in Spain and a whole lot of cool-looking melty buildings.
It is not, however, home to many big girls. Do they not exist? Are they simply not allowed out of doors? I’m not sure.
I’d like to report on the elegance of Spanish gorditas, but the handful I’ve seen so far seem to suffer the same fate as many of their American sisters: cheap clothes, especially the ubiquitous cheap graphic top with tackazoid metallic screen prints. Sigh.
I suspect it’s a question of supply. Their access to stylish plus-size clothing must be even more limited than in the US.
Sure there’s Marina Rinaldi, but I popped into their store on the Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s equivalent to Rodeo Drive, and although the clothes were beautifully made, they do err on the side of elegantly mumsy with disheartening frequency.
That being said, I have noticed a certain out-and-about uniform here in the heart of Catalunya.
From the sweet young things trundling to language class to the stopped-counting-after-Franco doyennes walking their blue-rinsed terriers along the Carrer d’Aragó, long but tidy woven scarves abound. The older women tend to wear them neatly knotted in a cravat while the younger set goes for a more casual double wrap drape around the neck.
Fit is Everything
In the US there seems to be two fits: painted on or falling off. Most of us do our best to navigate the middle ground, but ours is often a tale of woe, with a top clinging like a needy ex one day only to be stretched out beyond recognition after the first wash. Although skinny jeans are still the pants of choice, they’re merely close-fitted, not denim deathgrips. Tops can be loose or skim without clinging and sleeves end where sleeves ought to end, not a foot south of the wrist.
I’ve got to say, this one threw me a little. Even outside their fashion institute, the cuts and colors were surprisingly conservative, much more along the lines of DC than New York or, God Forbid, LA.
Cleavage was virtually non-existent even on warm days and when it made an appearance, it was incidental, not integral to the look. As for speculum length minis, I’ve only seen two: both worn by drunk British girls. Which isn’t to say there weren’t short skirts, but they were paired with matching opaque tights –usually black for both– and loose fitting tops.
Another surprise, and I suspect a seasonal one. Barcelona embraces a very Donna Karan color palette with grays from heather to charcoal, soft browns from fawn to dark chocolate, muted pinks and blues and every possible permutation of beige. It might not sound exciting, but it looks fantastic. Bolder colors –if hunter green and rust are bold– come from the omnipresent scarves. The makeup is muted too, and women, especially women of a certain age, looked the world better for it.
What to wear in Barcelona to fit in with the locals:
- A loose but not sloppy thin sweater or knit top over a slimmer knit or button down shirt in complimentary neutrals. Lightweight moto-cut twill jacket if it’s chilly at night.
- Long woven scarf in an interesting color or pattern
- Dark slim-cut denim or twill pants either paired with boots or ballet flats. Precariously high heels look out of place for day, though I’ve seen a pair or two at night.
- Hair is either long and slightly unkempt or chic bordering on New Wave and accessories are about what you’d see in the states with big bags abounding, although there’s little to no 80’s or 90’s hipster irony, thanks be to God.