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The Style Olympics: Spain

I owe the women of Spain a debt I can’t possibly repay. They showed me how to flirt in Spanish, took me clubbing for the first time and taught me how to drink martinis…and when to stop drinking martinis! Most importantly, they taught me how to dress like a girl.

Photo by Joan Lesan on Flickr

The first time I went to Spain, I was seventeen and I packed mostly oversized men’s Silvertab jeans and giant combat boots. (It was the ’90s! I had a residual grunge fascination!) It took about five roasting hot, Madrid in August minutes to realize that I needed a new look.

And I wanted to look like the girls around me in the Plaza Mayor, cool, lithe creatures in slim, dark, painted-on skinny jeans and gauzy skirts. They lounged around in chic sandals, layers of fun scarves and jewelry and seemingly no make-up at all.

The tomboy in me loved that Spanish fashion isn’t blatant and in your face. It’s practical and mellow and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The Spanish have a lot of fun with accessories. Scarves and sunglasses are important. And every Spanish girl I’ve ever met has worn a wrist full of bracelets in a variety of different materials – gold, silver, leather and fabric – just piled on like the ones in the photo above from Abataba.

Photo by Lovely Pepa

Spain is a neutral-lovers paradise; cream, white, brown and army green get just as much play as black. But there’s a mischievous side to Spanish fashion too — Spanish girls love crazy prints and teeny dresses for going out.

And you can’t ignore Spain’s strong boho element. From the neo-hippies in the white washed old city of Granada who rock embroidered peasant blouses and harem pants to the easy, beachy dresses and leather sandals on the southern beaches, Spanish girls never seem to try too hard.

When the weather gets cooler, guys and girls alike just layer on a crisp blazer or well-worn leather jacket, toss on a scarf and a great pair of shades and call it good.

Websites I Love: My Daily Style: A fun, slightly more high-fashion look at Spanish style and styling. The author sometimes has readers submit photos of how they styled an particular, so you can get a ton of ideas.

El Blog de Renee: A basic blog that features casual, real girl style.

Lovely Pepa: I love, love, love this blog. Alexandra, the author, seems like the quintessential Spanish girl with an edge. I love the outfits she puts together and her Instagram shots and store recommendations are excellent too.

Great Shops: Zara: Beautifully designed, on-trend pieces for men, women and kids. The palette is mainly neutral and the pieces veer toward professional, but everything has an interesting edge.

Mango: Young, fun and colorful; a downtown take on Spanish style for men and women.

Celop Punto: This seems like Spain’s version of Forever 21, with lots of colorful, affordable basics.

Abataba: This is my most recent discovery – a rabbit hole of cool accessories.

Get the Look: Both guys and girls can rock slim, dark jeans and a well-cut blazer this fall. Ladies, try out a maxi dress in a ethnic print or a pair of leather sandals while the weather is still warm enough!

Photo at left by El Blog de Renee So do you think Spain has better style than Great Britain? What elements of Spanish style work with you look? Which Spanish styling tips are you interested in trying? Tell me what you think below!

Photo by Extra Zebra on Flickr

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