While winter storm Jonas slammed the Northeastern United States this past weekend, I am giving thanks for the exact opposite in Madrid. We have been blessed with a few mild days, contrasting the snowy circumstances of most of my friends and family in America. With the recent temperature increase as my guide, I think it is safe to say that I will not see snow this winter. A piece of me would have appreciated looking out of my bedroom window on a pristine, 2-foot blanket of snow, but the rest of me is enjoying a cool breeze and the sunshine of Spain.
Winter, though, is not over, as I continue to see Spaniards bundled up and prepared for any weather. Blending in with Madrid’s street-style was a top priority of mine, and though some of my ideas of Spanish appearance were incorrect, I am proud to say I have packed prepared to fit in. After two weeks, and miles of city walking, I feel qualified to report on my first impressions of this season’s Spanish style and winter wear in Madrid.
Hair and Makeup
The high ponytail is here! Spanish women style this look either entirely clean and slicked back, or parted down the middle with volume. When hair is down, women often opt for straight or natural waves, occasionally dyed lighter with highlights or ombré. There has also been a surprising number of women with rainbow-colored hair- estimated ages from 15 to 85!
Young or old, makeup is heavy and dark. Thick, winged eyeliner, smokey eyes, dark lips, and heavy foundation can be found on nearly every face. Cosmetic habits, though, are often dictated by the season, winter makeup looks may change with the approaching warmer weather.
Is it a small blanket or a large scarf? Oversized scarves are a Madrid winter staple. Often a plaid pattern, these scarves are functional, effectively blocking the January chill.
Spanish women keep their jewelry simple, opting for studs and a thin bracelet (no Alex-and-Ani-filled wrists here!), with the occasional statement necklace.
Oh, the outerwear. Spanish women have the best winter coats! From wool to leather to fur, in classic black, neutral blush, or warm grey, as a jacket, cape, or vest, the options are endless. Rather than a cover over clothing to stay warm, the Spaniards seem to regard a jacket as a part of the outfit, integrating it into the day’s look.
Though it is not easy to observe entire outfits when they are trapped beneath winter coats, watching from the waist-down reveals has revealed several trends. Spaniards work their wardrobes double time (which is necessary to do with such a lack of space for clothes) by wearing wintery black tights under warm-weather shorts or skirts. They seem to further ignore the cold with cropped pants and exposed ankles, most commonly paired with sneakers. This look coveys a sporty playfulness, contrasting their usual luxe and polished appearance.
Everyone owns a pair of white sneakers (But the right kind of white sneakers. If you have to ask if you have the correct white sneakers to wear in Madrid, do not wear them). Unsurprisingly, adidas Originals, like Stan Smiths, are the tennis shoe of choice, but other trending athleisure shoes, such as Nike Roches and Air Force 1’s, are common as well.
*Note: I have not seen any Converse sneaker on a Spaniard. To the average onlooker, they may blend in, but the locals will know that you’re an American.
If a Spanish woman is not sporting a sneaker, she is most likely wearing ankle boots. Be it black or brown, leather or suede, flats or heels, these shoes can do it all. Dressed up or dressed down, versatile ankle boots are perfect for a Spaniard’s … but practical style. Below-the-knee riding boots are not as popular as their half-heighted counterparts, though a few Spanish fashionistas have dared to try the over-the-knee trend, and have, of course, made it work.
Contrary to my personal belief, the Spaniards do not apply their “No pasa nada” (No big deal) lifestyle to their appearance. Cold or mild, winter storm Jonas or not, the people in Madrid always look their best. With winter rebajas, or sales, coming to end, it’s time to pick up some new clothes and step up my street-style game.
Paz, Amor, Madrid