So I think that New York has spoiled me. Actually, I know that New York has spoiled me. Growing up in the ‘burbs of Dallas, Texas, my exposure included Nike shorts and football season shirts (cowboy hats/boots were reserved for special events… such as prom)—when I came to the big city, it was immediately clear that everything I knew was, in fact, not fashion (not that I didn’t already know this, but it was a nice confirmation that what was considered “cool” in my high school is in fact considered “what not to wear” in the rest of the world). After being in New York and adopting the all black fashion sense of a commuter, I remember nervously packing in August, wondering what the hell people in Madrid wore: would it be a culture shock just like it was when I moved to the big apple?
Absolutely not. I’m not saying that I’m some serious styleista—but I do read Refinery 29 at least once a week and follow Jeremy Scott on Instagram so… ya I know fashion. Therefore, when I showed up to Madrid I realized that people here just dressed “normal”. The Madrileño style really isn’t any different than style all in any other big city in the world. Also, I’ve noticed that style varies from barrio to barrio—where I live, it just happens to not really be a concern. However, go to areas like Calle Serrano(aka the 5th Ave, of Madrid) or Malasaña,(the city’s “little Brooklyn”), and you will find styles unique to the area.
Walking down Serrano, the storefronts hit your wallet like a slap to the face. Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Chloé, Armani, Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin, Prada, Mont Blanc, and Cartier are all there to please the elite and further jeopardize the study abroad student’s wallet. Women of a certain age strut down the street in furs like The Golden Mile is their runway. The best part: I saw the first fur the first day the temperature dipped below 70 degrees. It’s not for warmth. It’s for fashion. I go down runs down this street as a sort of motivation—I run faster so I can go back and work on my LinkedIn to hopefully one-day score a job that makes over minimum wage. I hope one day to look like the grannies of Calle Serrano who look like a beautiful marriage of Golden Girls and Project Runway.
Then you have Malasaña the opposite side of the fashion spectrum: couture meets las calles. Anyone that has meandered through Brooklyn or stepped into an Urban Outfitters is very familiar with the “I-saw-this-on-a-homeless-man-and-thought-OMG-CUTE” look. Jeans filled with holes, black stocking caps, flannel shirts (always tied around the waist or layered over a shirt) and old sneakers—usually intentionally scuffed up to add to the aesthetic can be seen on all the 20 to 30 something year olds posing in front of the soft grunge street art or snapping a picture of their oat milk latte for Instagram. My people.
I love Madrid. I love it’s eclectic style. I love it’s lack of style. I love that no matter what you’re wearing, you can go somewhere in the city and instantly be in style. This is the charm of a big city. Just as not all New Yorker’s wear black on black on black the stereotypical image of all women in Madrid wearing their Flamenco gear and carrying their lace fans through the streets on a warm fall day just isn’t true. While this would be awesome, I have yet to see anyone in Flamenco garb. However, I have seen a few lace fans and am presently on the hunt for one myself… if you know where I may get one please let me know.