Sunday, November 4, 2012

How to Dress Like a Spanish Grandpa

Over the next couple of months or so, I’m going to try and provide a few tips for my fellow men on how to dress more like a native Spaniard. (Not that you have to if you visit here, by any means! This is just if you’re curious about how they dress.)

Here in Úbeda where I live, the ratio of older to younger people is pretty lopsided in favor of the former, so I get many chances each day to observe retired Spaniard fashion. So today, I want to give you some pointers on how to dress like a Spanish grandpa.

Spanish grandpa pants and shoes
Interruption by Fernando Rodríguez
on Flickr

By “grandpa” I mean simply the older generation of men that, for lack of a better distinction, came of age well before the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975. In parts two and three of this little “Spanish menswear” series, I’m going to talk about adult Spaniards and teenagers. But for now, abuelos it is.

Whenever you see them walking around town (something I admire very much about the elderly here—even the slow, hunched-over, cane-using man will have his daily walk despite his age!), they will invariably be dressed in a simple, stylish, and classy manner.

While there are always exceptions depending on the person, the weather, etc., five elements define a Spanish grandpa’s uniform:

1) Flat cap or newsboy hat

Spanish grandpa hats
~~ Abuelo II ~~ by Oscar Brene
on Flickr
Even the simple wearing of hats hearkens back to the times when most men wore hats whenever they went outside—as they once did in America, too. Of course, while there have been attempts to restart the hat-wearing custom among younger men in the States, here in Spain it’s still a mark of older guys. Usually the newsboy hat is the most popular choice.

2) Button-up shirt (tie optional)

Spanish grandpas tend to wear button-up shirts almost exclusively; I’ve never seen them wearing casual t-shirts. Often they’ll sport a tie as well depending on the occasion.

3) Cardigan and/or blazer

In the U.S., cardigan-style sweaters have been making a comeback as a fashionable article of clothing for men to wear, especially for us younger types, despite years of association with grandfatherly types like Mister Rogers. Here in Spain, this (ironic) fad hasn’t quite caught on with the youth, so you will most often see them worn by the senior crowd. A blazer can also replace/be paired with a cardigan, especially once it starts to get cold outside.

4) Slacks

Spanish grandpa on a bench
100 Strangers #012
(Grumpy Old Spanish Man)
by Sebastian Raskop
on Flickr
At first I was going to put “khakis” or just “pants” (trousers in the UK!) but I feel like the English word “slacks” connotes just the type of more formal pants they wear here. The colors dark brown, navy, gray, black, or khaki are most popular.

5) Leather shoes

American tourists often get a bad rap for wearing chunky, white training/running shoes regardless of the weather or social situation. Not so with older Spanish men—they rock the classic, traditional leather shoes like they never went out of style. From loafers, to captoes, to wingtips and everything in between, grandpas here shod themselves very fashionably.

How does this compare with how our grandfathers dress in the U.S. or in other parts of the world? Do you think this is a fashionable way to dress or simply outdated? Do Spanish grandpas dress differently in other parts of Spain? Talk about it in the comments!
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