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Shorts/Capris/Pants

Hello all!
A silly question, really. My husband and I are traveling to Andalusia for two weeks in early April. It's looking like it's going to be QUITE warm when we're there. For example, today's high in Sevilla is 79F.

We were originally planning on jeans/pants and t-shirts, but it's looking like we may need to consider shorts or capris? What's "fashionably appropriate" in Spain? I remember from Rick's "best of Europe series" that he said shorts might be tacky or otherwise not cool in Europe? I know we'll look like typical tourists no matter what, but the less we can stick out like sore thumbs, the better.

Any ideas would be great! Thank you!

Posted by
21327 posts

There is no definite answers - just lots of personal opinions. My personal opinion is not to look sloppy or overly causal. We have noticed that the Europeans tend to dress a bit better in the cities - rarely see shorts except on tourists. Other posters will tell you to wear what you like or are comfortable with. My point is to dress a notch better than the average tourists so when the pickpocket is looking for a target he is not sure who we are when he sees us and will focus on someone else.

Posted by
19395 posts

One thing to consider is the possibility that you might not get into some churches in shorts or sleeveless tops. I'm not sure exactly what the rules are, and they probably vary. I haven't been to Andalucia in ages, but the cathedral (not La Sagrada Familia) in Barcelona is rather strict; our tour guide carried some fabric that tour members could drape over themselves as necessary.

I'm confident that capris would raise no eyebrows.

Posted by
67 posts

Good points, Frank & acraven! I hadn't considered the issue of not being able to get into some of the more "sacred" or religious areas. I appreciate the advice!!

Posted by
12040 posts

I remember from Rick's "best of Europe series" that he said shorts might be tacky or otherwise not cool in Europe?

Extremely outdated advice. Mr. Steves is a good source for easy-to-digest information on the history of European culture, but he seems to be oblivious to many of the current social, fashion, culinary and pop cultural trends. When it gets hot enough, plenty of Europeans break out the shorts during their leisure hours. The key there, however, is "leisure hours". Most of the non-tourists you will encounter are probably going to and from work, where shorts are just as inappropriate as at your work.

Whether or not to wear shorts is a personal and situational preference, but please don't base your decision on advice that's about 20 years out of date.

Posted by
6766 posts

They key is for the shorts to fit well and look neat, for lack of better words...no giant (overly) baggy cargo shorts or stuff that looks like safari gear. I think linen pants or shorts are great but they do wrinkle a lot. Capris are very popular (in many colors) - there was a thread many years ago here about capris, it was quite funny.

Posted by
2542 posts

You can wear whatever you want - there are no rules different than at home, except some churches may prohibit bare knees.

But since you ask and seem to care - men rarely wear shorts, but do wear capris (yes, men).

Women wear capris or skirts/dresses. Young girls, like college age sometimes wear all sorts of shorts and young-ish women (under 40s) may sometimes wear nice shorts. That is, shorts with a blouse, jewelry and nice shoes but NOT a t-shirt and sneakers. It seems that shorts have to be dressed-up to be fashionable.
What I do is wear casual sundresses, usually a bit above the knee but not short, with walking sandals. This is cooler than pants and even cooler than shorts, and looks nicer. Capris are fine too, I just don't like them on me and find dresses cooler in the heat.

Another note - it gets very hot in Andalucia in summer so 79F will feel pleasant to locals, but not super-hot shorts weather. On days that are over 100 people may wear shorts more because it is ridiculously hot even to them.

Posted by
67 posts

Amazing advice from everyone - thank you!! My husband and I both have chunky walking shoes (Merrells), so sundresses might look weird on me (I don't really want to pack a second pair of shoes). However capris I like just fine. I'll see if I can find something breezy and light for my husband. Sounds like jeans aren't going to be on the menu this trip!

Posted by
2581 posts

I totally agree with you, Frank. I share the same view. There are always these two sides to the what to wear dilemma: either "when In Rome do as Romans do" or "be yourself". I actually believe it's a mixture of the two, but mostly the first one, for convenience if anything: if I "am totally myself" and wear what I want without any regard for what locals wear, in certain instances I might (1) alienate (or worst, even offend) locals, (2) stand-out "too much" for my likeness -I hate being the focus of anything!, (3) announce "I'm a tourist" in capital letters to would-be petty criminals, (4) be excluded from entering some premises (from churches to restaurants to other private buildings/venues) if I'm found not to be "in accordance with local practices", whatever they might be... and they're of course in their right to do so, after all, I'm a guest at someone else's. So at the end of the day, it's more practical "do as Romans do", isn't it? :)))

As per the specific question from @ampshetler, I would say "it depends"... she's mentioning Sevilla -I'm not familiar with the mores there- but, in general terms, cities have different "habits" than smaller towns and villages. Also, interior cities are different from coastal ones. And finally, in the specific case of Spain, the different cultures existing here also have quite different approaches to this matter, something that might be appropriate say in Barcelona (which is quite smart casual) might not be so in say Madrid (which is more uptight in this matter). Also, note that one's own personal culture is also a factor... it's wrong to think that everybody you see in a city is local; they might be residents indeed, but not necessarily from the same culture -not even the same nationality- as an example, Barcelona has over 20% of its population from nearly 120 different nationalities. For this same reason, thinking "you'll stand out as a tourist anyway" it's not necessarily so... you'll stand out if you dress too differently, or if you walk with an unfolded map looking astonished.... ;)

For most major cities I would recommend a middle approach... long trousers if possible (cotton is very fresh) vs shorts, especially for men. Capris for women are ideal since they're probably fresher than proper trousers but not as revealing as shorts, or short shorts! -which might not be appropriate in certain places/venues. But again, it'll all depend on where do you plan to go... if it's only strolling, a museum here and there and a lunch at any regular restaurant you should wear whatever you like and won't have any problem anywhere.

Finally... in respect of my hometown, Barcelona, for info: swimsuits, bikinis and naked torsos are only allowed on the beach and adjacent streets... anywhere else in the city you can be stopped by the Police and fined... that's City Regulations. Incidentally, on the beach, topless is common practice (no specific areas for that) and we even have some beaches where nudism is also practised. Same goes with many beaches along the Catalan coast. We Catalans are very casual and open about this.

PS: sorry guys, I know in the US you use the word "pants", but although I've lived there too, I've spent more time in the UK.... and pants, in the UK, is something you don't go showing to everybody, LOL!

Posted by
1145 posts

Would you consider taking another pair of shoes to go with the sundress? I find that my sandals don't take up much room, in fact they squish into any nook or cranny in my suitcase (they are cute orthodics-Aetrex brand). My husband wears cargo shorts all the time and they look great, plus he has to be comfortable in his own skin. I think Jeans would be smart to bring for long train rides and night time.

Posted by
2581 posts

@Mira, well spotted.... your observations are quite accurate :)

Posted by
67 posts

I think I'm gonna look into some alternative sandals and dress options. And I'll try to steer my husband toward "nice" shorts and cotton pants. I'll definitely bring some jeans just in case. I was really astonished to see how how it is already in Andalucia!

Posted by
67 posts

@Letizia - the Aetrex give you good support for MANY miles per day walking? I'm interested!

Posted by
3789 posts

In a number of areas of Europe, churches or religious places prefer - or dictate - covered shoulders and knees for men and women. Some provide items to cover up with, or bring your own shawl for shoulders. Some travelers will be respectful and abide by that adage, others will try their luck and see what happens.
Though it might seem like 'olden days' I did read a reason that shorts for men are not common except at the beach - they grew up wearing shorts as 'boys' and finally being allowed to wear 'long pants' was the sign of a 'man'. This was agreed upon by numerous European men - though I can't recall how many were from Spain.
Lastly, for consideration, and this was on Spanish etiquette - if you find yourself going to restaurants and being told there is no seating available - it might be the shorts or overly casual dress.....
As to investing in another pair of shoes, particularly with the cobble stones and hard walking a tourist does, it is advisable to change shoes as wearing the same one can create blisters or soreness when always rubbing on the same spot. Switching shoes changes the pressure points. So take 2 or 3 pair. Here is a blog that is written by one of RS's tour guides; though her own blog - http://adventureswithsarah.net/the-big-travel-shoe-decider-travel-shoes-2017/

Posted by
67 posts

Thank you for the thoughtful response, Maria! I'll check out the blog and I'm about to click "place order" on a new pair of fancy sandals online. Thanks!!

Posted by
173 posts

I speak from limited experience, but here's my 2 cents! Capris and dresses are good choices for women. IMHO, dresses are a better choice for women than shorts. A dress is also a good beach coverup if your trip includes beach time. In Venice in September we saw younger men with fitted, knee length shorts. Not the baggy, droopy ones we see in the states. My husband took one pair of madras shorts that he wore once, the day we went to Lake Garda. All other days he wore golf pants and golf shirts, and he was comfortable and looked classy. The golf pants are great for travel, very lightweight, do not wrinkle. These fabrics are made for folks who are active in the heat. We bought his at Belk's, but Academy Sports also has some that are reasonably priced.

Since we're from Houston, he wears shorts year round and they are acceptable at some of the restaurants we frequent. So it took some prodding (nagging?) on my part to discourage him from packing too many shorts!!

Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
3438 posts

On my last trip to southern Spain in 2014, shorts were much more popular than they used to be, but mainly worn by younger generations. I saw lots of them in towns along the coast, fewer in larger cities.

Posted by
961 posts

I wore a modest but sleeveless shirt ( not a tank top) last summer to enter the cathedral in Barcelona- no-go. There was a lady selling long scarves for 1 and 2 euros ( and more) just for tourists getting into the Cathedral.
My observation mirrors Mira above- & is that women better have great legs to wear shorts in town and not look totally out of place- whether old or young. A very few on the metro wearing shorts were obviously going to the beach.

Posted by
285 posts

Capris or crop pants are perfectly fine for women and speaking personally I am much more comfortable in them than I am in shorts.

Posted by
11275 posts

I'm not a fan of jeans for travel, even when it's not too hot to wear them. They're heavy and take a long time to dry. Lightweight khakis are much more practical for travel, and if you get thinner ones, they're not too hot.

And I just want to emphasize the point above. 79F is NOT hot for Seville; it's typical for this time of year. Since this is a typical spring temperature, imagine what it's like in the summer (you definitely did the right thing visiting now).

Posted by
4450 posts

Forget what Rick Steve's says, it's nonsense. Many locals are wearing jeans or trousers simply because they're at work as one poster has previously stated. Go to the beach or somewhere leisurely and you'll see plenty of locals in shorts. Contrary to what another poster wrote, capri pants are not that popular with men. The current trend with mens shorts in Europe is for tighter fitting, shorter chino type shorts but please don't accompany them with running style trainers (sneakers) that many Americans favour!

You don't tend to see many women in shorts, capri pants are the better choice.

Ultimately it's your choice, wear what you want. I never concern myself about what the locals think, I dress for the weather and what I feel comfortable in. I've been in Italy in February where the temperatures were in the mid 20's celsius which for me is definitely shorts and t-shirts weather however the locals were still wrapped up in their winter coats, hats and scarves, I received plenty of odd looks but so what? For me to dress like the locals at that time would have been incredibly uncomfortable for me.

Posted by
440 posts

Wear what you are comfortable with if its hot probably not a good idea to wear jeans other wise you will be sore later. I wear shorts when away Chino type at night with a cool shirt and in the day time just comfortable shorts and tshirt if i look like a tourist i don't care because I am a tourist. Even if i dressed like a local my blonde hair and blue eyes would make me stand out in Spain anyway