Although I possess the measly travel wardrobe of a broke college student who fits into nearly nothing because of her semi-ridiculous height, I really love fashion. Since a very young age, I’ve always adored clothes shopping; even though my 36-inch inseam and American women’s size 12 feet make it nearly impossible to shop in stores for anything worn from the waist down. I started watching runway shows and reading Vogue in middle school, and by the end of high school had been following major designers and a range of fashion blogs online for years. My mother has never understood my interest, so I took to my cool aunt for shopping sprees around age 10 and never looked back. That is, until now, as an adult living in an absurdly fashionable city.
I have never felt so simultaneously inspired and insecure as I have while walking around Madrid and taking in the fashions of people on the street. Sometimes I’ll notice individual, covetable items: an army green PVC jacket, a delicately embroidered white dress, a perfectly squared pair of metallic sunglasses. Other times I’ll be struck by whole outfits, or an entire group of fashionable madrileños that make me want to hide behind my old Top Shop denim and sweater. The fashion lust and envy isn’t confined to women’s (or “feminine”) outfits: I see male-bodied people in coats, suits, and hats that I might actually do regrettable things to obtain.
Of course, “everyone in Madrid is so fashionable!” is a generalization, but it’s no secret that the average European tends to care more about fashion, and looking “put together,” than their American counterpart. Madrid style certainly follows some fairly rigid trends, as evidenced by the amount of items on the street I recognize directly from Zara, but I’ve also observed amazing amounts of creativity in so many ensembles on all types of people. Older women with bright pink hair and leopard print coats, young children in leather jackets cooler than mine, and adult men who know how a suit should actually fit, for example. Coming from a college campus where the fall/winter uniform is essentially leggings or jeans with an oversized thrifted sweater, a parka and some all-weather duck boots, this is all as refreshing as it is intimidating.
Over the years, I’ve made a habit of saving pictures of my favorite items and ensembles that I find online to my phone, and becoming absolutely obsessed with some of them to the point of madness. My most recent screenshots include a bright periwinkle Marimekko coat, a slew of lingerie from ASOS, a sparkly sheer t-shirt from Urban Outfitters and, most importantly, a silver metallic mid-length accordion skirt. I saw this skirt on the cover of a Banks album and later on some fashion blogs, and decided that it must be mine. I found the exact one I was looking for on Zara’s website and, I’m embarrassed to admit, visited three separate Zara stores in one afternoon trying to hunt it down. I couldn’t find it, so I had it ordered and picked it up at the store. What can I say? I’m driven.
In an attempt to embrace the more playful, mixed-texture fashion that I’ve been seeing around the city as the weather has gotten colder, I recently decided to throw caution to the wind in my pursuit of a mid-weight coat and bought a white, fluffy coat from Zara. It feels like a teddy bear and makes me look like someone’s posh purebred dog. Maybe soon I’ll wear my new coat with my new skirt and feel like a shiny, fluffy, fashionable madrileña at last.