Spain: Dress                                                             

  • Traditional clothing was influenced by the Moorish culture which dominated parts of the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th century until they were kicked out in 1492. The Moors were Muslims who were originally Berbers and Arabs from North Africa. The Moorish culture introduced rich needle embroideries, the use of jewels (often as buttons), perfume as well as heavy girdles and collars. The color black became popular for special events and both men and women wore heavy gold necklaces with precious stones. Clothes in Spain were often made of rich and heavy fabrics and were decorated with gold or silver thread.


  • In the 16th century, Spain was known world-wide for its elegant and decorative fashion. As the Habsburg Spain grew in power, Spanish fashions such as capes, corsets and farthingales became popular all over Western Europe. Farthingales were bell-shaped hoop skirts that were made with whalebones. The clothing was complicated and intricate and it took women hours to get dressed.


  • Spanish fashion failed to evolve with the rapidly changing times. As a result, Spanish traditional fashion would eventually become outdated and give way to French dominance—based in Paris.


  • Today Flamenco performers still use typical Spanish dresses in red, black or white with their hair in a bun and a rose behind their ear. The male flamenco performers traditional costumes are made up of black or red tuxedos shirts and classic slacks.


  • The traditional Spanish bullfighter costume has remained unchanged over the years. The bullfighter’s outfit is an elaborate costume inspired by flamboyant 18th century Andalusian clothing. The costumes are known as “suits of lights” (traje de luces) and are distinguished by their sequins, gold and silver threads, and detailed embroidery.


  • Every region in Spain has its own traditional clothing worn during regional celebrations and parades.


There are 3 traditional articles of clothing that are still worn today:

  • Mantilla: The mantilla is a traditional Spanish veil that is often worn during religious celebrations such as Spanish weddings. It is a light lace or silk scarf that is worn over the head or shoulders on a high comb. It is held in place by pins.
  • Peineta: Originating centuries ago, the peineta is a large decorative comb placed in the hair to hold up the mantilla. It is usually tortoiseshell colored and has a curved body and long prongs to increase the height. The peineta is used on special occasions.

  • Gilet: A gilet is a sleeveless jacket or a vest. Historically they were fitted and embroidered. In the 19th century, the gilet was dress bodice shaped like a man’s waistcoat. Contemporary gilets are used for additional warmth outdoors.