Clothes Shopping in Spain

Published on 15/11/2006 in Spanish Lifestyle

No need to diet!

As Northern European women we tend to be taller and larger framed than our Latin counterparts. This can sometimes prove to be problematic when clothes shopping in Spain. It can be disheartening to discover that you have gone up a couple of dress sizes since arriving in Spain.

Don’t panic, you don’t need to resort to low fat, low carb or low calorie just yet. The sizes are definitely smaller and vary greatly. The good news is for tall women, as trouser legs tend to be long as many stores offer a cheap, alteration service, which everyone seems to use.

Personally, in the UK I am a Next 10/12, whereas in Spain a size 42 (14) jeans positively grips my thighs. In fact in the UK I would fall into the “slim” category but in Spanish fitting rooms I have almost had to be surgically removed from trousers whilst they tell me that they are the biggest size that they do.

Super slim Shop Assistants

Ironically, it goes against our traditional notion of Latin women being, well, shall we say, on the curvaceous side. On the contrary, if you look at the staff employed in women’s fashion shops, they are mostly petite and incredibly svelte. If you have a good look around, especially places like Marbella, there seems to be a clear connection between wealth and slimness. It seems that as wealth increases, weight decreases. Therefore, you will find that a lot of the boutiques around Marbella, especially around Puerto Banus, stock very tiny skimpy clothes.


There isn’t the vast selection of high street names that we are used to as people still enjoy shopping in individual shops which stock just a few sizes of each item. As you can imagine, if you shop this way, it can be pretty expensive as such shops do not enjoy the economies of scale that the monopolising groups such as the Arcadia Group do.

Stores such as Zara have been very successful due to the Japanese, automotive methods that they employ. The average turnaround for design through to shop floor is just three weeks. Their ability to keep up with the latest trends and replicate catwalk looks explains their popularity. They are always packed, especially on a Saturday and by the end of the evening the stores look completely ransacked. Their main drawback is that they cater only for the size 8 to 12. I wear a UK size 10 for tops but in Zara I wear an L (large), the only size up being an XL.

Who shops where?

You just need to look at the shop window displays and you instantly know the target age, unlike in the UK, where anyone can find anything appropriate to their age from 14 to 64 in “trendy” shops such as New Look. So, in that sense, you could say that there is a lot of age segregation.

Shops such as Berska are evidently against anyone over a size 10 and over the age of 25. Zara, on the other hand, attempts to satisfy a wider age range by splitting its stores into three departments. Zara Basic is targeted at the 21 to 35 age group with a good range of basics mixed with the latest trends. The durability of most products is probably one season if washed once per week.

The prices are very reasonable, with a pair of smart/casual trousers costing around 25 euros and cotton tops around 15. Zara woman is targeting an older age group in a higher income bracket. The quality is better and the designs are more sophisticated. For the casual/funky teens and students, there’s TRF, which is very young, eclectic, cheap and tiny. Zara also do menswear and children’s wear. They offer an alteration service for their clothes. A basic shortening of trouser leg costs about 4 euros.

Mango is another high fashion chain targeting the 20 to 35 range. The quality is similar to Zara but can be slightly pricier. Again, the sizes are small.

Promod targets a 35 + group. It is on a par with Principles and Wallis. Lots of smart casual clothes and patterned tops. Again, a UK 12 would need a size 42. They also have great, reasonably priced accessories including jewellery, bags, shoes and belts.

Massimo Duttii appeals to smart but casual, classic, preppy, successful thirty somethings. The quality is very good but they don’t follow high fashion trends like Zara.

El Corte Ingles is the main department store which stocks designers ranging from Morgan to French Connection for 20s and 30s. There are also Spanish designers and some familiar names from the UK department stores such as Liz Claiborne I always find it a bit disappointing and very expensive.


If you plan to check out the high street sales in Spain, you might be disappointed. Big discounts i.e. 50% are scarce, as most stores only offer 20%. There are two sales per year summer and January. One thing is for sure, when shopping in Spain, you don’t need to worry that your clothes might be discounted next week as often happens in the UK. Clothes shops just don’t do promotional offers as there isn’t the same amount of competition on the high street.

Below is a conversion chart to enable you to find your Spanish size when clothes shopping. These sizes are the “equivalents” but be warned there is a lot of variation and you might need a size bigger!

I would suggest that when trying on clothes take a range of sizes in with you and try not to look at the size label too much as it really doesn’t mean much. Concentrate on the fit and remember that many shops have an alteration (arreglos) service if you ask.

Conversion Chart

UK Spain
6 34
8 36
10 38
12 40
14 42
16 44


Written by: Susan Pedalino

About the author:

Women In Spain

Right arrow icon Send to friends   Right arrow icon Printer friendly version    Right arrow icon Submit your own article


Vesna said:
27 August 2011 @ 22:09

Hi guys! I need some advice from anyone who has bought shoes on internet from abroad and has had it shipped to Spain.The question is, are there any additional costs such as tax to pay upon arrival in Spain?? Thank you! :) said:
18 July 2011 @ 00:44

Cowboy shirts for large man that is said:
18 July 2011 @ 00:42

Where can I buy Cowboy shirts in a large size in and around Cartagena

maria said:
27 November 2010 @ 23:32

I'd like to explain something .I myself am spanish and have to say its not that we are slimmer naturally, ,I am a size 14 as many other spanish girls and women.The fact is ,as the trend says you have to be skinny ,girls starve themselves.Also,at shops like zara,mango,bershka,pimkie,etc ,they tend to give the jobs to cute and skinny girls,who supposedly look better.Sizes are crazy,in one shop you can be a size 12 and in the next a 16,the fitting can vary alot ,and its definitely unfair and discriminating that they only make sizes up to 12-14,but there is also the fact that the bigger sizes dissapear very fast ,which only demonstrates that there is a lot of us wearing those bigger sizes.

Jane said:
07 December 2009 @ 00:10

Now, with so many UK retailers delivering to Spain at shipping charges that are either free or as low as 5 Euros, buying online from UK retailers is now a reality at a reasonable cost.

Take a look at who have over 200 UK shops that will deliver to your home in Spain and the problems mentioned will probably just not exist.

jennygismo said:
06 January 2009 @ 13:57

Hello i am looking for western shirts

in around spain thank you jenny

bunny said:
08 March 2007 @ 09:24

Sizes seem to vary from small boutique to small boutique also - they are different again from the "chains" like Promod/Zara etc - you could be a 42 in some shops and a 40 in others - if in doubt, try it on first before buying.

Only registered users can comment on this article. Please Sign In or Register now.

Comment Using Facebook:

Related articles in this category

5 Last Minute Tapas to Make at Home

A Spanish Dish To Include In Your Christmas Menu

All In All, Spain Delivers A Better Quality of Life

An Introduction to the world of olive oil

Budgeting in Spain

Buying a Berth For Your Boat in Spain

Christmas in Spain

Clothes Shopping in Spain

Costa de la Luz - Shhh, keep it a secret

Eating Habits in Spain - What you need to know

Friends in Spain, They Come And Go

Golfing in Costa de la Luz

Gourmet Delights In Southern Spain

Homemade Spanish Gazpacho Soup

Hotel Molino del Puente

How To Make A Tortilla Española "de San Sebastián"

Live in Spain But No More Holidays

Living in Puerto de la Duquesa

Mediterranean Diet – Eat Fruits and Vegetables to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

Mediterranean Diet: 5 Ways to Living a Longer, Stronger Life Without Heart Disease

Mediterranean Diet: Can Garlic Protect Us From More Than Vampires

Mediterranean Diet: How to Lower Cholesterol Effortlessly by Including More Tomatoes in Your Diet

Mediterranean Diet: Mending Your Arteries after the Holidays

Mediterranean Diet: Should You Drink Wine or Eat Grapes?

Mediterranean Diet: Why You Should Make Extra Virgin Olive Oil Part of Your Diet

New Year - Are You Ready For A New Lifestyle?

Out and About in Duquesa

Quotes To Sum Up Life In Spain

Relax And Unwind On The Costa Calida

Seven Tips To Help You Learn Spanish

Spain is Character Building

Spain Vs Italy - Let The Gastronomic Battle Commence

Spanish Coasts: North Vs South

Spanish Food

Spanish Telly At Christmas

Spanish Wills

Sukhothai - A Thai adventure in Marbella

Surviving the Spanish Weather in Summer

The Absence Of Women In Spanish Bars

The Claims Sheet - Consumer Rights

The end of poor service and rogue traders?

The Mediterranean Diet - What's it About?

The Mediterranean Diet Is Also About Portions

Top 10 Spain Christmas Gifts

Top Destinations in Costa de la Luz

Tourists are Doing it for Themselves

Urbi et Orbi …

Visiting the Hairdressers in Spain

Weather Patterns in Spain

What Happens When English Gets Mixed With Spanish In Spain?

Why I Chose Costa de la Luz to Live

Why The Spanish Football League Is A Truly Unique Sporting Stage

Will Golf Ever Go Out?

Working From Home In Spain

Click here for a list of all the articles from our magazine 

Spain insurance services

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x