Monday, April 4, 2011


I've been wanting to do a post on fashion in Basque country for a while. Delightful folks (like this one) keep posting on Spanish chic, and I wanted to clear the air a little.

Before I first visited, you see, I sort of wondered: is there a specific Basque style, or is it all just, you know, kind of Iberian?

Yes to both, as it turns out. Much like in "Spain Spain" (you know, like I'm in Spain, but not Spain Spain), you do see lots of neutrals. Boots are a winter must, you can't wear sweatpants/workout gear in public, and tights under shorts is just how you roll if you're under 30.

But this isn't about the stuff that people wear here, in Madrid, in Sevilla, and in Barcelona. Think of this post as a love letter to those fashion trends that are truly and uniquely Basque.

Presenting 10 Rules of Basque Fashion:

1. Wearing outdoor apparel to do things other than go hiking is not just for Americans.

2. El Flequillo Vasco: Basque Bangs. It's hard to describe this accurately to people who haven't spent a little time in Basque Country, but it varies between an Audrey Hepburn (but with a bit more of the "a dog has been chewing on my hair" effect):
(All rights reserved by fastshelby on flickr)

and a really short, blunt fringe.

This haircut is great because 1) it works for ladies with short or long hair AND for men with a little mullet going on and 2) people can tell what your views on Basque independence probably are without having to ask. This haircut says, "I joined ETA and all I got were these lousy bangs."

(***Disclaimer: I have several friends who have had this haircut and are not members of ETA. I should also note here that they are all at least three times as fashionable as I.)

3a. Ladies: put on some makeup. What do you think you are, American?

3b. Not that much makeup. What do you think you are, Spanish?

4. Teenagers: Buy a Loreak Mendian hoodie. Wear it at least once a week.

5. Younger gentlemen: Hiking pants with contrasting color patches on the knees and butt are all kinds of fly.

The best are made by Ternua, and if you're really hardcore you can make a Tolosa tuxedo out of it by rocking a Ternua brand hiking jacket with it as well.

6. Also for the younger gentlemen: you need either an Athletic Bilbao or Real Sociedad jersey. You need to wear it once a week. You can supplement the other days by wearing band T-shirts or shirts with the Basque national soccer team logo.

7. For the older gentlemen: 4 things are key. 1) txapela (Basque beret). 2) camisa de cuadros (checkered Oxford shirt). 3. Cigar in your hand. 4. cardigan around your shoulders (most key in Donosti). Allow me and my Carnaval costume, Patxi, to demonstrate:

(photo credit Jessica Chandras)

8. Whoever told you fanny packs weren't fashionable was lying. They go great with those Ternua pants.

9. Tweens: Surf gear! Billabong jackets, backpacks, whatever. The more you can look like an Australian, the better, really.

10. Do all of this nonsense and still manage to, as a people, look more put-together than the average American can ever dream of.


  1. Billabong?! Hahaha. I had seen those sweatshirts but I didn't know what the heck they said, to be honest.

    Also, I think it is a rule that 80% of old men must walk with their hands clasped behind their back.

  2. Hit the nail on the head here! I swear, Basque people are prepared, at any moment, to climb a mountain if need be. I saw the most stylish girl on the metro, skinny jeans, super fashionable off the shoulder top, great hair...and hiking shoes.

  3. ALLLLLL of my Basque kids at camp fit this description! They also love that WESQ one or whatever it is. Fancy, funny post, as always, Kit.

  4. Won't lie, I'm kind of in love with the mega fashion + hiking boots look. and yes, the behind-the-back hand clasp is an old man classic throughout Iberia.

    thanks everyone!

  5. Great post! I had considered writing a similar post at one point - I had so many pictures of those pants and the flequillo vasco! Too funny and pretty dead on! Oh and I also appreciated reading the disclaimer on the not everyone who looks like this is part of ETA -super important!


  6. Thanks for your comment Ella!
    I secretly love the bangs. True story, I tried to get some once, but my hairdresser was American had no clue how to make them happen. Divine intervention?

  7. I joined ETA and all I got were these lousy bangs = best. ever.

  8. The short, blunt bangs couldn't be more accurate. I've seen the most heinous haircuts in Basque Country, and no one looks as cute as Audrey with them.

  9. hahaha. Dead on! I was just thinking of the various fashions today. I can't go 15 minutes without seeing Basque Mountain pants,a Loreak Mendian hoodie, and an awful haircut.

    Don't forget the Astore sneakers and old woman fur coats!

  10. Astore sneakers! How could I forget?!
    And James, thanks. I've been sitting on that joke for about 3 months now.

  11. lol-- I love this post! I came across it because I'm trying to find some of those hiking pants for my husband for Christmas. We saw them all over Asturias when we were there in October and really wanted to bring some back. But we couldn't find the kind we wanted-- I think they were starting to stock the heavier weight stuff for winter, and we wanted the thin, cheaper kind. (We live in Texas. it's hot here-- we're not exactly hiking in mountains). Do you have any advice? Maybe a couple store names I could search for that might have an internet presence?

    Regardless, adorable post. Got a huge kick out of it!

  12. S & J - Thank you so much for your comments!

    After a quick Internet search, El Corte Ingles doesn't carry Ternua anymore (at least not online) and Ternua themselves don't sell in the US! Your best bet is to get an expat friend to mail a pair to you (in exchange for a care package full of hot sauce and/or peanut butter, that works on most Americans in Spain).

    Good luck and let me know if y'all find some other way to get those here.