How To: Buy a Flamenco Dress for Sevilla’s “Feria de abril”

Today we are happy to present another guest writer on the blog: Caroline! And We are exceptionally pleased about this post as it gives us insight into a world we have yet to explore—Feria Dresses. So, without further ado, Caroline: 

 
Caroline at her first Feria in 2014
Caroline at her second Feria in 2016.
 

The Feria de abril, taking place in Seville every year in April, as the name suggests, is probably one of the most typical and impressive Spanish traditions. It’s also one where foreigners feel the most left out because it has its own set of rules that you just don’t know if you’re not Spanish or haven’t lived in Spain for a bit of time. One of those rules is the dress code.

Now a quick note before I go any further: this applies to the feria in Seville—most other cities aren’t so strict. There’s just something about those Sevillanos, they’re really formal! At the feria, suits are very common for men, if they’re not wearing the traditional outfit, which few do. But for women, even if you can and some do simply put on a nice summer dress, if you really want to live the full experience, you have to dress up.

I have been living in Spain for almost five years now and I just LOVE the Feria de abril, so I thought it was about time I bought my own traje de sevillana after years of wearing my sister-in-law’s old (and too short) one. I see it a bit as a ritual of passage. Once you buy your own dress, you’ve officially become one of them. So here are a few things I have learned about the purchasing process:

 

1. Be ready to spend a decent amount of money

Very few dresses sell for less than 200€, and those are the cheap ones. For a nice, good quality dress, think 300 to 400 euros. Then, you’ll have to buy all the accessories—we’ll come back to those—which can add another 100 to 200 euros.

Most Sevillana women buy one dress a year, so they have a few in their closet to change every day and not wear the same one two days in a row during the feria. I’ll stick to just one for now and hopefully it’ll still fit for the years to come!

 

2. There is a style for everyone

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to flamenco dresses. You need to find YOUR dress. I have never shopped for a wedding dress, but I guess it’s the same idea. The polka dots are a traditional design, but you also have plain dresses and print designs as well.

 

3. Buy it in Seville

My sister-in-law is from Granada but she lives in Seville. She’s also a big fan of the feria and takes it pretty seriously. One piece of advice she gave me? “Don’t buy your dress in Granada. They look tacky.” In Seville, they’re pros, and there are shops just about everywhere. If you’re going to spend that much money, you want to do it right.
 

 Different styles for all types. 

Different styles for all types. 

 Traditional polka dots. 

Traditional polka dots. 

4. Make sure it’s adjusted to your size—and long enough

The first times I went to the Feria de abril I borrowed two dresses from my sister-in-law. One, her oldest, fitted nicely but it was way too short. I got the comment at least 10 times during the evening. The basic rule is, you barely see the shoes. The other dressed I borrowed was a bit better in that sense, but it was too big for me. So while I was still just happy to be there, I looked very much “guiri.” When you buy your own dress, they will charge a little extra (around 30 euros) to adjust it perfectly to your body. It’ll make a huge difference!

 

5. Don’t wear just the dress—you need the complementos

Now that you’ve chosen a dress and that it’s perfectly adjusted to your body (I find that flamenco dresses are flattering for everybody, no matter your body type!), it’s time to funk things up with some accessories. You’ll need some basic things: a mantón (a shawl), a broche (a pin, to hold your mantón), some earrings, and a big flower to put on top of your head. You can also decide to add bracelets, a necklace, and/or peinetas (combs) to decorate your hair. You don’t want to overdo it, though. This time, I bought the four basics (shawl, pin, earrings, and flower) and two combs. These accessories really complement the dress—the outfit just wouldn’t be the same without them.

And here is the final look:

 
 Trying on my new dress at the store! I can’t wait to wear it at this year’s  Feria ...

Trying on my new dress at the store! I can’t wait to wear it at this year’s Feria...

 And yes, I’ll take the price tags off before!

And yes, I’ll take the price tags off before!