How to Dress for the Feria de Sevilla

Chhh, chh, chikiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!! Veeeeeh.

Why, WHY do store assistants have to cluck in this country, I sighed, my sinus infection suddenly growing worse as I waited for her to stride over to me.

Ehtá floooh, ¡qué noooo! Plucking the flower the size of a softball out of my hand, she replaced it with a bigger one. This one is right. I gawked at the mirror, laughing at my red, swollen eyes and the coral monstrosity perched atop my head.

I wished Cait was with me to witness yet another cultural mess up on my part. Just a few weeks earlier, I went to have my traje de gitana, or flamenco dress, taken out. My butt suddenly didn’t fit into it any longer, so the shop assistant clucked at me to come out of the dressing room, bare-assed, and stand with my it to the mirror while she adjusted it. This flower is for a ten-year old, much to small for your head.

It’s now sitting in my box of flamenco accessories, called complementos. I am no match for old ladies at the Corte Inglés.

Spring’s azahar and incense also bring along the liveliest festival in Andalucía, the Feria de Abril. During my first winter living in Spain, my friend Susana offered to take me to buy a cheap traje at the Molina factory outlet. Though simple, my dress made me fit in when I first showed up at the Real.

But I was CLUELESS about the complementos – I chose earrings and flowers fit for little girls. The rule of thumb is, literally, the bigger, the more gitana you are.

Case in point: The style every gitana’s wearing. The cani ruffle sleeves are big, as is lace, flouncier skirts (mermaid cut is soooo not gitana this year) and lunares as big as a melon.

I chose something a little more classic, with a scooped neck and long sleeves (I’d only had sleeveless before), three volantes and enough arte to knock Calle de Gitanillo de Triana (olé la más bonita de la Feria!) on its feet.

As for complementos, I had to venture of solo, as my Feria +1, Kelly, won’t be going this year, and Cait was in class. Remembering the equation of guapaness, I chose to match the coral colored rickrack on the volantes with just a toque of turquoise. My first stop was in Mateos Complementos, C/Francos, 6, where much of the jewelry was handmade.

Showing the attendant the color of my dress, he helped me pick out a pair of lovely coral hoops that were painted with a beige flower, matching my color scheme perfectly. He tried to show me a mantilla shawl, but I had one and assured him that the color was the same as the earrings. He said the bright color would look lovely next to my eyes and pinkish skin (I sound like a mole, ew).

Mateo opened a glass case and took out two beautiful combs  in oro antiguo, carefully positioning them in my ponytail. Alá tú! he crooned as I looked in the mirror. Sold and sold. ¿Qué pasa, te gusta la Feria? he asked to my scoffs. Asking me if I like Feria is like asking me if I like ice cream.

I peeked in the other stores along the street and in the token Don Regalón. No cheap plastic necklaces this year, I promised myself.

As I browsed the shelves at the Corte Inglés, Clucky came up to me with the flower. I knew I had no choice but to buy it, along with the earrings I bought in oro antiguo with just a hint of blue to match the peineta. I’m discovering that my ganas for Feria is becoming proportionate to the days left until the main gate, fashioned after the Iglesia del Salvador, is lit up and Feria officially begins.

Are you planning on heading to la Feria de Abril, or have you been? If you need me, I’ll probably be on C/Gitanillo de Triana, y olé! And now, a bailar!

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English language academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. You are so funny! What antics a woman goes through to look the part! Have you studied dance?

    • Nancy, this is really, truly my life! I have so many guiri moments, even after all this time. I’ll be sure to send you a picture of the whole thing put together. Now to starve for the next week…

  2. Great post – those sales assistants are sooooo irritating! You’ve made me rethink my whole outfit (in a good way). I have a salmon-pink traje, a few shades lighter than your old dress. What colour of accessories should I choose? Co-ordinating is not my strong point. Green? Don’t want to take it along to ECI for their opinion, as it will just get creased. And as we all know, ironing volantes is one of the most mind-numbingly boring jobs there is. Would really appreciate your opinion.

  3. I wanna gooooo! Hijaaaaa!

  4. I’m thinking my complementos will be determined more by price than fashion. And, besides, I’m going to look super guiri no matter how nice my traje and complementos are, so I might as well embrace it, right?

  5. So cool! Hope you post pics of the final result with all the pieces together, it looks like it’ll be amazing.

    I’m going to the Feria de Sevilla this year, but I’m not doing the traje de gitana – they’re not so big here in Barcelona. What would you recommend wearing if you’re not going that route?

  6. So fun! Once during a trip to Sevilla that was right before the Feria my friends and I tried on the dresses and took pictures in the dressing room. We had to hide from the Corte ladies!

  7. Dude, SMALL WORLD! :) You know Kelly!! I first met her during training when I first arrived in Spain to teach back in ’07. (She was in the program too, and had gone to high school with my awesome roommate Jen). Crazy!!

    I’ve always wanted to go to the Feria en Sevilla!! It sounds like tons of fun, and I’d love to wear a flamenco dress!

  8. andiperullo says:

    You 2 look amaaaazing! I want those earrings.

    • I told myself I wouldn’t buy too much this year. 50 euros later…so excited To put them on! I have a contact in the tourism board…want to get in contact for next year’s festivities??


  1. […] Susana first took me to try on my very first flamenco dress, I knew not to expect anything else but a lot of drinking and feeling very awkward in my tight […]

  2. […] a declared feriante. We were sitting in a horse carriage, her teeny hand stroking the ruffles of my traje de gitana. In Spanish, “I’ve been to three Ferias. ¿Y tú?” Six, I replied, getting a […]

  3. […] accompanies the saint before mass. Diego bobs up and down as partygoers watch on horseback, some dressed in flamenco dresses and trajes cortos. The Novio and I watched from afar, busy kicking back a few bottles of beer and […]

  4. […] On my first time buying accessories successfully // The Dos and Don’ts of the Feria de Sevilla // The Music of the Feria de Sevilla Share this:Email Pin It Filed Under: A Few of My Favorite Things, Andalucia, Andalusia Tourism, Expat Advice, Featured, Feria, festivals, flamenco, Guiri Survival Tips, Seville, Shopping in Spain · Tagged: Feria de Abril, Feria de Sevilla, Flamenco, Seville, Southern Spain About Cat GaaAs a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop. […]

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