There is a lot to enjoy at La Feria– eating, drinking, dancing, horsemanship, seeing friends, and general merriment. It’s fun. But the thing I love the most is just checking out all of the Spanish feria dresses. I could go any day and sit in a shady spot and just watch people walk by– beautiful ladies in their colorful costumes.
Seriously. But I won’t go on and on about it. I’ll show you some pictures, and the things I’ve learned about the feria dresses so far.
A few observations:
- Wearing a dress to feria is absolutely not required. I saw lots of groups in which only one lady was wearing a dress, while everyone else could be incredibly casual, or dressed nicely but not in costume. Kids were the most likely to be dressed up, though.
- Matching, matching, matching! Not only are all of the dresses and accessories perfectly coordinated in terms of color and style, and but siblings and other family members (especially moms and kids) usually either totally match, or coordinate very nicely. (This is common for ordinary dressing, as well– siblings match much of the time!)
- There is a very wide range of looks within the Spanish feria dresses. Long sleeves, sleeveless, floor-length, knee-length, cascading panels for a wide skirt, tons of ruffles, etc. Right now, a fitted blouse tucked into the full skirt is also popular.
- Everyone looks good in a feria dress. I did not expect the feria dresses to flatter everyone. They are so flashy, fitted, and distinct, I thought it just couldn’t look good on a lot of people. I was wrong. It seemed like there was no one out there, regardless of size, age, or shape, who did not look good in their feria dress!
- When it comes to dressing up, it’s hard to go overboard! While some looks were more subdued or restrained, most people really went for it, with color, ruffles, makeup and accessories!
Anatomy of the Spanish Feria Dress & Accessories
- The defining feature of the traje de Gitana (feria dress) is ruffles– volantes– down the skirt, and often on the sleeves. These ruffles are great for producing a little more visual drama while dancing sevillanas (a flamenco-style dance especially intended for these festivals.) Another option, in place of lots of ruffles is cascading panels of fabric that have a similar effect, and produce a much wider skirt.
- It fits like a glove. These dresses are meant to be tight. They hug the figure, and most are tailored for the perfect fit each year. This can make them uncomfortable to wear! But one of the reasons for being so fitted is that they are heavy dresses, and the weight needs to be distributed all over the body, or else it would be really painful for the shoulders. Some are now made with some spandex worked into the material, which makes them easier to breathe and move in.
- Necklines are adjustable. Since the dresses are meant to be taken in or out for a perfect fit, there is a string running through the neckline which can cinch it in for just the right fit.
- Accessories: Many ladies wear fringed shawls, called mantoncillos. These can be made of silk, a synthetic material, velvet, or even lace. Some wear just the knotted and fringed part (called enrejados), draped around their necklines. These coordinate with other accessories, which are almost always worn– big, hooped and dangling earrings (pendientes), and combs (peineta) and flowers (flores) worn in the hair.
- There are a few options for shoes to match the feria dress. Most ladies wear espadrilles, in the colors that will match their dresses or their shawls and other accessories. Some wear heels and traditional flamenco shoes and I saw quite a few ladies and girls wearing leather riding boots!
Here’s my little feria-goer. We found her dress at a flea market for a bargain, and I think it’s so perfect for her! She has matching mantoncillo, flor, and shoes.This year, it felt like getting outfitted would be too expensive and take more energy than I had. I appreciated the fact that we could go with only one person dressed up, and I also think it will be lots of fun to get my own traje de gitana for next year!
Let’s look at some more outfits… I just need to stop here for a minute and say VA VA VOOM! Is this gown gorgeous and sexy, or what? In case you’re wondering about boys and men dressing up… The men do not, unless they are riding horses. Boys dress up much less than girls, but when they do, it’s adorable. Look at this little guy, matching his mama.Here are some more matching families…
Aren’t these outfits so much fun? Which one would you wear?
P.S. To learn all about feria and flamenco, check out this site, where I have been learning a lot!