July and August are the big summer sales (rebajas) months here in Spain — and with the crísis still in full swing, this year has definitely been different.

Due to a cooler, wetter than usual spring, people put off buying their holiday gear — and lots of people decided to make do with what they had from last year. So the stores were chock-full of merchandise on July 1st, the beginning of sales season. There were still a few scenes worth of Filene’s Basement or  Loehmann’s (bless ’em), but overall, there just isn’t as much excitement.

I’d actually been avoiding the sales — having bought my one pair of espadrilles for the summer, there isn’t really anything I need. And being a size 18 means there’s not much I can shop for anyway, except accessories.

A friend visiting from Brazil and I met up yesterday, and we had a look at the sale offerings — and weren’t all that impressed. We popped into a favorite department store of mine, Cortefiel, where I go to ogle shoes, scarves, bags, etc. But P. was interested in clothes, so we browsed around. There were some very cute summer tops, most for 40% off. After much digging I found an XL (scarcer than hen’s teeth), and started for the dressing room. I looked at the top, looked again, and realized that it might just about have fit a size 12. Maybe. If she didn’t have shoulders or boobs. Or flesh on her upper arms.

This is the situation pretty much in all of the “high-street” clothing stores. Nothing gets much bigger than a size 14, if that. Plus-sized options, such as they are, are generally super-mumsy, and expensive. And yet… Madrid has become quite the heterogeneous place since I lived here in the 80s. There are a lot more colors of people on the streets, and there are a lot more sizes and shapes of people, too. And of course, they all have to get dressed. But where are they buying their clothes? Marks and Spencer (I KNOW) used to be an option, but they folded up their tent and went back to Blighty years ago.

Anyway, my nose ever so slightly out of joint, I dropped into another department store, and I bought myself this summery treat – a Lamarthe crushed straw tote. For about half off. And I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it. The photo doesn’t do the fabric justice, at all. It’s soft and slightly shiny, but not flashy.

Black and white and red in the background

And later today, I’m going to the fabric store — at least those still exist in Spain, and they’re full of gorgeousness! Thank goodness I know how to sew.