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Greetings from Milan!
Happy Spring/Summer 2018 season ladies and gentlemen!
I’m personal stylist, Melanie Payge. I have lived and worked in Milan fashion for 25 years and constantly run across the well styled Italian pointing out the tourists. The funny thing is, they can’t really figure out what it is that makes the individual stand out as a tourist but it’s certainly visible, so I am going to give you some tips on how to fit in with these classy “Milanese” by giving you a few “dos” and “don’ts”:
Dos & Don’ts from Toe to Head for Women:
Milanese very rarely wear sneakers if they do, the brands are usually Hogan or Superga and never, never with socks visible. They would spot you in a minute. They do however wear nice sandals and flats (not Birkenstocks or other recognizable “comfort” brands). I have never seen a local wearing shorts, and almost never pedal pushers, so pack your sundresses or lightweight pants and blouses. No backpacks or fanny-packs unless its LV or CC but still, it’s rare. You can have a small crossover bag for your money, phone and lip-gloss, and then a nice shoulder bag to hold larger items. You’ll want to bring a scarf to cover your shoulders in case you want to enter a church. Hats are a dead giveaway; bring your oversized sunglasses and sunscreen 60 spf. The ladies here have normal looking fingernails, not extra long, even if they have gel on, plus it will be easier to travel with medium length nails.
As for you, Men:
Many of the same rules will hold for footwear, the men are sockless in general they will wear loafers like Tod’s Gommini. They do NOT wear sandals. And please, NO cargo shorts or pants – they went out of style years ago! Find a nice pair of lightweight cotton slacks in beige or blue and you will be comfortable and fashionable. The well-dressed men here wear nicely pressed white or baby-blue shirts and in summer you can roll up the sleeves and leave your shirt un-tucked. This isn’t ideal for traveling, but that’s just the way it goes. No hats in the city especially the baseball or hiking versions. Milanese men wear baldness boldly! The “Man Bag” is a good way to fit in, across the shoulder rectangular shape in light soft leather will do fine.
Some Other General Rules for Milan:
Italians don’t carry drinks around, when they are thirsty they walk into any BAR, which is not a bar like in America, it’s a place open all day like a café but the idea is to stand at the bar, not to sit down. So you walk straight up to the bar and say, “acquanaturale per favore” and he will pour it for you. Simple as that, I sometimes do this 5 or 6 times a day in the summer. It costs about 50 cents. This also gives you an opportunity to use the restroom, as there are practically none available. Be aware that if you sit down in a bar for coffee you will be paying up to 3 times more, especially in the Duomo area, and you can’t order at the bar and then carry it to a table.
No one wears a lot of prints or plaids they mainly stick to solid colors, in the summer you may see a man in red pants with leather loafers and a white shirt but you will never see him in a plaid button down with short sleeves. As for the women, it’s a bit more lenient in the ‘dress’ department, but for pants and tops stick to solids. Last rule –No Flip Flops in the city!