Milan: Fashion Mecca

What better place to attempt a commentary on European fashion than from the fashion mecca itself: Milan, Italy! Throughout our travels, I have been keeping an eye on the locals to try to catch a preview for what’s sure to cross the pond and land on our dress racks within the next 6-12 months. Maybe it’s because I am starved from weeks of zero optionality within my backpacking wardrobe, or because my favorite shopping season has arrived, but it’s been impossible to ignore the trends surrounding us at each new city.

We stopped in Milan for three nights after concluding an expensive, but enjoyable, weekend in Zurich, Switzerland. Milan was a convenient layover on our way to rendezvous with Dan’s parents for an eight-night Italian adventure through Tuscany and Rome. We are very excited to have some time with them, but I am also very much looking forward to the spare suitcase Dan’s mother is graciously lugging to Europe for me. With the promise of an available bag with a return ticket to Chicago via my in-laws at the end of next week, I finally received the green light to do some shopping!! With way too much excitement, and a husband willing to humor me (perhaps since we’re nearing parity?!), we decided to hit the streets!

Cathedral view of the Galleria Vittoria Emmanuele II

Cathedral view of the Galleria Vittoria Emmanuele II

Milan is famous for endless shopping and is home to many haute couture lines; we even pretended to shop at the flagship Prada in the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II open-air shopping mall.  But after quickly realizing that we are not the Kardashians, we switched gears and went after some deals. Milan has jam-packed outlet houses where an ambitious and dedicated shopper can find top designer labels anywhere from 20-70% off. Think a better organized TJ Maxx where you can stumble upon Dior! Like any outlet, finding your size in a piece you want is a tough combination; especially if you’re not a size 2! So after picking up a single, but awesome, black blazer for me (Dan passed on an amazing Burberry navy one that was missing one button, but was over 60% off), we gave up on fighting against the aggressive crowds, and turned our attention to the Corso Buenos Aires, a 3km street lined with wall-to-wall shops and boutiques. Had I been with girlfriends, this would have been heaven! But Dan was a good sport and was even convinced to purchase a new Euro-style navy suit for 150 Euro…skinny fit pants and all!

Inside Il Salvagente, a famous designer outlet

Inside Il Salvagente, a famous designer outlet

I managed to escape without blowing out our shopping budget and got a few new items that will be fun for summer in Chicago. I even snuck in a few out-there items like a denim bell-sleeved hippie dress and a crochet white open frock that will be great with jean shorts and sandals (at least that’s how I envision it!). We’ll see if I can actually pull these things off…

So for all my girlfriends who like to be ahead of the curve, here’s a list of what I’m seeing in fashion over here:

  1. Top knots and Lauren Conrad-inspired beach waves are OUT. I know it’s taken the better part of two years to perfect that perfect knot or learn how to position your curling wand just right without burning your fingers, but the Euro ladies are wearing their hair in slicked back high ponies or completely unstyled. In Italy this means that there is BIG 80’s hair everywhere (if this becomes popular back home, I’ll be totally screwed!), but in the more western European countries, we saw a lot of messy do’s. Almost like the ladies woke up and didn’t shower or brush their hair, but since the rest of their look was perfectly done up, you know it was intentional.
  2. Another hair trend we’ve seen is Demi Lovato-esque shaved heads where one side is completely buzzed and the other side is long and lush. It looks terrible, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more women give this a go; if Kelly Clarkson is rocking it, we’re bound to see it more…
  3. For men, the Euro hair look is SUPER short on the sides and long on the top. Due to a language barrier in Austria, Dan now is donning a somewhat bald patch on one side of his head due to a misunderstanding of his desired look. Thankfully he has no trouble growing hair and it should be back to normal in no time…he’s not quite ready to be that trendy!
  4. Overalls are everywhere. I even saw some in black leather yesterday! I’ve always thought I looked good in them, so there’s that…
  5. High-heeled sneakers
  6. Really round sunglasses and glasses for both men and women
  7. Dark tights worn under shorts
  8. LOTS of rompers! I held myself back yesterday and only bought one, but I’m sure another one will be in my bag before we get through Florence…
  9. And for those of you who miss them as much as I do, a gaucho-like pant is on every rack in every store!! (Ask Ashley, but during a fatter phase in college, I was sporting these almost every day!) I think they’re calling them ‘colettes’ now (??), but it’s really just a fancy way to say that the queen of comfort is making a come back!
  10. In the spring lines, I’m seeing a lot of 70’s-inspired fabrics and styles. It looks a bit like Coachella threw up, but there are a lot of feminine pretty looks.
  11. Heavier make-up with a focus on a bright lip. I’m seeing lots of foundation…yuck!
  12. Harem pants and just ill-fitting loose pants on women seems really common. But they’re pairing them with outstanding shoes so you know they’re doing it on purpose!
  13. Really ripped jeans with leather jackets. So it’s kind of like a new take on grunge couture.
  14. I have seen almost zero statement necklaces, but they are still selling them in stores. Maybe the European women just don’t like being flashy, or we just haven’t been anywhere nice enough to see them really dressed up.
  15. And apparently only Americans wear baseball hats…

Looking forward to seeing what the ladies of Chicago are rocking this summer!

So heavy-laden with more than our usual load, we boarded a high-speed train bound for Florence and look forward to beginning our tour of Italy with the DeRoses! Ciao!!

4 thoughts on “Milan: Fashion Mecca

  1. Megan Shroy says:

    LOVED this post. Excited to hear that my Coachella inspired shopping spree might actually pay off…and to think, I was just about to head to Goodwill. Keep the fashion tips coming.

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