Please enjoy this guest post from Janea Moksness, editor-in-chief of the international fashion blog The Styletti. Janea graciously offered to write about the wonderful bike style in Milan. I love how she captured the mood of that fashionable city. Enjoy! -Melissa
Style is not restricted to only our shoes, our handbags, or our outfits. Style encompasses the way we carry ourselves and how we speak. It's a part of how we do just about all that we do. During my time in Italy, observing and speaking with Italians, I have realized that a big part of style in that very special country is defined by a common phrase: brutta figura.
When someone makes a brutta figura, they leave a bad impression. In Italian culture, this is something to avoid at all costs. To do that, you must behave in appropriate ways and of course, be seen on the street wearing only neat, fashionable, and stylish clothes. In Italy, a sense of decorum is fundamental.
From my observations, including my recent trip to Milan, I am eternally impressed with the way ordinary people avoid making the brutta figura. I am particularly charmed when I see Italians getting around on bicycle dressed not for their bicycles – no no no! They are dressed for the day…and very fashionably so!
I want to share some lovely examples of stylish Milanese cyclists who demonstrate that no form of dress is too impractical for a ride about town. It is fashion before comfort!
Our first muse is dressed cazh for her jaunt about town - skinny jeans and a black tank - but check out her choice of footwear. Cycling in platform high heels? Sure, why not!
Our next muse wears white Adidas sneakers, in theory a more sensible choice of outfit, if it weren’t for her non-stretchy pencil dress. The side slit at least allows for greater movement so she that she can make it to work on the bike. I love that she wears stylish—rather than sporty—sunglasses.
Have you ever tried cycling in flip flops? Well, apparently it can be done! [Ed. note: not recommended, unless you like stubbed toes!] This woman’s summer dress was simply perfect for the sweltering heat of late summer Milan (temperatures in the 90s). And the floral print bag in her basket is a nice touch.
Our next muse wears a similar white frock of lightweight, breathable cotton. Personally, I prefer the blue platform sandals over flip flops - a dressier touch.
And yet another muse in a lightweight white-cotton summer dress. I’m not sure how she managed to ride with a tote on each arm! I applaud her for walking her bike while on the phone. She does a lovely job of coordinating the all-white attire and tan-colored accessories: tote, sunglasses, and wide belt, and sandals.
This next gentleman muse doesn’t think twice about chatting and cycling. It might not be terribly safe — especially since he seems to have that oh-so-Italian way of gesturing — but he at least uses a bluetooth device. I particularly admire the way he gives no indication that he is boiling in the 93°F heat, despite his fine tailored suit. His loafers worn without socks are also quite chic.
While observing Milan street style, I saw not only white but plenty of black. In fact, many cyclists were similarly attired. My favorite aspect of the ensemble of the muse pictured below are the red designer (Chanel?) sunglasses.
Our next muse is noticeably more sophisticated. According to a recent article in theSTYLetti comparing Russian and Italian style from an insider’s point of view the more mature a woman is, the more elegantly she tends to dress. That is quite evident with the woman pictured below in peep-toe wedge espadrilles, white jeans with an up-to-date short hem, red top with matching tote, and fashionable jewelry: multi-strand rope necklace, charm bracelets, and watch. Notice also her very neat and fashionable coif.
Our final—and my favorite—muse’s presentation might not be as elegant as the former, but it demonstrates a sophisticated palette. I love the maroon and white dress with the summery blue fedora and matching red sandals and crossbody bag. The outfit not only gets two thumbs up for appearance; it is unquestionably a great choice for comfort.
Yes, among Italians, it seems second nature to steer clear of brutta figura disasters. Don't you agree that the Milanese pictured above exude style from head to foot...to wheels?
I cannot conclude without at least mentioning that I am aware that not one wears a protective helmet. I won’t enter into that debate, but I would be very curious to know what you all think about that.