Hip in Milan and some unkind observations on Swiss style sense……*



Things to learn from Italian women, or maybe I should say, Milanese ladies:  regardless of your age you can maintain a sense of style and je ne sais quoi. See the two above, they may no longer be 24, they are not dressing to impress, they are dressing for themselves.

As I may or may not have mentioned I have spent much of my life not on Swiss shores, or, seeing as we have no shores to speak of, other than those of our beautiful mountain lakes, I have spent most of my life far from all that is Swiss. On my return from a longer stint abroad I remember arriving on Swiss soil at Zürich airport, at the time I was doubtful of my decision to move back, however it appeared to be a sane and wise career decision. The fates were against me that day, because as I doubtfully stepped off the plane,   I was greeted by a brass band waving Swiss flags (no they were not there for me), which I have never seen at an airport before or since, as well as a whole group of women ( a curling club? sports team?)  with red hair of a certain age, the women, not the hair….although the sentence could be interpreted that way, I grant you that! I could not have had a more Swiss welcome, and frankly it made me want to make a run for it.Why you might wonder, here is the reason why. You know that people who own dogs often start to resemble their pet, I used to worry intensely that if you live among a certain population you will start to look more and more like your environment and frankly I couldn’t relate to what I was seeing. I lived in Paris for a while, there it was no problem, I felt right at home.

Back to my observations: for some reason, after the age of 40 Swiss and German women start to dye their hair red: henna-red, or brick -red, or eggplant, or any other number of red shades. In addition, hair is cut really short, into a practical style that won’t need any styling in the mornings. Many of this type of Swiss women also like to tan in summer. The sum of the two end up being a disconcerting combination – a bit like looking at a weather leather handbag topped with a hacked off fox-brush. If the lady in question also goes in for tattoos, black clothes and piercings you have quite a look right there. The age of red hair in Switzerland,  comes right before the indeterminate age, which is characterized  by short grey hair, no make-up and baggy functional clothing. This is the age where gender has ceased to be of any relevance. Where woman has become androgynous. Where men have been married, children have been produced and races have been run. It is indeterminate age,  in my mind also named the age of futility. Short hair, hacked off,  in England at least it would be blue-rinses,  and time is spent on anti-fungal treatments for the bathroom ceilings, observing the neigbours through the curtains  and dusting African violets on old walnut polished tables.

So what a welcome relief the Milanese ladies are, oh yes they wear their hair in shades or red, and yes they are no longer 23, but do they still pick out trendy tights and combine them with skirts that have cute hems, or wear cute purple skirts with slits in the front and colour coded scarves and jackets, a little heal, not too much, but an ensemble that says “hey, you, I am not dead yet!” – I like that it’s sassy.  It’s cool, it speaks of an independent personality, a woman who is not defined by her role, but by her perception of who she is and what she wants the world to see her as. Most of all, it says: you know what I still care about myself. I love that.

PS now I realize that some Swiss ladies reading this may be offended, don’t be, if you like to tan and have really red hair, more power to you, I applaud you, you probably spend less time than I do worrying about what others think of you! And that in itself is cool.

PPS I dedicate this post to Angies Fiesta Friday – over at the Novice Gardener  – I know that all of you over there worry about what to wear to Angies, and while it may not always be in good taste, magenta onesie, or Angie’s sausage outfit, at least its fun. I would love to hear your thoughts on the above.

* it had to be done


40 thoughts on “Hip in Milan and some unkind observations on Swiss style sense……*

  1. Too funny! There was a period in late high school to early college when my friends dyed their hair red and mostly had bob style hair cuts. I did too, but I most opted to keep my liquid paper white complexion. I wanted pink or purple or blue hair in high school. My parents wouldn’t hear of it. I just had to settle for a purpelypink-red hue.

    • hello Tozesty thanks soo much for stopping by, paper white complexionn ever healthy, pink, purple or blue much trendier fully agree – parents seem to forget they went through the weird hair stage themselves and then went on to university funny that 🙂

    • Hello Stacey – thanks so much for writing to me and for the compliment, I have never heard of Bill Cunningham, but must check him out, always good to know who one is channeling! Have a great weekend!

      • Dear Stacey – aha, thanks for the tip, I will check him out now I know what to look for, its a name that is quite frequent it seems. Thanks for making me a aware of him and thanks for the words of encouragement!

  2. I love the observations and message in this post, Polianthus. I’ve never had the pleasure of observing Swiss or German women, but have noticed women in San Francisco are overly trendy up to 30 or so, and downright elegant after 50 or so. Though I would not wear such stylish tights as the Milanese women, I do make sure my clothes are ironed before I leave the house. That counts, right? 🙂

    • San Francisco is another area where the ladies care about what they wear – when they aren’t out in tracksuit bottoms 🙂 I noticed that too, agree with your observations. Ironed clothes totally counts, it means you arent wearing tracksuit bottoms or jersey stretch 🙂 what happens to the women in San Fran between 30 and 50, you didnt say and made me curious!

      • Ahhh, well, I find the women between 30 and 50 have eclectic wardrobes, the staple in which is stretchy yoga pants, as they are trying to keep the weight of age at bay. I would say there are a number of camps of women in this age group: there are those who are still trying to dress and look 25, those who want to look “career,” and those who are stuck in the 80s (again, spandex galore). Myself, I’m stuck in the group trying to look like a professional, but do try to have fun with my wardrobe (dresses, accessories, shoes) when I’m out of the office. You will only see me wearing yoga pants in a yoga class! 🙂

      • Aha – I thought I was onto something with the women between 30 and 50 – thanks for expanding on that. There are a number of camps agree, and probably varies from city to countryside – those who refuse to dress their age are the worst offenders for me, I hate looking at a woman from the back and thinking hmmm, wonder what she looks like from the front and then discovering she is 75 dressed to look 22 with tight jeans to match. Maybe I am just very intolerant, but somehow it makes me sad. There is beauty in every age, and there is a beauty to graceful and effortless aging, and holding on to what has gone looks stressful and sad somehow. I do want to say I am not being sexist, if I saw a man wearing his sons clothes at 65 I’d also comment, however I cannot honestly say I have seen this yet. Oh yes the group trying to look professional, I know that group 🙂 and firmly agree, again, yoga pants = yoga class, spandex – in the gym if you must, other than that best to dress for ones age and size and shape! Happy weekend

  3. Poli – this did make me roar! The Italians and the French really know how to dress no matter what their age and I have always adored that classic American elegance too…Ah those practical hair cuts – why oh why??? I used to be involved with hair salons when I was younger and was always so impressed at the regular stream of ladies of a certain age that booked in every Friday for their blow-dry – that is so going to be me too!!

    • Dear Selma – I am glad it made you laugh, I was in two minds as I wrote, because I was a bit worried I’d be offending people. However, there seem to be a lot of others like me out there who believe that you get older but you don’t have to just give up. Classic american elegance is good too, totally agree. And I love the ladies who go for weekly blow dries, somehow a hairdresser does for a blow dry what you can hardly ever achieve at home. My mother is one of the ladies that goes for the weekly treatment, has a timeless elegance and beauty and has always dressed her age which is admirable. Happy weekend and thanks for commenting Poli

  4. Awh, this made me chuckle! I love the red hair, tights, and statement that I still care about how I look. I must admit, the other day I left my house in a sundress and winter boots that made my sister cringe. You truly are exploring the world, thanks for bringing the outfit suggestions to the fiesta as well 🙂

    • Hi Kaila -thanks for chiming in, I am glad it made you chuckle, I am so loving all the feedback. Sundress and winterboots – hey if you can work it, then you can work it 🙂 and that is what it’s about really. I am less forgiving on the red hair and suntanleather face look BUT all I can really say is, it just does nothing for me! Have a great weekend and lovely meeting you at the fiesta!

    • 🙂 dear Rhonda, with every post of yours it is abundantly apparent, that you are very much alive and engaged in life – and as you know 62 is the new 40!thanks for commenting Poli

      • happy 62 second birtbday to you dear Rhoda – 60 is the new 40, only on top of that you get 20 years of wisdom, courage, and generosity or spirit + a more relaxed attitude thrown in. Cannot believe you are a grandma already wow!

      • nope I speak the, well mine anyway, truth, of all my patients in the hospital I loved the older ones most because of all the terrific life stories they had to tell 🙂 – like how was life before women had the vote, how was life down the mines (a patient from France who got sent down the mines as a little boy because his family was poor), etc. Really interesting stuff, the stuff of life.

      • Hi Rhonda
        Not sure why you’d think that 🙂 but for me I seem to have lived more than one in the time I’ve had available up to now.
        Happy Birthday coming up

  5. Great piece! (Read it with rapt attention and enjoyment. Also making mental notes to avoid certain paths once I’m at a certain stage in life.) I’ve gotta say though that the lady on the right is a bit too try-hard for my tastes. The lady on the left: perfection.

  6. Hi lovely to have you back to visit – glad you enjoyed this one, on the Milanese ladies, yes the one on the right I agree is too much of a good thing, the one on the left, I thought got it right. Overall though trying too hard (with the exception of the surgically enhanced, in combination with net stockings and micro leather minis,¨ screw on top, bee stung lips and tight tshirts) is better than letting it all hang out, Have a great weekend Poli

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