The verdict is in that Milan is one of those cities (like Vienna, Venice, and Los Angeles), that only really takes your breath away when the sun is out. The day after I had a whine about Milano’s dreary weather, the grey cleared up and we had the most glorious 15 Celcius morning (which basically constitutes a Fashion Week heatwave) – much to my relief, given that I was in full-fledged Italian bare legs and shoulders for a Vogue Sposa shoot, 8:15am sharp (watch this space).
And yet, as soon as I was done, my shoulders and legs went back into hiding – such are the rules of Winter. By now, the colour of my face and hands are so many shades south of the rest of my body that I will likely have to remain completely covered for the rest of the year, until I devise a master plan to combat the pressing issue.
Awkward skin colouring aside, what needs to be discussed here is the art of covering up, which I have touched on in a variety of sartorial and cultural contexts in months now past. So, while Milan’s mercury did have some role to play in this particular get-up, the conversation pivots on elongating the body by way of covering up.
Too many times, I’ve seen girls out on the town in teetering platform stilettos and what can only be described as cheek-skimming skirts and/or hot pants, wholly dependent on the estimated twerk count for the long night to follow. Without taking subsequent twerks into consideration, I certainly understand this visual logic. Platforms raise you off the ground, stilettos make your legs less chunky, and shorter hems would have the average passerby assume that there is more leg than there actually exists.
First of all, the average passerby is going to have the primary motivation of looking up your skirt.
Secondly, unless you are have a straight up-and-down curve-free body type, this formula is not going to figure out (and for those of you who do boast that body-type, this fully-clothed situation will work for you too – you’re welcome).
Thirdly, the more visible efforts one goes to in order to disguise height or bodily proportions, the more your height is noticed – consider the model who turns up for a casting in ghetto fabulous Kardashian Louboutins for 10 inches of extra height, and the model who rocks up in heeled ankle boots for a slightly shorter 3 inches, but doesn’t look like she tried.
The idea here is to play with both proportions and colours to confuse your average passerby to the point that they’ll eventually just run with the assumption that you’re six feet tall, which I most certainly am not. We begin with the outerwear, with the prerequisite of either a dark and light two-tone situation like so (the outside can be as mad as you’d like – perhaps the more distracting, the better) and a hemline at least to the knee. The innards of the ensemble should also be black, or navy, or charcoal, or whatever you’ve decided on, and to avoid resembling a mime, I would insist that you play with as many textures as your floordrobe will allow – think cable knits, leathers (even patent), silks, pleats, velvets, et cetera, covering as much of your body as possible. As my Mother would say, I don’t want to see your shoulders or your ankles.
Meanwhile, ensure that your outerwear is carefully off one shoulder in that effortless I-spent-24-hours-getting-ready manner, and I guarantee that nobody will even know where your neck ends, let alone your legs.
Accessorise with the fluffiest things you can find (i.e. the one texture you have not yet ticked off), then wander around Milan’s gargantuan Arco della Pace for a good half hour, contemplating its architectural finesse, and feeling a little small and perhaps inadequate.
Please note that platforms are strictly forbidden.