work culture in Milan
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Updated 2 weeks ago

Fashion is everything in Milan. It is a city that appreciates and offers beauty in its every corner, and it is challenging to remain immune to the sense of style that the atmosphere offers. Dressing up is important on the streets, in the cafés and bars and most importantly in the workplaces. Milan is quite a liberal and international city, but one criterion remains the same, everything needs to be done with taste and elegance.

Dress to impress

Adapting to the Italian culture and style is a step closer to accepting it as a homeland. This does not seem like a difficult task as Italy is one of the world’s most famous (if not the most famous) fashion centres in the world. The real Milanese often is perceived as reserved and classy. The lifestyle in the city is fast-paced and business oriented. However, the high influx of people brought the international spirit, and with that lots of exotic influences.

It is generally considered that a person from this region would be dynamic, curious, demanding and a bit snobbish. This stereotype has been comically represented by the famous Milanese Imbruttito, a website that mockingly represents the elitist behaviours, compared to the simplicity of the South.

The classical Milanese style is described by the term sciuretta (meaning snobbish) and is characterised with a classic, neutral, and slightly boring colour palette. Some advice for camouflaging in the Milan environment are:
Skinny jeans, the right size. Not too tight and not too loose.
A blazer, both for men and women, that in case of warm weather can just hang on one’s shoulders
A well-tailored bag, not necessarily too expensive (maybe from some vintage shop)
Cardigan, soft and from a good material, preferably beige
One comfortable pair of shoes, and one pair of high heels for the day to show off at the after-work aperitivos
Sunglasses for every occasion, even indoors

Business, business, and business

Milan has the most extended working hours in Italy. It is a career-oriented playground where fashion goes hand in hand with every kind of business. Modernisation has changed the dynamics of living, and the centre of importance in life has become career advancement, rather than marriage and family. Entering the corporate world naturally comes with leaving a good impression on an interview. The right approach for this is to find the middle ground between the personal style and the classical, simple-but-elegant dress code in the city. There are few notable (and easy to follow) rules when organising ahead of an interview:
Evaluate the environment in the workplace. Jobs in finance require a more classical approach, while design allows more creativity.
Avoid messy looks or too casual, that might give an impression of carelessness.
Avoid provocative clothing. The Milanese style is simplistic with neutral colours.
Very high heels don’t leave a nice impression and are not comfortable for walking around the city’s cobblestone. Classic and clean leather shoes are always a good option. In Italy, good shoes make a great impression.
An elegant raincoat is always a good idea, as it looks neat and protects from the frequent rains.

After work

Talking about business never stops. The city, however, offers unlimited opportunities for socialising with colleagues and friends. One obvious option is the Milanese aperitivo that includes a drink and a (more than) finger food. For those who want to adapt to the local culture, there are some rules to follow.

First is not to get overwhelmed by the large quantity of food, but instead taking the right amount, just enough to finish it without eating too much. This can be easier said than done, especially for newcomers, who would like to try everything on their way.

The second is the choice of drinks, and the most Milanese beverages would be an Aperol or Negroni Sbagliato. The latter is a drink that was invented in Milan in Bar Basso and differs from the ordinary Negroni by the fact that it contains spumante instead of gin. Another big thing in Milan is the all you can eat sushi, which again leans towards eating too much or abuffare, and has even become the Italian equivalent of fast food.

Sustainable workplaces

One very important aspect that Milan cares about is sustainability. This responsibility has been reflected in every occasion and has become a lifestyle. Renewable sources, sustainable clothing, and reducing food waste are not only beneficial but also promoted and highly respected. Understanding this makes it easy to understand the key to blending in the Italian culture- respect for the natural resources offered in this land. Besides, modifying the style, or not is a personal choice. Milan is an international ground where individual style is respected the most, as the best way to make a local connection

 Useful links:

Business Culture – Business etiquette in Italy
Aux Villes du Monde – How to dress like a Milanese

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