The streets of Milan are a veritable catwalk of fabulously dressed locals wearing the kind of immaculately put-together outfits and attention-catching statement pieces most of us are used to seeing only in magazine spreads. If after seeing the Milanese people’s enviable style, you feel like upping your wardrobe game, consult our guide below to find out where best to snap up new threads in Italy’s fashion capital.
Haute Couture On the Golden Square
If you’ve got your heart set on some fresh-from-the-runway couture, you’re in luck: high fashion is Milan’s forte. You’ll find the biggest of the big-name designers in the cobbled Quadrilatero d'Oro (Gold Square), with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Gianni Versace, Gucci, Valentino and Alberta Ferretti all represented. Even if you don’t have a spare couple of hundred euro to drop on a single item, it is still worth coming here for a window-shopping session as the elaborately dressed displays are among the best in the world.
Embrace your Alternative side
If you favor minimalist gear, streetwear and quality basics over the flashy fashions of Italy’s high-end designer flagships, you may be more drawn to Milan’s Corso di Porta Ticinese. This street is the epicenter of cool and is packed with small independent shops selling everything from vintage and vinyl to up-and-coming labels from Scandinavia and London. Among the standout stores are Dictionary and Frip, both of which are stocked with a stylishly curated selection of edgy brands.
Europe's Longest Shopping Street
One of longest shopping street in the world, Corso Buenos Aires, is the place to go for high street brands and affordable ready-to-wear collections. The 19th and 20th-century buildings lining the road play host to familiar European chains such as Zara and H&M, as well as reasonably priced Italian-based high street retailers such as Stefanel.
High Fashion at Low Prices
Milan is one of the best places to get designer goods for less. Because of the fast-paced fashion scene here and the demand for constant change of stock in the flagships, last-season pieces and barely-worn second-hand items abound. In fact, most Milanese are reluctant to pay full whack for their designer gear. The best bargains will require a little digging. Try scouring the stalls at the outlets on Corso Vittorio Emanuele or head to out-of-town outlets and factory stores, such as Serravalle Designer Outlet and FoxTown, the latter of which is located just over the Swiss border. Visit in January or early August and you may catch the end-of-season sales.
Don't Forget to Get Your Tax Back
If you are a non-EU resident, bear in mind that you can claim back value added tax (VAT) on bigger purchases. Look for shops displaying a tax free shopping sign and request a VAT-refund form when paying. Take the paperwork along with your newly bought goods to customs at the airport. You can then queue at the airport refund center or send the forms back by mail upon your return home.