How to: Pose like an Italian

By Oscar Quine

As a true fashionista knows, looking the part is about more than the clothes. Channel the Italian spirit with these tips from Italian image consultant, Nicoletta Adda...

"Italians swear by 'la bella figura' – ie, looking and acting the part! Always dress for the occasion, whether it is going shopping or to Ascot. To add swagger, always greet with two kisses. And never have cappuccino after a meal!"

"Grooming and individuality are like oxygen to Italians: clothes and accessories must be in tip-top shape, well co-ordinated and with a personal touch. Know your fabrics, too: linen is strictly for summer and woollen coats only for winter."

"Excesses are not elegant: Italians do not eat or drink too much, they enjoy food and wine in moderation. It is their recipe for good health and a youthful look: with a healthy mind and a healthy body, clothes can never look 'ill'-fitting."

Rotating column: Power dressing

By Alexander Fury

A simplistic summary of Italian loves: cars, football, fashion. The uniting factor in all of them? A healthy dose of competition.

If you've ever heard the roaring at a Milan derby, or driven on a busy Italian road, you know the competitive stream that boils deep in Italian blood. It flows through the veins of many an Italian fashion designer, too. It took chutzpah for Armani, Versace, Valentino et al to build up those multi-billion dollar empires.

Hence the power games that are rife in Milanese fashion. There's plenty of my-palazzo-is-bigger-than-your-palazzo one-upmanship, fashion show slot shifting and model gazumping.

The good thing? It often makes for great fashion – look at the Gianni versus Giorgio battle of the Eighties. And even if the clothes aren't that great, the designer cat-fighting is good for a laugh.

Instant ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Dear Ellen

Q. My boss refuses to send his own emails. How do I tell him it's not part of my job description?

A. The bad news is your boss is lazy. The good news is your boss is an idiot. By giving you access to his email, he's unwittingly also given you all the power. Scour his outbox for something incriminating, then wield it mercilessly.


Four play: Armani muses

1. Queen Rania

2. Cate Blanchett

3. Lady Gaga

4. Zelda Fitzgerald

Micro extract: 'A good impression'

“Aldo had looked at Rome and understood its potential, a playground full of aristocrats and comospolitan high spenders, it was a society that, externally at least, revolved around the need to ‘fare una bella figura’.”

From ‘Gucci by Gucci’ by Sarah Mower (Mondadori Electa, £95)