Years ago, Monaco was what some would call ‘unapproachable’, even though, the term does not normally relate to a destination, but if it did – Monaco would be that exception. A tiny but excessively wealthy Principality that belongs to itself Monaco, was a distant dream for most. It was not just an expensive or wealthy destination, Monaco was the definition of class and in some ways ‘a best kept secret’ reserved not only for the super-rich (which, as with all things used to be a much a smaller pool), but in fact for those who belonged to a certain society. This was understandable, as Monaco being as small as it was a common occurrence to have access (by invite or buying tables/tickets) to events that the Reigning Prince and other members of the Royal family frequented. In fact, to this day the Royal family are very active participants in all the events that take place in Monaco, whether charity balls or sport events such as the Rolex Masters Tennis Tournament or the Formula1: Grand Prix de Monaco.
Monaco was really that one place in the World where the entire country was a place of luxury, everything about it oozes class, everything about it oozes beauty and of course everything about it oozes money. One of things Monaco is best known for, is the Casino, which is not only a place for the richest of the rich to blow hard earned cash (or win) but is also a beautiful historic building, architecturally one of the prides and joys of the Monegasque, which includes ballrooms and concert halls, that house many prominent artists, whose honor it is to perform for the crème de la crème of the World who are in high concentration in the Principality of Monaco. Of course, given the nature of the Casino and what it represented (still represents), there were certain rules that needed to be followed and considered when approaching the Casino square, which is the main square of Monaco – among them – the dress code.
Once upon a time (days that I personally long for), there was a strict dress code in order not to just enter the Casino, but in order to take a stroll around the famous square or enjoy an aperitif or dinner at either the Hotel de Paris American Bar or my favorite brasserie Café de Paris, the dress code was black tie. Women were required to wear a long dress, and men were not to be seen without a jacket and even a tuxedo was a must if I recall correctly. As I said – those days are long gone. Monaco has appealed to a more accessible approach when it comes to dress code, and has been moving ahead with time, but somehow still holds the reputation of a rigid place when it comes to dress sense.
First time travelers to this beautiful and incredibly special (for the right reasons) to me place, often ask me the same question “What should I take with me?? How do people dress there?” and funnily enough, my first reaction is always a somewhat baffled reply “the same thing they wear anywhere else”, especially when the question does not concern the weather. We live in a long-time globalized World and with the help of social media the 90’s black tie dress code in Monaco and anywhere else (except for legal dress requirements in some Countries) are behind us. So much so, that it sometimes even makes me laugh (not in an evil or derogatory way), but what is the expectation? That Monaco is a runway where a judge panel is sitting in small cafes grading how you are dressed? This is more realistic of underdeveloped Countries or the visitors of places such as Monaco, to whom what you are wearing still matters in order to objectify you. In a World like Monaco, people give little thought to such trivial matters. Having said that however, I believe that since the question arises so often, I must give a better perspective to the potential visitors and of course my readers.
Monaco is home to a very well-dressed society. Now, the question here however, is what does well-dressed even mean… I believe the terms are blurry when it comes to dressing oneself, as I have commonly noticed people confuse that well-dressed should translate to expensive wear or trendy, however when it comes to Monaco this could not be further from the truth and depending on the time of the year one will encounter completely different types of fashionistas. To start with I would like to focus on the local ladies, who keep their looks clean and classic, the garments can be from a range of designers, both luxury and not. In daily wear you will find that most women choose classic comfort above anything else in order to run their errands, such as picking up their children from school, or grocery shopping, or grabbing a coffee with a friend. This look is normally blue jeans, loafers or sneakers, with a cashmere, silk or cotton top, layered with a gilet or blazer (depending on the time of the year), heels are not a common occurrence during the day, unless the woman in question is attending a particular lunch. Understated luxury is really the way to describe this particular dress sense, most of the time lowkey, warm color tones are chosen to give a very unpretentious but classy touch to the look, with the main details being in the carefully layered styling of the outfit – grey, cream, beige, brown are colors very often seen on local women especially in early spring.
Of course, Monaco is a destination. It is obvious that as soon as the ‘high profile event season’ comes around, Monaco is flushed with jetsetters who are anything but understated luxury. They are all about the latest trends, the latest fashions and of course labels. This is a most welcomed sight in Monaco for those who work in the fashion industry and the many boutiques, however many locals don’t take kindly to this fashion sense, deeming it – nouveau riche or flashy, tacky and frankly vulgar. Which I must admit in some ways the shoe fits regardless of whether it is in Monaco or elsewhere (some things should never be worn), but that is just a lack of taste. The latest trends are splattered all over these jetsetter visitors in restaurants, streets, parties and events. The locals normally leave Monaco during this time of the year (May, July and August). It is that ‘globalized’ social and styling norms I wrote about earlier that lead the way.
However, not all locals are anti trends or anything ‘latest’, in fact a big chunk of the younger generations very much enjoy the over exaggerated latest revamped styles of the 90’s. In fact, they employ these trends within classic looks which result in meticulously styled outfits. I am one of the above-mentioned people, I employ my personal style using classic garments and the latest trends and end up with the best of both Worlds. I leave my eccentric looks for when my jetsetter friends are in town.
If you are visiting Monaco, keep the contents of your suitcase fresh and clean. You can never go wrong with a classic look. You can read more on eveningwear on “Eveningwear during the ultimate ‘event’ months of Monaco”.