Norway, Sweden, Denmark — the women in all these countries are super stylish. So what’s the formula for dressing like a Scandinavian? We’re going to break it down.
When you think of Scandinavia, what do you think of? Maybe you’ve heard of hygge. You probably think of Ikea. And yes, while Scandinavian minimalism really took off as an interior décor style that you see a lot on Pinterest, that same philosophy carries over to their fashion sense.
In recent years, Copenhagen Fashion Week has really grown in visibility, and it’s easy to see why because the cool girl, minimalistic style is really alluring. In some ways, Scandi style incorporates the Scandinavian idea of hygge or the “mood of coziness” into their way of dress. Scandi style is “very laid back but at the same time sophisticated” as explained by Christeen Extseen of Denmark’s prominent fashion house By Madelene Birger.
If I had to quickly describe Scandinavian fashion, I would say that it’s classic fashion with all the basics you would think of being in a minimal capsule wardrobe but with an edge that makes it unique. Their sense of style seems less about conformity and more about having a sense of personal style.
The Scandinavian Color Palette
The Scandinavian color palette is built around neutrals. Think black, white, beige, gray, and navy. The whole idea is to be able to walk into your closet, grab any pieces you own, and have them work together. The Scandinavians are the OGs of the capsule wardrobe, which can save you a lot of money and help you build a more cohesive wardrobe. The key is to be really thoughtful about the pieces that you select.
A Simple Sweater
One of the basics of the Scandinavian wardrobe is a simple sweater. It’s easy to wear whether you layer it over a dress, wear it with a skirt, or throw it on with a pair of jeans. Get a simple sweater in a bunch of neutral colors, and you’ll be set. It’ll work with everything in your neutral Scandi-inspired wardrobe! You’re welcome.
The Cool Girl Loves Basics
My stressing the idea of basics over and over again is probably going to get a little old, but it really is the key to Scandinavian style. A white t-shirt, jean jacket, and white sneakers are all really average items that you probably already own. But in true Scandinavian fashion, she ups the ante by throwing in the cool girl leather pants that give the outfit an edge.
The Oversized Coat
If there’s one thing that’s true of Scandinavia, it’s that it gets cold, which means lots and lots of coats. And Scandinavian women love to incorporate them into their outfits. But their take on the classic coat is more oversized. Having some really quality coats in neutral colors is a great addition to every woman’s wardrobe.
Keep Patterns Simple
You have to liven up your neutral wardrobe somehow, right? One great way to do this is with prints! But Scandinavian women tend to stick to more classic prints that are really versatile and easy to wear. Checks and stripes are two really popular options that will go with basically any outfit you have.
Rewearing Clothing Is Embraced
One idea that’s really prevalent throughout the fashion culture in Scandinavia is the idea of sustainability. They aren’t afraid to wear their clothes again. Even some of the biggest influencers like Pernille Teisbaek will invest in more expensive quality items and aren’t afraid to wear them (and post in them!) constantly. Don’t be afraid to be known for your clothes and have what you wear be recognizable. Being remembered for a certain item of clothing should be embraced, not discouraged. If someone with a million followers on Instagram can repost in the same outfit, so can you.
No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothes
Winters in Scandinavia are brutal. It’s cold and dark most of the time. But one Norwegian saying is that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” And it’s so true! Scandinavians really embrace their winters with lots of snow sports and hot drinks, and of course, cute, fun winter clothes. If they can do it, there’s no reason why we can’t! So go for a walk on a rainy day. And remember the weather isn’t bad if your clothes are appropriately chosen for the forecast.
One really common element in Scandinavian style is boots. Whether classic, edgy, or funky, Scandinavian women love their boots. So if you want your style to be a little more Scandinavian, wear more boots!
Don’t Forget Loafers
But the chunky shoes don’t stop at boots! I also noticed loafers being worn frequently by Scandinavian women. Loafers add a subtle edge to an otherwise classic outfit, and as much as they could be scary if you’re not used to a chunky shoe, they’re proven to be quite versatile by many fashionable Scandinavian women. You can find loafers that are more preppy and classic, or ones that are more chunky and modern. It all depends on your style!
Neutrals Let You Play with Pops of Color
Now, it’s certainly not as if Scandinavian women never wear any color. The beauty of having a wardrobe that’s built around neutrals is that it allows you to play with pops of color in your outfit really easily because the neutrals will work with any color you try to add to it. So have fun with your accessories!
They Can Make Black Look Unique
There really is an element of expressing yourself through your style that shows in Scandinavian style. Even when wearing the typical LBD, you can see this is no ordinary LBD. Scandinavian women take basics, but with slightly different designs that are unique, and make their outfit just a little different from what you typically see. They’re really good at making their style unique to them!
Biking in Dresses, Why Not?
People ride their bikes everywhere in Copenhagen and in many other parts of Scandinavia. Not only is it great for exercise and getting in some more time outdoors, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to wear a dress. You heard that right! I’m totally on board with this. I think American women often avoid wearing dresses for more active activities, but there’s no real reason why we can’t or shouldn’t in many cases. Why not embrace femininity when you go for a walk or ride your bike? Take it from the Swedes, there’s no good reason not to.
Scandinavian women are the ultimate winter fashion inspiration! Embrace individuality in your wardrobe while still keeping it classic. Their formula is a recipe for success in having good style, and you bet I will be taking these style tips into consideration the next time I’m out shopping or pairing down my closet to be more minimal.
If you enjoyed this cultural fashion breakdown, check out our article on French fashion.