Scandic Fashion Scandal

European Style Collection


Fjords, Vikings, and wooden churches – while respectively stunning – have nothing on the closets of the Nordic region, commonly denoted as Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. It is with much gratitude that I report on my recent visit to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden this past summer and describe my travels, fashionably of course. However, it is of foremost importance that I justify my choice in grouping these four countries under the branch of Scandinavia, a term that first emerged on the pages of Hans Christian Andersen’s poems in the mid-19th century. Although each country does retain its own individual nuances and attributes, there are enough similarities, or “scandals”, that the four can be grouped under one umbrella. With my choice of term clarified, it is only fitting that I now go into a brief history of Nordic fashion, which is rooted in the belief of functionality, simplicity, and minimalism. In line with its breathtaking landscape, many Scandinavians will confirm that their simple wardrobe greatly complements the natural beauty they aim to highlight. Beautiful and yet starkly rugged, the Nordic landscape asserts the importance of outfit versatility so that anyone can embark on a new activity, often involving athletics, in nature. True Scandinavian fashion can be summed up in a local’s quote: “There is no bad weather, only bad dressing.” In the torrentially rainy city of Bergen, and the region of Northern Norway, this statement is one to live by. 


So why a scandal? In an athletic and diversely rugged terrain, one might expect that athleisure fills the streets as it does in America. But this is not the case. The greatest American misfortune has not permeated to the Arctic Circle. This leaves us with the question: how do Scandinavians hike up a fjord and storm the streets of Copenhagen all in one outfit? By dressing for both occasions, fashion laws be damned and athleisure as well. Fashion and personal style is another domain where chucking out the rule book opens the door to heightened opportunity.


 The great cities of Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen routinely showcase the playful lines of the brand Ganni and staples of Acne: eternally a bike-able outfit. It is common to stroll down Strøget (Denmark) and see a black, tiered babydoll dress paired with colorful Asics, Hoya’s, Adidas, or Acne shoes. This mash-up look is the walking epitome of notable Scandinavian architecture: clean muted houses amongst the bountiful landscape. These sneakers are not to say that tiny little heels don’t amble themselves across the brick pathways; although, you may want to consider they are most likely us: the buzzing tourists. 


Moving upwards on the figure we reach a classic Scandinavian style provision: the casually slung sweater. While this sweater or cardigan may never make its way onto the wearer fully, its diagonal cross body look adds both class and a pop of color to any white t-shirt, or even a boxy blazer. Acclaimed for both their sleek look and temperature security, boxy blazers are all the rage, whether over jeans, denim shorts, or even – if you can ever catch a Scandinavian in them – sweatpants. While clothes in the States appear tiny, their clothes are big and boxy. It’s shocking, I regret to say, that while America does everything “big,” our clothes are not. The Nordics have taken this boxy look on full force, from winter coats to another closet staple: the flowy white or striped button down. 


The final note I have to give reflects a style staple that slightly contradicts the Scandinavian way of life. If you happen to pick up a Scandinavian guide while at the airport or talk to a Scandi in person, you will learn that the way of life is largely influenced by quality time with family, athletic adventures, and less importance in careers. However, typical work staples meander themselves through the streets just as frequently as bicyclists do. Leggings retain athletic purpose only, sweatpants are a “sick” ensemble, and jeans don’t provide the breathability that many seek; thus, enter the trouser. Men and women alike traipse throughout Scandinavia’s hottest cities sporting black, navy, and tan trouser pants, belted and draped with the signature sweater. In true tourist nature, I have only touched upon the surface of what Scandinavia has to offer, the rest is up to you.


Whether it is Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or Finnish, in the states I will happily translate the “it girl” as being the “Scandi girl.” Until we reach a new destination, stay tuned and stay you.