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What Do I Wear There? Study Abroad in Scandinavia

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What to wear in Scandinavia

I’m very excited for this week’s post, as I was lucky enough to get CF reader Milana to contribute a “guest post” since she lives in Denmark. Her advice is AMAZING and we’re so lucky she was generous enough to write for us! Huge thanks to her for all of her hard work–the outfit she created is gorgeous and her street style photos are so inspirational!

Of course, while her advice is definitely reputable since she is giving it from her first-hand experience, the same notes from the past articles still apply.

(In case you missed my previous posts, see What Do I Wear There? Study AbroadStudy Abroad Fashion FAQWhat Do I Wear There? Study Abroad in the UK and Ireland,  Study Abroad Fashion in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and Study Abroad Fashion in China, Israel, and Japan.)

  • All of the information here is taken from advice I have received–it is not a binding set of rules for how to dress in these locations! These are simply some helpful suggestions on what articles of clothing have proved most functional and worthwhile for those who have traveled abroad. However, for this article, it is important to note what is and is not appropriate to wear in these areas, as they tend to be more conservative than what most readers may be used to.
  • Because of the nature of these posts–which are trying to cater to such a large crowd of people going to all different places within each of these countries–I am forced to generalize. However, I do understand that fashion is different not just in the different countries but also in the different regions of each country. Therefore, please feel free to correct me or add more detail in the comments if you think your specific location within these countries follows different fashion “rules” or subscribes to a different way of dressing!

Now, on to Milana’s fabulous advice!

About Scandinavia

Scandinavia
Photo Credit

Scandinavia… The northern part of Europe where the Vikings once ruled, the temperatures are low, people are happy and princesses live. Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden all make up this rich part of the European continent.

The strong economy of these countries allows people, no matter what their profession is, to follow the latest trends from the international as well as the Scandinavian fashion scene all year long. This means that you will see all the latest trends here. The best thing about Scandinavian fashion is that whether you’re a student, a shop assistant, a designer, or even a princess, the style has the same basic characteristics; a mix of simplicity, sophistication and edge.

Scandinavian Weather

It’s no secret that Scandinavia, though beautiful, is not the warmest part of Europe! Ice, snow, rain, storms, and summer heat are all well-represented.

Even though the summertime doesn’t last long, it can get pretty hot and as soon as that happens people head to the beach, so if you’re staying here in summertime, definitely bring a bikini! There are some pretty great beaches here.

A raincoat (check out this post about cold, rainy day weather) is a must have if you’re staying in Scandinavia during fall/winter. Don’t be embarrassed to wear one, because everyone wears them over their fabulous outfits. But you can forget all about using an umbrella because it WILL blow away!

During the winter, it can be pretty cold, so make sure to have hats, gloves and scarves with you.

Simplicity

Scandinavian women don’t wear a lot of makeup. They look very natural, and more than a little eyeshadow is considered an ‘evening look’. So during the day stick to mascara, blush and a lip gloss (and if you love eyeshadow, choose an earthy color). When it comes to hair, go simple as well. Everyone has long, straight, blond or brown hair. It’s all about ‘less is more’ when it comes to hair and make-up.

scandinavia-beauty
Photo from http://copenhagenstreetstyle.dk/

Sophistication

Scandinavian women are very sophisticated and feminine. It’s not about getting attention by showing too much skin. Keep it simple and pretty, and use accessories wisely! Skinny jeans tucked into boots, a t-shirt, a blazer with the sleeves rolled up and a scarf and you’re ready to go to any lecture, lunch or date!

Edge

Scandinavia is the home of H&M and you’ll see a lot of girls wearing items from their collections, however, Scandinavian girls manage to maintain a personal style by mixing clothes from H&M with vintage clothes (there are quite a few second-hand shops in Scandinavia) and designer clothing. You’ll especially experience the bags, watches and shoes to be of great quality. You’ll see a lot of girls pairing cute skirts and dresses with a leather jacket and Converse shoes.

Here is a sample outfit that would be typical “edgy” style in Scandinavia:

scandinavia-outfit

Product Information: Quilted Purse: ASOS.com, Blazer: Newlook.co.uk, Scarf: Topshop.com, Tee Shirt: My-wardrobe.com, Boots: Piperlime.gap.com, Jeans: Topshop.com

Colors

Scandinavians love earthy colors. (It is linked to the fact that the weather is gray.) White is almost only worn during the summer–you won’t see people wearing white during winter. Any fashionable color goes, but you will never fail if you wear colors like pale pink, off-white, beige, black, grey or dark blue. These colours are very characteristic of the Scandinavian nature. All you need to do is find your best color!

Clothes for a Night Out

When out at parties, Scandinavians do dress up. Girls wear more makeup, high-heels, dresses and flashy jewelry. You should not wear sneakers to night-clubs, as many clubs don’t allow it. But it all depends on which clubs you’re going to, so make sure you ask some of your Scandinavian friends what kind of a club it is.

Roskilde Festival

If you’re in Denmark in June/July you should definitely try and attend Roskilde Festival, where you can find people from all over Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. It’s one of the biggest festivals in the world and you can really experience the Scandinavian culture!

Classic Dos and Don’ts

Dos

  • Layer – it’ll keep you warm and fashionable
  • Ride a bike and use a bike helmet while here (I know bike helmets are not the sexiest head accessories but…)
  • Personalize your style with fun accessories like headbands
  • Wear across-body school bags
  • Rock Converse shoes
  • Wear ballet flats (called “Ballerinas” in Scandinavia)
  • Make skinny jeans, leggings and “jeggings” your staple legwear
  • Keep warm with scarves
  • Use hair accessories to bring some fun to your look
  • Tuck skinny jeans into boots

Don’ts:

  • Don’t wear sunglasses inside
  • Don’t wear sport sunglasses unless you’re a professional bike rider
  • Don’t overdo your hair and makeup
  • Don’t match too much–it’ll make your look too fabricated
  • Don’t wear white socks with black shoes!

Personal Style

Personal style is appreciated in Scandinavia. Both men and women spend a lot of time and money on looking good and creativity is the key. Here are some great looking Scandinavian women.

scandinavia-street1

scandinavia-street2
Photos from http://copenhagenstreetstyle.dk/

Shopping in Scandinavia

There are great shopping opportunities in Scandinavia. Every international brand is represented: from Chanel and Gucci to H&M and TopShop!

Here are some of my favorite Scandinavian designers that you can check out for more inspiration on the upcoming trends:

Basically, there are not too many rules when it comes to Scandinavian style. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to be different!

What do you think?

Are you a fan of Scandinavian style? How would you incorporate your personal style into this culture? Do you have any other tips about Scandinavian fashion?

Next week will be my last post about “Study Abroad Style,” so I will be doing small sections on some of the remaining countries I have received requests and information about.

Therefore, if you still haven’t seen your study abroad location covered here, be sure to request it in the comments below! Also, keep the advice coming to whatdoiwearthere AT gmail DOT com if you have any study abroad experience or live in one of the requested sites–your advice is so helpful to CF readers and a lot of fun for me to read!

Posted on on December 18, 2009 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , ,

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45 Responses to “What Do I Wear There? Study Abroad in Scandinavia”

  1. 1
    December 18th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    If you’re talking about Scandinavian fashion, you MUST mention Hel-looks! http://www.hel-looks.com is the coolest site for funky, Finnish street-style. A lot of the styles there are kinda outlandish, but you can see all the trends and modify some of the looks to fit you!

  2. 2
    December 18th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I live in Norway and this is so right! Great job with getting your facts right :)

    If you need more Scandinavian fashion inspiration, then you’re welcome to my fashion blog, http://www.Fashioniista.blogg.no. It’s written in Norwegian, but you could check out pictures, and maybe copy/paste the text into Google Translate.

    -Fashioniista Blogg

  3. 3
    December 18th, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    So happy a fellow Scandinavian agrees! :)

    If you like my guest post, check out my own blog at http://www.FashionStyleAdvice.com for more ideas!

    /Milana

  4. 4
    December 18th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    hi, can u do one about india. im going to a city called Mumbai next semester but i really dont nw what to bring. with me..

  5. 5
    December 18th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Lovely post. I adore the second girl’s skirt and wonder why i can’t find anything like it.

  6. 6
    December 18th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Congrats!!!! This post is fabulous =)

    more inspiration on scandinavian style you might also try http://oddmolly.com/.
    odd molly is a awesome and typical Swedish label which is very popular here in northern Europe. Many pieces of clothing are girly and colourful, but at the same time very stylish and sophisticated. Have a look!!!!!

    Good luck =)

  7. 7
    December 18th, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    love this, you are right about less is more :)

    love from Iceland :D

  8. 8
    December 18th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    This post is spot on! I am currently an exchange student in Sweden and can say that one of the first instances of culture shock upon my arrival was how well people (both men and women) put themselves together! I feel like I am living in an H&M photoshoot, it is fantastisk! Great job!

  9. 9
    December 18th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Thank you! I’m planning on studying in Sweden soon, so this is really neat to know. =) Great job!

  10. 10
    December 18th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Could you do a piece on South America? I’m going to Peru this summer, but I know a lot of people who have also gone to Argentina and Brazil. Thanks!!

  11. 11
    December 18th, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    These looks are all really great; I love how Scandinavia is really in to simple beauty and hair. Could you please do one on Australia? I’m going to go there this summer
    =)

  12. 12
    December 18th, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    wow, Scandinavians’ dressing are really classy and polished! :) I am impressed..
    Could you please do one on Australia (Perth)? The seasons there are totally opposite from the rest of the world and my own country (tropical all year round!) I don’t really know when / where to get winter / summer apparels with great deals! Will be heading back to Perth in January (summer) and gonna experience all 4 seasons in Aus! Please do help me!!!
    Thank you~

  13. 13
    December 18th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Well when I was about 13 i went on a trip to scandinavia for 3 weeks in the summer. Make sure no mater what the time of year bring a warm jacket. It snowed in the mountains in JULY and i was freezing because I didnt hve a winter coat.

  14. 14
    December 19th, 2009 at 12:40 am

    I may be biased (I’m 3/4 Danish…) but I think the Scandinavians dress the BEST out of any other culture!! Pretty, sophisticated, and not raunchy. Love love love!!!
    I would LOVE a part 2 to this post!! (hint hint!)

  15. 15
    December 19th, 2009 at 2:40 am

    I would also like to see one on South America, I’m going to Argentina this winter =]

  16. 16
    December 19th, 2009 at 2:42 am

    I’m from Australia and think that the biggest differences people notice are in how laidback we are, and that our climate is always opposite to the northern hemisphere. Where I live, in Melbourne – it isn’t uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day!!

    I would be happy to offer more insight about fashion in Australia – if a post was to be written :)

  17. 17
    December 19th, 2009 at 2:57 am

    hey college fashion girls!
    a major snow storm is hitting the east coast as of NOW. How AWESOME would it be if you tailored a post to being fashionable during winter snow storms.? some of us still have to so xmas shopping and we shouldnt have to relinquish our style to the cold, frigid, yet fluffy snow.
    please please please do this one. I’m interested to see how you can stay stylish in EXTREME weather.
    Plus, snow clothes can be hella cute.
    Your east coast readers would be happy!
    YAY!

  18. 18
    December 19th, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Hey!
    Im living in Sweden and your advice was pretty good. Id like to point out that there are different styles among the fashionable people. A few basic is the “brats”, upper-class that hang out at Östermalm, and only wear fancy broad designer labels. Then there are the more SoFo (South of Folkungagatan) inspired people like you discribed. The SoFo theme is very fashion right now. Go for Södermalm where there are some amazing shops. Individual designers with great quality that are stunning.
    Some trends that only snobs wear are the fur coats and hats, the fjälräven jacket is a big no.
    You write that less is more, which is true but when it comes to make up it is important to be able to apply it professionally.
    Remember to apply some personal style to earn respect from the fashionistas. Boot cut jeans are not fashionable.
    And lastly newer under any curcomstances wear tennis shoes or such in the place of converse, flats, boots and heals!!
    Good luck <3

  19. 19
    December 19th, 2009 at 6:59 am

    I live in Denmark and everything you say is so right! Omg. Many people in Denmark wear leggins that look like jeans. Like everybody does that. And i loove wearing them cause they are really comfortable and they look better and real skinny jeans! And they are not really expensive. I once heard they are very expensive in USA, but in denmark they cost like the half of real jeans!

  20. 20
    December 19th, 2009 at 7:41 am

    So glad you liked the post and glad people from Scandinavia agree with the tips! :)

    For more posts by me check out my blog http://www.FashionStyleAdvice.com

    /Milana

  21. 21
    December 19th, 2009 at 9:29 am

    norwegian fashionbloggers : marieamanda.com , livingdoll.blogg.no and ulrikkelunds.blogg.no ! CHECK THEM OUT !

  22. 22
    December 19th, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I read 2 requests for a post on South America. I’m an Argentinian college student, so if Colleen wants to, I can send her my suggestions.

  23. 23
    December 19th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I live in Latvia, and this post matches our climate too, so if you are coming here or going to any other Baltic country, you can use this post.

  24. 24
    December 19th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Tamara, that would be amazing! Any advice would be so helpful–send it to whatdoiwearthere@gmail.com !

    And I agree with all the comments here, Milana’s article is so great. I also love all the street style sites you guys are posting–Scandinavian style is so cute!

  25. 25
    December 19th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Love them! I really like the girls military jacket with the scarf!

  26. 26
    December 19th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I love learning about what different cultures are wearing and I am happy to say that I do admire the Scandinavian style. While, I do like a bit of flare, I really love when little things can set an entire wardrobe off in a better direction.

  27. 27
    December 19th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    please do central/south america! I might be going to Belize, advice on how to be fashionable and stay cool in a tropical climate would be helpful :)

  28. 28
    December 20th, 2009 at 6:39 am

    I’m from Serbia but i study Scandinavian languages and literature and i admire Scandinavian culture and style so much! My opinion is that they are the best-dressed Europeans for sure. I heart Scandinavia :)

  29. 29
    December 20th, 2009 at 6:51 am

    I’m visiting Stockholm in February for Fashion Week and can’t wait! Scandinavian women are always impeccably dressed. People watching will be fun!

  30. 30
    December 20th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Great post! I only have one disagreement: not everyone has long straight blonde or brown hair. I am from Sweden and I have shoulder-length blonde really curly hair with a reddish tone, and I can assure you that there is a lot of different hair styles in Sweden at least!
    Sure, there’s a lot of blondes, but we do like to change our hair often =)

    Check out some great Swedish bloggers:
    http://kenzas.se
    http://blogg.aftonbladet.se/22226 (Swedish fashion blogger living in NYC)
    http://carolinelundh.se/index.html

  31. 31
    December 20th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Hey Colleen,
    I’m loving these Study Abroad posts! I was wondering, can you do something on bags? Where I’m from, it’s pretty common to see backpacks around campus, especially to carry around laptops. I’m studying in the UK next year, and I’m guessing backpacks aren’t as common around there. What’s popular on campus to tote around books and a laptop, and off campus shopping or going out?
    Thanks!

  32. 32
    December 21st, 2009 at 3:00 am

    I was an exchange student to Sweden last year! I didn’t see that many designer clothes where I was (in the north) but otherwise I totally agree with everything on this list, especially H&M.

  33. 33
    December 23rd, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Wow, I love this style! This was really fun to read and also rather practical because it gave me some great ideas for outfits even though I’m not even near going to Scandinavia :P

  34. 34
    December 23rd, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    I’m really enjoying this series of posts.
    I think this is my favorite one so far.

    Can you please do one for Dubai?

  35. 35
    December 30th, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Hey love to idea of the website. I am still in high school and still love the looks you guys post. I was wondering if u could tell me is there a way to dress for when you like a guy. I mean I know to act myself but how to make him notice me… Any ideas for a outfit or to for the days I have classes with him.

  36. 36
    December 31st, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    prague, please! i haven’t been able to find many blogs from central or eastern europe using english search terms.

  37. 37
    December 31st, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I’m really happy you girls like the post and found some useful advice.

  38. 38
    January 7th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I love, love, LOVE the scandinavian style!!

  39. 39
    January 11th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Could you guys maybe do one on the Netherlands? I am going there in March!

  40. 40
    February 1st, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I can do one on The Netherlands if you like :) I have lived there all my life, which is 21 years.

  41. 41
    February 2nd, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    That would be absolutely amazing!! :D

  42. 42
    May 16th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Lovely. You are very right on about Scandinavian style – but colours are not a total no-go – escpecially in summer – we love our colours… and you are so right about the ballarina-thing – everybody wears it. High heels can easily be consindered over the top in an everyday outfit – and the thing that most Scandinavian girls try to avoid is to look slutty – and therefore short skirts, make-up and high heels should be worn with great care :) but i think you really described Scandi-style so well!!!!! Godt arbejde = well done :)

  43. 43
    July 16th, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I was automatically sucked into this post just by mention of the word “Viking” !!!!! :D

  44. 44
    May 27th, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Does anyone have any advice regarding rain boots?? I live in New Orleans so I am used to wearing them in rainy weather, but I have been getting mixed messages about whether Scandinavian women wear rain boots. I will be studying abroad in Denmark next fall and would love any advice!

  45. 45
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    @Julia – I own a pair of Hunter rain boots and I’m Danish. I always used to walk or ride my bike to school, so they have been very useful on rainy days. Hunter rain boots are indeed considered as fashionable, but do only wear them when it’s raining. Wearing them on sunny/ dry days are considered as being ridiculous naturally. :-).
    A lot people also wear them at music festivals.
    Of course there are also other brands than Hunter. Here in Denmark we have a brand called Ilse Jacobsen, which also has some very nice rain boots. To be honest, your rain boots don’t need to be some kind of designer brand, but if you want to be just a tad more fashionable, I definitely recommend those two. But you can without a doubt look just as good with more affordable rain boots as you can with Hunter (they are very expensive – I got mine for a lot less: 500 kr (about 88 US dollars)).
    Pair your rain boots up with either leggings, stockings, or skinny jeans, and you’ll do. :-D

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