A Scandi-lous Guide to Nordic Fashion

A Scandi-lous Guide to Nordic Fashion

When most people think of Scandinavian fashion, their minds jump to Viking helmets, knit sweaters, and outdoor gear, but this understanding is just one part of it. Scandinavia is a cultural region in northern Europe, consisting of Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, known for its minimalist style. Having spent nearly all of my summer holidays in Norway, the birthplace of my mother, I’ve become well-versed in the Nordic approach to fashion. Fortunately, with social media and globalization, the rest of the world is beginning to recognize it, too. Influencers, such as Annijor, Sophia Roe, and Darja Barannik, are spearheading a new age of Scandi-fashion that has a global scope, and Copenhagen Fashion Week is growing in popularity each year — Nordic fashion is undeniably on the rise.

Throughout my travels, I’ve noticed a stark contrast between the clothing worn in Norway and my hometown, Ottawa, which is internationally recognized as one of the worst-dressed cities. Norwegians always look put-together, yet relaxed and effortless. Moreover, they’re impeccably trendy — upcoming styles in Canada can be forecasted by looking at what Scandinavians are currently wearing.

Scandi-street style in Oslo, Norway. Source: Kaia Depelteau.

The Scandi-look is accomplished through a set of unwritten style rules, which never stray from their core tenets despite surface variations over time. Personally, I’ve always drawn inspiration from Norwegian street-style, and shop so much during my trips that I can hardly close my suitcase on the way home.

In Nordic style, there are two primary areas of consideration: colour palette and silhouette. Outfits are typically composed of neutral shades in light tones, with pops of other colour accents, such as red or orange — a palette that mirrors the environment perfectly, as evident in Oslo, where fashionable beiges and creams blend in with local architecture.

Oslo, Norway. Source: Kaia Depelteau

As for shape, Scandinavians opt for a careful blend of delicate, fitted pieces, and oversized cuts. This look is made simple to achieve by the miraculous tool of layering, which Nordic dwellers have mastered given the persistent cold weather. In previous years, mom jeans, leather jackets, and button-down shirts were the go-to however, trenches and wide-legged pants have taken over this summer.

Scandi-style — from fashion to architecture and interior design — is often labelled as minimalist. This approach to fashion allows for a closet composed mostly of staple garments, which are basic pieces of clothing that fit seamlessly together. Quality is valued over quantity — the root of the Scandinavian look is the ability to throw on a well-loved piece, or a combination of a few, and roll out of bed looking flawless in minutes.

In reflection of my travels through Scandinavia, I’ve compiled a list of essential wardrobe items which encapsulate the Scandi-lous style of the Nordic nations — wearing any of the pieces below will make it look like you’ve walked straight out of Copenhagen Fashion Week.

Street style at the Oslo Opera House. Source: Kaia Depelteau.

Trenches:

Trench coats are a major element in Nordic fashion. On every street in Oslo, I’ve spotted at least three Scandi-women in some type of a camel trench. The particular style varied in pattern and colour, as plaids, greys, and dark blue options were widespread as well. On warmer days, an over-sized blazer is an easy substitute.

Hoops:

Hoop earrings are a timeless jewelry piece. Scandinavians tend to wear gold hoops in either a small, thick proportion or a larger, thin one.

Scarves:

Scandinavia is very cold, so scarves are a necessary means of bundling up, and adding a pop of colour to the neutral palette of a Nordic outfit — they’re a simple, yet effective accessory.

Wide-legged pants:

As Scandinavians are generally quite tall, the wide-legged pant trend is extremely popular. I, for one, am super grateful for it, because it makes it much easier to find jeans that aren’t skinny!

Chunky Sneakers:

This is a very hyped trend world-wide, but Scandinavians take it to the next level. This trend isn’t reserved for young people – I’ve noticed people of all ages rocking it! Try pairing them with a wide-legged pant style for an easy spring look!

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