Undoubtedly, Swedes have a good sense of fashion. Many centuries ago, Swedes expressed their personality wearing fur, leather and – legend says it – funny helmets with horns. Since then a few things have changed in Swedish wardrobes.
Swedes turned from wild looking Vikings into sidewalk-fashion-queens
Dress like a Swede
Now, take a look in the mirror. That’s how you look. Then look at a picture of a Swede and you will notice, they look a little bit different. Regardless of your nationality, there is a high probability that the Swede is better dressed than you, has a fresh, modern haircut, and that he or she invests a lot of money in expensive hair care products. On top of that, many Swedes like to show off the well trained body by wearing tight cloths. (See How to be Swedish: Be fit!)
To look like a Swede, you should cleanse your wardrobe and start dressing fashionably. Fashionably in Sweden pretty much means wearing somethings similar or rather the same cloths your friends wear.
Since all Swedes pretend to be friends, everyone wears the same.
Basic cloths you must own as a new-Swede
Shoes in Sweden
If you’re not quite up to date and a little insecure when it comes to shoe-fashion, there is a “safe bet” you can’t do anything wrong with: Converse Allstars, “Chucks”. Great choice, at least during summer.
All Swedes who are able to wear tight jeans without looking embarrassing have a pair of Chucks somewhere in their skohylla, shoe rack, right next to the entrance door.
Must-have cloths, in general
Girls must equip their wardrobe with: a black leather jacket, big scarf, tight black jeans, white Converse.
Guys on the other hand should buy: a black leather jacket, big scarf, tight black jeans, white Converse.
Swedes not only dress well, they also make sure they look good on and around their head.
Women, who's hair color is neither on the blond nor the dark side of the scale, might find themselves in a bit of a dilemma. They have to decide whether they dye their hair dark or blond, to get rid of their, as Swedes call it, råttfärg, rat-color.
For men it's much easier. As a new-Swede, you should have a haircut that looks like you just came from the hairdresser – look nyklippt, “newly cut”.
Just pick the most common hair cut that most of your Swedish friends already have. If you are not that much of a follower-type, and like to feel different, take the haircut from a guy who is currently on the cover of any popular fashion magazine.
And don't run out of the expensive gel and spray that the hairdresser successfully promotes during the overpriced visit. You want to look groomed in the end, don't you?
If you are a man coming to Sweden for the first time, you might be surprised by how many Swedish women are good looking.
If you are a woman coming to Sweden for the first time, you might be surprised by how many Swedish women are good looking, because they skillfully apply plenty of make up.
You might get the impression most of them look like they work in a makeup store.
You maybe even think they put on a little too much make-up. But think again, it’s dark in Sweden, so are their cloth. Colorful make-up then seems to be a fun way to compensate black and white monotony.
You know you’re wearing just enough eyeliner when the panda bears in the zoo indicate they want to mate with you
If you ever date a Swedish girl, expect her to spend a substantial part of the evening in the bathroom, removing her layers of make-up with the craft and commitment comparable to the one of an archeologists.
Black indeed is a color, a very popular one
The range of colors in a Swedish wardrobe is as diverse as a Swede's ability to communicate with facial expressions
The only colors you are allowed to wear during the winter season are black and white (please, let's not have a discussion whether black is a color or not…) – this is because Swedes seem to strictly stick to the “no-fun-colors during no-fun-times”-rule.
To see a Swede wearing something colorful in winter, you'd have to go to the gym
In summer dresses and tops may be colorful, but only if compensated by a more simple (boring) black or white item.
You don't know what to wear in Sweden? Get some inspiration watching people on Biblioteksgatan in Stockholm. There, flagship stores of the big Swedish and international brands are lined up. And so are the fashion conscious customers, passing by the cafés, showing off their latest purchases and branded shopping bags. Looking really cool.
Looking good in Sweden is even more important than looking where you're going
Noteworthy Swedish fashion brands
There are several popular Swedish fashion brands out there: for example Filippa K, Tiger of Sweden, H&M of course, and even former Tennis player Björn Borg successfully established a fashion brand called “Björn Borg“. You will notice the colorful underwear in Swedish stores.
So, now that you know how to dress in Sweden, find out know more about (the weird) Swedish culture…
Useful Swedish vocabulary for conversations about fashion in Sweden
- skohylla – shoe shelve
- nyklippt – freshly cut (hair)
- Finns den en storlek större/mindre – Do you have it one size bigger/smaller?
- Har ni denna även i svart? – Do you have it in black, too?
- Jag brukar inte köpa märkeskläder. – I usually don't buy brands.
- Oj, vilken fin skjorta/kjol! Vilket märke? – Oh, what a nice shirt/skirt! Which brand?
- Var har du köpt den? – Where did you buy it?
- Fanns den inte i din storlek? – Didn't they have it in your size?
- Den har jag köpt på rea! – I have bought it on sale! (Popular excuse if someone with brand-avoiding friends dared to buy a brand-item)