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Dressing Scandinavian: Diving into the Nordic Fashion Style & its Aesthetic Philosophy

In the span of a few years, the Scandinavian fashion style has transcended to become the embodiment of what the fashion crowd aspires to. This aesthetic is like a break free from the glamorous allure demonstrates that fashion is attainable. If you’re considering to incorporate Nordic-inspired pieces into your wardrobe, this article will help you understand how to think and dress like a true Scandinavian, even if you’re not one.


Defining the Scandinavian Style Aesthetic

Capturing the unique essence that Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland have in common, the Scandinavian style is used to define more than just fashion aesthetics. It’s a philosophy encompassing art, furniture and interior design, mindset, attitude, lifestyle, and cultural norms. The idea behind the Scandi style is that everything must go with everything. You can play with textures, but only within a neutral muted color palette. Characterized by functionality and minimalism, Nordic clothing mixes high-quality solid fabrics with sleek accessories and elegant details to give way to ensembles that manage to look casual and stylish at the same time. Although not meant to stand out, through its simplicity, Scandi clothing effortlessly does so, when one knows exactly how to dress like a true Scandinavian.


Billede 1 Adam Katsmore BARBARA I GONGINI knitwear here 

Photocredit: Adam Katz Sinding 


The Scandi Silhouette

At its core, the Nordic design aims to improve people’s lives under the modernist mantra “form follows function”. As such, in achieving the ultimate state of coziness, most Scandinavian clothing breaks the confinements of classic form-fitting shapes. Fashion designers experiment with volumes giving way to soft ovoid silhouettes while playing with strong geometric cuts as a tribute to minimalism.


Sustainable and ethical fashion

Nordic people have great respect for their environment and its inhabitants. That’s why they are among the best supporters of sustainable -- also known as ethical -- fashion. At its core, this approach refers to production processes that are friendlier to the planet and the people undertaking them. It could be by offering better working conditions and fair wages, removing harmful chemicals or respecting animal rights. Emphasizing environmental, socially and economically responsible. On this note, Scandinavians are very aware of these problems, which is why they favor a high-quality capsule wardrobe with classic-cut garments that they can wear in multiple ways.


Dressing up the Scandinavian Fashion Way

Scandi aesthetics are down-to-earth and ready to wear by anybody who’s feeling inspired by this particular movement. You don’t need to have a natural talent at putting garments together into a work of art.


Embrace conceptual fashion

People living in Scandinavia are among the first to embrace diversity and push boundaries in societal norms with fashion as one of the outlets. Oftentimes, local fashion designers take a more “intellectual” approach to fashion by exploring political and social concerns in regards to people’s identity. They seek to raise awareness with sculptural representations of the garment through continuous experimentation and reinvention. The Nordic street style employs originality by rejecting existing forms or applying them in new ways, ending with avant garde clothing pieces that reshape the human body and suggest new ways of relating it to its environment.


Black on black garments

Generally speaking, the Scandinavian style is often built around dark hues like navy, charcoal or dark brown, with black as the foundation. Although a bold color, black is ideal to reflect the ease, comfort, and minimalism we associate Scandinavians with. It’s the base for everything and makes everything look elegant and sleek. Black clothing is rather like a canvas you can add your personal touch to bring an outfit out of the mundane.


Billede 4Jadam KatzpgDiscover the women's collection here

Photocredit: Adam Katz Sinding 


Staying close to nature: A neutral color palette

Many Scandi fashion designers take their inspiration from the habitat and weather conditions and the most visible outlet is the colors they chose for the artwork. Although a black color palette is preferred, universal tones such as white, grey, ivory, brown, navy and pastels are also common staples in the Nordic wardrobe. A monochrome outfit is a regular appearance on the streets as it can readily be converted from an office look into a going-out outfit by simply adding accents such as jewelry, a bag, a belt or a scarf that’s in tune with the main color or, on the contrary, a bold hue that binds everything together.


77 Kopi See more BARBARA I GONGINI jackets here

 Photocredit: Jesper Drejer


The Art of Layering up

Winter is when Scandinavian fashion-savvies look their best. With unpredictable weather that could turn from warm to icy cold in a matter of minutes, the fine art of layering is essential in achieving comfort, practicality but also sophistication. Layering is tricky, as you need to pay attention to colors, textures, and structure but Nordic aesthetics allow you to mix casual and elegant without too much effort. Start out simple, with figure-hugging pieces and shape your silhouette with two or more layers. For inspiration check avant-garde women clothing as they are designed with layering in mind. All pieces in this style can easily be combined resulting in different personalized outfits each time.


Build around simplicity

The saying “less is more” holds the essence of what Nordic fashion is all about. Be very selective with your fashion staples, from clothing to accessories and details. The typical Nordic wardrobe is less trend-driven and more time-driven with simple and classic clean-cut lines. For instance, you’ll rarely -- if ever -- see Scandinavians wear sunglasses with flashy logos or extreme embellishments. Instead, look for long-lasting items, from basics to tailored pieces, that can take you throughout any season for many years to come. Oftentimes, worn in -- not worn out -- garments get better with time, conjuring a natural look like the one you see in the Scandi fashion crowd.


Create contrasts: Old & New, Sporty & Elegant

Scandinavians are better at dressing down than dressing up and contrast is what makes that happen. Beyond the classic black and white color palette people often associate minimalism with, you can experiment with touches of colors, mix new trends with old classics or sporty elements with elegant ones in one outfit. The beauty of the Nordic dress code is that fashion brands create pieces with comfiness and simplicity in mind so that you can easily pair them together no matter the collection or season and still look Scandi chic.


Upcycling Fashion: Envision multiple ensembles with the same garment

Compared to its neighbours, due to harsh weather conditions, the Nordic region is quite lacking in natural resources, which led locals, including fashion designers, to use sparingly and creatively whatever they do have. On this note, Scandinavians cleverly learned how to use their garments as base layers for various outfits. Part of their philosophy is that everything should go with everything, no matter if they’re sporty or elegant, new or old, masculine or feminine. This principle relates to the styling concept called upcycling.


Billede 3 Adam Katz SindingSee the latest women's design here 

Photocredit: Adam Katz Sinding 


Experiment with both Feminine and Masculine Silhouettes

Nordic countries have maybe the most inclusive cultures, the dress code being one of the many ways in which they share this with the world. Scandinavian fashion brands choose to look past societal order and other normative pressures, portraying garments that focus on the strength of the individual instead of gender or sexual orientation. As such, oftentimes, the Scandi street-style feature androgynous silhouettes or outfits that creatively match masculine items with feminine ones. Sometimes, it’s hard to notice any difference between avant-garde menswear and womenswear.


Billede 2 Adam Katz

Read more about the concept of androgyny in the Nordic region from this interview with Scandinavian designer Barbara I Gongini.


The Scandinavian Wardrobe Staples

With simplicity and coziness in mind, these are a few Scandinavian fashion staples you’ll most likely find in every fashion insider’s wardrobe.

1. A plain t-shirt

Versatile and cozy, you have infinite possibilities to style this item and it will help your layering skills stand out.

2. A plain-shirt

Whether you’re leaning toward a casual personal style or a more elegant one, we recommend having a classic white shirt in your closet. It’s a timeless piece that can go with everything and you can use it as a base layer or slip it over a tee or a turtleneck.

3. A leather jacket

Fashion savvy or not, a leather jacket is a highly functional garment to have in your collection. But being waterproof and offering good protection against the wind are not the only reasons why Scandinavians like a good leather jacket. Available in various styles, from classic to bomber, biker, pilot, and shearling lined, this item can help you style any type of outfit.

4. An overcoat

Aesthetics play an important role in the lives of Scandinavians, the fashion styling being only one of the outlets. Being used to the low temperatures, they can easily go without puffer coats even in wintertime, opting for stylish overcoats to layer over chunky knitwear.

5. A leather or suede tote bag

The tote bag is the epitome of “everything goes with everything”. It’s the go-to bag for whenever you’re trying for a comfortable and minimalist, yet still sophisticated look.


These are just a few items characteristic to the Nordic fashion style. They stand the test of time and will get you throughout any season with proper layering. Easy to match and to incorporate into your day-to-day attire, these items would make ideal first buys for your Scandinavian capsule collection.


If you want to start building a Scandi-inspired wardrobe explore our webshop and get inspired by our aesthetics.



Closing thoughts

Scandi fashion goes beyond aesthetics to promote sustainable and ethical living by removing what’s not necessary and focusing on what’s left - high-quality and longer-lasting items. This style allows the person who wears the clothes to shine instead of the garments themselves.


Browse our collections for more sustainable Scandinavian garments.


PHOTOGRAPHYAdam Katz Sinding