The 5 items you need in your wardrobe if you are going to live in Sweden!
1. First and foremost has to be a raincoat. It rains often in Sweden. And while sometimes it is just a consistent drizzle, the rain comes to visit all year round. So when I moved to Sweden in October of 2018, a new raincoat was the first thing I bought. And believe me, a good rain jacket will be a lifesaver.
I think all people living in Sweden should have two types of rain jackets (regnjackor). The first is a long jacket of a thicker material. A long jacket should cover at least your thighs and bum. Trust me, this is a must when biking in the rain. It should also have a hood that is cut square and narrow, allowing for good peripheral vision while biking and won’t easily be blown off. A thicker material will help keep you warm and block the wind. I would recommend finding a rain coat that has a bit of a more formal cut/design. Something you can wear to dinner out on a drizzly night without looking like you just got off the mountain top. I love mine from Helly Hansen. Find similar here and here.
The second is a light, packable rain jacket. Something you can stuff into a backpack in case the weather turns while out and about, or take with you hiking. Think light and sporty. Marmot has great options!
Expect to spend at least 1,200 SEK (~$141 USD) on a quality coat. It will easily be your most used piece here, so don’t fret much over the price. And, of course, second hand stores are a great option. I like
2. Good walking shoes. We have a very active lifestyle here in Sweden. We bike and walk everywhere, so it is important to have some reliable shoes. Try to find options that are good in both the rain (are you sensing a theme here?) and during dry weather days. Kavat is a popular Swedish shoe (skor) brand and has great boot options. Blundstone is also an incredibly popular brand in Sweden with both men and women. I personally love a Chelsea boot design. Classic, simple, and goes with everything from work trousers to yoga pants. Keep comfort and versatility in mind!
3. Smart casual clothing. Swedish style is more formal than in the West Coast of the US (where I am from). We have more beachy vibes in Los Angeles, mountain climber-chic in Oregon, hoodie-clad data cruncher looks in San Fran and Seattle, and generally hipster styles throughout the whole West Coast. While I’ll have a future post all about Swedish style, what you need to know now is that Swedish style is pretty smart casual. To fit in here (and Swedes are all about conformity), invest in a few key pieces. A great coat will serve you everyday. Pair it with your Christmas suit for your company’s annual holiday party, or layer it over a sweatshirt on your way to the gym. Some black leather sneakers are perfect for work, play, and fika in Sweden. And a nice knit sweater will be a staple year-round.
4. Reflective clothing might not be the most stylish, but it is makes sense to have in dark Sweden. Most people here own some reflective clothing – a classic vest (reflexväst) being the most popular. More modern versions have since come out, like this design (called a reflexsele) that looks like a seatbelt and suspenders had a baby.
Reflective vests don’t just stop with humans. Dogs also know this is a necessity to stay safe during dark walks! Find some reflective dog wear here.
5. While a backpack might not be clothing, it is an essential accessory to have in Sweden. Again, since we are always walking and biking here, it is good to have a backpack (ryggsäck) to transport things! Rains has some beautiful ones that are completely waterproof with a great design. I also love my Sandqvist backpack.
- A puffer ankle-length jacket is really common here in Sweden. To me, they look like walking sleeping bags! While not necessary (IMO), they are popular!
- All babies here have outdoor playsuits. These overalls are an insulated outer layer that cover the toddler’s indoor clothing. Just zip the baby into its playsuit and hen (he or she) is ready to get playing! When baby is done playing, leave the sandy/dirty/muddy/wet playsuit outside and bring the dry/clean baby inside! It is so simple and genius and totally baffles me why we don’t see this everywhere in the US! Oh, and of course the playsuits have reflective strips!
- Rain pants, like the rain jacket, are a good staple to have here in Sweden, too!
- But when dealing with the rain, it is best to skip the umbrella (especially in windy Malmö). I have seen so many broken umbrellas here. Plus, they are just annoying! Always flapping around or nearly poking people in the eye as you walk down the street. Invest in a good rain jacket instead. If you must get an umbrella (paraply), Åhléns has some that offer replacement if they break. Just be sure to keep your receipt.
- If you are more style-conscious and don’t want to be seen in a reflective vest, opt instead for reflective accessories! Bookman has some really fun colors for their wearable reflectors and I love their reflective stickers (I have put them all over my bike!).
- Warm gloves are also a must while biking in the winter season. You don’t want your hands to freeze, right?!
Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!