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‘Dress for the weather’: Six tips on how to dress like a Norwegian

Scandinavia has become something of a fashion hub in recent years, with Scandi style a popular trend outside of Norway. The Local asked readers on their best tips and tricks on how to dress like a Norwegian. 

Pictured is a crowd of people walking in Oslo.
Here are the best tips from The Local's readers on how to dress like a Norwegian. Pictured are crowds of people walking down Karl Joahn street in central Oslo. Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash

Scandi style is a trend fashion lovers across the globe are smitten with. But does Scandinavia’s reputation for sharp, understated dressers extend to Norway? 

Perhaps not, with The Local’s readers pointing out Norwegians’ habits of dressing more practically and love of sportswear more than a razor-sharp sense of style. 

Nevertheless, Norwegian fashion trends have made a mark on our readers in Norway, and plenty said that they had picked up plenty of style cues from the locals that they have adopted into their own wardrobes. 

Stock up on sportswear

Norwegians are generally very active and outdoors-focused, and the locals’ love of sportswear is something that foreigners have picked up on. 

“Sporty” was the word, Ruth from Rogaland, used to sum up the most distinctive feature of how Norwegians dressed. 

Similarly, many more listed leggings or gym tights as the most typically Norwegian piece of clothing they could think about when responding to a survey by The Local. 

Additionally, Shaun, living in Lillestrøm, told The Local that training shoes were the most Norwegian piece of clothing they could think off when asked. 

Subdued, solid colours

Another reader, who lives in the US but has made a few trips to Norway, said simple and solid colour schemes helped Norwegians stand out from the crowd when it came to dressing well. 

“Simple, solid subdued colours like black and white, classy and not obtrusive,” the reader wrote when asked to sum up Norwegians’ sense of style. 

“Go for whites, grey, black pastel colours,” Ramya, who has lived in Norway for 12 years since moving from India, said when asked for tips on dressing more Norwegian. Ramya added that she had incorporated some of these style cues into her own wardrobe since moving. 

Others noted that Norwegians liked to deck themselves out in all-black too, and that patterns weren’t particularly common unless it was the summer. 

(White) trainers are a must

Trainers, or sneakers, are a cornerstone of the Norwegian wardrobe, according to those who responded to our survey. 

“Hoodies, baseball caps, expensive sneakers,” were the three things Adam, who lives in Agder after moving from Poland, said when asked about the clothes that could most easily sum up the locals. 

Ramya said wearing trainers with a dress and “still rocking it” helped distinguish the ways Norwegian dress from others. 

However, not everyone was enamoured with Norwegians’ love for trainers. 

“Ugly, dirty white shoes,” Thomas, who lives in Oslo, said when asked to describe the most Norwegian piece of clothing they could think of. 

He added that, in his opinion, Norwegians could better match their footwear with their clothes. 

Dress practically and for all weather

Leesa and Shaun, both from the UK, said “dress for the weather” when asked for tips on dressing like a Norwegian. 

Ana, from Montenegro, said that “practical water and windproof jackets” had become a staple of her own closet since moving. 

One practical and weatherproof piece of closing that appears to be a must-have would be a pair of turbukse (hiking/outdoors trousers).

Among those that took the time to partake in the survey, turbukse were the single most mentioned piece of clothing after gym wear. 

Dress down for the office

Norwegian working culture can be best described by its good work-life balance and flat corporate structure. 

This relaxed approach to the workplace has had an impact on the way Norwegians come into the office too, according to our readers. 

Adam from Poland said that casual dress for the office was the aspect of Norwegian fashion they admired the most. 

Additionally, another of our readers noted that the traditional suit and briefcase were gone and had been replaced with the backpack and casual business pants when it came to how men should dress for the office. 

“Leather backpacks, capri business casual pants for men, male purses,” Ellen from the US but living in Oslo wrote when listing the items of clothing that best summarise Norwegians’ sense of style. 

You’ll need plenty of wool too

Norwegians love wool, and this adoration has been noted by our readers. 

Wool was frequently brought up by those who shared their tips. Adam, who lives in Agder, said that wearing “Stylish woollen sweaters” would help you to look more Norwegian. 

Homemade wool sweaters, along with down jackets and baggy trousers, where the items one reader living in central Norway who didn’t leave a name said were classically Norwegian, 

They added that this passion for wool sweaters in Norway had caught on and that they’d even started knitting their own jumpers. 

“I loved dressing informally already, (I) started knitting sweaters and actually sometimes wear them in public,” they wrote. 

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READERS REVEAL: Can you get by in Norway with just English? 

It's very common to hear English spoken all over Norway. The Local's readers shared their thoughts on whether you'll be able to get by without learning Norwegian. 

READERS REVEAL: Can you get by in Norway with just English? 

Norway has recently been ranked among the best countries in the world for English language skills. In addition, many international firms have Oslo offices where the official working language is English. 

Wherever you find yourself in Norway, you are unlikely to be far from a proficient English speaker, even in more rural areas. 

This may lead to some assuming that they’ll be able to get by in Norway without learning Norwegian. 

We asked our readers whether this was the case. 

‘Everybody speaks English in Oslo’ 

Most of those who responded to our survey said it would be possible to get by in the country without learning Norwegian. 

“Yes, you can get by, but speaking some Norwegian is often appreciated,” Arjen, living in Jessheim, said, responding to our survey. 

“Yes, absolutely. Everybody speaks English in Oslo, where I was an Erasmus exchange student,” Bence Szabo responded. 

In addition, they also added that it would be possible to find work with English as the primary working language. 

“If you are working for a multinational abroad and have skills and experience to create value in Norway, you can certainly make a transfer to Norway work. However, I think it is expected that you learn Norwegian at some point,” one foreign resident who didn’t leave a name wrote. 

However, you will be more limited in the type of work you are likely to be offered. 

“Yes and no, depending on skills. (It is) very easy to find IT jobs, but as an electrical engineer, I faced many rejections because I don’t speak the language,” Maz Khan in Oslo wrote. 

“No. Most of the jobs require a well-spoken Norwegian. Only hard labour workspaces don’t care about the language, but they don’t pay well,” Dora Szabolcsi in Hønefoss said. 

Meanwhile, others pointed out that getting a job in tech was feasible while working in a Norwegian organisation would be off-limits without language skills. 

 ‘You can feel like you don’t belong to society’

Many of those who said that you could get by in Norway with just English were quick to add the caveats that living in the country without learning the language was a short-term solution or that you’d feel left out of society. 

“Yes, you can, but you still feel like you don’t belong to society,” Maz Khan wrote. 

“You can get by in daily life but struggle with the ‘big’ topics. Norwegians don’t like to have serious conversations, argue or deliver bad news in English, so you are at a big disadvantage in many situations where it’s important to understand 100% of what’s going on,” one foreigner in Akser responded. 

Sazi Luke in Fjellstrand said that learning the language would be essential for making friends and progressing your career. 

“(You can get by) in the beginning only. To make friends, build  work relationships and be competitive in the job market, it is beneficial to learn the language,” they wrote. 

Veronica Jaramillo Jimenez in Tønsberg said that ten years in the country without mastering led to feeling like an outsider. 

“Yes, you can manage, I have done so for ten years. However, it is really not ideal if you want to be included in everyday life; moreover, you are always seen as an outsider if you do not master the language, which is why my goal within the next 12 months is to become fluent in Norwegian,” she wrote.