Updated: Jun 27, 2022
"Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær"
(There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes)
When you first visit Scandinavia you might notice that everyone loves to wear outfits for each different activity and different weather. At first I found this amusing, especially in the summer when there seemed to be Lycra everywhere, and in the winter when it's easy to identify Norwegians by their love of patterned, knitted sweaters and woolly hats.
Scandinavians are very fond of saying "there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes". In Norway, every activity requires a different outfit. The proper outfit, The outfit that was designed for it. You wouldn't see a skier in jogging trousers, or someone walking in the rain without waterproofs and wellies. It's more than just a practicality, it's an art form here; a culture. And it not's only the difference between comfort and discomfort, but in very cold weather it can make the world of difference, especially in a country where being outside is such an important part of the culture.
The Nordic art of wearing the right outfit goes beyond sporting activities or leisure time. It also stretches into one of the most important days in the year's calendar in Norway - Norwegian Constitution Day on 17 May. It's a day that is celebrated in every town throughout the whole country (and across the world where there are people with Nordic heritage) and one of things that one notices is that most people are wearing national costume, or "bunad". It goes without saying that if you own a bunad you will wear it on National Day, and the rest of the country will do the same, from your next door neighbour to the King and Queen. National dress is the outfit that belongs with National Day and everyone is wearing the appropriate outfit for the day. There is no need to think about an outfit, this is how it is.
The beauty of wearing the right outfit for the activity you are doing is that it brings you freedom. Freedom to get the most out of what you are doing. You are not hindered by something that might be uncomfortable, that makes you grumpy because it's too tight or too cold in the winter or unsuitable for the activity. Freedom not to have make outfit decisions. You always wear your hiking trousers and hiking boots for hiking and so that is what you will do today, Why change what works?
How Can You Perfect the Art of the Right Outfit?
I'm by no means an expert, but I learnt very quickly a long time ago by trying to wear 4" heels in ankle deep snow, that there are a few things to consider.....
Be Nordic and check the weather. Remember "there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes".
Will you be comfortable?
Is it a special occasion or are you going for practicality?
Are you going to be doing a particular activity? If so, are you wearing the best and most useful clothes to get the most out of it. Get the best you can afford. Not only will it be comfortable and a pleasure to wear but it will also encourage you to continue that activity in the future.
In the winter, remember the importance of layers. Start with the base such as long underwear and plenty of wool. Multiple thinner layers are better than one thick one. Finish with a waterproof or windproof top layer and don't forget to fill the gaps around your neck, wrists and ankles. The cold can really bite in those smaller places!
And most of all forget about appearances and make the most of what of you are doing by wearing the clothes that really do suit the weather and activity.
Happy outdoor life!!