Monday, November 1, 2010

"What a strange power there is in clothing..."

I would like to start by making it clear: this is everything but a fashion blog. However, I don't deny having a great interest in fashion, clothes and accessories and being a girl, I can't help but love observing the selection of the different klessbutikker (clothes stores) and the style of (especially) girls and women in Norway. The quote in the title is the thought of Isaac Singer and our point here won't be to analyse the interesting relationship between clothing and society. No, it's going to be more down to earth. But the reason why I chose this phrase to be the title is simply that I really like it. I have got the idea to collect five of the most typical features in causa fashion I have noticed since I came here to Norway three months ago. Some of them will be rather autumnal, some on the other hand can appear all-year-round. I will try to be short and objective so that it will be readable also for men... :)

1.  Pearl ear clips. Everyone (literally everyone!) has these. Not only in white but in several other delicate shades as well and in numerous sizes. Many women tend to think that pearl earrings go exclusively with the little black dress but Norwegian ladies are not shy to wear them even with sporty outfits. 
  J. Vermeer: Girl With A Pearl Earring (17th century)

2. Knitwear. Knitwear is en vogue, and not just the traditional patterns of the great Norwegian knitting (strikking) but also fashion stores have a great selection of knitted dresses and pullovers. There are numerous Norwegian brands that have knitting as their main profile (e. g. Dale of Norway). The biggest adventage is without any doubt the warmth of a great pullover made of wool (ull). Against cold feet you can buy ullsokker (woolen socks) and even ullsko (woolen shoes). This is what a typical Norwegian Mariusgenser (Marius pullover, the picture says it all - it had its golden age in the 70s...) looks like:

It is charming and keeps warm, if it is raining though, which is quite often the case in Norway, you want to wear something waterproof above it. Check this out:
3. Rainproof clothing. There is not much to explain here. Three years ago it was raining for 80 days non stop in Bergen, you can't just afford to wait inside till the rain has gone... :) I have seen several shops in Kristiansand specialised in rainproof clothing and one of my first purchases in Norway was actually a pair of rainboots. As far as I have seen, the two most popular brands to wear on a rainy day are Helly Hansen and Bergans of Norway, both of them selling outdoor clothes and equipment and having a long tradition in Norway. They also have a special rain hat which looks like a fishing hat made from rainproof material. I've just learned recently that it is called sydvester. Eventhough Norwegians don't mind at all looking sporty, there is a great market for beautiful, feminine rainproof jackets and high heeled rubber boots, too.

Not everything is bad about rain... Breakfast at Tiffany's

4. Footwear. Some types of footwear that can be seen very often in Norway: jogging shoes as streetwear, overknee boots (it never can be too long!), UGGs (also for men!), sailor loafers, Chuck Taylors and shoes of this type:

5. Hair plaiting. Girls here often have the so called French braid hairstyle on the side. For me, this is so Norwegian! Absolutely adorable, hippie but elegant at the same time! And the best: they dare to wear it for the everydays, too!

So this was my fashion journey in the style of Norwegian ladies. I truly believe that a big percentage of girls in Norway have at least one element from our little Top 5 list above. I don't think Norwegians are that much of fashionistas but I do think they have taste and they managed to create a great balance between being stylish and being practical. I can't wait to see what do they wear in the biggest kuldegrader (minus degrees)! Because, as they keep telling: Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær! (There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.)

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