This report is available in Swedish. Moderapport Sverige (Svenksa)...
January 14, 2015
In the kingdom of blond ladies going across the street is dangerous and exciting. Tight, perfect fitted trousers, great jackets and blonde beauty distract me from any source of danger. A friend of mine even alleges in the democracy Sweden there is a secret law prohibiting less beautiful ladies to leave their house. Male Swedes usually know the power of fashion and use it well-informed. They do so much, that they sometimes overdo. But this will be told later.
How to win a doorman
Sometimes Stockholm feels like being at world`s end. Cold, dark and few people live high north. In the next moment it is the centre of the world, since many come from far away countries. Also the nature beauty of this country regularly takes my breath. The rough climate result in the need for weatherproof clothes. Extra trousers, outdoor jackets and sturdy shoes are the basic wardrobe against snow storms and temperatures as far as 20 degrees Celcius below. In winter longer beards increase, it warms up the Viking.
Despite the extreme climate, Sweden offers more relaxed fashion as well. Sunglasses for valuable sunny moments and bodybags as a sporty transport thing. My Fjällräven bodybag has been accompanying me for nine years now. It survived a fall with a broken water bottle made of glass and is still fashionable, despite of „G1000“ special material this left tracks. Maybe I should bring it to a service Fjällräven offers. A grim door man once liked it when I wanted to enter a beach bar in Stuttgart with friends. He was nice to us after the entrance control. I have to use it again, this veteran of mild summer nights.
Happy socks, accessories and more
As a general rule, a trends starts in Stockholm and it takes one to two years until the trend reaches Gothenburg and the rest of the country. Accessory addiction of Swedes meets my passion. Happy socks is a Swedish trend, which does not bypass business men. I refuse, though. Gaudy sock, which contrast the remaining garments. Maybe it helps facing the hard cold winter in Sweden.
I like the pins which people have on their jackets and coats. In the Swedish grocery store ICA I buy a pink ribbon of the cancer foundation which I pin to my coat. The ribbon is designed yearly. It is a nice accessory, I donate something for charity and as a side effect ladies in feminist Sweden hold the door open for me more often. Later I learn, that the ribbon also symbolize a positive attitude towards women. In the search for a friend's suit we are puzzled by a cool leather jacket for little money which I shop excitedly. I can hardly believe that this is possible in Sweden. Swedish fashion is also innovative. A colleague wears a polo shirt with long arms, which looks like a business shit/ polo hybrid. I like it a lot. It is one of many Swedish trends.
H&M, Acne, Stenströms: Swedish fashion sets standards
H&M conquered the world with street wear yet. I get to know Acne in Sweden as a label that designs excellent jeans (and everything else that is trendy). The first time, I wear a pair of Acne raw jeans ladies pay more attention to me. In the city where the Royal Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel prizes every year, people dress up. Even besides the Nobel week, on week-ends at the occasion of family celebrations and theatre visits dinner jackets are seen regularly. Many gentleman wear chic shirts.
One of the best shirt manufacturers is Stenströms, supplier to the royal court based in Helsingborg. A few years ago, I get to know these special shirts in Stuttgart while choosing a wedding shirt together with a friend for his marriage. It is nothing you might own in big numbers, since Stenströms also charges royal prices outside of Sweden. But it is an excellent investment for special occasions such as important business appointments, dates and celebrations which occur once in a while. I once read in a fashion guide that an expensive, but extraordinary garment might bring you a lot of compliments. At that time, I thought this was an obvious advertisement line for this guide. Now I know so much better.
Student overalls at universities
Student overalls are an eye catcher at Swedish universities particularly in student society pubs. In technical universities such as KTH in Stockholm or Chalmers in Gothenburg a lot of students wear them. At other universities in Stockholm the overalls are a privilege to student pub volunteers. Often students have to earn their overalls in an initiation ritual. The overall charmed with varied patches tells stories of parties and events as well as traditional dinners (sittnings). The overalls are an identification mark of the study subject as well.
„They overdo mate, they overdo“
My mate from Spain belongs to the top notch of excellent dressed men. Once, we went to a cosy bar in Södermalm, Stockholm's hippster district to enjoy a beer. A swede with special hair and a very slim wally jumpers entered the bar, sits on the sofa of two girls and later kisses one of them. My mate did the legendary quote: „Every time I land at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, I realize how good they dress here. But sometimes, they overdo mate and look like a clown. And then he makes out with a Swedish hottie, it is a fucking paradox.“ Another friend from Germany suddenly points his finger at a man while we were strolling over Stureplan, the meet venue of the Swedish rich and extra beautiful. His words about the Swedish upper-class are non-quotable here, but with some experience I assure him that the man with super slim jeans, sun glasses, four colours in one outfit and a lot of gel indeed occurs here once in a while.
"You could write a blog about gym fashion in Sweden"
Swedes love convenient shoes. Sports shoes can be seen everywhere, including the daily life. Swedes exercise a lot, most of them daily. A Swedish friend whom I tell the idea of this article replies I could write a special blog about fashion in Swedish gyms. I decide not to describe every subculture. My sports bag, bought in a department store in Stockholm provoke the cashier in a outdoor swimming pool in Stuttgart to confirm that I need an own lock for the locker and to underline that otherwise my nice bag might be stolen.
In the dark autumn and winter in Sweden I learn that without a self-evident dead smart reflecting waistcoat I might not only die a social death. It gets dark sometimes at 3 pm, some reflecting stripes help. Swedes are even into fashion with their pets. I never saw so many dogs with Burberry dress before. Paris Hilton I suspect more than once being the owner, but then it is a beaded Viking. Until the very end, I refuse the Swedish trend of super tight running pants. I saw too much in red and violet. They have extra pockets for iphone, two extra pockets, padding for the buttocks and countless other features. But Sweden influences me at last. The day before I return to Germany, I buy a black running pants and earn interesting views at home. An expert on running pants I have not become, but I, however, do not to write about Swedish gyms.
Learn from the Swedes
So what can a continental European man learn from the Swedes? Above all, it is absolutely possible to dress good as a man. The Swedes live it. Courage towards colours, fitted to body garments and to accessories. Not every trend reflects every personality and therefore you should not overdo it. Fashion is not everything. Swedes look as handsome as they do, because they work out on a daily basis and care about their nutrition.
Men’s Individual Fashion kindly thanks Stenströms, Helsingborg, for the legal right to use one of Stenströms photos for picturing this report.
Manufacturers and brands in this article are examples. They are no advertisement, but an idea. There are many high class manufacturers in Sweden, so I chose subjectively a few I have an opinion about.