What to Wear in Stockholm: Swedish Fashion Explained
To blend in, follow a few simple rules – minimalism is king, black layers are queen, and a good vintage coat is the best Stockholm camouflage.
So you’ve landed in Stockholm. On the way downtown for the first time, something feels off. No one is wearing yoga pants. Jeans here are neat and hole-free. You brought sandals and cheap baggy shorts and that sweater with the branding plastered across the front. The locals are switching to English at first glance. And suddenly you realize you’ve made a classic travel blunder.
That was me. A mixture of long-term travel necessity and oversight landed me in Stockholm at the end of fall with open sandals, no coat, and a full set of Bali-worthy light dresses. And while I fell irreversibly in love with this city, an article like this one could have saved me a chilly urban scavenger hunt to find closed-toed shoes and a local look. Be savvy – pack like a Swede to begin with.
After exploring five continents, I can confidently call Sweden’s capital one of my favorite urban destinations worldwide. Stockholm is hip, it’s a bit off-the-beaten-path, and it’s the ideal blend of old and new. The city’s aesthetic ranges from straight-up Harry Potter vibes to sleek modern architecture. The world’s longest art gallery sprawls throughout the subway system, free museums abound, and the parks are gorgeous through every season. Stockholm is pure magic.
The Swedes have earned a global reputation as fashionistas. And while they’re a famously friendly people who won’t look down on you for dressing like an outsider, a noticeable relaxed atmosphere does take over when you dress the part and learn to say, “En kaffe, tack!” (a coffee, please).
The good news? Passing as a local isn’t out of the question just yet.
While there’s no way to plan to keep up with their lightning-quick trends, looking like you generally belong in Stockholm is surprisingly easy and affordable. To blend in, follow a few simple rules – minimalism is king, black layers are queen, and a good vintage coat is the best Stockholm camouflage.
Think Swedish – pack a few well-fitting, quality pieces; color-coordinate; and touch up your outfit with one or two simple but nice accessories. Remember, looking stylish as a traveler isn’t about breaking the bank – it’s about selectively working with what you have and playing to your strengths.
What to Wear in Stockholm: Swedish Fashion Tips
If Stockholmers had to pick one color to wear every day, it would be black. Even the trendiest dressers fall back on what is essentially the dream color for a country that values classic minimalism above all other design concepts.
Black apparel is universally flattering, goes with everything, and always looks classy. Best of all, you probably already have a few basics in this shade in your closet! Make sure a pair of dark jeans (slim or boyfriend style – choose clean lines over the mom jean look) and a couple of black layers make it into your bag as simple staples.
Layers Win the Day
Stockholm’s weather is unpredictable, even during all three weeks of summer, so layers are the name of the game here, year-round.
Choose light layers made with travel-friendly fabric. I like to go with polyester and synthetic fabrics, as they pack well in packing cubes, are low-maintenance, and don’t wrinkle too badly.
Unless you’re sure you’ll have a quick drying solution, leave anything that prefers to air-dry at home, especially those heavy-duty wool socks. I found that the coastal humidity made machine drying a must. Merino wool is a Swedish staple that needs less frequent washing, will still air-dry quickly, and is a great alternative to full wool.
Choose Comfortable, Closed-Toed Shoes
Have you really been to Stockholm if you haven’t wandered to the point of being utterly lost in Gamla Stan?
A pair of comfortable, closed-toed shoes is an absolute must for this ultra-walkable city. Stockholm’s streets range from paved to ancient cobblestones to hidden dirt paths overlooking the city, so shy away from anything resembling a heel over an inch.
Stockholmers themselves generally wear quality sneakers – Adidas, Converse, and Vans are popular favorites right now. For a dressed-up, waterproof alternative, locals will opt for a low-heeled vegan leather boot in black or brown. Sturdy hiking boots are completely unnecessary here.
An Umbrella is Non-Optional
Stockholm’s prime real estate right on the coast means two things: first, Stockholmers have a valid excuse to rock the nautical look every summer, and second, the weather could change to a cold drizzle at any moment. Stay Boy Scout prepared and pack an umbrella on even the sunniest days. I always carry a compact fold-up umbrella that fits into the side pocket of my water-resistant Outbreaker Backpack.
You Need a Daypack
You wouldn’t want to distract from your outfit’s crisp, minimalist lines with a bulky daybag. Go for a slim, minimalist daypack that compliments the look of your otherwise sleek outfit.
Go with an ultralight packable daypack if you’re just out for a day of sightseeing. If you’re carrying your computer or expecting rain, a water-resistant daypack with a designated laptop sleeve is a better choice. There’s only one color choice for Stockholm. You guessed it: black.
What to Wear in Stockholm in Fall
Autumn sets Stockholm on fire. This city comes to life from September through October, when every vine-choked building and sprawling park metamorphose into ember-gold and baristas spend half their workdays sweeping crisp leaves out from under their streetside seating.
Stockholmers are perfectly prepped for this time of year, which lands somewhere between the chill summer breezes and the freeze-your-nose-hairs winters. Out come the second-hand vintage jackets and maybe even a pop of color in the form of bright Doc Martens.
Keep your layers handy. Wear well-fitting black jeans (with no holes in them, as the Swedes have generally outgrown our silly jean industry) with a comfortable plain t-shirt and a merino long-sleeve top in classic autumn hues. Finish the look with a light jacket of your choice – black faux leather and light wrap coats are in, along with anything thrifted.
If you really want to look like a local, stop by one of the many vintage stores scattered around the city and pick up a fun vintage jacket to wear over those minimalist layers. Cap it all off with a warm beanie and tuck a pair of lightweight gloves into your daypack, just in case.
What to Wear in Stockholm in Winter
Stockholmers have a bit of a winter uniform – dark pants, puffy down jackets in navy or black, and neutral layers underneath. Occasionally you’ll see a street fashionista daring to break out with a bright new trend, but in general, matte color coordination has been the winter go-to for years. A unique piece of jewelry or red sweater is a great way to spice things up here.
Average winter temperatures for Stockholm hover right above the freezing level of 32F. Stockholm does occasionally see snow, but the salt in the air means it’ll never stick. You’ll want to dress warmly, but not for the high Arctic. Exploring Stockholm means ducking in and out of coffee shops, museums, and stores, so be ready to peel down layers. Swedes usually wear a thermal underlayer, simple t-shirt, trendy sweatshirt or sweater, and a jacket.
Quality is key here – remember, it’s not about how many layers you wear, but how adequate they are for actually protecting against the cold. A merino layer wicks away sweat to keep you dry and comfortable, while a quality sweatshirt will keep you extra warm. Do as the Swedish do – splash out a little and invest in something especially warm and comfortable. Finally, don’t forget urban-appropriate gloves, a knit scarf, and a winter hat!
A pair of serious winter boots is only necessary if you’re planning to travel beyond Stockholm into snowier territory. Otherwise, anything closed-toed and waterproofed will do when combined with a good set of socks.
What to Wear in Stockholm in Spring
Spring in Stockholm is fresh and beautiful! The days are starting to lengthen, Stockholm’s student population is finishing their exam season and getting ready for summer break, and you’re most likely to see Sweden’s wildflowers popping up at this time of the year. That said, snow is still a possibility, so don’t give up your layers just yet.
A pair of warm tights or leggings won’t take up much space and is an easy safeguard against potential cold days (if tights aren’t your thing, pack a light thermal layer of your choice).
Spring is the best time of year to pack skirts, light long sleeves, or add a patterned look to your capsule wardrobe. Add a waterproof windbreaker to your ultra-light down jacket to be prepped for any weather.
What to Wear in Stockholm in Summer
Stockholm summers are mild due to this city’s far north location and orientation on the coast. A smart traveler will bring a light jacket year-round to ward off any sudden chill.
The maritime look is uber-popular in the summer, which makes sense given the sea salt in the air. Get ready to rock that navy blue + white + beige look! Try pairing sleek with boxy – a pair of solid color cargo jogging pants with a fitted t-shirt, for example.
Opt for block colors over flashy patterns – keeping it simple will make it easier to mix and match your capsule wardrobe. Summer is when accessories really make an impact, so pay attention to the little details – a killer pair of sunglasses will go a long way towards making you look like a cool Swede, and so will leveling up your shoe game.
If you end up realizing something’s missing, don’t worry – you just found the perfect excuse to spend an afternoon on a shopping binge in trendy Norrmalm.
Though Swedes are known fashionistas, packing to fit in here can still be fairly straightforward. Just dress like you came from an Ikea ad, and don’t forget your umbrella!
Think Swedish – pack a few well-fitting, quality pieces; experiment with a minimalist look and color-coordination; and touch up each outfit with one or two simple but nice accessories. If you realize something’s missing, don’t worry – you just found the perfect excuse to spend an afternoon in Norrmalm, Stockholm’s famous downtown shopping area.
Layers are Key – Stockholm’s weather varies from day to day and is generally cool, so make sure your layers are built for warmth as well as style. Opt for merino wool, an ultra-light down jacket, and a thermal layer.
Locals Choose Vintage – a nice thrifted coat is the ultimate Swedish camouflage and makes for a fantastic souvenir.
Quality Stands Out – When staying on trend isn’t possible, a good fit and wrinkle-free fabric marks the difference between the fashion-conscious and the out-of-towner.
Think 24/7 Business Casual – Choose minimalist designs/colors and clean cuts, and nix the ragged holes in the knees.
Comfortable Shoes Matter – Quality sneakers or a simple low-heeled boot will do, with warm socks. Hiking or winter boots are unnecessary if you don’t plan to leave the city.