Swedish Fashion Tips: Kill the 80s Look

I give up on Swedish people being fashionable or Swedish fashion being trendy; whichever comes first. Tony, one of my friends asked me about Swedish fashion and how Swedes take on the catwalk.

When I moved here last year, it was a horrifying experience already. The 80s, yes the 1980s, look was back in style. As if all us who grew up in the 80s didn’t suffer enough with bad fashion, the major fashion houses took the world by storm in 2007 and gave us black leggings, bad hairdos, baggy t-shirts, all over again. It was horrid. I hoped that when 2008 ended, we would move away from such a travesty, but alas we have not.

The thing is, eventually Swedish women look like cookie cutters because everyone shops at JC, H&M, Lindex, Zara, and that’s it. And now that it is winter, it is even more depressing to see everyone look the same. So here are some fashion tips to not so 80s and drab in Sweden. I also put together some semi terrible outfits below. Please don’t look like them, please.
1. No more skinny skinny. Those jean that look so tight at the bottom, you have the legs of Bambi and the body of a giraffe. Sorry, women are not meant to show off super skinny ankles/lower leg if they actually have an ass or thighs.

2. Throw out the ballerina shoes. You know them, the flat shoes that are so flat that you might as well wear slippers.

3. Any neon colored leggings (stockings) should be burned. Enough said on neon pink leggings.

4. Do not wear black leggings everyday. I’m pretty sure you have jeans (not the skinny ass ones), khakis, black pants, or anything else to replace black leggings.

5. Loose t-shirt top and high waisted belt can strangle each other in the closet.

80s fashion from JC
80s fashion from JC

She’s not too bad because she doesn’t have the garbage bag with a twisty tie look. You have seen that look: baggy top with a high waist belt holding the top tightly together.  Except the top is made from old cotton and is torn up but trying to look cool.

6. Keep the bracelets to a minimum.  If it takes you more than 30 seconds to put on all the bracelets on your wrists, then you have too many on them!

7. Drop the hobo bag or any other large sized bag. Unless you are 5’10”, honestly a large hobo bag makes you look like a bag lady, just with a better bag.

8. Solid color high heels must die.  Would you honestly buy any of the shoes below and then wear them with black leggings and a garbage bag top?

9. Shoulder pads be gone! If you don’t know what shoulder pads are, then you are too young to remember the 1980s.  Shoulder pads were horribly done in Working Girl and they are still frightening today.

10. Drop the 10 layered look.  I know it’s cold in Sweden, in fact it nearly 7C in the daytime and 3C at night.   Which means, it is not snowing and it is not hell on ice skates like Utah freezing. Wear a normal amount of layers (three plus jacket) that are not all seen and are not all different colors. Please use some sense before going wild with all the greys, blacks, and whites that can be assembled.

11. No more stupid looking boots that EVERYONE owns! Go to another country and pickup something sexier.

Finally, I have a confession to make.  I believe women should dress beautifully. Women’s curves and lines should be accentuated with tasteful, classy clothes to make them look gorgeous.   That’s why I hate the 80s look and how Swedish fashion has nothing to do with looking beautiful and everything to do with looking “fashionable.” Hate to break it to you, but you guys are not French, you will never be as fashionable and beautiful as the French.

Stop worrying about being so trendy and fashion forward, and start looking fabulous.  Be yourself, not a gingerbread man: all the same.

37 thoughts on “Swedish Fashion Tips: Kill the 80s Look”

  1. What makes the situation even worse is that is seems like all swedish women share the same 3 outfits (=what is hip this year)… so everyone looks the same!

  2. Youwza – you’re harsh!!! It’s really not THAT bad! Honestly, I’m the first to criticize Swedes in every aspect, but why all of you non-Swedes are so hateful towards the black tights I just don’t understand! Sure, no need to wear them every day with a tee, but there are some really nice ones out there (InWear has a gorgeous pair with 8 buttons over the ancle).

    I’m not skinny (an excess of curves, more like) and thus can’t fit into super skinny jeans anyway, but that first outfit’s awesome! The second one’s horrid, unless she’s headed out in Castro in SF, and as for the heels I’d happily own 8 of the pairs on display! As it is however, I’m 5″10′ in socks and don’t wear heels unless I know I’m going out with really tall people.

    But hey – I’m with you 100% on the neon and shoulder pads, and that’s always something, eh?! ;)

  3. I always said I wanted a Swedish girlfriend, and French wife…

    The Swedes do girl very well. Kate Moss, the waif, heroin-chic, you get the idea. Skinny girls don’t really impress in a dress. But they’ve got the “I’m young and popular” look down. Not very sophisticated, but fun and easy. Hence the girlfriend.

    The French do woman very well. Brigitte Bardot, haute-couture, serious fashion, etc. Curvy women look best in clothes that would only work on a woman. They can’t really pull off an outfit that, minus the accessories, might fit on a 14 year-old boy. But when it comes to looking classy and elegant, they have it down. So very sophisticated, but serious and not quite as fun. Hence the wife.

    Why is it like this? Well, putting aside whatever inherent genetic differences, the cultures in each country reinforces this pattern, I think. Scandinavian countries emphasize gender equality, egalitarianism, and conformity to the group. Hence the boy jeans, cheap fashion, and the trendiness. French culture emphasizes more conservative, traditional differences in masculine and feminine behavior, the elite, and conformity to traditional cultural practices. Hence the dresses, designer labels, and the classics.

    So, where does that leave us, and which is better? Well, I think the Swedes could learn a little bit about buying a few, high-quality pieces and staying with them a bit longer than one season. But I also think the French could learn a little bit about experimenting, having fun, and not taking everything so seriously. It is just clothing, after all.

    Excellent post. Keep up the good work.

  4. @Wendy – Lol, ya!

    @Torbjörn – Ahh, the beauty of everyone looking the same. :P

    @Emma – I know, I really lost my marbles on this one. Probably because many Swedes have an entire wardrobe of these three photos. I’m not opposed to couple black leggings (please no jean leggings) or tasteful high waist belts but if you wear this stuff more than three times a week, no no no!!! Hehe.

    @Tony – Dude, we need a dude to post more often like you. I never thought of fashion/women in this way. And so true it is. Thanks man!

  5. This is completely off-topic but I’ve lived in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles for almost six years, moved back to Sweden last year and this blog is probably one of the best things I’ve experienced since ‘In ‘n Out Burger’ and good California herb!

  6. @Sasan – Rock on! By far, the best complement ever to be compared to In n Out and California green goodness!

  7. Altough this whole clothing and fashion debate is hilarious, it’s still not (quoting Dave Chappelle:) “a reason to hate a motherf*cker”.
    I’m pretty versatile when it comes to fashion and to be frank, I think I look darn good most of the time.
    I occasionally used to dress upp ‘Swedish-style’ in California and people would go ape-shit at bars and nightclubs . We’re talking tight jeans, shiny pointy shoes, cotton shirts with collars and tight blazers with a little hankerchiefs in the front pocket – very “Esquiresque”.
    The chicks loved it! (..and I returned that love as much as I possibly could…)

    Back home in Sweden I started going out with fitted baseballcaps, casual T-shirts, loose comfortable shorts (in the summertime, mind you) and Air Jordans.

    It was a shocking experience:
    People looked at me like I was a leper!

    I guess we all have our differences when it comes to apparel but Sweden probably has one of the most judgemental and narrow-minded people per square feet.

  8. Excuse my occasionally atrocious spelling – I’m writing in a meteoric pace while I’m at work.

  9. Couldn’t agree more on the tight jeans and shoulder pads. I generally don’t understand how 80’s fashion ever existed, or how it re-appeared in the Naughties. I’ve come around a tad on the leggings, but yes, please don’t wear them all the time! It looks like the layers and scarves in the last photo are all the clothes she owns so she is being forced to wear them together.

  10. Torbjorn – Those were the ugliest clothes ever. Really? Really?? People sell that stuff???

    Sasan – I do love what Swedish men wear though! Tight jeans, pointy shoes, nice button down tops. :) No slicked back hair though, that’s horrible.

    Of course you are a leper if you wear a baseball cap and nice loose shorts, you can’t look different. That’s pretty conceited of the Stockholmers to look at your weird.

    Isabel – Maybe that girl is homeless now and has to wear all her clothes!

  11. The only people who have slicked back hair are:
    1. Bad guys in old black & white movies
    2. Sleazy business men who are extremely sexually deviant.
    3. Douchebag Swedish brats.

    With just a click of grease in your hair also YOU can obtain a desired level of creepiness.

  12. Hahaha! I hope you read the post on stekare douches.

    Don’t forgot the combover, very douchy too.

  13. I don’t really like the shoes you can find in Sweden..usually try to get some when I can go abroad, the clothes are ok if you mix it as you like ;)

  14. Uhh… you haven’t been home in awhile then, I take it. North Americans have finally caught up with the European 80s trend… about 3 years late. I’m sure Swedes will be on to the next new thing any day now, and we’ll still be sporting our skinny jeans, ankle boots, and neon colours.

  15. Alot of things are trendy in Sweden but it doesn’t always start here, Balmain started the shoulderpad thing and they sure aren’t Swedish.

    Plus when I went to the US the last time everyone was wearing clothes like it was 98 again, and if it’s something that is worse then the 80’s, we know it’s the 90’s. Instead of wearing skinny (which I prefer), everyone was wearing baggy (by Swedish standards) and casual (by american standards.) Plus the new hot and trendy thing that were in alot of ads were actually the black tights.

    And of course alot of Swedish women don’t were really high stilettos (first of all, some of ’em just looks like hooker heals and ironically the shoes you posted look like they are from the 80’s except the ones with the pointy toe which women were able to impale people with back in 2001) when alot of them are pretty tall. My friends would be like 1.90m if they wore high stilettos, and it’s not that fun to stand out like a flagpole in a crowd.

    Although I must agree that I am getting very tired of the black tights myself, it feels like everyone looks like bad copies of the already boring GinaTricot mannequins.

  16. I love your blog!

    Don’t know about your fashion sense though! I’m a Swede living in America. I’m quite in to fashion and actually most people in Sweden dress like the American or European designers wants us to and so does Americans, except for like 5 years later! Black tights with oversize sweaters is the new big thing over here, everyone who cares about clothes wear them. Some people are still stuck on what was fashionable in like 2000 back at home though.

    People here think I’m so very fashion forward when I wear normal Swedish clothes. Prob what people in Sweden will be what everyone over here wears on a few years so really no difference. I think Swedes are just really quick on picking up new things in general.

  17. Swedish People DO have ugly clothes… or more like an ugly taste. A swedish girl I know loves JUSTICE!

  18. Maybe we do have bad fashion taste here hehe. But so far I have never seen anyone dress like any of those people are in those pictures. Most people I see dress alot better than that.

  19. Us Yanks have finally caught up and it is totally 80s here, fashion-wise, and killer, tower-high heels.

  20. LOL This is all too funny! I can’t say that the fashion in Sweden seems bad, unless they have embraced two things.

    #1. Shoulder pads. I mean who wants to look like they should be on a field, getting ready to make a goal. I never understood those!

    #2. Neon colored clothing. Okay, unless you are working in construction, or anthing which can be dangerous and you need to stand out, neon colors should be outlawed.

    #3. Oh..I just lied..there are three, instead of two!! Okay, who on this planet ever created the “fanny pack”? That is a complete fashion travisty.

    The fact that the 1980’s embraced all three of these fashion disasters is horrible. However, I can think of some things I loved in the 80’s as a kid.

    @Danielle LMAO..”Us Yanks have finally caught up and it is totally 80’s here, fashion-wise, and killer, tower-high heels.” I agree with you, but I have only embraced a few things hehe. Certainly not going to be buying any jelly bracelets or lace gloves soon, but you are absolutely correct. Look at any “Forever 21”, “Charlotte Russe”, “Express”, “Gap”, and you see it all!!

  21. Having heard so much about how trendy and fashion forward Swedes are I decided to research for myself. Why would a Swedish man be writing to me if there’s so many beautiful well-heeled women available right? So I went to The Local and had a look through their galleries and street fashion and…pissed myself laughing.

    The women in the local are virtually carbon copies with an extensive range of two looks – Slut, or eighties ridiculous.

    Mind you, I find designer ‘fashion’ a joke at the best of times. Dress to make the best of yourself not because some current trend decrees it.

  22. HAHAHA… i’ve been in Stockholm (80’s land) for almost 3 years and i keep asking myself if it’s me who’s totally lost in fashion or if my search for an avant garde or classical classy style is correct.

    I’m from South America and there fashion is ruled by different “happy” colors properly matched, variations of shapes and textures and fashion tendencies are modified by seasons according to the country; so i guess every trip abroad is good excuse for shopping time!!!

    Another important aspect is that colors in clothes define personality; in Sockholm black, gray and a little white explain why swedes are so difficult to reach ( nothing that a couple of drinks can’t change)…

    One big example and a funny way to explain this fact is an own experience from winter 2008 when i decided to break the standard black leather jacket, black “uniform” boots and skinny jeans by wearing a red sweater with a blue marine jacket and blue trendy jeans and dark brown boots and bag…. i felt like a fireman lost at a funeral with people almost angry at my color combination but it really made my day a little bit cheerful and a fun experience too, haha.
    By the way winter 2009 I decided to go back to color to my native country ;) !!!!

  23. I live in Denmark, very similar (in my opinion) to Sweden. This was fun to read! I kinda get tired of all the leggings too, specially this year, with all the ripped ones!

  24. Maybe the reason North America gets the trends (watered down) years late – It’s not so much that we don’t hear/know about current trends when they come out – it’s just that we take a long time to acquire a taste for what we view as ‘ugly’. The same clothes that we will later see as ‘not that bad after all’ and eventually ‘awesome’.

    It could be that North Americans are skeptical at the start of a trend making only slight, gradual (awkward) transitions in their wardrobe —- whereas Europeans are more accepting of new trends off the bat – but then also more fickle and quicker to dump a trend and completely move on to the next one.

    So it could be the difference between fashion conservatives vs fashion liberals rather than a case of fashion clueless vs fashion savvy. We Americans have a clue what’s going on in the fashion capitals— we just absolutely HATE it for a couple seasons – at least – before we eventually sorta like it.

  25. Fact is these are what is in fashion. The colour black is iconic and celebrated very much around the world in the fashion industry. Take a look at the house of Chanel, all their runway shows consists of various shades of grey, black and white. Many designers who are labelled ‘geniuses’ always, always will have black in their collections because they understand that this colour will never go out of style, even decades from now. Whereas fun prints of the season will die quickly. “Hate to break it to you, but you guys are not French, you will never be as fashionable and beautiful as the French.” – Many famous french couture houses incorporate a lot of black in their clothing, there may be colour, but a lot of the times it will be predominantly black.This is the trend that will not die and either you fail accept it or you adapt to it. As to solid colour heels? They will never die. You will never see Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin fail to reproduce solid colour heels because they are basic wardrobe pieces, like a little black dress, nor will anyone ever stop recreating the ballerina flats(this is because ballerina flats are iconic as well).

  26. While I’m a little tired of the neon/80’s look…I do appreciate how a lot of Swedish women’s fashion is geared towards being very comfortable. I don’t think that you need to show off your curves to be seen as beautiful or to feel beautiful. Confidence is sexy even in a baggy shirt and leggings.

  27. @K.Glass – I love your statement, “Confidence is sexy even in a baggy shirt and leggings.” I never thought about it that way but it certainly has me thinking more about self-esteem, femininity, and beauty.

  28. hey i think it’s not that bad though. for the girls i think that looks more feminine. well you will be more surprised if you see how people in Japan dress up. and i don’t think it all looks ugly.

  29. …I’ve read a few of your blogs and even though I take no pride in nor offense for my country, seriously, are these things all you need to care about? This is partly why people feel they hate Americans, that they don’t seem to try one bit to end the ignorance and shortsightedness they completely praise themselves for owning. Stop whining about people whining about people not liking you whining and realize how FUCKING privileged you are all you have to complain about are shoes.

  30. @Isabella – please, take a chill pill and go outside and smell the spring air. This blog is neither about exposing the world’s awful problems nor about superfluous daily dress styles, it is about the life of someone, the expat.

    If you cannot understand this blog is meant to make you laugh and cringe and scream, then find somewhere else to posterize your beliefs.

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