They wear skirts. Good on you if you're bold enough to follow the Stockholm train driver's suit (or rather lack thereof). Otherwise guys, a nice, crisp pair of shorts should do the job. "/> They wear skirts. Good on you if you're bold enough to follow the Stockholm train driver's suit (or rather lack thereof). Otherwise guys, a nice, crisp pair of shorts should do the job. " />


The dos and don’ts of Swedish work wear

We all know how Swedish men deal with the summer heat when wearing trousers to work just won't do. They wear skirts. Good on you if you're bold enough to follow the Stockholm train driver's suit (or rather lack thereof). Otherwise guys, a nice, crisp pair of shorts should do the job.

The dos and don'ts of Swedish work wear
The ultimate guide to Swedish work-wear

Smart shorts not boardies, mind. A little above the knee and not below. In an “equal society”, if women can wear skirts, men can wear shorts. Simple. The only difference here is the matter of hair. And there’s nothing wrong with fuzzy pins.

An additional after-thought is the matter of feet. For, and I stress, it is not ok to wear flip-flops or the like to work – unless you’re employed by a university student union – a loafer or a smart lace-up brogue or the like are the only suitable options boys. Short, coloured socks permitted.

To perfect your look, head to H&M’s cooler, older cousin COS. This trendy outfit does work-perfect pieces in amazing, high-end shapes and has smart men’s shorts in abundance. So there’s just no excuse to get it wrong fellas.

I suppose if you live in cool Södermalm, your attitude to dressing for work is probably a lot like your surroundings i.e. hip, laid-back and probably idiosyncratic. If you’re a man in this part of town, tailored shorts are probably not your bag. A suit? Heaven forbid. In fact, walking around Sofo just before nine, one wouldn’t think the working day was about to begin. As for Söder’s women, it’s sack-like dresses or carrot-top trousers and clunky heels. No clichéd 80s stiletto and pencil skirt combos here.

IN PICTURES: See Also: Six ways to dress like a Swede – revealed

But then who can blame this style-savvy lot? In the heat, relaxed work-wear is definitely the way to go.

The days of obligatory three-piece suits are, for the most part, long gone anyway and women no longer need to bind themselves in a blouse and calf-length skirt with a string of pearls and high heels to go to work.

That said, I’m all for the traditional work garb. Dapper guys in pastel tailoring; women in non-fussy dresses and crisp white shirts in the style of Carolina Herrera. If Stockholm’s hipster locale isn’t up for tailoring, I know a place in Stockholm that certainly is.

For fear not formal fans, Östermalm still has it. Around Stureplan where a triangle of handkerchief poking just so out of the top pocket is de rigueur, formality reigns. Pretentious? Of course. Fanciful? Yes please. Just how Östermalm’s gentlemen manage to stay cool in the sun in their expensive suits is another matter. Air con and fans made of cash probably help.

And traditional doesn’t mean boring. On the train home last week I came across one particularly dapper fellow with a major affinity for brown tweed. His check suit with accompanying dicky bow made him look half university professor circa Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark and half thrift-shop owner. A little hipster, a dash traditionalist, the dude’s boldness and imagination was admirable.

If it’s an argument of formal versus casual why not hit the mid-mark (especially in the heat): a tee and tailored trousers for the guys (or shorts); for the ladies, a sleeveless shirt dress or a simple elegant shift that will never tire.

If, like me, merging work wear and warm weather is still just too much to bear, we needn’t worry for too much longer.

It’ll soon be winter.

Hussey’s How To… Find style inspiration in unexpected places. Those hard-working purveyors of the law, the Swedish Police Force, are worth a peek. The båtmössa or boat cap is chic, no? Scour second-hand shops for likewise pointy hats and pop one atop your head.

I promise you’ll be smiling all the way to work safe in the knowledge that not only do you look earth-shatteringly chic and a little avant-garde, but you’re also showing support for the country’s law-enforcers. Job done.

Victoria Hussey

Follow Victoria on Twitter here

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How to make the most of Sweden’s public holidays in 2019

Swedish companies offer generous holiday allowances, and with a range of secret tricks you can make them stretch even further. Here's how to make the most of Sweden's public holidays in 2019.

How to make the most of Sweden's public holidays in 2019
Taking just five days of annual leave can get you a 17-day holiday in 2019. Photo: Gustav Sjöholm

This article is available to Members of The Local. Read more Membership Exclusives here.

If you're working in Sweden, you're already one of the luckiest employees on the planet when it comes to annual leave, even before factoring public holidays into the equation.

By law, firms have to give full-time staff 25 days off, and many offer extra days and benefits on top of this. For example, most employees have the right to take at least four consecutive weeks off in June-August if they choose, and you'll find that Sweden's larger cities empty out in those months.

But on top of those paid vacation days, there are several so-called 'red days' (röda dagar) in the Nordic nation. Plenty of workers schedule their breaks away around these public holidays and by doing so you can get long stretches of time off by only using a few of your precious vacation days. Keep reading to learn the tricks to make the most of this, and the other factors to be aware of.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about annual leave in Sweden

1. Check your company's approach to annual leave around public holidays

Some firms offer de facto bonus half days ahead of public breaks, while others ask staff to take annual leave in the days before or afterwards, in order to synchronize company work schedules.

The dates in between public holidays are known as klämdagar which means 'squeezed days', for example a Monday which falls between a weekend and a public holiday the next Tuesday. Some employers offer these as extra vacation days, and for those that don't, they are popular days to take off, meaning some businesses offer a 'first-come-first-served' policy for these sought-after days.

That means planning ahead if you want to take time off then, but consider whether you might actually want a few quiet days in the office while your boss stays at their summer house after a national holiday, perhaps saving your own annual leave for dark November or frozen February.

If you do shift work or are a member of a union, you're likely to get extra pay for working public holidays. If red days take place over a weekend, some firms – but far from all – offer an alternative weekday off instead.

If you're not sure what your company's policy is, don't be afraid of discussing holidays with your employer. Sweden's approach to work-life balance means they are more likely to think less of you if you don't plan any time off.

Photo: Christian Ferm/Folio/

2. Book early if you want to travel during 'red day' periods

Swedes love to plan, so if you're thinking about travelling around Sweden over Midsummer or enjoying an Easter getaway, now is the time to start organizing. Hotels, flights and even trains and popular restaurants can get booked up months in advance, with prices rising as the holidays get closer. If you have family abroad, it could be more expensive to return home to visit them, or for them to visit you.

3. Beware of restaurant and attraction closures

In many countries public holidays can often be a chance for tourist attractions to cash in on extra visitors, but Swedes often consider their time off to be sacred. 

If a particular museum, restaurant or attraction is a major appeal of a destination, check in advance that it will actually be open to avoid disappointment on the day.

Photo: Lina Roos/

4. Be prepared for your Swedish friends to leave town

Public holidays are a classic time for Swedes to leave the country's big cities and head to their parents' places or second homes in the countryside, so they can be a lonely time for foreign workers. Start dropping hints early if you're hoping for an invitation to a Swedish summer house this Midsummer, or check online social forums to connect with other internationals who are in the same boat.

5. Check school term dates

It's obvious that if you've got school-age children, you'll need to know when their term starts and finishes — be aware that these dates differ in different parts of the country. But even for workers without children, it pays to check when the summer holiday is, as well as the spring break (sportslov) and autumn break (höstlov or läslov).

Traffic is often very busy at the start and end of these periods as families escape from the cities, and hotel prices can also rise due to the spike in demand. In particular, if you want a winter skiing break, you're likely to save money (and have a more peaceful holiday) by avoiding the time in February when ski resorts are packed with families enjoying the winter sports break. You'll find a comprehensive list of the dates on the SkolPorten website.

Keep reading below for a list of Sweden's public holidays in 2019.

Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/

National public holidays in Sweden in 2019


Tuesday January 1st – New Year's Day – Public holiday

It's a good start to the year, because New Year's Day falls on a Tuesday, and many employers offer December 31st as a day off making this a four-day weekend. Unfortunately that means Epiphany, January 6th, falls on a Sunday, so 9-5 workers miss out on that extra red day.


Friday April 19th – Good Friday – Public holiday

Monday April 22nd – Easter Monday – Public holiday

It's a long wait until the next set of public holidays, but 2019's late Easter means there's a better chance the weather will have improved if you want to use the long weekend to explore Sweden. 


Wednesday May 1st – Public holiday

Thursday May 30th – Ascension Day – Public holiday

Walpurgis Eve on April 30th is often a de facto half-day (but check with your employer first). In 2018 it falls on a Tuesday, so by asking for the 29th off plus a full or half-day on the 30th depending on your company's policy, you can get a five-day stretch off work.

There's another chance at a long weekend later in May if you get the Friday after Ascension Day off. But it's a popular klämdag, so make sure you get there before your colleagues.


Thursday June 6th – National Day – Public holiday

Friday June 21st – Midsummer's Eve. This isn't technically a public holiday, but because the day is such an integral part of Swedish summer traditions, most employers will give you the day off anyway. If they do, there's a chance they'll also treat you to a half-day off on the Thursday.

And if you take the Friday after National Day off, that's two long weekends in one month.


Friday November 1st – All Saints' Eve. Not a public holiday, but because it falls the day before All Saints' Day, which is a public holiday, there's a chance you'll get half the day off. But ask your employer first.


Tuesday December 24th – Christmas Eve

Wednesday December 25th – Christmas Day – Public holiday

Thursday December 26th – Boxing Day – Public holiday

Tuesday December 31st – New Year's Eve

Wednesday January 1st, 2020 – New Year's Day – Public holiday

Just like Midsummer's Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are not technically public holidays, but they are almost always treated as such anyway.

This year the Christmas holidays are positioned so that all fall on weekdays. This means that if you also take off the 23rd, 27th, and 30th (or if your employer offers any or all of these as klämdagar), you'll get 12 consecutive days of holiday. Take off the 2nd and 3rd as well and you'll get a 17-day stretch for the price of only five days' annual leave. Perfect if you want to travel overseas to visit family or enjoy some winter sun.