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Wrap up warm: How to dress for the cold weather in Sweden

The Local Sweden
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Wrap up warm: How to dress for the cold weather in Sweden
As the Swedes say, there's no bad weather... just bad clothes. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Dress warm for the cold season... but how can we do it like the Swedes do? Fear not, here's our handy guide.


In case you hadn't noticed, it gets very cold this time of the year.

Time to channel your inner Swede with that lovely, rhyming Swedish saying about dressing up for winter: "Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder" (There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes). 

READ ALSO: Six things they don't tell you about the snow in Sweden

But… how should you dress to stay warm in a Swedish winter? Here's our guide. 

Wear layers

It might sound simple, but it's really the ultimate tip that every Swede will swear by. While a jacket that looks like a dead bear on your back might seem like the ultimate sub-zero cure, it's not the be-all and end-all. 

Yes, you've got to wear layers, the more the better. The reason is because little pockets of air will get trapped between the layers and will slowly heat up, keeping you toasty and warm. A big fur jacket just doesn't have the same effect. 

READ ALSO: 11 ways to fake being a true Swede in winter

Cotton is your enemy

Think your nice, new cotton getup will save you from the winter chill? It won't! Cotton is your worst enemy. The problem with cotton is that it actually absorbs water and works to cool you down, rather than warm you up.

If you're wearing cotton and you start sweating (which happens easily if you're struggling to wade through snow, or if you're skiing, or if you're shovelling snow…) then that sweat isn't going anywhere. When it's cold out, you crucially need to stay dry, and cotton won't be helping you with that. Better to wear wool, polyester, or nylon. 

Invest in winter boots

You'd be shocked at the difference a good pair of boots makes. While every Swede north of Skåne has a pair of winter boots, many visitors to Sweden (or indeed many foreigners who are new to Sweden) don't realise how important the boots are. Remember, get boots with a synthetic or wool lining (not one made from cotton, see above). 

READ ALSO: Seven evocative Swedish winter words for snow


Double up (or triple up) on the socks

You've got two options when it comes to your strumpor: either get proper, thick, synthetic or wool socks, or double up. Hey, you can even triple up if there's room in your boots.

But whatever you do, don't use a single pair of business socks if you're going for a stroll. As every Swede knows, a winter walk is the quickest way to get freezing toes, so be sure to take your sock situation seriously. 

Get your thermals going

You're never going to look stupider than you will when you're wearing your long, thermal underclothes, but you'll never feel better than when you have them on. And they're not just for ski trips.

Savvy Swedes wear them day in, day out when it's freezing. With this in mind, it's really worth investing in a good pair – for example one made from Merino wool. You can even experiment with thermals made from things like bamboo (as crazy as it may sound), and these do the trick very well (at least according to us here at The Local). Just remember, once again, don't get them made from cotton (see above). 


Protect the extremities

It should go without saying, but make sure you've got a good hat and some good gloves or mittens for those fingers. In fact, buy a second pair of gloves and a backup hat, because these things are the most common items of lost property during a Swedish winter.

When it comes to the hat, be sure that it's one that protects your ears too. And as for the gloves, some Swedes swear by having a second pair of insulated mittens to go on top of the gloves, which is a fine idea if you're planning to be out for a while. 

READ ALSO: How to talk about the weather in Swedish


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