How to dress like a local in Oslo

Travel Tips — By Anne-Sophie Redisch on October 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

If you’re visiting Oslo anytime soon and want to know what locals are wearing, here’s a snapshot:

Taking a look around me as I sit on a bench on main street Karl Johan, I see a great variety of dressing styles. A British newspaper once reported that Norwegians are too rich to care how they dress. Don’t know if being rich has anything to do with it, but people generally do dress in whatever they want. For most, that means casual. In fact, often when you see someone who obviously has spent a lot of time with their appearance, they’re not locals. Most places of work has no dress code, so we’re all casual there as well. At work, men will occasionally wear suits if they have important meetings, women wear whatever they want.

On Fridays and on the weekends, you’ll often see people in sports gear, most often meaning skiing gear. Cross country skiing is huge here – always has been, ever since the Viking era.

What do the girls wear?
On this chilly October day, many girls wear jeans, big scarves, short down jackets and UGG boots. On rainy days, the UGGs are replaced with colourful wellies/rain boots from Danish designer Ilse Jacobsen. They generally don’t wear much makeup.

What do the boys wear?

I’m noticing that boys and girls don’t dress that differently today: lots of jeans and coats. Young boys wear hats more, knitted hats pulled down their foreheads.

Photos of Oslo people by marionzetta and Kai A on flickr’s Creative Commons

Tags: casual, cross country skiing, dress, Dressing like locals, Norway, Oslo, Scandinavia, skiing gear, sports gear


  • Silje Ingstad says:

    We completely disagree with this!!!!!!!

  • Katy says:

    This is a VERY wrong descriptioin in which I completely disagree with. You cannot walk around town for a day to decide what people are like especially when the main street is full of tourists. And as far as cross country skiing goes, that is also wrong and sounds like it is taken out of a tourist brochure.

    I am Norwegian myself and I used to hate the fact that people cared too much about their status, image and what not.. People are overly concerned with these types of things and it has turned into a very maretialistic society. I bet the people who care the least in Norway are possibly the ones visiting and NOT the locals. Poeple dress up for all occations as that is the norm. UGG’s and Ilse Jacobsen footwear is part of the package, especially on the west side of the city . It doesn’t matter which part of the city you go to, although people may dress differently it is still part of a carefully constructed image. Although my statements cannot be generalised to the population as a whole it is definitely more representative of the trend in Norway than this article. West is fairly snobby and despite trying to look casual I am sure you will find that the look is often expensive. East is more alternative but not nessesarily careless and casual. If you ask me it is more in line with the hipsters you read about in the media these days. Then you have a handfull of people who does not buy into consumerism, labels, trends and that shit.

  • Ryan says:

    Wow, this is such a generalized description. I lived in Oslo when I was younger and I’m now a US resident; your description sounds more like a typical American (minus the little amount of makeup for the girls).

  • Csaba says:

    I’m from Hungary, living in Oslo now. Because of my work I mostly walk and travel through the Western part of the town and live very close to the trendy Bogstadveien by accident. I can also see that more people wear skiing jackets (Helly Hansen, for one) here than in Hungary but at the same time most Norwegians I meat every day wear elegant and fancy jackets, stylish sunglasses in the summer, men almost always wear shirts instead of T-shirts, at work I can see women wearing skirts often. Of course, there are small differences, but I think a very typical Oslo-outfit is a stylish, elegant jacket/coat and sport shoes :-). In Hungary it’s not something I would see. If someone in Hungary dresses elegantly, it would look too weird to wear sports shoes in addition. Of course I can see different styles, not only elegant, but on the whole, in my view, Oslo-citizens wear very stylish clothes and dress carefully. This is not necessarily the same with other Norwegians living in the contryside who tend to put on whatever they can find :-). But I still believe that Norwegians are much more well-dressed than the British, for example :-).

  • Anne-Sophie says:

    How interesting to see this generating so much interest.

    @Katy: Generally,I have the impression people don’t care that much what they wear. But of course that may be because I’m not that particular. (I’m a local, by the way). I’ll do an informal poll of friends and colleagues and see what they think. Won’t budge on the skiing bit, though. Seems the approaching skiing season is what everyone is talking about… when is it going to snow… when can I get the skis out (and that’s not just my kids talking :) ) Personally, I prefer a rainy autumn day to shovelling snow any day.

    @Ryan: It is generalized and is meant to be.

    @Csaba: Very interesting observations. Where you see a stylish jacket, I see just any old jacket. It’s a matter of having an eye for fashion, perhaps – which I don’t really have.

    Thanks for your commetns, everyone. I’ll get back with the results of my informal poll.

  • Tim says:

    I’m British and travel to Oslo all the time. I’m actually at the central station right now and everyone I see looks decidedly casual. But then I don’t have that great an eye for fashion either, so don’t know if it’s planned casual or just casual casual. All look pretty relaxed though.

  • Mademoiselle says:

    Norwegians have neither the style, the weather nor the globalised economy to dress dynamically, individually or consistently fashionably. A ski jacket is a ski jacket is a ski jacket, and come October everyone is in some shape or form covered in gortex. Most recently I have noticed the under 20s wearing an adult version of a babygro as seen here people: Really.. no-one can defend this – i don’t care how warm it is – it looks hideous. Aside from one day in May, and I am being generous when I say this- I have never seen one man dressed impeccably in a suit like I see men dressed to go to work everyday in Paris or London. Workwear is most defintiely casual. Most sensible Norwegians travel outside of Norway to buy their clothes because of the exchange rate and because Norway has the tiniest high street retail market with barely any international players. Mostly, in my opinion there is a lack of individulaity and diversity in the Norwegian style, whether this a throwback of socialism or the lack of choice in the Norwegian retail market, individuality is not celebrated (See janelagen for point of refernece). It is not justifiable to compare Norwegian “fashion” and “style” to other major cities in Europe. It is a black hole in the fashion world, a fashionistas nightmare, a consumerists hell.

  • even says:

    Yes Madamoiselle, Norwegians do dress casually and they do not care for italian or french fashion brands.
    ( After all people here associate those brands with stupid wags and the russian mafia) But take a look at the price of those “hideous ski jackets” and you will see that it´s far more expensive to live the comfortable life of the rich norwegians then the stiletto lifestyle of the financially broken europeans.


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