What is Nordic Minimalism?

Nordic minimalist over 40

It seems that anything Nordic is having a moment now

We’ve all seen countless articles about Hygge, and Lagom, and now Sisu. And for the most part, the (usually non-Nordic) bloggers/journalists/writers extolling the virtues of what they call ‘Nordic lifestyle trends’ have no idea what they’re talking about. I admit, as a Finn, I’m definitely not an expert on hygge (Danish) or lagom (Swedish), but trust me, I know exactly what sisu is. And I suspect there’s more to hygge than just lighting candles and wearing grey socks, too…

But I don’t want to turn this post into a lecture on cultural appropriation…

I actually wanted to talk about Scandi style (call it ‘Scandi Cool’, ‘Nordic Minimalism’, ‘Scandinista Style’ or whatever). Or, more precisely, about what it is and what it isn’t. Because another thing I’m tired of is how often it is misrepresented as simply wearing basics in neutral colours.

Let’s make this clear once and for all: the shape of your garments, or colours (whether bright or neutral) have absolutely nothing to do with it. Scandi style is all about attitude.

It boils down to the idea that what you’re wearing is not important; you are. And because life is too short to think about what to wear, clothes should fit the body, not the other way round.

how to do scandi cool over 40

over 50 blogger

It’s quite simple, really, if you think about it: there’s a reason why you wear what you wear. Clothes have a purpose: to protect  you from the elements. However, they should not hinder your natural movements. Or, to simplify: once you put your clothes on, you don’t want to think about them anymore. Because you have more important things to do, like living your life.

So, it goes without saying that clothes (and shoes) should be comfortable. But how do you measure comfort?

What’s the most comfortable piece of clothing you have? I’m guessing your pyjamas, or the old t-shirt you sleep in. Well, that’s how comfortable all of your clothes should be.

Of course, even though your clothes should both look and feel comfortable enough to sleep in, they should not look as if you actually did. You want to look cool, not sloppy, after all. Anyway, that’s why you should only ever wear high-end natural materials. It also helps that they tend to last longer.

Because that’s another characteristic of Nordic Style: longevity. Everything you buy should last several seasons. There are two reasons for this. First, we Nordics consider slavishly following trends sort of, well, pathetic. Or trivial, vain, and shallow.  Besides, nobody takes a Fashion Victim seriously…

And the other reason? Well, look at any studies on standard of living, and I bet it’s the 5 Nordic countries topping the list. Well, guess what, high standard of living means high cost of living: high taxes (which we are happy to pay, considering what we get in return) and high prices. In other words, clothes are just too damn expensive to be disposable. We have to make the most of them, and make them last. Therefore, something classic is a better choice than the latest fad that ends up in the landfill after the second wash.

Marimekko trainers

OK, so clothes in simple shapes and quality materials, is that it? Well, not quite. Remember, Nordic Style is all about attitude. It’s also about how you wear your clothes, and about how you present yourself.

First, you should wear all your clothes with the same nonchalance you wear that ratty old t-shirt you sleep in. Even if the garment in question is a delicate vintage dress.

And by presenting yourself I mean personal grooming. As in less makeup, and forget about blow drying. However, a natural look is not the same as ‘a natural makeup’ (you know, spending 90 minutes piling on a dozen or so different products in order to look as if you’re not wearing any makeup).  Again, the mantra is: life’s too short to spend it putting on makeup and doing your hair. Besides, the weather will mess up your hair anyway (whatever the season), and too much makeup is just, well, tacky.

The Nordic beauty ideal is the shower (or sauna) fresh look: no makeup really means no (or hardly any) makeup. A personal confession: I usually spend about 10-15 minutes styling my hair (because I have naturally curly hair that refuses to negotiate on the style of the day) and about 5 minutes max doing my makeup (which means putting on some lipstick and a little bit of powder, maybe a dabble of eye shadow if I’m making a special effort). And yes, this is the amount of grooming you see in my blog photos, too.

So, there you have it. Nordic Style requires a certain attitude to life (focusing on what you do instead of what you look like) and style (don’t take it any more seriously than you take yourself, i.e. ‘who cares, just be yourself and stop trying so hard’), and going with the flow (i.e. dressing for the weather and the occasion, in that order).

And to illustrate the points I’m making, I  decided to take the stereotypical elements of Nordic Style (neutral colours, basics, minimal accessories) and put together a bit more authentic version (for the record, only my shoes are a Nordic brand). Yet, I dare say this outfit looks nothing like the ‘Nordic Style’ photos you see in popular fashion mags…

graphic t-shirt over 40

Outfit details:

t-shirt: PBO (old) / trousers: Grizas / bag: Chanel /

sunglasses: Dolce and Gabbana (old) / shoes: Marimekko

What’s your version of minimalism?


Linking up with:

Not Dead Yet StyleElegantly Dressed and StylishHigh Latitude StyleThe Pleated PoppyStyle ElixirA Labour of LifeDoused in PinkCurly Crafty MomFashion Should Be FunRachel the HatSincerely Jenna MarieMore Pieces of MeColor and GraceThe Wardrobe StylistNot Dressed As LambStyle NudgeCoco et La Vie en Rose,  Living on Cloud NineA Well Styled LifeElegance and MommyhoodPosh Classy MomNancy’s Fashion StyleShelbee on the Edge Over 50 Feeling 40 A Pocketful of Polka Dots Style SplashThe Fashionista MommaTina’s Pink FridayFake FabulousLazy daisy JonesVanity and MeSheela WritesJodie’s Touch of StyleGlass of GlamMummabstylish


  1. Jill James
    25 July 2018 / 10:20 am

    Thank you for explaining what Nordic Style really should be as I have read those articles about it by others. It sounds very practical on so many levels , buying good fabrics and having clothes that last and are worn for many seasons is so important. Your outfit is all these things, stylish, comfortable and timeless .

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2018 / 10:33 am

      Thanks, Jill. Yes, we're certainly practical, probably because weather plays a huge role in our outfit choices here. It certainly sets quite a few limitations as to what to wear.

  2. señora Allnut
    26 July 2018 / 10:52 am

    well, I like your shoes!, but I'm still a maximalist! ;DDAnd I also like your post and your attitude. I think that buying good quality clothes which are made to last and centering on whatever you're doing, both things are actually 'common sense'. And I'm a huge fan of comfort too, and a huge fan of having no fuss. No pinching, no restricting clothes!. Even my usual bunch of bracelets do not have to bother me! Great post!besos

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2018 / 10:35 am

      Thanks!Comfort really is the most important thing, isn't it? Never mind how pretty an outfit is, but if it's uncomfortable, it just makes you miserable.

  3. mummabstylish
    26 July 2018 / 3:39 pm

    Super tee! Thanks for linking up on #chicandstylish today. I hope you like the feature Tiina. x Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2018 / 10:35 am

      Thanks, Jacqui! And thanks for the feature.

  4. Megan Ballard
    27 July 2018 / 4:17 am

    That tee is awesome! We have a style link and would love to have you join! We share our faves on our instastories. Check it out here: The Fashionista Momma xo ~ Megan

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2018 / 10:36 am

      Thanks, Megan, and thanks for the invite.

  5. Joni James
    27 July 2018 / 4:59 am

    I completely agree with the comfort factor. I'm getting to where I don't even like to feel my waistbands. I'm down to 2 pairs of jeans and only really like wearing one of them. The rest art slim stretch pants which I love, oh, and leggings of course. My tops are all long and A line. This was interesting to read.

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2018 / 10:40 am

      Thanks, Joni. I totally understand, waistbands can get uncomfortable, especially in summer when it's hot. I think comfortable clothes will become even more important the older I get. I don't seem to have patience for anything that doesn't quite work anymore.

  6. Nicole Mölders
    27 July 2018 / 7:21 am

    Great look. Thanks for joining the Top of the World Style linkup party

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2018 / 10:40 am

      Thanks, Nicole.

  7. Shelbee On The Edge
    28 July 2018 / 4:34 pm

    Tiina, I honestly had not even heard about these terms such as Scandi cool, but I am adequately intrigued. And I do love your explanation of the term/style as well as your perfect representation of Nordic minimalism. And this graphic tee of yours is spectacular! This post will be a featured favorite on my #SpreadTheKindness Link Up on Tuesday! Thanks for always joining the party.Shelbee http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2018 / 10:45 am

      Thanks! That's a nice surprise.Scandi style has been featured in quite a few fashion mags (at least in Europe) in the past few years. However, I would like it to be seen as a bit more 'mainstream' rather than something 'exotic' (maybe because for me it is mainstream…)

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