StyleStyle around the World

Style around the world: How to dress like a Norwegian


As so often is the way, I first discovered Marte Frisnes‘ beautiful jewellery on Instagram. And whilst, there may be a lot of things to look at on Instagram, her stunning tasselled bracelets stopped me in my tracks. They are so ridiculously gorgeous, they should come with a health warning. And then there’s everything else. From star bracelets to single tassel bracelets, her charm necklace and fab earrings, it’s almost too hard to decide on a favourite.

When I discovered that Marte is Norwegian, but based in the UK, I was instantly intrigued. Both Natasha and I (and I think a lot of people) have a fascination with Scandinavian style and having already covered Denmark in our occasional Style Around the World series, we were desperate to know more about style in Norway. Is it completely geared around the weather? Are Norwegians trend-led or more classic in their approach to fashion? And what about the Norwegian attitude to the body? Thankfully, Marte could answer all our questions and more…

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How long have you lived in the UK?

I’ve been in the UK for 13 years. Wow time flies! I lived in London for a long time, but I’m now based in Shropshire with my partner Oliver, our 2 children and 4 crazy dogs.

But you’re from Norway originally? 

I grew up on an island with no other kids, no TV or running water. My inner resource got pretty well developed during that time and I consider it to this day to be one of my strengths. I am never bored. When I started school we moved in to the nearest town, Molde, and when I was 17 I moved to Oslo.

How would you describe Norwegian style?

It’s pretty practical. Let’s face it, with snow and black ice for a minimum of 4 months of the year it is tricky to stylish. But I love this picture of blogger Celine Aagard (below) wearing a chunky knit with a Gucci bag. It kind of sums it all up, ‘stay warm but add a bit of glamour’.


What differences have you noticed between the way Norwegian women and British women dress?

In Norway we have something called janteloven. Its an unwritten rule in our society, and generally means that you shouldn’t think you are better than anyone else. So if you got something, talent, money, good legs, a nice car… don’t show it! Whilst it is not as noticeable as it used to be, it is still underlying in the Norwegian culture. This means that most Norwegians are scared to stand out, fashion included. So in England women are quite happy to stand out from the crowd and be individual in the way they dress, most Norwegian women go for a safe option.

Do you think that (in general) women in Norway are led by trends or are there more of a distinctive Norwegian look?

Unfortunately, it is very trend led. You can drive through Bogstadveien, one of the main shopping streets in Oslo, and easily spot 30 people wearing the same outfit in 5 minutes. There always seem to be a ‘thing’ in Norway, that coat, that woolly hat, those jeans etc.

There’s quite a ‘love affair’ going on with the Brits for Scandinavian style at the moment, why do you think this is?

Scandinavian design has been so strong since the mid 19th century, particularly in furniture. There are so many good designers in Scandinavia now, especially in Denmark, but in Norway now we have great companies like FWSS and Tom Wood. The Scandies like supporting their own and so it is a good launch pad for branching out internationally. Also, the Scandi bloggers are all over Instagram and at Fashion Week and everywhere else – so it’s easy to get a look into the Scandinavian fashion world that way too.

Has your style changed at all since living in the UK? 

I could stop worrying about the snow, so my shoes and coats got less practical and more fun. Also I am not worried about standing out or blending in.  I wear what suits me and what I think is appropriate for the occasion. I am a pretty top and jeans kind of girl, but I am trying to wear less jeans and be more original.

Are there any big ‘no-no’s’ when it comes to style/fashion in Norway?

Not really but there should be. Some people wear their skiing jacket over a party gown for Christmas parties, which definitively should be a big no-no. It keeps you warm but it’s not a good look.

What do you think is lacking when it comes to fashion in Norway?

I would love to see more individuality. It is so dull when everyone is wearing the same.

Is the Norwegian fashion scene as developed as it is in Sweden and Denmark? The Danes and the Swedes seem to grab all the headlines over here!

No, it is not as forward as that, but there are a lot of models, bloggers and stylists like Hanneli Mustaparta (below) ‘leading the way’. I think it’s great when I see some of them or anyone Norwegian in a paper or a magazine. There’s so few of us – we need to stick together!


Is there more or less pressure to look good in Norway than in the UK?

Norwegians are more sporty then the Brits and it is rare to see overweight people there as most people live quite a healthy lifestyle, drink less alcohol and eat well. So I would say there is more pressure to be fit, but less pressure on how you dress.

When going out for dinner, in general do Norwegians get more or less dressed up than Brits?

Less for sure, it’s rare to see heels and fake lashes out in Oslo on a Tuesday night.

What would you wear on a relaxed Saturday?

If we stayed at home and played with the kids and the dogs, it would be very casual indeed. But we often go out for Sunday lunch and I seize the opportunity to dress up. I have too many dresses and not enough occasions! It’s country life.

Who are your favourite Norwegian designers?

Peter Dundas, Kristian Aadnevik, Holzweiler, FWSS, Tom Wood and Bjorg. I also adore the dresses Pia Tjelta has done for ByTimo 

Where do Norwegian women go for basics?

Basics are generally good on the high street, so places like H&M, Zara, Gina Tricot, Bik Bok.

When it comes to jewellery do you tend to pile it on and layer or do you like to wear just a couple of pieces at a time?

I love to pile when it comes to bracelets in particular, a big stack of bangles is one of my favourite jewellery things. Rings and necklaces can be worn in a more simple way on me, but can work either way depending on the outfit.



Do Norwegians place more or less emphasis on health and beauty than Brits?

Norwegians put more emphasis on health definitely, but on beauty I would say about the same. However, I think the ideas of beauty are different, the Norwegian style is much more natural and relaxed.

 As a rule do Norwegians were more or less make-up than Brits?

We wear a lot less and whilst I’ve seen this change a bit over the years, the look is still more natural and barefaced.

What is the Norwegian attitude to the body?

Most Norwegians are fit and have a very outdoorsy lifestyle – they ski, run, hike, swim… It helps that most Norwegians finish their working day between 4-5pm and most of them spend the evening doing some kind of exercise.

What is the Norwegian attitude to eating? Is it more or less relaxed than the British?

Traditionally, it was very meat and two veg, and most families had their meals at home. Until 10 years ago, it was unusual to go out for a meal mid-week as this was saved for special occasions and weekends. This also affects the alcohol intake which is mainly also saved for Saturday nights. But, these days we go out more, we drink more but still eat fairly well with lots of fish and vegetables.

Are there any must-have Norwegian beauty/skincare brands that you love?

Elixir Cosmecuticals has a great skin care range with some amazing products. I also like Aromacea‘s organic products, which are hand made in Oslo. Their Wintersalve is divine. Bjork & Berries are Swedish, but do the most incredible hand soaps and hand creams. Dark Rain is my favourite.

c573b39360384cc1bfe5066bf5f4975a IMAGES: all from Marte Frisnes except Celine Aagard (Vogue Paris/Sandra Semburg) and the picture of Hanneli Mustaparta which is from Hanneli.

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