My Thoughts on Icelandic Fashion

Going back to the states after over a year away one thing really stuck out to me. We are really slacking in the fashion department! Of course there are those few who stand apart, but for the majority of people there is one obvious fashion theme, comfort.

Now I am all about comfort but since moving to Iceland I have attempted to up my fashion game. Sometimes I see some ladies walk past and think how is it possible to look that good, there is a freaking wind storm happening right now? A secret I have yet to find out but that hasn’t slowed me down from trying a few Icelandic inspired trends on my own. Let’s recap how they have turned out shall we.

The sweater cape
Sweater capes are everywhere right now and for good reason. A warm wool sweater turned cape, they look like the most comfortable and warm winter attire ever. Last winter I fell in love with this look and enlisted a girlfriend to go shopping with me, both of us determined to find our very own Icelandic sweater cape. Let’s just leave it at the fact that I looked more Harry Potter than Icelandic fashion model in my sweater cape.


The mismatched outfits
When I am choosing an outfit for the day I tend to avoid wearing two different patterns at once or colors that clash, and I most definitely avoid wearing a combination of the two. Icelandic women though, they look at their closet and think, “challenge accepted.” And you know what, they totally pull it off! Some of the outfits I see out and about here in Reykjavik amaze me, in a good way. Then there is me who attempts to be adventurous with my wardrobe and walks out looking like I belong at the Capital in the Hunger Games.


The platform boot
Remember those thick platform boots that we can thank the Spice Girls for making popular? Well Scary Spice must have visited Iceland recently because the platform boot is all the rage right now! I recently went shoe shopping and all I wanted was a simple black boot, but the employee at the shoe store insisted I try a pair of the adorable platform boots. Bracing myself for an embarrassing moment I went for it, the only thing I could say when the girl asked how they felt, “I feel like I am trying out for the Spice Girls.”


The wool clothing
Wool clothing is big here, for obvious reasons (we leave in the freezing Iceland and need warm clothes!) and the clothing made from wool always looks so darn cozy! However, when I attempt to do as the Icelanders do and wear something wool the last thing I get is a cozy look. Instead I spend the entire time itching like crazy, my skin can not handle wool!


The winter high heel
I love a good pair of heels but what I don’t love is wearing those heels in the middle of winter when ice seems to constantly cover the ground. I am seriously fascinated by all the girls prancing around in heels, gliding across the ice as if it is no problem. I wore heels for the first time this week since the snow and ice arrived in December. Let’s just say H got a good laugh watching me make the short walk out of work and to the car. This girl knows what I am talking about.

Icelandic wintervia

The all black wardrobe
Spend just a few hours walking around Reykjavik and you will quickly come to the conclusion that the most common wardrobe color is black, or very dark (basically black) colors. Sometimes you will have someone venture out and where a splash of color, and then they spend the whole day talking about how uncomfortable they are in their blue t-shirt. While I do love the polished look of a black outfit I just can’t keep my love for colored clothing tame. Next time I walk into a room full of black outfits in my bright red dress I am so doing this.

Fashion in Iceland via

The mystery of the wind resistant hair
One thing you should know about Iceland, there is almost always wind! It is beyond annoying to me and some days I don’t even bother fixing up my hair since I know the wind will do its own styling job once I step outside. Wind resistant hair must be a gene in the Icelandic population because non of the other ladies seem to walk into a building with their hair looking like they were just electrified!


The tights with shorts
After my first visit to Iceland I came back to Oregon inspired to try a few new fashion trends I had seen in Reykjavik. One of them being jean shorts with black tights. I mean it just looked so cute on all the girls running around the city, it had to be a winning outfit. I gathered my sisters for my big fashion moment, and this pretty well sums up there reaction.


I think I am going to leave these trends to the beautiful ladies of Iceland. They clearly know what they are doing and I am just not ready to play their fashion game. I will just stick to my comfortable American style.

Question of the Day?
Any fashion trends in your area that you just don’t get?

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  • Cynthia

    Great post! Much of Europe (compared to the Pacific Northwest, hah) is so fashionable and it’s fun to try to figure out HOW do they do it? I’m with ya on the heels…. for Icelanders being so practical, I can’t fathom why this is a popular thing. I’ll stick to flats almost any day since there’s so many cute pairs of flats (and heel-less boots) out there. Here in CZ a very common hairstyle for women over forty is a “chic” mullet… sometimes dyed red or purple. (whyyyy)

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, yes compared to the relaxed fashion in the pacific northwest Europe is like walking into a fashion show! That hairstyle sounds….interesting :)

  • Sara Rose

    I’m always amazed at the girls here in Bristol who walk around in heels on the cobble stone steep hills! I literally haven’t wore heels in over a year because knowing me I’d break an ankle here.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Seriously, how do they do it, they must start training when they are little girls or something!

  • Polly

    Ugh the Russian girls in their stiletto winter boots KILL ME. I am always really impressed by all the Nordic street style blogs all over the internet – sounds like Icelandic ladies have got the fashion front covered too.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I am impressed with how many fashion designers come out of Iceland and I usually love the style, just not all looks good on me.

  • bevchen

    haha, Germans do the tights under shorts thing as well. Personally I think it looks terrible!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I just don’t get it and I definitely do not look good in that look!

  • Shane Prather

    I’m weirded out by the platform shoes and tights with shorts here as well!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I just couldn’t imagine wearing either!

  • Lu

    I can barely walk on ice in flat shoes, so I am with you on the high heels mystery. I think Scandinavians are all born with amazing balance abilities!

    I’m not sure if this counts as fashion, but imagine parting your hair into a top and bottom section. Put the top section into a ponytail and shave off the entire bottom section. That hairstyle is really in right now in Sweden it seems. For men and women. I’m not sure I would remove hair when living in a colder climate but everyone here looks like they just stepped out of GQ/Vogue magazine, so they all rock the look. I would look like I’d been in a lawn mower accident I’m sure… ;-)

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I am with you, I think I would want to keep all my hair for warmth!

  • Sara

    Haha this made me laugh! I felt the same way when I visited Amsterdam and these gorgeous girls would ride past looking fabulous on a bike in the rain. Like what?! I’m just here walking by in my yoga pants, rain coat, AND I failed to brush my hair this morning. Haha.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, seriously, I just don’t get how they can look so put together while walking outside in the middle of a storm!

  • Cecilia

    lol, I’m like this with a lot of the Scandinavian fashon – skinny jeans or tights and then oversized jumpers.. mainly in grey.. or beige if you’re adventurous.. If I try it on I just look.. weird.

    and don’t get me started on capes – I am short with stubby legs – capes do NOT work for me – I worked in a shop once, where the manager forced us to wear clothing from the shop, usually just a scarf or something, but one day she wanted me to wear this big massive blue woolen cape all day – I honestly looked a bit like Mary Poppins! Not sure I managed to convince anyone to buy it.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha oh I am dying about the Mary Poppins cape! I love the look it just does not look good on me!

  • Sarah Shumate

    The year before we moved to London, I ran this race across the state of Tennessee in the middle of winter IN COSTUME. I was supposed to be a cowgirl, so I wore my daisy duke-style shorts, but it was just too cold to wear only those, so I put black tights on underneath. Everyone, I mean everyone, was laughing at me. Then I move to London and people are doing this to be fashionable! :) Funny how that works.

    Oh, same problem with wool. How can anyone wear that stuff without scratching the first layer of their skin off during the course of the day?

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha that is funny how things work out like that! I really don’t get it about wool, I am always asking those wearing it how they are not itching nonstop!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This

    Hahaha – this is great. I have never tried the black under denim short look, but have seen it done. I am definitely a comfort dresser! I don’t know how people manage to look so good when it’s bloody freezing. I just layer the hell up ;) haha

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I am all about the layers as well, I would rather be warm then look good!

  • Jamie

    I confess, I have mostly adapted the black wardrobe at this point. I try to wear colorful scarves though, that counts right? Please?! I also may have a cape sweater…

    And the tights with shorts… every single time I see that, I am reminded of how I thought that style was SO COOL around 3rd grade and rocked it briefly. Never again.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I will admit as well, my wardrobe is turning more and more dark as well! I am trying to keep my colors alive but I feel a bit strange myself during the dark winter days wearing bright clothes.

  • Hannah Webb

    Hahaha this was so good! The sweater cape and the mismatched outfits sections I just died. A lot of black here too, but then you’ll get the crazy like insanely colourful person and im just like woah where’d you come from?? But still very German looking, its like all or nothing here :P

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, I know exactly what you mean about seeing the person in head to toe color! I think the same thing ha.

  • Kate @ Another Clean Slate

    I definitely wouldn’t be able to pull any of that off either… except maybe rocking all black!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I am really the most bummed about the sweater cape, they just look so warm and cozy on everyone else and on me it looks like I am walking around with a blanket around my shoulders.

  • Christina McCall

    I’m with you on the wool sweaters part — if it was derived from a sheep or rabbit, I’m going to claw myself to death, even if I wear a long sleeve tee under it!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Yes! No matter what I do I am still itchy when I wear wool!

  • Sky @ Blonde Freedom

    I could fit in with the my closet filled with mostly black! This was entertaining and enlightening to read! I am always impressed with women who can rock heels during daytime occasions too. I only stick to heels for a night out or a night business type occasion.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I think the all black is the only one that I can at least pull off. Heels during the winter though, that is just not happening, for safety reasons ha.

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee

    I do the tights with shorts once in a while, but only darker coloured shorts, still don’t think I can pull of the jean short and tights look.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I really love the look with black tights and nice dark colored shorts, especially the dress shorts, I just have yet to find a pair that works well on me.

  • Martha

    I could rock all black, but…high heels in snow?! No way!! Must be something in their genes, as you say.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      The mystery of the ability to walk in the snow in heels continues for me, I just don’t get it!

  • Kristen @ SYIAP

    oh my gosh this is hilarious. my hair would be a mess in that wind, i will have to remember that if i ever go. i am the same with wool it always looks good on other people but i just can’t stand it, so itchy and i feel like i look frumpy. and heels + snow and ice is never a good idea!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      My hair just gets covered with a hat, that I have learned is my best option for not looking like a total mess.

  • Camila

    hahaha oh my gosh – well it seems many of them are shared with equally cold countries, because I have definitely had the same issues in Canada! I NEVER understood girls who go around in their high heels in the winter, I can barely walk around in normal boots! And I’ve been guilty of the shorts and tights haha. My hair also always looks like a mess – in Canada it wasn’t so bad because it was so cold that I was always under a hat, but in Edinburgh it’s not that cold so my hair is always in the wind, making it the worst looking hair ever!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I just am afraid for my safety when I try walking in heels during the winter, the risk of falling is just too high!

  • Kerri

    Here in Belgium they really love the one colour or two colour thing. It’s like they pick a colour (green, red, pink…) and that’s what they wear. I’ve never seen so many shades on one colour since I came here. Or they wear two colours (they are big lovers of orange and purple!), no more though, that’s considered weird.

    They are also big on wearing EXACTLY the same outfit two days in a row. Same everything. Even accessories. Personally, I hate wearing the same thing two days in a row…

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I have noticed that here too! Some people would wear the same outfit all week and I am thinking I don’t want to wear the same thing two days in a row!

  • Brooke Jones

    I totally had a pair of Spice Girl inspired platforms when I was growing up. I wore them so much that the platform actually broke off and it was a very sad day. I hear you on the hair. I’m the girl who always has her hair stuck to her lip gloss! I used to run around in heels (like 5 years ago) and I don’t know how I did it. I’m all about comfort and function these days!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, that is amazing, I hope you have some pictures in your platforms!

  • Elle @ WhatTheElle

    One of my initial reactions to the fashion in England was that it reminded me of the 90s haha…overalls (or “dungarees” – seriously, what?), chokers, high half-up ponytails, turtlenecks, and high tops galore! It’s nice being able to people watch and scope out fashion trends but some days I miss it being acceptable to run around town like a slob or in workout clothes haha.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Oh man overalls, I forgot about those! I don’t think anyone but a little baby should be allowed to wear them!

  • Bailey K.

    I’d fit right in with the all dark outfits. I don’t know why, but for the past couple of years I find myself buying black everything, when I used to be all about color. But I’d love to see those girls sliding on the ice in their heels like it’s no big deal. Talent!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I have noticed my wardrobe is getting dark and darker so I am sure I will be one wearing all black soon as well! Walking in heels on the ice really is pure talent!

  • Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons

    Tights with shorts are a thing here too! I secretly LOVE capes and would really like to own one! :) x

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I am still determined to find a cape that works for me because I think they look so adorable!

  • Rachel G

    Platform boots and tights with shorts are really big here. I might try the tights with shorts (only I don’t own shorts), but I don’t think I could ever manage the platforms.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      The shorts with tights is a fashion trend I can understand, the platform shoes though I can not.

  • Pearl – Pretty Mayhem

    Haha oh my gosh Icelandic fashion sounds awesome. I couldn’t rock any of it of course (high heels in the snow? I can barely walk in heels in the summer!) but I love the fact that Icelandic girls won’t let the cold weather cramp their…hmmm, ‘unique’ style :)

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      That is definitely true, the weather never determines the outfit here in Iceland!

  • F SH

    That was funny, I could picture some of the stuff you were saying… The hair thing, oh dear, I used to live in London and my hair was one big frizz all the time and other women are just perfect

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Glad you enjoyed it! My hair just is all over the place all the time! Wind is not my friend.

  • adventuresofalondonkiwi

    There are SO many in London too!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Some style trends just confuse and fascinate me!

  • Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    I love the jean shorts and black tights look! It took me a few years but I think I now have a half Swedish half California style that makes me happy but I know that I do stick out when we visit home but I am ok with it!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I definitely stuck out when I visited home but I was fine with it, I think it is fun getting to have a more dressed up style sometimes.

  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    Oh, I love the Spice Girls! I remember before, I asked my mom if they can buy me that kind of boots with shiny tight jeans! lol!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I always wanted a pair of light up shoes, I am still bummed I never got some ha.

  • Christine @ A Keane Sense of A

    Haha, love this! Even though I couldn’t pull it off, I’m a fan of tights and shorts. Definitely better than some girls I see who just wear tights! Tights are not pants!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, seriously, tights/leggings are not pants, girls need to stop wearing them like they are!

  • Solveig R

    Haha! Fantastic post. I’m from Utah and moved to Stockholm, and the winter high heel, all black wardrobe, and tights with shorts are also big here. I actually like the tights with shorts, but was mystified to get that same reaction from American friends…I think it’s cute, plus adds so much more life to your shorts in a cold climate!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I love a pair of dark shorts with tights but my sisters just thought I was totally crazy!

  • Amanda Elizabeth

    Platform boots are back again???? That makes me shudder! All the little teenagers down here in FL are bringing back the half shirts with puffed out skirts. It looks adorable on them but I think it should stay an under 20 crowd look lol

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Some looks are just meant to never come back.

  • Ashleigh

    Such a great article! I know what you mean about the wind resistant hair. I lived in Ireland for a year and was constantly annoyed with my hair getting messed up whilst everyone else seemed to cope just fine.

    How to be a Wanderluster

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I just don’t get it, how does their hair not go all over the place like mine!

  • Lifeplus1

    Alright…I can totally get behind the sweater cape. I’m all about that. But the platform boot? Now that’s just a little to close to my 90s fashion faux pas for comfort!

    I noticed the Swedish are really into their platforms too. To each their own I guess! Meanwhile I’m still rocking the Mukluks regardless of what anyone thinks. ;o)


    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      These shoes look so warm, I would be rocking these as well if they were in my closet!

  • raganwesson

    I only WISH I could pull of those fashion tips! I do want to buy a sweater cape though. Also, I would love to rock an all black wardrobe. I mean seriously how simple would it be every morning when trying to figure out what to wear?!?! Probably going to take a few tips from Icelandic fashion. :)

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I really love the sweater cape and am still determined to find one that actually works for me. So far though my search has been anything but successful, comical would be a better description :)

  • Jordan Beck Wagner

    Oh my goodness, this is just too funny!!! I LOVE THE MEMES!!!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, sometimes finding the gifs is my favorite part of writing a post. Okay it always is my favorite part:)

  • Kati Rose

    The gifs of this made me crack up. I’m with you on the platform shoes. I see so many women rocking this and just looking bad ass and fashionable but I just feel like I’m Frankenstein clunking around in them.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Frankenstein is a great way to describe those shoes!

  • Jessica ThePyreflies

    I like wearing tights with shorts! I’m sure you looked great :D
    Love all the gifts in here, especially of little Michelle Tanner haha


    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Thank you, I felt like I rocked it to, my sisters though, well they weren’t too sure :)

  • Kelly

    Haha, so much of this reminds me of Korean fashion! I never saw anyone wearing tights with shorts (also saw a lot of people in shorts/minis without tights in the winter, how?) until I lived in Busan. And even though I’m Korean, I still look ridiculous in them!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      It seems to be a fashion trend all over expect for in the states, at least where I am from I have never seen it. Some of the outfits girls here wear during the winter as well has me thinking how in the world are they not freezing!

  • Yalanda_Meshell

    This is hilarious and it sounds like you are describing my exact thoughts on Korean fashion! I see Kelly can agree. I don’t get it. Everyone (almost everyone) always looks like they are on their way to a wedding or something. I swear.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, I miss the days where wearing sweatpants was an acceptable errand running outfit :)

  • Foreign Geek

    The trend of wearing a cap on top of your head/scalp instead of putting it on your head :S What a horrible sight!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha, I agree, that does not sound like a pretty sight, and I would be so worried my hat would fall off the entire time!

  • Beth

    Heels on ice sounds like a great way to break a femur. Sheesh! That’s some super gazelle action, right there. Also, with the wool- don’t wear next to your skin and ALWAYS get virgin wool The virgin stuff hasn’t been brushed- wool that’s been brushed, it breaks the fibers so they stick out in different directions, and that’s the biggest cause of itchy, scratchy wool stuff. (ah, the things you learn, working for an outdoor outfitter). You go with rocking the color. Color is beautiful! And Iceland has so much natural beauty, why tamp it down with all-black wardrobes?

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Right! My thoughts exactly I am worried enough about not falling in my boots! Thanks for the tip about the wool, I always have clothes underneath it, if it directly touches my skin then it is even worse! But even with layers underneath it still irritates my skin, I will have to look into the brushed vs non brushed wool though, I had no idea about that!

  • jackie jade

    some trends are just too tough! i’ve wanted to try the shorts with tights look too but i feel too weird. and in the winter, i definitely don’t wear heels at all!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I agree, some trends just look good but just not on me.

  • Leah Kate

    Write a follow-up post to this and include pictures, please! :D

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Haha that is a great idea!

  • Liz

    This is good intel: I’m visiting Iceland for the first time at the end of August (dream trip: SO pumped) and one of the primary reasons for the trip is to scope out all the Nordic fashion, design, etc. So glad I happened upon your blog!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      How exciting I hope you have the best time on your trip!

  • Jody

    I am interested in one of those sweaters. Any advice on where to get one in Reykjavik? The only time I will have to shop is Thursday, July 9. Also, is there anything (smallish) that you’d like us to bring you from home? (I am the CMS teacher that LT mentioned.)

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Hi Jody.

      The best place to get them is at the flea market on the weekend, the local shops can be really expensive. Since you only have Thursday I recommend the airport since they are tax free you could get a bit of a better deal on them.

      And thanks for the offer but I am actually heading back to Oregon for a month next week so I will be stocking up:) Have a great time in Iceland!

  • George Austin Tay

    Around 15 years ago there was this tragic fashion in Iceland for both men and women that I can’t really explain. It was like, long shirts that looked like aprons, matched with baggy pants (possibly of the same color). Look up a video of the Eurovision performance “Tell Me!” by August & Telma from the year 2000. It has to be one of the most ridiculous trends ever!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Oh I will have to look this up! Some of the trends today I just don’t get:)