Dressing Danish

18/03/2024

Hannah Derry (she/her) writes on fashion trends in Aarhus, Denmark

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Image by Shvets Anna

By Hannah Derry

When you think about Danish fashion, or Scandinavian fashion in general, visions of simple, clean-cut, neutral and monochrome garments often spring to mind. This was very apparent when I arrived in Aarhus, Denmark for my exchange year. Everyone was undeniably well-dressed and slick but, despite being quite the minimalist myself, there seemed something slightly lacklustre about the fashion scene. I craved some unique touches and a bit more colour. It was not until the semester started, and I was actually in class that I realised there was a lot more to Danish fashion. My Danish peers were turning out looks for every class, including those early 8 AMs. This was quite refreshing, especially after two years of Zoom university, sitting in our most comfortable, but not necessarily most stylish, apparel. And so, my lectures, besides being very educational, ended up being a great source of style inspiration during my time abroad. Here are some of my favourite items and accessories.

Tiny Neck Scarves
One of the unexpected culture shocks I had whilst studying in Denmark was the prevalence of knitting. There was nearly always somebody knitting during lectures – apparently my classmates were capable of multitasking on a new level. Often, it was accessories that they were making, leaving their larger projects for home! One of the most popular accessories was a small neck-scarf. Think 1950s Ascot, but wool instead of the typical silk/satin (though there were also plenty of this variety being worn in the warmer months). This accessory was incredibly practical for the transition to Spring, whilst adding a stylish twist to any outfit.

Knit Hoods
Continuing the love of knit, we have the knit hoods which are donned by numerous ‘cool girls’ across social media. This one is definitely suited for colder weather and climates, but not rain! I especially loved seeing candy-coloured hoods paired with an oversized leather jacket and wide-leg jeans. The look is finished perfectly with a pair of shades. The knitted hood look can also be achieved by using the balaclava hack when tying your scarf.

Fun Claw Clips
One of my absolute favourite accessories which I have brought back with me to the UK is the claw clip, but not just any claw clip – kitschy claw clips! I was astounded by the variety of styles, colours and shapes of clips sold across the city: butterflies, seashells, flowers, cherries. It became clear that the key to most of the outfits I saw in Denmark lay in accessorising – and these hair clips were the perfect way to add some vibrance and visual interest to any look. Of course, I seized the opportunity to grab some unique hair accessories for myself – my personal favourite is my dolphin claw-clip (made even better by the fact that dolphins are Aarhus University’s emblem and can even be sighted by the city’s harbour if lucky!).

Casual Friday Night Looks
The highlight of student-life in Denmark was most certainly the Fredagsbars (Friday bars). These are departmental bars open on Friday nights, each with their own unique vibe, music and cheap drinks. The chilled going-out culture amongst students also permeated through to the ‘going-out-out’ dress code. Whilst the pressure is often on in the UK to dress up for a night out, the Danish students took a much more relaxed approach (somewhat in juxtaposition to their dressing up for class). The most common look I wore for these nights consisted of a cropped vest top; a sweater or jumper tied across the upper body; a jacket which would inevitably get stuffed into a locker upon arrival; baggy jeans/cargos; and trainers (heels were nowhere to be seen at the Fredagsbars!).

Cross-bodies
And, of course, the perfect bag for all occasions was the cross-body. I saw this bag on everyone and everywhere – and for good reason. The strap itself adds some extra detail and dimension to an outfit, which I love! The main advantage of this accessory, though, is its practicality, especially on a night out. It fits everything you need inside and it’s hands-free, so you don't need to worry about dropping anything whilst dancing.

My Fave Vintage Shops in Aarhus, Denmark:
During one of my first conversations with a Danish coursemate, I found out that second-hand shopping is incredibly popular with students as it is a good way to shop both sustainably and cheaply (especially important given how expensive it can be to live in Denmark). Throughout my time in the city, I was able to visit most of the second-hand stores and boutiques – here are some of my faves:

Loppegal - perfect for kitschy, candy coloured, 60s vintage pieces. They also sell vintage homeware, which I definitely had to restrain myself from purchasing.

PRAG - ideal for a party or festival outfit, my friend even found her Harry Styles concert fit here!

Magpie Lane Vintage - this boutique offers a more curated second-hand shopping experience and has some of the most beautiful vintage and local designers in stock.

Komma - this second-hand shop is filled with stylish pieces, most of which look nearly brand-new. I found my perfect ‘everything’ jacket for the Spring/Summer here - a cropped, black, coach jacket, originally from COS, which has certainly gotten its share of wears.