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When I was in Copenhagen in May 2018 for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, it was the beginning of a months-long heat wave. So it was unusually warm and sunny. But most of the time, May in Copenhagen is in the low 60s at the very highest, and can get down to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. It rains every other day. If you’re wondering what to wear in Copenhagen, you’ll want to bring some warm layers, and an umbrella.
You’ll also want to be able to ride a bike in your outfit. Even if you have no plans to ride a bike, the fashion in Copenhagen revolves around the fact that everyone has a bike and rides it everywhere. So styles that would be uncomfortable on two wheels aren’t common and might make you stand out, and not in a good way. Short, lightweight skirts will fly up and expose you. Uncomfortable purses will weigh you down. Wide-brim hats (without a tie) will fly off your head. So don’t be afraid to be 50% or 100% casual with your outfits.
Finally, this is the epicenter of Scandinavian chic, so think neutral, neutral, neutral, simple, simple, simple. Don’t over accessorize or pile color on, unless that really makes you feel like you! They play with shapes and volumes in Copenhagen, but not necessarily with crazy colors and weird accessories.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a failsafe packing list of sustainable and ethical fashion items that can be mixed, matched, and layered for a different Copenhagen-chic look every day for a week’s visit or more.
(And if you run out of time to pack, then just hit up these sustainable and ethical stores when you arrive!)
For the plane:
T-shirt – I really like the drape of Alternative Apparel’s organic cotton and recycled polyester t-shirt, and it comes in 6 neutral colors
Athliesure pants – Again, Alternative Apparel has a large selection of flattering sweatpants to choose from, and prAna sells sweats and comfy leggings, or you could go for cashmere bottoms which can double as fancy pajamas.
Stylish sweatshirt or hoodie – I like this one from Icebreaker, a cashmere hoodie is so comfy and chic –– try this one from Base Range or these from Naadam, or a very basic sweatshirt in your fave color from Everlane, or choose from a wide selection of affordable sweatshirts from a small Swedish (Denmark’s neighbor) brand that you might have heard of.
Wool ankle socks – I like lightweight wool socks for long plane rides, because they wick away sweat and odor.
Sneakers – You’ll be able to wear these with everything, even with a skirt or a dress. It’s a thing. Vejas are a popular option.
City backpack – There’s the Danish brand grünBAG (which I partnered with to come up with a great traveling backpack called the Alden), a hyper-organized and practical backpack, or one of these uber-Scandinavian backpacks.
Bum bag – the Danish love their bum bags. They’ll sling them across their chest, or even strap a nice one around their ruffled dress. Believe me, there’s no inappropriate occasion for a hip bag in Copenhagen. I also like them for traveling because it’s handy to have my wallet and passport and phone strapped right to my chest, rather than in my backpack! Check out my roundup of hip bags.
In Your Suitcase
Cozy, warm sweater – You can’t arrive to Scandinavia without one! You might not wear it during the day, but you’ll find yourself reaching for it in the morning and evening. I picked one up at a flea market and was grateful for it. This sustainable store has so many beautiful ones, and the Swedish brand Maska does sweaters really well.
Knee-length dress with sleeves – I like the prairie dresses made from deadstock by Christy Dawn.
Light wash loose-fit jeans – Here’s my round-up of eco-friendly denim brands.
Ankle boots – Here’s a list of sustainable and ethical boots.
OR pointed toe flats if you don’t want to wear any heels at all.
Tights – for under your skirt and dress.
Warm scarf – you could go neutral or grey, or use it for your pop of color: Filippa K has a great selection, VOZ is also gorgeous, Give Back Goods has some, Naadam does cashmere, and Miss Pom Pom does colorful ones.
Underwear and bras – Here’s my guide to packing just enough eco undies and bras.
Un-makeup makeup – don’t go heavy with product, let your natural beauty shine, like the Danish girls do. Here are my favorite places to shop for non-toxic makeup.
And of course, if the above brands and stores don’t satisfy your fashion desires, you can always go secondhand!