Our obsession with all things Scandinavian, and Danish in particular, shows no signs of waning. This weekend, the Imagination – Discover the Danish Spirit Festival opens in London. I catch up with Pia Brune, a Danish mum of two in Wimbledon, to find out what makes Danish women so achingly hip.
Pia Brune has a purse that looks like a hand grenade. “I don’t take it to the airport!” she laughs. A quirky twist on classic style is typical of the other women I’ve interviewed in my Scandily Clad series. Brune loves basic clothing livened up with interesting accessories, like her purse. “I do like to chuck in a curve ball,” she adds. It’s one of the key aspects of Danish styling: not wanting to look like anyone else.
Anja Camilla Alajdi, Crown Princess Mary’s stylist, tells me: “Danish women love to dress with individuality.”
“We’re all very much alike in Denmark, all at the same level,” Brune adds. “Style is a way to be a little bit different. I don’t buy clothes to fit in, or to stand out. I just buy what I love.”
Style is an expression of authenticity, comfort and practicality much more than a reflection of trends or haute couture. For Brune, like many other Danes, ‘Me’ is the most important label.
Brune’s style tip: “Wear things you love, instead of dressing to impress other people or following trends. Just dress for yourself.”
Denmark is one of Europe’s largest bike cultures. Clothes need to be no-nonsense, durable and multifunctional, which is why Danish women spend money on quality basics that they can repurpose.
Brune now lives in Wimbledon, but still takes her Danish bike everywhere. “Most of my clothes are really basic,” she says. But it’s well-thought-out basic, with core pieces in quality jersey, knitwear and denim.
Henrik Ralf Nielson of the Danish Fashion Institute says, “Danish fashion is easy-to-wear and made to live an actual life in, instead of standing in a corner looking like a piece of art.”
Brune’s style tip: Have some great denim in your wardrobe. “With jeans, you can do anything!”
3. Mixing & (Not) Matching
Brune loves mixing styles in her wardrobe, Danish labels with international designers. “I love By Malene Birger and Vivienne Westwood, but not full-on.” The art is in mixing pieces to create a personalized look. Labels shouldn’t overshadow the woman. “For me, nothing ever looks too stylized,” she adds. “I like to break things up.”
There is a deliberateness to Danish dressing, a consciousness about what expresses the self, but the result is effortless, never overworked or pretentious. With Brune, as with the other Danish women I interviewed, there’s a real sense of ‘this is me’ in their styles. The look is straight up, not fake or try-hard.
The result is a confidence that infuses attitude and personality into simple, functional clothes.
Tony Glenville, Creative Director of the London College of Fashion, says: “Scandi attitude perhaps is the mixed message: I am cool and hot, like ice that burns. They have that confident walk and lead healthy lives, so their body language is direct and not flirtatious or girly – the return of the woman.”
Glenville is right. It’s a very grown up look, direct, confident, clean and modern, which might explain the enduring appeal of Scandinavian – and particularly Danish – fashion.
Henrik Ralf Nielson agrees: “I think Danish women dress for themselves instead of others, and pick their clothes to fit their everyday lives rather than from the cover of a magazine. That is why they are so impossibly hip.”
Brune’s style tip: Avoid being a fashion victim by not dressing head to toe in a particular designer. “Mix it up. Otherwise it can look too contrived.”
Photographs of Pia Brune by Antonina Mamzenko
Don’t miss the previous blog entries in the Scandily Clad series:
Anne-Sofie Danekilde on Scandi Chic
Anne Marie Skau on Effortless Cool
Danielle Bodjo on her Afro-Danish Style