July 23, 2011

There is no bad WEATHER, only bad CLOTHES

Hej alla,

These past couple of days has been a roller-coaster ride. I finally got admitted to SFI (Swedish for immigrants) after 11 months of queuing, my rent fee went up by 600 SEK, got a pink new bike, my problems with spine started again and I can’t move, one of best friends is leaving, bunch of CIRC business, found several job offers that I could apply and finally working on my portfolio (since I cannot move)… I’m not even mentioning “love” life issues. So taking all of this in consideration, I think I’ll be on a break for a week or so.
But let’s get down to business. The shopping list! As you can see, I quoted as a title saying they have here, one that you will remember very often during your stay. It doesn’t say anything about shoes, but same statement applies.

First thing to know: WINTER IS COMING…

I guess you are probably scared about cold, Swedish winter. Don’t be. Unless you are from Africa… Or South America… Or any other warm place on the Earth.

All jokes aside, I didn’t find it so cold. This doesn’t mean that you will agree with me, once the rains start in October and first snow by the end of November. A typical Swedish wardrobe consists of not so many things. Or to put it this way: it can be A LOT of things, but variations are small.

If you are a girl, it contains, roughly, these things:
1. oversize jacket (unless it is a leather jacket, then they are undersize)
2. oversize shirt (two options: either a very saggy t-shirt that uncovers your belly button, or a white man’s shirt for formal occasions)
3. pair of converse all-star or similar
4. pair of high heels or platforms
5. leggings
6. long simple dress
7. short more complicated dress
8. man’s suit jacket (kavaj in Swedish, I actually cannot remember the English word)
9. ray-ban sunglasses
10. either a very small or a very big bag
If you are a guy, things get more simple:
1. extremely tight pants in bright colors
2. one pair of sneakers, presumably converse all-star (during winter you are allowed to buy boots, but you don’t really have to)
3. v-cutout shirt or a v-cutout sweater (you don’t wear them together)
4. one jacket (anything you want)
5. ray-ban sunglasses

Before I start, a special tip to my friends from warmer countries: don’t buy winter clothes/shoes at home!

First of all, I’ll guess the quality isn’t that good since you don’t actually need them where you live. Second, if the quality is good, I am almost sure that it is more expensive than here. They have a real market for winter clothes and you can find anything and everything…
Other tip is - once in Gothenburg, search for sales: REA in Swedish. Probably there won’t be any (winter clothes) sales the moment you arrive, but during winter there will be many. I am an H&M www.hm.com/se member and they offer me 20% discount almost every two weeks. I can use it even on stuff on sale (awesome!). Now that I mentioned H&M - it is a Swedish brand, similar to IKEA if you ask me. So be smart and use that information, shop clothes cheap. Some other stores with similar prices are BIK BOK www.bikbok.com very cheap Belle shoes www.belleshoes.se and with wider range of prices DINSKOwww.dinsko.se

Easiest way to shop is going to Nordstan www.nordstan.se the biggest shopping mall in the city with all the stores you need located inside. Pay attention though, since not all the shops have same clothes and same sales. At this very moment, only one H&M still have clothes on sales, all the rest are filled with new season looks. There are more shops, but if you aren’t a shopping maniac (like me), you won’t even need them.

Also, I am a huge fan of MONKI www.monki.com and everything surrounding this Swedish brand. You should enter the shop just for fun, if nothing else. They aren’t as cheap, but during sales you can have some really good pieces for less than 50 euros.

And now - vintage! It is, if you ask me how you say secondhand in a polite way. But it is extremely popular here. I guess reason behind it is a mix of hipster culture, awareness about sustainability and consumers society, and the easiest way to look cool since nobody else will have something similar. What you must understand is that some of the stuff in these shops was never worn. I took a Brazilian friend to buy some jackets and she took one that even had the price tag on - from the original store! You can find them all over the citywww.emmausbjorka.se or Myrorna, Järntorgsgatan 10. I listed only two, since my infatuation lasted shortly. I figured out I could buy new stuff on sales for the same price as the secondhand ones, only if I wait a little bit longer.

What I am obsessed at the moment are car sales… www.bagageloppis.se

There will be one week after next, so you’ll see pictures. Rarely do I find something to buy there, but the experience is great and you can see interesting stuff. Other awesome experience was swapping clothes - everybody brings stuff they don’t want anymore and change it for something else that other people brought. You couldn’t believe the queue for that event! We waited for an hour just to give clothes and one hour again to be let inside the “shop”. Unfortunately I lost pictures between my laptop and external hard disk.

So what to bring? From what I remember of my first days these were the necessities:

A light jacket, light/heavy sweater, jeans/pants, autumn shoes and sneakers, t-shirts, skirts… End of August and September were warm last year and only thing I had to add to this list was an umbrella or a raincoat. After that you can change the light sweater for a heavier one but stick to your leather jacket. Or have a shirt but wear a coat. Lovely thing about Sweden is that nobody cares how you look, which lead to 4 or 5 of us in the street couple a days ago wearing from boots and shorts to summer transparent dress and sandals. As long as you are feeling comfortable, it is ok. You will also notice that what Swedish people wear in the summer and winter doesn’t change so much.

Secret behind it - wear clothes in layers so you can always add more or discard if you feel like it. That is how you can end up in a summer dress even during winter.

Talk to you in a week,

p.s. heating works perfectly here and I found myself taking off not only gloves and heat, but also a coat when in tram/bus. Also, Chalmers is a warm place, architecture and student union buildings for sure.
p.p.s ups, this was a loooong one