Copen-core

The art of Danish Aesthetic

July 22, 2022
By Maya Yukselen

My love story with Copenhagen, Denmark is short, sweet, and like that of a first love. One where you go in blindly, ask minimal questions, and throw caution to the wind.

I spent four months studying abroad in Copenhagen. I lived the quintessential abroad experience, immersed in a place I knew little about, with people I had never met. I became enthralled in Danish culture, deeply romanticizing the day-to-day and constantly feeling inspired by the energy of the city.

While this may appear to be a typical culture shock experience or a cliché “abroad-changed-me” sentiment, I assure you it had little to do with me and everything about the brilliance of this space.  

However, after taking time to really sit and think: why am I so fascinated by this place? The answer should have been blatantly obvious and was seemingly simple: the people. Not only their calm, serene aura, but the way that they carry themselves. Their cool, laid-back essence manifested in a distinctly unique and aspirational style. 

In marriage with their friendly, magnetic energy, the Danes know how to dress. With such poised ease, their style champions simple, minimalistic hues and prints that look comfortable yet chic. Walking through downtown, I felt pressured to dress up, but in a new way. 

I noticed that the people around me dressed in loose-fitted tees and trousers, but still appeared polished and put-together. I wasn’t quite sure how to describe it; it was simply effortlessly cool. 

Now, this launched me into a black hole. Google search after Google search, I scoured the web to better understand the key elements of Scandinavian fashion, scanning Vogue articles and bingeing Youtube interviews.  

Then, I stumbled upon Vogue Scandinavia, who coined the term for this Danish aesthetic: Copencore. Although no two Danes dress the same, there are general trends and stylistic choices that are deemed popular by the masses, creating this all-encompassing “aesthetic.”

I decided to do a bit more research and look into the specific stylistic choices that have become core elements in Danish fashion. Here is what I found. 

Color

The traditional Scandinavian aesthetic incorporates neutrals, specifically white, brown, black and tan. Color is almost never forefrontal; it is often muted and integrated tastefully, using a blush pink or a light blue. However, Denmark is an exception to this rule, as the Danes tend to be more adventurous with colors in their wardrobe. While they remain champions of neutrals, they are not afraid to experiment with print and color. Perhaps, a pastel pant for spring or a gingham-print sweater for fall. 

To a similar point, monochromatic looks are also embraced, making it easy to transition from professional work attire to a playful party silhouette, accentuated with a subtle handbag or shoe change. However, this choice is intentional. Danish fashion celebrates minimalism and simplicity. There is no need to incorporate anything flashy, rather it is encouraged to keep things clean.

Sporty meets chic

A softer, more natural look, in turn, effortlessly blends sporty and chic. Danes can pair a sleek, camel colored trouser with a chunky Fila and make it look cohesive. The contrast between the informality of tennis shoes and the elegance of a skirt or a loose-fitted pant compliments each another. You may think it would clash, however, the neutral earth tones and the loose silhouette of the bottoms translates to a comfortable, classy fit. 

Claire Guillon 7/78 via Photobook

Layering

In Scandinavia, the winter months promise little daylight and low temperatures. These long stretches of cold can appear a bit unpromising in terms of fashion choices, however, this is where the art of layering shines. Danes invest in tailored pieces built to last across seasons, ranging in sleeve length, texture, and color, all while prioritizing versatility and layerability. For example, one option may be a lightweight long-sleeve that pairs well with a looser fitting sweater, both differing in color and fabric. Each garment is adaptable and adds spunk to an outfit that would have otherwise simply been a practical pick. 

Bryndis Thorsteinsdottir 33/78 via L'Officiel

Silhouette

In many ways, Danish fashion transcends gender. Clothing is generally separated and marketed as female or male due to a distinct difference in silhouette or style. However, because Scandinavian style sports more loose-fitting, boxy pieces, there can be little to no difference between male and female clothing, and in some cases it is marketed as gender-neutral.

Bryndis Thorsteinsdottir 34/78 via L'Officiel

Living in downtown Copenhagen, I had the luxury of being a stone’s throw away from a slew of consignment shops, thrift stores, and larger name brand stores. In this respect, my location proved to be a blessing and a curse, as I was tempted on the daily to pop into a new shop and browse their selection of Copencore styles. Some popular ones that I spotted include Samsøe & Samsøe, Cecilie Bahnsen, and Saks Potts. However, my two favorites were Ganni and Magnolias. Ganni, which you may know as it has garnered international attention, is an upscale fashion brand that explores an eclectic mix of shapes, textures, and colors. They have something for everyone, offering everything from boxy sweaters to straight-legged leather pants. However, my favorite purchase from Ganni came from their Postmodern shop, which takes all of last season’s items and sells them in a separate storefront. I truly had no intention of purchasing anything (I swear…), that is until my eyes drifted toward this denim overall dress. Any other day it may not have been deemed “my style” until they told me the piece had been repurposed from a pair of floral Levi jeans. After a brief conversation with the sales associate where both the phrases “one-of-a-kind” and “last in stock” were uttered, of course, I swiped my card. 

Magnolias is a consignment shop that sells older designer collections from brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and more. I preferred to simply browse this store, but they always had a fresh, elegant selection of bright-colored clutches and funky fur coats.

If you ever happen to browse a Copenhagen storefront or two, here are some key staples you may want to include in your wardrobe. 

1. A plain t-shirt

While this may appear too obvious, it is worth mentioning. A plain (and good quality!) t-shirt is critical to any look. A few basic tees are easy to layer and are the foundation to any ensemble. 

2. Leather Jacket

In my experience, the leather jacket ruled Copenhagen. Understandably too, as I found it to be the easiest way to elevate any look, regardless of night or day. Paired with a dark jean and a boot, the leather jacket provides a quintessential edge. 

3. Coat

The type of coat may vary with season (long coat throughout the fall and spring, transition to puffer jacket in the winter). Either way, a comfortable coat that pairs well with any look is crucial to staying warm while looking fabulous.

4. Boots

When the cooler months roll around, a comfortable boot lets you own your look. A brown or black bootie is versatile and easy to style.

5. Bags

A handbag is a chance to incorporate some personality, possibly a pop of color, glitz or print. However, a black over-the-shoulder bag is a popular go-to. 

Above all else, the Danish wardrobe prioritizes the practical, sustainable and comfortable. Investing in basics meant to last and easy to throw on lets you strut in style without having to go to great lengths to acquire the staples. However, what is truly the beauty of this space is that whether or not you choose to assimilate to this “Copencore” aesthetic, the Danes embrace you either way. So dress how you please, do as you will, and if you can, go to Copenhagen. Bring a jacket though, you will need that regardless. 

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