What to Wear: Iceland Insider Style tips
We bet one of your first thoughts after booking your flight and adventure itinerary to Iceland is “What to wear?” It’s a legitimate question, particularly because it’s a known fact that Iceland’s weather is constantly changing. More so, one of the very common sayings in Iceland is “Don’t like the weather? Just wait for 5 minutes!”
Yet, Icelanders generally manage to be stylish every day while keeping up with the weather, both in the cities and in the highlands. With that in mind, we asked our in-house style guide, Armina Ilea to share her thoughts and Iceland insider style tips on keeping both warm and fashionable while traveling to Iceland.
Layers over layers
In Iceland, layering is a must. The first step in answering “what to wear” is figuring out “what’s the weather.” You want to be prepared both for a random blizzard and for those very much appreciated warm sunny moments– all in one day.
For efficient layering, start with a base-layer like a cotton/silk tank-top or even one of the super soft wool-thermal tops offered by specialized stores like our very own, Icelandic brands – 66°North or Cintamani. Then, add a tight, long-sleeved shirt or zip-up– fleece is good if you plan to hike or go for a long walk. Throw on a cardigan or a jacket. You can layer them quite nicely and guarantee an eclectic, stylish look. Oversized parkas are very chic in Iceland, particularly those with and fur-trimmed (faux fur-trimmed) hood can work magic! Add a chunky scarf and you’re done.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need your hiking boots just because you’re going to Iceland. For strolling through the city or dressing up for a night on the town, waterproof walking shoes or sleek boots do the trick (buy a pair in Iceland if you want truly unique style). Save the clunky hiking shoes for the countryside and highlands.
Chunky warm knits
The knits can be as chunky as you like and nobody will raise an eyebrow. If you want something traditionally Icelandic, the lopapeysa is always a great choice and comes in a large variety of styles. Many stores carry them in Reykjavik and the small towns dotting the countryside. Or, try a poncho or cape with a modern cut, both are becoming quite popular among Icelanders and are chic alternatives to the basic sweater. You’ll find plenty of these brands like Farmers Market and shops like Geysir on Skólavörðustígur, downtown Reykjavik.
Chunky tops are usually paired with skinny jeans or slim fit waterproof pants for a minimalistic nordic-style.
When traveling in the highlands, it’s also important to know what not to wear. Huge pieces might get in your way (it’s windy out there!), and definitely stay away from regular denim jeans (if they get wet, you can lose precious body heat). Keep your layering to slim-fitting, lightweight and weatherproof pieces.
When in the cities, you can return to embracing the chunkiness.
Another famous saying in Iceland is: “It’s not the weather. It’s how you dress.” Though you think you can easily tolerate a little rain (it rarely downpours), the wind combined with the rain can be quite bothersome. It can start out of nowhere. Knowing what to wear– a waterproof jacket that is also wind-proof– is a must to keep you warm and allow you to continue your hiking trips around Iceland. For a trip downtown in Reykjavik, a stylish waterproof coat or raincoat will do. There are quite a few fashionable brands in Iceland like Reykjavik raincoats. We’re fans of the classic yellow one.
One of our biggest “what to wear” recommendations is to not come to Iceland without a swimsuit and don’t leave it in your hotel. In your travels around Iceland, you will stumble upon many natural and man-made thermal pools. You don’t want to miss this unique experience just because of logistics. You will definitely need swimwear whether it’s for the spontaneous dip in a natural thermal pool, a pampering experience at the famous Blue Lagoon or a visit to the many swimming pools in each city and town. Yes, going to the pool is a very popular activity in Iceland no matter the weather. They make for a relaxing, warming activity after a long hike and a great way to watch the Northern Lights in the winter. You’re swimwear choices should follow the same rules and styles that apply everywhere else– pick the suit that makes YOU feel great!
Fur and Faux Fur
Once again, blame it on the weather but fur (whether you choose faux or real) is the perfect way to keep both warm and fashionable when in Iceland. It’s not unusual to see revelers in vintage fur jackets when going downtown. Gyllti kötturinn, The Red Cross and Spúútnik usually have plenty in stock. Or, you can opt for something luxurious and brand new from Eggert, Pelsinn or Feldur Verkstæði. It’s easy to find a gorgeous pair of fur-lined gloves, a fluffy warm hat or just a fur-trim jacket while in Reykjavik.