Stylin’ in Sweden
When I was growing up in India, I never wanted to dress up nicely cuz only rich people dressed up fancy. I studied and worked in places where a lot of my friends, co-workers and me did not have too much money and the last thing we wanted to do was spend it on looking good! Thus, while growing up, I started disliking the idea of dressing up and looking rich. The last two years in Sweden has helped me understand the importance of clothing and dressing sense in Sweden and perhaps the western world in general where appearance is seen as a sign of mental, physical and financial well-being. Firstly, I would like to state that it’s not true that everyone dresses up nicely in Sweden, it’s just that many people do and I have lived for at least a year not dressing up too nicely and have been doing very well both socially and academically. However, I wanted to try this lifestyle out. I wanted to learn to dress up nicely and look good and see if I liked it. Because in India I did not want to dress up nicely, but in Sweden I did not know, I wanted to try.
I used to love my hair actually. I usually had unkempt hair which just blows super nicely in the wind. This is how I like it:
But that is not very stylish or intentional, it just grows the way it does and though I used to wash it regularly, I never combed it or anything. I also used to find the haircuts in Sweden so expensive that I never got a proper haircut where you’d pay like 300 SEK or more. Also, once or twice I did pay well for a haircut but did not get a satisfactory hairstyle, mostly because I had no idea what I wanted and the Swedish hairstylists never take matters into their own hands and decide your hairstyle for you!
Anyway, I decided to make a budget of around 500 SEK for the hairstyle and the wax or gel. Went to hair stylist in the city center in Stockholm and told him that I wasnt sure what hairstyle I wanted and we talked for a bit about what would look good on me. He also told me it takes time to find your hairstyle. I dug that, I think that’s true about everything when it comes to style, it takes time and I was open to trying stuff out. So, this what I looked like just after the haircut:
I was super happy with the hairstyle and it looked so wavy. Since he shaped my hair with wax too, it just stuck like that and didn’t move at all, which felt super strange but well, I felt great!
Then I tried to shape my hair on my own and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how it did it and I just landed up looking like this:
Still okaaaay I guess, but then I kept practicing and learned some tricks about shaping your hair using hair wax online and from my friends. Now, its much better, but ill need to buy stronger wax next time and cut my sides shorter, so that my parting stands out more and my scalp can be seen on the parting. I like that. I also started following some hairstyle accounts on instagram. Overall, its funn to try and learn what you like when it comes to hairstyles. I mean, I love having your hair just flowing in the wind, and kinda miss that, but who knows after trying all this I might just go back to my ‘i don’t care’ hairstyle or have it once in a while.
I used to just wear ill fitting shirts and jeans. I got most of my clothes second hand or bought them in India or someone gave them to me. Thus, more often than not they would not fit me too well. Excited by my spending on the hairstyle, my friend Philip picked out the following outfit from H&M:
The whole outfit with sneakers and the jacket costed 1100 SEK! I was so excited and it looks super much like how all the kids at SSE dressed up and then I thought maybe I could buy it. Clothing was much easier cuz one can just pick an entire outfit and see if you like it. H&M publishes magazines with it’s outfits and collections and so do most retailers. One can also find fashion blogs or ask friends around. The tricky part I later realized is to get the fitting right. I learnt that clothes that fit tighter look better on me. For example, never before had I bought a shirt sized ‘small’. I always bought large or medium cuz they were sooo comfy. But smalls shirts, if well made, can be comfy too. That was surprising to me. Also, a friend explained what kinda fitting I should try for in trousers. That was interesting too, cuz I did not know anything for the different types of jeans and stuff.
Maintaining clothes mainly consists of laundry and ironing. Earlier I used to just put all the clothes in one machine and let it roll. I looked up this lifehacker article about understanding washing instructions on clothes! It was sooo complicated the first time, but now I got a hang of it. I also learned how to iron shirts and press the chinos (and yes apparently there is a difference between ironing and pressing!). Youtube helped me there and I also bought a large ironing board. Regarding the shoes, I wipe them with a wet cloth every week and will change the laces every 2 months or so. People go through a lot of effort to keep them sneakers white and fresh. Tens of thousands of Swedes have amazingly white sneakers and I always think they look new. Mine are a bit easier to take care though!
I am still running with this thing, it takes so much more time for me to get ready now, also spend more time every week taking care of the clothes. It’s kinda crazy but I also feel like I have advanced a level in being an adult. I dunno, it’s still early days. What I like is that I feel like I am taking care of myself, but I also feel like this is a very slippery slope. I mean there is no end to trying to look good and buying clothes is really bad for the environment and many companies treat the producers of these clothes pretty badly. So, I dunno yet, for now, I am going to go with this for a year or so and then decide again.