Stripes – The Swedish Summer Uniform

Let’s talk about stripes.

I’m not talking about the 1981 Bill Murray comedy or prison garb. I am talking about the recent spate of stripes in fashion. They have taken over Sweden. So much so that I felt compelled to blog about it.

I noticed immediately upon moving to Sweden that Swedish folks like stripes, but back then,  it was a cute little thing that I noticed. Today,  stripes have become the official Swedish summer uniform.  There are babies in stripes, mothers and daughters in matching stripes, old people, young people, purses, shoes, shorts, shirts, hoodies.

So. Many. Stripes. 

I noticed them in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic to a small degree (now that my stripe antenna is up), but no where is it more prevalent that Sweden. You cannot walk 2 feet without seeing stripes.

So it left me wondering . . . is this just the latest fashion sweeping the world or is this a Swedish thing??

I asked some Swedish friends and a few shop keepers about it. None of them seemed to know why it is such a popular summer fashion theme here. One women suggested it is because Sweden is a country that has embraced water – the sea, lakes, and rivers. As such, stripes represent the nautical theme of the country. This was just her opinion though. She had no empirical evidence to offer me. I did a little research and found nothing related to Sweden, striped clothes and water.

Now, I know that striped clothing is everywhere. It is not unique to Sweden, but what is different here is the sheer number of people who seemingly overnight start wearing stripes.

How Many Stripes Are There?

Just to give you an idea of how many stripes there are in Sweden, the following pictures were taken while walking around Stockholm in a 30 minute period. 30 minutes!!  And I have about 60 more photos that I didn’t include.  I apologize for the quality – I was on the move.

In Sweden you will see royal blue and white combos:

The black and white :
The grey and white combination:

 And red and white,  red and other and just other:
The most popular choice, however, is the navy and white combination:

A little more digging and I discovered that the classic navy blue and white striped motif actually originated on the coast of Brittany in France. Many a French seaman was given a striped shirt bearing 21 horizontal stripes (one strip for each of Napoleon’s victories) as a uniform, known as a matelotor marinière.  It is reported that the stripes were functional and allowed sailors to see shipmates that had fallen overboard. How this fashion statement moved from Brittany around the world is a topic of much debate, but there is no doubt that stripes have earned a top place in the fashion world and are considered a staple of a classic wardrobe.

But back to my premise that stripes go beyond a fashion statement here in Sweden and have morphed into a uniform.  I ask you my friends – is this a Swedish thing? Have you noticed a prevalence of stripes in your neck of the woods?? Or is there another common clothing item that you have noticed where you live?  Tell me in the comments what you have noticed.


  • Reply Lisa | Handmade in Israel May 31, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    What a cute post! Stripes do say nautical to me. I bought lots of striped tshirts for my boys when they were young and they always told me it was a British thing (I’m British but we don’t live in the UK). Who knows?

    • Reply Niche Travel Design May 31, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      I swear as soon as it becomes remotely summer like, the stripes come out in full force here. Thanks for reading and commenting. #farawayfiles

  • Reply Cultural Wednesday May 31, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    My stripes leap out of the cupboard at the slightest hint of Spring, a girl can never have too many summer stripes

    • Reply Niche Travel Design May 31, 2018 at 11:15 pm

      Are you Swedish?

  • Reply carolyns absolutely fabulous events May 31, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    More of a polka dot girl myself! Thanks for sharing a fun post on #farawayfiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design May 31, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      I don’t think I have ever seen polka dots here. We need you to come shake things up. 🙂

  • Reply Deborah Regen June 1, 2018 at 2:20 am

    You are right – so many stripes! I’m not the biggest fashion person, so I probably wouldn’t take notice. They look nice in the basic blues or reds and whites on all those tops and blouses and seem to go with most everything, so why not. Probably not just a current Swedish thing. #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design June 1, 2018 at 9:25 am

      It was subtle at first but then an explosion. Stripes as far as one can see. I felt weird that I wasn’t wearing them. LOL

  • Reply Angie June 1, 2018 at 8:31 am

    This made me smile as I have just been packing for a trip and realised my clothes were predominantly striped, so its definitely a British thing too! #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design June 1, 2018 at 9:17 am

      I have never seen so many stripes until I moved to Sweden. 🙂

  • Reply annette @afrenchcollection June 2, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Oh, I love this stripy post and all your photos. I’ve half written a post about the marinière and its history but it has been sitting in draft for so long now… I can’t believe you took nearly 100 photos of stripy outfits in only 30 minutes!! Congrats on such a great post. #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design June 2, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      Oh thank you – and I have about 60 photos that I didn’t use! I felt really out of place not being in stripes. It was like a movie scene where a character stops and everything goes into slow motion as they have a realization. LOL

  • Reply Corey | Fifi + Hop June 4, 2018 at 4:47 am

    Haha I love stripes and am a big stripe wearer. But not sure as much as in Sweden! I personally love the look so would embrace it anywhere and any time of the year. Interesting observation! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design June 6, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      I like it too – in moderation – lol

  • Reply oregongirlaroundtheworld June 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Haha! Same in Denmark! Super popular here too. Love your collection – you’ve become a bit obsessed I can see. Happy stripey Swedish summer to you. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design June 6, 2018 at 5:36 pm

      It was just a realization came over me – they are everywhere – and then I started snapping. My family was laughing. No joke that was 30 minutes and I have a ton more.

  • Reply Sartenada June 23, 2018 at 11:32 am

    They seem to be typical Marimekko models from Finland. Search Marimekko, then You know more. Marimekko is old and high brand name in Finland and shops round the World.

    Happy Midsummer.

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