Many Danes enjoy talking about the weather, and is there any wonder when it has such a massive impact on our everyday lives? Since living in Denmark I am the proud possessor of a number of items I would either have turned my nose up at when I was living in the UK, or wouldn’t even have known of their existence.
You will need to think about clothes for all weathers, especially if you are living a car-free lifestyle. As they say here, ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.’
The main things you will need to combat the rain (and which I now wear regularly around town) are waterproof trousers, wellies (the selection in Denmark is uber stylish) or waterproof boots and a long waterproof coat that goes over your waterproof trousers.
Finally, and most shameful, is a waterproof poncho which make me look like a cross between a bag of rubbish and a huge bat. Again, if you want to spend money on this item of clothing you can look slightly (but not much) more stylish. But I am dry, warm and my hair still looks reasonable after the school run on my cargo bike. On the subject of hair, a selection of beanies or woolly hats of varying weights depending in the season (excluding the summer, I hope) are worth having.
Winters in Denmark vary from being magical to brutal with snow and icy winds, so a proper warm coat, and not a fashion coat, is a necessity for the winter. Once the mercury falls it seems as if Copenhagen is sponsored by The North Face but there is a reason, and that is this is a company that know their stuff. I favour a good quality coat, with a hood, that covers my thighs – style and warmth at once.
Boots are something else to consider. I bought a pair of Sorrel boots, fur-lined with a rubber sole and amazing grip that comes up over the sides of the boot to keep it dry in the snow. I bought these boots eleven years ago, have worn them every day for at least four months of each of those years and I have only just needed to replace them. They were expensive but worth it.
As I mention above, you will need a hat for the winter as well as a few pairs of gloves. You will lose one at some point, and it is advisable to have a wide selection of these in varying weights. For the spring/autumn get some hand warmers with fingers out made from lightweight wool. Then there are proper basic, fashion woolly gloves for a tiny window of time before you need to move into warmer options, such as Icelandic wool mittens. These are amazing and are semi-waterproof thanks to the natural lanolin in the wool. You shouldn’t wash these, and I can vouch for their moisture repelling nature after dropping them in a muddy puddle on a farm to find them dry and clean in less than an hour. Finally, some thick windproof and waterproof gloves or mittens for the depths of winter. These can be picked up in the outdoor sections of most sports shops.
This is a whole other ball game and an expensive one as children have a nasty habit of growing out of stuff by the next season. Checking out decent second hand stores, flea markets and online sales sites can help reduce the cost, as can looking in the clothing sections of supermarkets. My advice from life in Denmark is to buy early or risk not having much or any choice later on.
This is the basic winter clothes list you need for living in Denmark. If it’s your first winter here with children here is a quick checklist of things you need to get:
- Winter jacket
- Snowsuit or above jacket combined with padded trousers
- Winter boots (waterproof, warm and high up the ankles – wellies are not going to cut it)
- Padded gloves or mittens (and clips to attach them to coats)
- Wool gloves
- Vests and leggings (in case it gets properly cold)
- A balaclava style hat. (Many preschools and some primary schools will ask that you don’t use scarves for safety but these kind of balaclava hats that come down well below the neck for extra warmth. In my opinion they are very warm and more practical than a hat and scarf combo anyway.)
- Thick warm socks for all and tights for girls
Skin and hair care
I find that I need to think a lot more about my skincare since living in a cold climate and also spending so much time outside. The change in water in your new country can also have an impact on both skin and hair – I found the water in Berlin very drying, and when I first moved to Copenhagen my skin took a while to adjust to the high levels of calcium in the water.
A decent, rich face cream and lip balm will help stop your skin from drying out in the winter. You will probably find you need to use something much heavier than you would do in the UK or further south. Pharmacies and health food shops often have an excellent selection of winter creams and the staff are very knowledgable. For young children and babies a lanolin based cream which gives their cheeks protection from the wind and cold is an excellent investment. I think the Weleda Weather Protection cream with lanolin is perfect.
Living in Denmark you will find your vitamin D reserves can take a bashing due to the shorter winter days. I always take a general vitamin supplement to boost my immune system from about September to March, and I make sure it has 100% of my daily vitamin D in it. It is easy to find just vitamin D supplements if you don’t want to take other vitamins. Lack of vitamin D can have a huge impact both on your health and your energy levels so it is well worth considering, even if you are not normally a vitamin taker.
You may well have never heard of such things but a daylight or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lamp is a lifesaver if you are living somewhere with short days of light in the winter. It replicates natural sunlight and, depending what kind of model you buy, you can set it to wake you up with a gentle sunrise so your body isn’t sent into shock when your alarm goes off at what seems to be the middle of the night. You can also have them on during the day and sit by the light for an hour or so to fool your body into thinking it is experiencing real daylight. It really helps people from getting SAD.
Melanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for ten years. She writes about life in Copenhagen on her blog and after experiencing relocation to Copenhagen and Berlin, she runs a settling-in service aimed at helping expats called . She has written a number of practical ebooks about living in Denmark and her new ebook ‘Moving to Copenhagen – all you need to know’ will be available in the autumn.
Welcome Group Consulting was founded by Karey-Anne who recognised the challenges expatriates experienced in settling into a new country dominated by unspoken rules. Welcome Group Consulting is a full-service relocation company founded to address not only the practicalities of relocating but also the issues related to Integration, that often occur after the physical move. Our mission is to change the way we integrate, and raise the quality of life, one person at a time. We proudly support sports and networking events designed to help establish links to the local community.
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