If the word hygge doesn’t look remotely familiar, you probably haven’t been on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook recently. I’m late to the game on this one, but the concept is easy to grasp and very attractive.
To start with, it’s pronounced hue-gah. It rhymes with the “AhWOOgah ahWOOgah” sounds that submarines make, but it isn’t usually accompanied by people yelling DIVE DIVE DIVE. It’s usually accompanied by chunky knits and hot chocolate. It’s a deeply ingrained concept for Danish people (and Norwegian people, as my Norwegian friends have patiently explained to me) and the word is hard to translate, but easy to understand. It’s that feeling when you’re drinking tea on your sofa, wearing fuzzy socks, looking up, realizing you don’t have to go anywhere that night, and sighing happily. It’s being surrounded by your favorite things and using them all the time. It’s lighting candles and hanging up Christmas twinkle lights and basking in the glow. It’s a cozy contentment brought about being warm and comfortable and feeling at home. The hygge concept is often cited as the reason for Denmark’s extremely high national happiness rating. So, does it work? Does coziness increase happiness? I decided to try it out this week, because I have been moving into a new house and I wanted some reassuring coziness in my life.
This cardigan comes from Switzerland and it is one of my favorite things. I bought it from a little old lady in a yarn and sweater shop. She spoke no English, I spoke very little French, but she would repeat things until she assumed I understood. For the most part, I didn’t understand anything. The part I did understand was that the shearing, yarn spinning, and knitting were all done by hand in the Evolène Valley. The cardigan is so connected to that place, it is like wearing a memory.
It is giant, it is cushy, it is solid. I can feel the weight when I wear it. You know when you’re lying in bed under heavy blankets and you feel pinned to the bed by warmth? It’s a little like that. It’s a good feeling.
I love chunky knits. Thin, smooth, lightweight cashmere sweaters aren’t my bag. I think they are beautiful (especially on other people), but I’m not emotionally drawn to them. Warmth and weight are connected to me. Technically, it is possible to have lightweight layers that are also warm, but for me to feel cozy, I need some bulk. Usually a whole blanket. Or a blanket-like sweater.
This was the day I woke up with a swollen sore throat, took a sick day, and rested up at home. The concept of hygge is never more attractive than when I’m home with a cold. Tea. Couch. Blanket. Fuzzy robe (even if I change out of my jammies, I’ll wear my robe over my normal clothes). Slippers. Stretchy pants. I even took a bath, which I hardly ever do. The steam works wonders, by the way. Highly recommend baths.
By the end of the day, I felt lots better. It was a good day to explore whether hygge helped make me happier and you know what? It did. Being sick is no fun, but comfort and coziness and really enjoying your home makes everything better.
After staying home and resting, I felt well enough to go to work the next day. Wasn’t a hundred percent yet, but good enough. My throat was still hurty enough to need something warm around it, so I found one of the scarves that I hadn’t packed up (did I mention that I’m in the process of moving?) and paired it with a really comfy dress and boots.
In the theme of comfort and ease, I wore my glasses and went without makeup. For me, wearing my glasses make it easier to go without makeup, because I usually wear makeup to highlight my eyes. And my glasses REALLY highlight my eyes.
The top knot bun made me feel kinda like a basic white girl, but I avoided Snapchat filters and pumpkin spice lattes and didn’t end up turning into one altogether…..
I really liked this outfit – this is one of my favorites.
Beyond just warmth and comfort, I thought about what hygge would mean for clothes. Part of hygge is being surrounded by your favorite things and these are some of my favorite things:
- Blazers (especially if they are tweedy and fit well)
- Sweaters (especially in a pretty color)
- Scarves (especially print scarves)
- Jeans (worn until very soft)
- Boots (especially distressed brown boots)
- Red lipstick
This outfit made me feel comfortable. Not in a sweatpants kind of way, but emotionally and physically. If I went out in my PJs, I’d feel emotionally uncomfortable. If I go out in a short skirt and heels when it’s below freezing, I’m physically uncomfortable. This outfit struck a great balance – it made me look nice and feel nice. That’s an instant confidence booster. Think about some of your favorite things and just start wearing them!
Day 5 (Have I mentioned that I’m kind of weird?)
I love this sweater. I bought it at Anthropologie at least seven years ago and it’s the most hilarious and lovable piece of clothing. The cowl neck is about as big as the rest of the sweater, it has a kangaroo pouch, it has a little drawstring thing….it has so many things going on. But it is so much fun.
I wore it with some of my comfiest jeans and little black sneakers from Salvation Army.
Concluding thoughts: Hygge is happy. Does it increase one’s happiness index? I don’t know what a happiness index is, but if you are happy anyway, it can help feed that happiness. It doesn’t manufacture happiness. It is not a happiness pill. Don’t take hygge as a cure for the blues. That would be like hoping that Christmas spirit will take away family squabbles (actually, a lot of people hope that and then get disappointed when their Christmas spirit doesn’t work as expected). The Christmas spirit we try to make on our own doesn’t solve any problems, but the good news is that Christ solves problems. We can’t make our own Christmas spirit, but Christ gives us joy and peace and love, which becomes our Christmas spirit. So hygge isn’t a way to summon up deep down joy, but if you have deep down joy, then that leads to an appreciation of everyday things. Don’t try to gather joy from candles or from chunky cable knits or slipper socks, look to Christ for your joy. Then the joy within you will extend out to the candles and the chunky cable knits and the slipper socks and your family and your house and your neighborhood…..I could go on, but you get the idea.
By the time I write my next post, I’ll be in my new house! I’ve never decorated my own space before and I can’t wait! As always, if you have any fashion questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them. Thanks for reading. I appreciate you.