Monday, March 12, 2012

Play it again

Whenever I get a little homesick for Helsinki I like to riffle trough the archives of, in search of that certain elusive quality that visually defines the city for me. This does not happen often and I wouldn't ever really want to live there again, but sometimes I get swamped with nostalgia for my life there.

Every country, even in our globalized world, has its' own national dressing quirks and though awful hoove-shoes and shapeless black capes are all the rage from capital to capital, some the hippest trendsetters in my native land look quite different from those pounding the pavement in New York, London, or Shanghai.

I miss the folky colors of Scandinavia, as well as the simple, printed Marimekko-cottons, the innovative combinations and the joy that seems to radiate from people's styles.

Far from pretentious, Finnish girls often dress with a beautiful practicality, just as ready to go mushrooming in the woods circling any Finnish city, than out for drinks in a trendy bar.

Anyway, here's a parade of perennial Hel-looks favorites, for your entertainment and education on that little city by the sea and its inhabitants. In chronological order, of course.
Everything about Netta's outfit is perfect. And timeless.
Back in 2005 Sonja was the epitome of all things chic. "Boho" skirt, ballerinas and big shades, oh my! (I would still wear this minus the blazer.)
Aleksandra on the other hand, is dressed in the emblems of new Finnish design (new of 2005), wearing, not one but two ivanahelsinki items. But what is with the blazers?!?
This girl, Cecilia, is one of my all-time favorites there. I would wear all of this every day. Even the pleated skirt.
This girl's name is Milla too! And she's wearing a Russian scarf, the most commonly used neckwarmer among young Finnish ladies.
I'm not one for formal wear, but if the occasion ever rose, I'd like to wear this dress, home-made by Mai.
I've shown you these guys before, but man I just love love love Tanja's whole ensemble.

The boots, the giant old Marimekko-bag, the kind my auntie used to lug to-and-fro from the summerhouse, the giant scarf, the dork-y glasses, Raisa is just so scandahuvian somehow!
14-year old Veera has a dirndl, dress, Russian scarf and earmuffs! I want to be her.
Marimekko dress, understated and amazing on Anna.
Do all Finnish ladies have amazing Marimekko dresses, you ask? Well, not I, but Renata sure does...
Siru's handmade dress is crazy and awesome. Not that I would wear anything like it, but still crazy and awesome, two very Scandahuvian qualities.
Is it a shirt? Is it a dress? Only Mia truly knows, but it is all very Scandinavian minimalist...
Ama couldn't look more Finnish if she tried.
One of the best things about Nordic dressers is their layers and winter-wear. Vanamo also has a beautiful name, after a little pink, bell-shaped flower.
Aino not only shares her name with a tragic heroine of our national epic, she's mixing all kinds of ethnic elements together in a glorious blend.
Laura's second-hand florals kinda blow your mind. I think that's the point.
Roosa's dashiki party gets my vote! Red-heads in dashiki, oh my...
Jemina is inspired by Mori-girls and just took a year-long shopping brake. Our kind of girl.
I think I went to high school with Essi. You'd think one could remember things like that for sure. Had she been wearing this coat then, I would have...
And Susanna has the same exact Russian scarf I do! What are the odds? Pretty good actually...
Sarah kind of reminds me of our own sweet Sara, don't you think?
Heidi's idol is Pippi Longstocking.
Siiri, on the other hand, looks like a grown-up version of the Finnish Moomin character, little My.
Melinda has the appearance of a nature-worshiping Northern tribes girl. Extra points for the duct-taped sneaks.
Sara brings a different sensibility to Finnish Style, a much needed multi-cultural touch in a very homogeneous country.
Emmi puts her own twist on folklore.
And Karin rocks a granny style like nobody's business.
Mixing country with city is so quintessentially Scandinavian and Anna makes it look pretty effortless. Switch those flats to rubber boots and she's ready to hunt chanterelles in the suburban woods of Helsinki.
Hey! Who's that awkward dorkward? My Hel-looks moment is not among my proudest, but what the heck, anything for a national institution.

What's your opinion on national style? Are hipsters any different from country to country?

(I'm having a hard time loading up photos on this computer, so sorry about the lack of more personal posts. Help is on the way. Also do not be alarmed by sudden internet disappearances by YT, we're temporarily moving out of our moldy house, washing everything we own and placing it in storage. Good times.)

And just two more days till the giveaway closes!


  1. Oh my goodness, I LOVE Hel-looks! My friend and I discovered it a few years back and I always love the clothes!! Your picks are fantastic, and definitely inspiring me out of my winter fashion doldrums.

    I remember borrowing a dress like Renata's to sing 'Finlandia' at a school assembly in fifth grade. I was so excited to wear it. Unfortunately, I had a perm

  2. i love hel-looks, too. i can't remember how i came across it a few years back, but i loved it immediately. i am giggling because i can tell a belly dancer a mile a way and that 'mutli-cultural' gal is most definitely one. i need a gypsy scarf. i lost mine. :(

  3. very fun! and inspirational! what stylish folks you finns are! veera is adorable and tanja is just awesome! and look at you! always a beauty! (hahaha i think i need some more exclamation marks! !!!!!!! ok.that's better)

    are you moving out for good??? good luck with it all! moving is typically stressful so i'm sending some relaxing, calm vibes your way :D

  4. how cool, i had not realized you were showcased on Hel-looks!!! I remember that outfit from w_r actually and it inspired me to rethink brown. I think there should be a whole website dedicated to Scandinavian footwear, they seem to wear the most practical and yet beautiful shoes. Oh and scarves! I love how they are always so ginormous and comfy looking.

  5. I must come out from under my rock! Hel-looks? to me! LOVE this. Style that fits the weather here in MN too.
    Blazers huh? I have a default burgundy velvet one that my husband now calls "the Froto coat".

    The best for last indeed, what a beauty you are and always such a sweet smile.
    sending LOVE your way, Sheri

  6. Oh Milla this is making me so excited to visit your lovely homeland in September! Seeing this post has also made me determined to find a Marimekko dress all of my own!

  7. Yeah right, you look SO darling! This whole post puts your adorable Milla-ness into more perspective for me. Your outfit posts are like the best of all this. I tried to remember some of the girls' names so I could comment on them individually, but it all got lost in the haze as I came toward the end there! Oh, except for Aino- my GOODNESS I love what she's wearing.

    Where can I get me a Merrimeko dress?

    Honestly, I was always confused about the name Hel-looks, but never took the time to figure out what it was all about! That is so neat that you were featured. Little city girl :-)

  8. Loving Renata :) :) :) i had to go look up "marimekko," feeling rather sheepish. i have heard the term but never understood exactly what it meant, i thought it was just a brand of fabrics, and certainly never comprehended the depths and beauty of the marimekko DRESS! i want one, bad.

    all these women are wonderful, i love the names as much as the clothes, and pretty north-country-girl fresh rosy faces. roosa, essi, vanamo, siiri, milla....these names are like blossoms in my ears...only they probably don't sound as pretty rolling off my own twangy californian tongue!

    finnish style is the best. like the other girls, i am so inspired. we have a week of rain and stormy weather, so pefect timing for these scarfy-booty-hoods and tights outfits! and milla, yes!!! the best of the best, pulling every lovely inspiration together in glorious grace.

  9. ahhh! SO GOOD! how did i forget about hel=looks! so inspiring! thanks for the reminder. I NEED a russian scarf my last two got lost :( xo m

  10. Oh I love Sarah's look!! Well, all of them actually. Though hipsters seem to dress similarly quirky everywhere, there is definitely something very Finish about all these gals and their looks.
    And good to know I wasn't the only one who thought Marimekko was just a fabrics brand :) LOVE the Marimekko bags and dresses. Would be great to get hold of a second hand Marimekko bag one day.

  11. Look at you! You're as adorable as always, and I won't hear you say otherwise, my dear!

    Oh, to be as lovely as one of these sweet-faced Finnish lasses! I giggled when you said that Sarah and I bear some similarities -- it's true. :) She and the other Sara are the only not-so-Finnish looking gals! Haha.

    Did I ever tell you Hayle (my sis) teases me about being a hipster?! I always protest, but I fear it may be true in some ways. Thankfully though, I have seen exactly zero REAL hipsters here. Well, Turkish ones. When I was in Istanbul last month, I saw a group of them, but on closer inspection, they were revealed to be French.

    Good luck with your cleaning, dearling! So much love.


  12. milla. this post is so fun. my sister dresses like all of these girls. you made me miss her. she just left here to go back to brooklyn, to do some more law school. i just sent her the link to hel~looks. lovelovelove. and, i like your hel~look!! nothing dorkward about it. from my eyes.

  13. i didn't see any awkward dorkwad, but i did see this girl that was my favorite and her name is milla. the 2nd milla....BEAUTIFUL milla.

    +1 to what amber said, how this puts your style in perspective and like they all look like you in some stage. i feel giddy looking at all these girls, because the style inspires me out of my seat. i often see pictures of hipsters and have an inner appreciation, but for myself it always misses the mark. i would wear any of these outfits, happily. i especially like melinda's...that looks like me the most at the moment.

    hipsters are hipsters, but the way they manifest varies greatly from country to country, i think. the mission style in SF right now is all about the golden girl 90s. i like it on other people, but it's so not me. regardless, hipster style usually makes my heart laugh, and that's good.

  14. Hahahaha i love that you put yourself there at the end as a sweet surprise for us! You are so adorable, don't you dare go telling us you're a dorkward. AND this is a much needed reprieve from watching the Walking Dead - which I usually cannot watch, but i'm getting braver i tell you. I just won't be able to look in the windows when i close the curtains tonight, you know just in case. i occasionally still take a peak at Hel-looks for inspiration, you Scandinavian girls do have some inner style that is way beyond my clutches i feel. Hey also! Wardrobe remix, do you ever look there these days? It seemed to me that it all got a bit samey sameness. I like Roosa's outfit, but that might just be because it's a red dress and I love me a red dress. Hipsters in Wellington, I find boring. Everything seems highly constructed and black and grey here. i dont' know why it is always black and grey...maybe the weather.

  15. Well, also very Scandinavian is the little poem dedicated to someone you like, so here is one for you (sort of):

    Dear Milla, whatever you are wearing
    Your bright smile is the most endearing.


    1. And I DO like what you are wearing !

      My favorite outfits in this list are Etta's and Anja's.

      In fact, you are mainly responsible for my wearing almost only skirts throughout this whole Montréal winter, for the pleasure of wearing the long and pretty woolen stockings you inspired me to buy :o) And it ends up being much warmer than close-fitting pants !

  16. hyvältä näytät:-)
    Nämä ovat minulle niin hassuja,kun tuolla on vaikka kuinka monta tuttua tai kaveria. Itse en kyllä ikinä yltäisi moiseen.

  17. Oh no! How did I miss this post before?? This is full of pure fantastic-ness (along with your commentary!!!) hehehe

    I love to analyze my little sister and her friends in LA- they are extremely hip and pretty much always look gorgeous no matter what! I'm a little further out from LA and enjoy style and dressing up, but...hmm definitely not a hipster! :D xoxo Happy Sunday Milla

  18. Awesome post! Thank you for the much needed inspiration. Ok, so Tanja still blows my mind with her amazingness and yes, perfect is definitely the word for Netta! I love how fun and playful Finnish style can be too. I want Susanna’s patchwork skirt. I’m also in love with the floral print of Karin’s dress. Of course that last gal will always be my fave ;)

  19. I love the girl Red-heads in dashiki . She is Great look