What Do Icelanders Wear?

Contemporary Icelanders tend to wear much the same sorts of clothes as people in other developed Western nations, although one distinguishing garment is the traditional Icelandic sweater, or "lopapeysa." This sweater, knitted with the soft and highly insulating yarn of native Icelandic sheep, is extremely popular in Iceland and can be found in a range of colors. Each has the distinctive circular yoke pattern, a kind of zig-zag design that radiates out from the collar.

Despite its integral place in the average Icelandic wardrobe, the "lopapeysa" only dates back as far as the 1950s, when it is thought to have been modeled after a similar design from Greenland. It was popularized during the following two decades and became especially popular in 2008 as a symbol of morale-boosting national identity during the economic crisis.

Older traditional Icelandic clothing tends to be worn at special occasions. For women, this might consist of a white blouse under a black vest with a long black skirt, long white apron, back shoes and black cap.

Going further back into Icelandic history to the time of the Vikings, one of the most common garments for men was the "kyrtill," a long woolen tunic. This garment comprised many individual pieces stitched together in such a way as to afford the wearer maximum freedom of movement.