Imagine the feeling of wearing your coziest wool socks, fluffy beanie hat, cashmere sweater, and thermal pants all while sitting on a warm rug drinking a delicious cup of hot cocoa in front of a blazing fireplace. Sounds magical doesn’t it?
There’s actually a term for this level of comfort. Coined by the Danes as “hygge” — pronounced “HOO-guh” in English (although there is no direct translation) — it means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” The word is derived from the Norwegian term “hugga” which is associated with the English word “hug.”
The term has proliferated so quickly and on such a global scale, that now the high fashion runways have adopted it. At the Max Mara Fall/Winter 2017 show in Milan, Italy on Thursday, models came down the catwalk wearing thick, warm camel colored cable knit sweaters, oversized shearling teddy-bear-like coats, and velvety trousers in a chocolate shade that is like “wearable Hygge,” as the brand itself put it.
— Max Mara (@maxmara) February 23, 2017
Hygge has become such a part of the American vernacular that the Oxford Dictionary shortlisted it as the Word of the Year in 2016. “Danes see hygge as a part of our culture…the same way you see freedom as inherently American” Meik Wiking, the founder and chief executive of the Happiness Institute, told the New York Times.
Hygge has even become synonymous with curing colds by pairing hygge and green tea or the mere act of hanging out with a few close friends or family members in a small, quiet, serene setting. It doesn’t even have to be relegated to just winter and doesn’t always involve a blanket and piling on luscious layers. Hygge can also be soaking in a warm sauna or enjoying a delicious dessert at a nearby café wearing a silk dress that feels great against the skin.
Although no singular person has spearheaded hygge in the same spirit as Marie Kondo, the position is open and ready to be filled (hashtags, books, and international fame await).
Next time you’re thinking o throwing on your comfiest attire, lighting some candles, and cuddling up with a warm beverage, take comfort in knowing that the Danes do this all the time — in fact, it’s a major part of their lifestyle. Embrace hygge because frankly fashion already has too!