The unusual heat spell that settled over southeastern Norway this month has unleased some equally unusual conflicts among Norwegians, over how to dress. It began with complaints over men going to work in shorts. Now it’s about men who walk around downtown Oslo with no shirt on.
“Is it appropriate to go bare-chested on the open street?” asked newspaper Aftenposten this week.
“Nei! (No!)” was the resounding response from a majority of those questioned. A 26-year-old man, a 71-year-old woman and a local celebrity who’s written about etiquette and dress were among those claiming it was decidedly inappropriate to walk around town in shorts and bare-chested.
“That should only be done in situations where others are scantily clad. You can lie down on the grass in a park without a top if you’re sunbathing,” said Per Sundnes, who led Norway’s version of the Eurovision Song Contest for several years and has written the book Chic og bruk i storbyen. Otherwise, Sundnes decreed, shirts and slacks should be worn.
Christian Dagestad Nilssen, a 24-year-man caught sitting near the Parliament building in shorts and without a shirt, objected. “It’s so warm out, and summer is here,” Nilssen told Aftenposten. “When it’s nearly 30 degrees (85F), it must be allowed.”
Nilssen’s companion, Raymond Halvorsen, agreed. “It’s normal, and men go without shirts abroad,” Halvorsen said. He opted, however, to keep his T-shirt on.