The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

The history of ski fashion

A look back at the trends – taken from our 1992/93 brochure.

Are you surprised that anyone would wear this outdoors or are you hiding something similar in your own ski wardrobe? This picture is from our 92/93 brochure and shows how fashion trends have changed a lot over the years. We wanted to share some of our favourites and give you some advice on dealing with the balance of slope-side ski wear and après trends.

There’s the standard kit: goggles, gloves and salopettes. Then there’s the less expected options: skirts, stretch pants and onesies. When we first took to the slopes, an estimated 5,000 years ago, fashion wasn’t at the forefront of anyone’s mind, ladies included. We’ve come a long way and by the 60s and 70s ski fashion had evolved into a big business.

Historical trends

At first, the general rules for skiing attire were lacking. Without any recommended structure or technology, women would wear woollen skirts and knickers- not very practical as they weren’t waterproof and the additional bulk made manoeuvring tricky. Men sported thick woollen jumpers, riding breeches or baggy trousers that were tucked into their socks to stop the snow from entering their trousers. Not a great combination for ski wear but we can see the problems that we would later begin to solve with better technology and sensible gear.

If we move swiftly on from breezy skirts, we enter the era of the stretch pant. There were a number of benefits for the stretch pant compared to the skirt, one being they didn’t absorb water like the skirt. This meant they were lighter and far more agile. It also meant that pesky breeze would no longer graze your bare legs. These fitted variations first emerged in the 60s but took some time to become common place. Along with platforms, flared trousers and moustaches, stretch pants really came into their own in the 70s.

A glimpse of the 80s, with neon, one-piece ski suits and layering already in full swing

The totally radical 80s ‘dude’, saw shoulder pads and finger-less gloves reign supreme. More importantly, for the fashion conscious, the introduction of the ski one-piece or ‘onesies’. Although the stretch pant was an improvement on skirts they still weren’t very practical. They could be cold and didn’t have any pockets. The power dressing of the 80’s influenced women to embrace the warmth and insulation offered by the onesie.  However the onsie was not just reserved for women – men also welcomed the trend.

A variation of the 90s, though still playing host to the onesie, was colour. A neon grip ruled the slopes. The most popular colour trends were brown and purple. It was also the era of the curtain haircut, teamed with a practical headband to prevent those careless locks from interfering with the game at hand.

As the millennium arrived it brought the trend that sums up noughties ski fashion: pockets. The best way to ensure you had the most up to date ski wear was to make sure you had more pockets on your outfit then you could ever need, use or want. If it was easy to lose items in the endless supply of pockets your outfit offered, you were on the right track. Don’t forget to check inside your jacket for those hidden pockets.

Technology – solving problems while looking good

Recently, the line between fashion and technology begins to blur; Gore-Tex, which is a breathable and waterproof material has become increasingly popular in ski wear. Also, the idea of layering clothing such as long johns and thin long sleeve tops to keep you dry.

The most popular colours at the moment are red and black but other favourites include pastels; beige, baby blue and pink. Younger men, however, had an entirely different approach to slope fashion. Think of over-sized jackets, bandanas fighting for space with goggles and helmets. After covering your whole face with accessories, follow with bright trousers – lime green is the best bet.

Ski fashion for the family

Family holiday trends have also evolved and more and more parents are dropping their little ones on to the slopes like Bambi on the ice. This has led to a huge market for children’s ski wear.

When dressing children for the slopes remember to make sure they are warm, dry and protected with a helmet. Layers are essential. A long sleeved top and (depending on the climate) a light jumper under their ski jacket will them stay warm. Don’t forget a pair of goggles (they won’t fall off or get covered in snow if they fall over) and a helmet for safety.

Coping with après, off the slopes

Off the slopes fashion can be tricky for fashion conscious skiers with après in mind.  You’ll want to be warm and dry without looking as though you’re planning to cross the arctic on your night out. Many women are now spotted wearing wool, patterned leggings. The designs of the leggings range; this season there were many with reindeer or mountain-prints, mirroring winter fashion trends from the UK. You can easily team leggings with a layered look and a light scarf.

We’ve come a long way but it’s still about solving problems with the latest technology and standing out on the slopes

Not leaving out the men, you can generally pair jeans with a jumper and t-shirt. You can either bring an everyday coat for the evening or use your ski jacket; it really depends on space and preference. In resort, lots of people wear their snow boots for après but you could always wear hiking boots. Just make sure your shoes have grip -best to leave the heels and plimsolls at home.

While we’re on après, let’s talk about fancy dress. It has become somewhat fashionable to ski in outfits that could be described as impractical. It can be really good fun, as long as you remember to keep it safe and not wear anything that could interfere with your skiing or others. Next time you hit the slopes, chances are you’ll come across a group in fancy dress – it’s worth looking out for these brave pioneers of slope-side self expression.

As the decades change, ski attire is no longer as bright as it once was and is more subtle today with pastel and slimming colours, like black, being popular – with the exclusion of fancy dress, of course. Technology in ski clothing has come on so far since the masses braved the slopes for the first time. The invention of waterproof clothing and breathable material has made skiing far more enjoyable for the modern skier. Something to remember or perhaps be wary of: fashion tends to swing in loops and roundabouts, so the neon onesie will probably have its time again. Will you be wearing it?

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