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Body and Soul

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Fashion Sense

Carving turns through the years of skiwear

Toni Sailer’s tri-color Nelsson men’s jacket combines form and function. Photo courtesy Toni Sailer/Brass Ranch Village and River Run

Close your eyes for a minute, and let’s think about ski fashion over the last few decades. Do you conjure up images of neon tights and leg warmers? Big hair, big skis and big everything? And while you might have thought those day-glow separates were a thing of the past, they’re back!

Watching clothing style trends and how they seem to fade away, only to reappear—whether you like it or not—is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs throughout the fashion world. In skiwear, these fashion trends come and go just as swiftly as those on the runway—which we can all be thankful for. Because, let’s face it, clearly not everyone looks good in a tight pink, one-piece Bogner ski suit swishing down the slopes. To gain some insight into this realm of outerwear trends over the last four decades, a few local experts helped us carve turns through the history of skiwear.

Kate Rosso is a Ketchum fixture in the outdoor industry. Her husband, Bob, founded The Elephant’s Perch in 1976 and Kate has worked as a buyer for the store since 1988. She explains that the general boomerang effect that the fashion world is famous for includes the ski scene, “Bright colors that were so popular in the ’70’s have come back, including neon!”

Kate explains that, after decades of having no choice but to don men’s styles, women are important players in guiding today’s skiwear trends. “In the early ’80’s, we saw women’s styles and fits being added to many outdoor lines,” she says, “whereas before we had to succumb to unisex sizing, which was never very flattering.”  
Kate’s favorite trend in skiwear is clothing that actually fits. “I’m happy that pant waists for women run from low to high now so that a gal can choose what looks good on her shape,” she says. “Can we finally say goodbye to the ‘muffin top?’ … I hope so!”

As for Sun Valley, Kate believes that we’re more “fashion forward” when it comes to outdoor apparel than the country is in general. One trend that’s particular to the Wood River Valley is that local skiers and snowboarders prefer skiwear with no logos, or at least subdued ones, which Kate says is contrary to the majority of the nation’s consumers.
A buyer for the Brass Ranch for 15 years and the current retail director for Sun Valley Company, Kelly Mitchell agrees with Kate’s fit-first mantra for skiwear. As she explains, when buying for their stores, “Fit is first, function is second and uniqueness is third.”

Kelly says that for their specific skiwear style niche (which is less technical and more “high fashion” than The Elephant’s Perch), color has trended well, as have embellishments, detailed construction and animal prints. She typically sees trends last for seven years because, as she explains, “they take at least that long to fully develop.” Kelly says that current trends that are hot in Sun Valley are “luxe accents,” like leather and faux fur trim, as are products with environmentally conscious initiatives, such as those using recycled materials or companies like Patagonia that give back percentages of sales to good causes.

“Fashion runways inspire everything, from homes to cars, and skiwear is no exception,” Kelly says. This season, she says to look for metallics, our favorite day-glow colors like bright pink and turquoise, as well as animal prints on the slopes. Try one of these styles this season to feel super hip—just make sure that you don’t wear them all at once. -Margot Ramsay



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