Skiing borrows its look from high and low places

January 12, 1995|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Sun Fashion Editor

Let's face it, skiing is a glamour sport, and assorted jet-setters, stars and royals who normally shun the cameras tend to grant photo opportunities when they're shussing at Klosters. They know the look has tremendous appeal. That appeal works just as well for the working stiffs who may only steal a day trip or a weekend or two at a nearby resort.

Because good skiing is defined by cold weather, clothes for the slopes must provide warmth, and that practical quality is what drives the most significant changes in fashion. The rest is window dressing.

New developments in fabric technology, which allow for lightness and durability in the wide range of microfibers, have expanded styling possibilities. That is why there is no one dominant trend in the skiwear cycle.

Susan McCoy, fashion editor for Ski magazine, who follows the trends on the slopes and the industry, says snow style now borrows from high fashion and the streets. "The biggest influence in snow wear now is coming from the snowboarding set, who borrowed ideas from MTV, thrift stores and street style," she says, "and it's that oversized quality which allows a wide and different range of movement, which is not part of the traditional sport."

Looks for skiers, as they are for the fashionables this season, are all over the map. "Over the last few years, skiwear has been going strongly retro," she says, "with a return to quilting, lumber jackets and some Alpine and Tyrolean motifs."

There are also looks borrowed from World War II mountain division troops interpreted in fleece that has been recycled from plastic bottles.

There are some red, '70s-inspired competitive racing stripe looks. There is more interest in color. Any color except neons, which are the one thing not to wear now.

Even though a high-end designer ski outfit can run upward of $1,000, it is a bargain in the performance sense. The clothes are washable, durable and have a fashion life of many seasons, unlike a skimpy and fragile silk dress, which may fetch the same price at the boutique.

And skiwear feels good. You don't know how great it is until you wear it, says Ms. McCoy. The pockets are made to be deep and warm, the pulls work easily with a glove. "This season, couture and ready-to-wear lines actually mimic skiwear with Chanel, Donna Karan and a host of designers showing parkas for the city."

Meanwhile, back on the slopes, they're looking to the past again with over-the-boot stretch pants, suspender bib-front jumpers from the '70s and Norwegian patterned sweaters and accessories.

Thankfully, the one look that has not been resurrected is the pink-head-to-toe snow-bunny get-up. Thankfully, black is still in; we know its slimming qualities.

For sophisticates, navy, the all-time favorite skiwear color, is now coming on strong and edging out black.

"There are too many costumes out there today," says Wallis Penton, the American marketing representative for Postcard, the Italian designer label. "What always works are very simple, sporty parkas with excellent details and lightweight fills," she says. "No matter what you call it -- and there are so many trade names out there -- the new fills are all polyester and very good," she says.

At the local sport shops, there is a run on the practical approach. "The number one seller is fleece," says Mike Holofcener of Edge Set. "Fleece is being made in pullovers, zip-out linings, underwear, hats, everything. It allows the skier to layer in combination with a wind-breaker outer shell. The advantage of shell garments is that they adapt to any weather conditions, and the seams are sealed so that they are moisture- and wind-proof."

At Princeton Sports, Sonny Davis sees customers turning to color and fashion trims. "We're seeing more brights, patterns and embroideries in lines such as Bogner," he says, "a different direction from the snowboard influence, which is drabber."

The snowboarders are making their mark in accessory attitude, too. Funky hats, set at a scrunched-back angle, are the coolest way to top off a snow look.

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