100 Years of Ski Style, See How It’s Changed Over The Years

by Olivia Humphreys | Posted On: August 31st, 2022

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If you’re in the market for a new ski outfit, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options on the market. Should your jacket be tight or loose, brightly colored or muted, multi-layered or shell?

The good news is, it’s entirely up to you. Skiing is all about letting loose and having fun, and that should be reflected in your personal style. From bold to muted tones, loose or baggy there’s a million ways to dress for the slopes.

But, if you’re still looking for a little bit of guidance, it might be helpful to look at the history of ski style to gain some inspiration.

The 1920s

In the 1920s, recreational skiing was starting to take off. Most commonly, people would nordic ski, although downhill was gaining popularity. With advents like waterproof and windproof gear still decades away, people dressed as warmly as they could while still looking presentable. No helmets yet, but you can’t deny that the goggles were pretty fly. 

The 1930s

By the 1930s, downhill skiing had taken off and was becoming very popular among the upper class. And they dressed for it. Woolen dress pants, blazers, and ties were the uniform of the day. Most interestingly though might be their shoes. Check out those leather boots. Not the best ankle support, but they did look way cooler than the plastic boots of today.

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The 1940s

The style in the 1940s was quite similar to that of the 1930s, but it did relax a bit. There are no more blazers or ties, and people opted for woolen sweaters instead. They were still rocking dress pants, but sunglasses and headwraps started to take center stage. The slopes were starting to become a runway for fashion, as shown by Harper’s Bazaars ski chic magazine cover. 

The 1950s

In the 1950s, more functional gear began to show up on the hill. While some people opted to stick with the sweater and slack combo, warm puffy jackets allowed for skiing in more adverse temperatures than were previously possible. 

The 1960s

The biggest change in the 1960s to ski style came in the feet. In 1962, Bob Lange invented the first plastic ski boot. This opened the door for more daring skiing–which of course, had to be matched by more daring outfits. We see the first ‘onesies’ in the 1960s, although they were skin tight and mostly worn by women. 

The 1970s

The 1970s is when ski style really starts to take off. Bright colors, leg warmers, and puffy coats were all the rage. While sweaters were still a common feature, ‘fun’ clothes started to become a priority over looking classy. 1970s ski fashion mixed together function and style, which is a continuing marker in ski style even up until today. 

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The 1980s

The 1980s marks the entrance of the truly famous onesie. Baggy, brightly colored, warm, fun, and customizable. Retro onesies are still extremely common and beloved on the hill. 80’s ski fashion mixed together function and style, which is a continuing marker in ski style even up until today.

The 1990s

The 1990s continued on with the trend of brightly colored clothing, but it became more common to ditch the onesie. Matching two-piece sets or large jackets with skinny pants owned the day. It also is when Pit Viper glasses began to make their way onto the hill (and for better or for worse, they still haven’t left).

The 2000s

Since the 2000s, ski fashion hasn’t been distinguished by decade so much as by faction. Most people generally fit into three categories of style: Functional, Street Wear, and Chic. Universally though, helmets became a part of everyone’s outfit. Racers tend to go for hard-eared helmets as they are regulated, although most other people on the mountain choose soft ears for added comfort. 

Functional Style

Functional style generally includes most outerwear brands: think Patagonia, the North Face, and Helly Hansen. These clothes are extremely functional, and keep the skier warm and dry in some of the worst weather conditions. In general, these jackets are color blocked and more muted than Street Wear.

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Street Style

Perhaps more commonly known as looking like a Park Rat, Street Style is characterized by baggy clothes and brands like Virtika and Dope. Cargo pants are an absolute must. In this style, oversized hoodies and t-shirts run the game, and most people will wear a helmet beneath their beanies. It’s all about having fun and being able to transition your look right to the bar.

Chic

Ski chic is inspired mostly by the style of the 1960s and 1970s with tight onesies, shiny jackets, and white snow pants. Generally, high-class and luxury brands like Moncler and Prada take the forefront with Chic riders. While it might not be the most functional type of style on the mountain, it is sure to turn some heads!

Final Thoughts

And there you have the last 100 years of ski style. Some things have changed, and some have stayed the same, but we’ve reached a point where most people just wear whatever they want on the slopes. 

When you’re on the mountain, you want to be worrying about the next best line, not what other people are thinking of your outfit. No matter how what you pick to wear on the mountain, as long as you feel comfortable, you’re bound to have a great time.

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NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I founded this website so I could share everything that I wish someone had told me, when I started learning to ski in 2005. As seen in Yahoo, HowStuffWorks, MSN. Learn More

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