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Vintage Ski Outfits: Why You Need One


Posted by on 27 March 2015

By Jesse James McTigue

When you live in a ski town, you acquire ski clothes – heavy down jackets for cold days, thin down jackets for warm days, vests for layering—both down and retro (the latter just because it’s cute) -- bright colored pants for spring, technical gear for storms. Then, there are of course the accessories—hats with pom-poms, hats with lids, goggles with sparkles, goggles for flat light, mittens for cold days, gloves for warm. And the list goes on.

But, for a ski town local, and avid skier, one of the most essential elements to the ski attire collection is the vintage ski outfit. Before we go any further, we must be clear what the vintage ski outfit is and isn’t.

It isn’t a costume. The vintage ski outfit is not a tutu, a Hawaiian shirt or simply an ugly coat. It is not a gorilla suit or Yeti costume. (Although I did appreciate the three Yetis skiing on Revolution bowl last week and now aspire to own a Yeti suit.) Admittedly, all of these garments do have their place on the ski hill, and everyone should, before their time comes, ski in a tutu. However these cannot be mistaken for the vintage ski outfit.

The vintage ski outfit is an outfit that someone at some time actually skied in. At one time in ski history, the outfit was cool—or at least worn. Think classic Roffe stretch pants with the colored gaiters on the shins, a CB padded sweater, a Descente jacket or Obermeyer one piece. Brands like Ellesse, SOS, and Nevica also score big.

These outfits are more than just outfits. They’re pieces of our collective ski history—a piece of ski culture if you will. And, each comes with a story.

Jesse 500x368

Jesse James McTigue showing her vintage style.

When you wear the CB padded sweater, you might think of days with dad at Boyne Highlands in Michigan. The Obermeyer one piece brings back an image of mom on the family’s first ski trip to Aspen. The yellow and black patterned North Face bib pants remind of you the late ‘80s, your rear-entry ski boots and those teal green Rossignol 4S slalom skis. It was the first technical wear you saw skiers like Glen Plake wear in a Warren Miller ski movie – and you had to have it.

These are relics and you must wear them, not to costume parties, but to ski. When you break them out for a friend’s birthday, girls ski weekend, to appease the snow gods or on the last day of the ski season, you won’t feel ridiculous. You’ll feel like you belong, because each piece of clothing will bring back memories of the places you skied and of the people who introduced you to this sport that has now become your lifestyle.

Yes, the same sport you are currently introducing to your kids. And, they’ll don the clothes you’re wearing today as their vintage ski outfits when they’re older. As they wear them, and their friends ask about those awesome Patagonia mint green pants, they’ll think about mom and dad and that week they spent with the family in Telluride. They’ll remember their ski history; they’ll tell the stories.

And so, the tradition will continue.

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