Cool Style


From the freestyling Seventies to the rock-and-roll Eighties and high-tech, high-ticket Nineties, men’s skiwear kept up with the times.  

By Barbara Alley Simon
Photography by Scott Markewitz

Park City locals had a blast modeling vintage men’s skiwear during Skiing History Week in Utah (see page 33). These classic outfits, selected from the Barbara Alley Collection at the Alf Engen Ski Museum, depict a three-decade progression of design for the male skier.

The 1970s was the decade of disco, the first freestylers, wet T-shirts and streakers, and men’s ski suits were sleek and sexy, as well as colorful for exhibitionist hotdoggers. The 1975 suits pictured in the photo above used stretch fabric with stretch insulation, which gave flex to the tight fit. Jackets were short, so pants needed higher waists and shoulder straps. Chris Neville’s red Bogner jacket has tri-color stripes that run down the back. Grandoe gloves pick up the trim. Nick Hansen’s bright yellow HCC (Henri–Charles Colsenet) two-piece has bell-bottomed pants that fit smoothly over ski boots. The hat is HCC; the goggles are by Smith; the poles are by Collins; skis by The Ski with Burt retractable bindings.

As you’ll see on subsequent pages, the 1980s began with classic colors but midway moved to neons. Silhouettes shifted too, from slim on the top and wide on bottom, to wide on the top with slimmer legs. The neons, of course, were great for flat light and finding kids. Thinner but warmer insulations (such as Thinsulate) and free-hanging waterproof liners (such as Gore-Tex) gave designers more play. Outfits may not have looked it, but they were warm.

The 1990s went high tech and high ticket. A suit that cost $245 in the ’70s could cost $1,000 by then, especially with embroidery. Solar fabrics, ceramic insulations and special liners all arrived on the scene, plus pockets—the more the merrier for men. 

I’ve always thought sexy stretch pants contributed to the growth and popularity of skiing. So what’s hot in 2014? Looks to me like Bubble Heads and Baggy Pants. Guess that leaves sexy to the imagination. 

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