If you’re heading on your first ski trip or venturing back to the slopes post-Covid, you’re probably on the hunt for some skiwear. Choosing proper attire that protects you from sub-zero alpine temperatures means you’ll be comfortable, warm, and ready to conquer the slopes no matter your skill level. Practicality and functionality are a given, but you can still consider fashion, blending high-performance gear with high-style flourishes that work at high altitudes.
“Function and fit are what you are looking for when investing in skiwear,” says Derek Moody, ski expert at Great Outdoors. “However, it is often a style that dictates the final decision. Remember that anything goes on the ski slopes, so don’t be afraid to purchase something out of your comfort zone. You won’t be alone.”
Many brands are now catering to the demand for stylish skiwear that is balanced with substance. Designer heavyweights Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Khaite and Michael Kors have released capsule skiwear collections this season, while Stella McCartney offers more accessibly priced skiwear with her Adidas collaboration. Cool girl fashion brands Farm Rio, Perfect Moment and Apparis have made a foray into skiwear with distinct styles you won’t spot all over the slopes.
With extended sizing, Halfdays, Asos Curve, Missguided and Ulla Popken blend style and size-inclusiveness. H&M, Zara and Lidl all offer price- and fashion-conscious collections, which might not rival the specialised ski brands on quality, but are a suitable starting point for beginners. Bright colours and punchy prints dominate the ski season, and they blend function and fashion, helping you stay visible in the snow and stand out post-piste at the resort.
Once the style box is ticked, how you put your outfit together and layer is just as essential as what you buy. As temperatures vary throughout the day on the slopes, layering is necessary, and three is the magic number – a base, mid and top layer.
When shopping for base layers, pay attention to where you are skiing as requirements may differ. “Lower altitude ski resorts can be very wet and slushy at times, just like when it snows in Ireland, so waterproof is very imperative,” Moody advises. “Higher altitude resorts are much colder and often not as wet, so insulation or warmth is very important.”
Base layers should be made of a technical fabric, like merino wool, which will wick moisture away from your skin. A mid-layer should be breathable and add insulation, like fleece, then top it off with a durable waterproof and windproof outer layer, a ski jacket. The workhorse of your ski wardrobe, your coat, should be equipped with functional details like multiple pockets for storage, wrist gaiters and a snow skirt to stop snow from seeping in.
Ski trousers or salopettes should also be waterproof, lightweight, and allow you to move freely. A pair with wiggle room allows for layering, a high waist will bridge the gap between your jacket, and a slight flare is favourable for slipping over boots. Zippered vents will provide ventilation if you overheat after an overzealous session swooshing down the slopes.
Advances in technical fabrics mean bulky layers are no more, and slimline styles increase mobility on the slopes and save some space and weight in your luggage.
Wear your jacket on the plane to save even more space. It helps if you opt for a stylish jacket that you’re happy to wear from city to slope, whether for some apres ski downtime or on home soil. This will take the sting out of the often hefty price tag attached to ski jackets, but is also the more sustainable choice.
If you want to be more environmentally conscious with your skiwear, look for brands that prioritise sustainability. Patagonia, Picture Organic, Oros, Canada Goose, Protest, Superdry, PE Nation and Erin Snow have considered collections that use recycled and sustainable materials. Better still, borrow skiwear from friends, or rent: skigala.com, for example, offers brands like Columbia, Schoeffel VIST, with jackets for hire from €14 a day and pants from €10, delivered to your hotel in resorts across Austria.
With all winter outdoor activities, your core retains most of the heat, leaving your head, hands and feet prone to getting cold. Socks are just as integral as your ski jacket and trousers. Although it may seem obvious, look for thick socks for the cosy factor and padding to absorb impact and avoid blistering.
“Ski socks are unbelievably important and can ruin a ski holiday if not up to standard. They must be high enough to come up over your ski boots and be seamless to avoid any pressure,” Moody says.
Wear warm, insulated, waterproof gloves; cashmere or wool will become soggy. Helmets and goggles are non-negotiable from a safety and visibility perspective. Save your stylish extras for apres ski, like oversized sunnies, fair isle woollen beanies and faux fur trimmed and shearling-lined snow boots.