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Ski wear merges fashion, function on the slopes

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Stay warm and look hot for that downhill journey.

Women's ski wear is functional and fashionable. Bright and bold colors, prints and patterns add state-of-the-art technology in the latest apparel and accessories for winter sports.

“Ski fashion has become high fashion,” says Donna Gagliardi, manager of Willi's Ski & Snowboard Shop in Castle Shannon. “You will see many bright and vibrant colors and wild prints and patterns. And, the materials are amazing that they keep you warm and dry. Skiing is fun, and your clothing should be fun, too.”

Part of the excitement is deciding which pieces to buy, experts say, even if you never leave the lodge. Ski fashion has expanded to apres ski, as well as everyday wear, Gagliardi says. Fur vests, cozy boots, even ski skirts have burst onto the scene, she says.

“What is so nice is this clothing is also functional, top-of-the-line performance apparel,” Gagliardi says. “There are great options like reversible vests, which give you two options, while boot toppers create a new look for footwear. Even the helmets, skis, poles and snowboards are decorative and artistic. Neck gaiters and hats come in bold and bright hues, too. It's sometimes hard to choose, there are so many options.”

Form-fitting ski wear gives women a feminine silhouette, Gagliardi says, while being functional for a trip on the mountain or to the grocery store.

Ski-wear designers are inspired by New York runways. Color blocking has become a big trend in ski wear, says Jody Schwartz, executive vice president at Free Country.

“Popped zippers really accentuate the technique and design of the jacket and can give color and pizzazz to a plain, solid-color coat,” she says. “Mixed-media jackets allow you to combine an assortment of fabrics together on one coat, allowing for a fresh, new winter look.”

Try black jackets with a twist — color-blocking jackets that incorporate pink and black, or a black jacket with a purple popped zipper, she says.

Breathable, waterproof and wind-resistant, ventilation and stretch fabrics are the latest in ski-wear technology, Schwartz says, and protect skiers from the cold. Details such as princess seams and tapered waistlines, which help shape the jacket, make it more flattering for a woman's body, she says.

“Free Country's three-in-one jackets combine an insulated outer shell and (polyester-filled) inner jacket to create three jackets in one and prepares you for any weather the forecast may bring,” Schwartz says.

Textured fabrics have made their way onto the slopes, as well, says Dan Simon, L.L. Bean outerwear merchant manager. Bright colors add a fresh look to zippers, trims and linings, Simon says. Go with a colorful citron or bold blue for a new hue this season.

“We are making more jackets that easily transition from lift to lounge, using performance fabrics that have a good, casual crossover appeal,” Simon says.

With the popularity of yoga pants, women are realizing that stretch fabrics are key in comfort and performance, says Lauren Myatt, product line manager at Obermeyer.

“In outerwear, there are several layers of durable fabrics, plus insulation, so getting that super-flexible feel is hard,” Myatt says. “This season, Obermeyer has made jackets and pants with a four-way stretch shell fabric, Thinsulate Platinum, stretch insulation and a stretch lining to attain a comfortable, flexible feel while maintaining top-performing function. A lot of the pieces are waterproof to keep you warm and dry.”

A neon-color jacket is fun, she says. You can tone it down by pairing it with navy-blue pants.

Designers are creating fashionable and functional women's ski wear, because that is what women are asking for, says Annie Short, senior merchandise manager for women's outerwear for Lands' End.

Pops of color look great against the white snow, Short says. And a lot of sportswear is merging into street wear, she says. “I am seeing the mixing of different fabrications, which gives a new, modern look,” Short says. “Women can have it all — function and fashion — when it comes to hitting the slopes.”

Even those who never go near the ski resorts can wear ski wear.

“Do I have to surf in order to wear board shorts? No way,” Myatt says. “Ski wear is for everyone.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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