Skiers love equipment and innovation, speed and style. And ski clothes. Terrific, but put it all together and it can spell too much, as in fact for years it did. A long period of fad upon fad left the average man on the slopes overequipped, the average woman overstyled, and both of them broke. Finally young skiers rebelled and began a search for something simple. They found it: blue jeans.
It didn't seem to matter to them that jeans did not stretch, that they got wet or that they lacked color and dash—jeans were O.K. So much so that when Bud Johns of Levi Strauss was asked why Levi's didn't make a ski pant he could say, "We don't have to. We supply the basic product and the kids do the rest." (With Scotchgard.)
The result has been the evolution of a whole new look in ski wear, a slim, functional style of the West, spare as a rancher's working clothes. Cowboy jackets, work-shirts and jeans do the job. The simplicity has been welcomed not only by the young and cost-conscious, but also by fashionable Jet Setters used to seeking out the new and unusual. They go, fashion being what it is, to Saint-Tropez—or Saint Laurent—to buy their clothes with the look of "Le Far West." Now the trip is really unnecessary.
At last U.S. manufacturers are turning out ski wear with the authority of style and quality that once was found only in Europe. They are producing the best of the West—rugged but blessedly simple—and gracing it with color and a variety of fabrics. They have come up with frosted cotton denims and faded chambrays that are coated with water-repellent Polymer on the reverse side. That warmest of substances, down, is now quilted in such an unbulky way that it easily can be stitched into a parka as an interlining. The resulting slim-line, Westernized jacket is, in both senses of the word, the hottest thing on the slopes.
The locale photographed on these pages is Steamboat Springs, Colo., now the third largest ski area in the state. On Saturday night real cowboys still frequent the local bars, where they are apt to be joined—what could sum it up better?—by a guy in Western ski gear named Billy Kidd.
WHERE TO BUY
WHAT CAUGHT YOUR EYE
More about the new ski clothes plus where you can find them
Facing the opening page: Head yellow nylon parka, warm pants and gloves. The jacket ($74) has loops and matching belt, the warm pants ($45) are diamond quilted from knee to ankle, both lined in new Poly-Slim "Plus." Similar in principle to the fabric used by the astronauts, it is light in weight and very warm. At Bloomingdale's, New York; Hudson's, Detroit; Nordstrom Best, Seattle. Following pages: Liberty Bell (Bonne Bell) blue-frosted denim jacket with Poly-Slim ($65), wind shirt ($18) and warm pants ($32.50), all polymer-coated for water repellency. At Darien Sport Shop, Darien, Conn.; Sportif' Ltd., Englewood, Colo.; Tex's Sporting Goods, Santa Monica, Calif. Head orange nylon parka with quilted shoulders ($84), warm pants with raised quilting on the knees ($48). At Saks Fifth Avenue, New York; Wolfe's, Salt Lake City; Aspen Country Store, Aspen, Colo. Top, center, Gerry down-filled denim parka ($65), matching warm-ups with side zippers and polyurethane lining ($23.50). At Eastern Mountain Sports, Boston; Sport Chalet, La Canada, Calif.; Outdoor Traders, Greenwich, Conn. White-zippered down parka in denim from Alpine Designs ($60), warm pants ($32.50). At Hoigaard's, Minneapolis; Scandinavian Ski Shops, New York; Sporthaus Linden, Aspen. Pink Liberty Bell jacket ($65), pants ($40), at same stores as blue Liberty Bell outfit. Below, Levi's denim shirt ($12), bush pants ($11). At Macy's, New York; The May Company, Los Angeles; Sanger-Harris, Dallas. Right, down-filled polymer-coated ciré parka by Alpine ($57.50), warm pants ($32.50). At H.H. Petrie Sporting Goods, Madison, Wis.; Wolfe's, Salt Lake City; Scandinavian Ski Shop, Glenview, Ill.