Are you hitting the slopes before spring starts melting the snow? As a vintage past time, skiing has always held a certain allure and glamour. But don’t forget those important accessories, such as sunglasses to shield the glare. Here we take a look at how skiing became so popular and how to dress vintage style – even while on piste.In the early decades of the 20th Century, skiing symbolised luxury, requiring the wealth and means to decamp to remote Alpine locations for weeks at a time. However, it was with the introduction of ski lifts in the late 20s and 30s that we began to see the changing face of skiing as we know it today, with the development of ski resorts and tourism. After World War 2, skiing was becoming recognised as a popular choice for a 'sporting holiday' that continued to grow into the 60s and beyond. Today skiing is more readily accessible, with a range of resorts and prices to suit a variety of pockets. You don't even need to go abroad as Scotland offers plenty of ski opportunity, weather permitting!
In terms of 'vintage skiing' there are some resorts that are still true to their origins such as the Strawberry Lodge in Kyburz California, old-school, with bad taxidermy and historical oddities or the art nouveau Hotel Belvedere, Wengen, built in 1912 and refurbished sympathetically to provide today’s comforts without losing the atmosphere of the olden days of the "Grand Hotel Belvedere“. However it is hard to find many regular vintage ski events or festivals. In March 2016 the Scottish Snow Festival included a retro ski exhibition where you could have a go at skiing using vintage equipment with a prize for the best outfit. In February 2015, La Clusaz celebrated its centenary with a retro ski event at the resort. While events are few and far between it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for celebrations of this kind.
It is easy to see why people who love vintage style are attracted to skiing. Lured in by ski poster visions of the past and the glamour of 60s and 70s Bond films, the realities of having to wear more practical modern ski wear can sometimes be a bit disappointing to the vintage gal. Luckily, for those who don’t mind searching and hunting pieces down, there are still fabulous vintage skiwear pieces from various eras which people can buy.
The 1940s ski suit is absolutely divine. Often made from heavy wool, they had the classic post-war shape of a nipped in or tie waist and big shoulders, with matching ski pants and often a hood or hat. They came in all sorts of gorgeous colours and were sometimes decorated with embroidery, check or had contrasting panels. Although these can be fairly readily found, they are rather impractical as sizes are very small – even for petite girls of today and as they are also made of wool, they are very uncomfortable when they inevitably get wet.
The 1960s coordinated ski suit was softer in shape and was often printed with vibrant patterns or motifs. While the 1970s and 80s brought more practical waterproof materials and all in one boiler suit style shapes, they’re nowhere near as stylish as the earlier fashions of the 40s and 50s…but perhaps these original vintage outfits are more suitable nowadays for ‘apres ski’ than actual ski!
So whether or not skiing is your 'thing', you can still embrace your inner vintage ski bunny this winter with vintage ski style. Keep an eye out on Ebay and Etsy for original pieces or go repro. Retro stirrup ski pants can be found on the high street from Bon Marche and Mango (stirrup trousers) and look great paired with alpine style sweaters or a 40s/50s inspired ski jacket. A 1950s inspired ski patterned sweater would also look really retro - you could even get a matching hat and sweater combo knitted from an original vintage pattern for a truly authentic look. If only we could still buy those outfits from the 1939 Montgomery Ward catalogue!
In terms of vintage memorabilia, check out www.vintageskiworld.com for a great selection of vintage ski posters, antique skis and lodge décor. Richard Allen, founder of Vintage Ski World, has been skiing since he was a child and has over time, acquired one of the largest private collections of antique ski equipment, clothing, posters and memorabilia in the world.
The sun may be the last thing you think about on your skiing holiday but it’s notoriously strong from reflecting off the glare of the white snow. It’s tantamount that your eyes are protected, so what better way to complete your vintage look than by purchasing a pair of vintage style sunglasses from Retropeepers? In terms of era, we have you covered.
The sun may be the last thing you think about on your skiing holiday but it’s notoriously strong from reflecting off the glare of the white snow. It’s tantamount that your eyes are protected, so what better way to complete your vintage look than by purchasing a pair of vintage style sunglasses from Retropeepers? In terms of era, we have you covered. For the 1940s look, the Andy round sunglasses (£110.00) tick all the right boxes. They have the classic 1940s shape and the light amber crystal colourway, with smoky lenses will look super authentic. To match the 60s or 70s look, think overstated and oversized. The Francois oval sunglasses (£115.00) in red and black stripe would look so chic paired with a red suit and white boots against the backdrop of the snow.
Model Credits: Lydia Ross and Edward Charles Pryce