Fashion mind: Clothes with style | Mountain style |

Fashion mind: Clothes with style | Mountain style

Cassie Pence
Vail CO, Colorado
Icebreaker clothing is designed for high-alpine adventures.

Fashion police would have a field day in the mountains. The fashion no-nos that go down here on a daily basis would make most designers vomit upon sight.

Take for example this all too familiar scenario: A man stops in at his local brewer’s for a coffee … he’s wearing padded spandex. (Gasp.) I know, it’s worse than you thought.

But it’s not our fault. Mountain folk are on-the-go people. We have no time to think about fashion. Nor does the mountain psyche cater to expression through clothing. We’re more concerned with hiking to the top of a fourteener before weather moves in, and then making it to our neighbor’s barbecue, to which we will ride our long boards or beach cruisers. And how can you do all that in a pair of Prada wedge sandals?

This doesn’t mean that we can’t look good. (Or that we have to resort to wearing spandex in public.) It’s about finding clothing that is both stylish and flexible ” clothes that are as comfortable on the bike as they are on the bar stool drinking margaritas. It’s easy if you know where to look.

Here are my favorite summer picks from companies that excel in creating clothes for the active body and fashion mind.

Wool in the summer?

Only if it’s merino

Icebreaker, out of New Zealand, makes clothes solely from merino wool and specifically for high-alpine adventures. When most of us think of wool, we think of that itchy variety worn during the winter. But merino wool is soft and can be woven very thin. Icebreaker’s Superfine line is perfect for summer hiking, biking and running. Lucky for us, the designs are modern, too. Think Gap or Banana Republic.

“Superfine still gives you performance,” Alycia Cavadi, public relations for Icebreaker, said. “Wicking moisture, keeping you dry, keeping you cool when the day warms up and keeping you warm as the temperature falls, as it often does in the mountains at night in summer.”

Writer’s pick:

The Superfine 190 Plant It Tee, featuring a flowering graphic; next to it reads in teeny tiny letters, “When I’m done with this shirt, I am going to plant it.” Because this tee is literally biodegradable. This tee can go anywhere.

For the mountain fashionista:

The Superfine 140 Tech T Lite, a super-soft T-shirt, reminiscent of James Perse’s tissue tees, with a feminine cut. It’s the lightest merino on the market, according to Cavadi, but it still keeps you cool and warm, so perfect for hiking when the weather is a little iffy.

For the tomboy:

Superfine GT Elite Crew. More sporty than Icebreaker’s regular Superfine line, but this tee still wouldn’t be out of place in public. This pick is more high performance with eyelet, mesh-like fabric on the back and sleeves for major breathability. Translation? You can do a bad-ass hike in the morning without smelling at your lunch date. Bonus: The shirt is cut to fit the straps of a Camelbak.

Loony for Lululemon

Lululemon was founded in Kitsilano, Vancouver, and its first store featured a design studio, retail store and shared space with a yoga studio. Lululemon makes yoga-inspired clothing, so all of their items have chafe-free, flat seams and are wicking to keep you dry. But beyond the active basics, Lululemon’s clothes are chic and sexy, and they incorporate elements of street fashion into their products, like bold colors, low-cut waistbands and flared bottoms. Lululemon’s tanks, most which have bra support, are the most transitional. Pair them with cargo shorts or a peasant skirt for summer flings.

Writer’s pick:

Tree Climbing Tank. Besides the playful name, this tank, in rubber ducky yellow, is loose fitting with a shelf bra. But the back lines are the tank’s real allure. The V shape gathers at the back exude femininity, while its bare shoulders show off all those reps you’ve been doing, either scaling rock or on the yoga mat.

For Miss Sassy:

Summer Long Short. Playing tennis or riding from Edwards to the Hot Summer Nights concerts? These slim-fit, low-rise hipster shorts in powder puff pink are perfect for that sassy, athletic girly girl. The shorts also feature an elastic removable belt, making them even more appropriate for the street. Bonus: Side leg zip pocket for money and keys.

For the green girl:

BBB Sheer V-Neck S/S T. Looks alone sell this super lightweight T: ’80s diagonal stripes, feminine V neck in front and back and cap sleeves. Digging deeper, this shirt is made with Lululemon’s vitasea technology, consisting of seaweed, which releases marine amino acids, minerals and vitamins into the skin upon contact with moisture. According to the Web site,, the fabric provides anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, stress-reducing, hydrating and detoxifying features. If that’s true, could fashion be the next miracle drug?

Surf’s up with Billabong

OK, so Vail isn’t exactly known for its big surf (at least on water), but Billabong, a company started by Gordon Merchant, who designed boardshorts in his kitchen, still fits into our mountain lifestyle. Unlike Icebreaker and Lululemon, Billabong, especially its women’s line, is more of a fashion-first pick. But their products are durable, too, for skateboarding, surfing and bike riding with Koozie in hand.

Writer’s pick:

Penny, floral print smocked dress. I already own this black and white beauty. Made of jersey, which stretches in every way for every activity, it’s comfortable and flattering because of the empire waist and adjustable shoulder straps. But this dress, which is sure to become my summer favorite, has pockets. So for those tomboy types who hate carrying a purse, you can very easily fit keys, cash, credit card and lip balm in this dress without losing any of the form-fitting lines.

Forever young:

Liana, printed solid jersey short jumper with spaghetti tie straps and contrast printed yoke with wood buttons. Who says we can’t be 4 forever? This jumper beckons our inner child to come and play, which is exactly where this outfit should go ” to the park, the sandbox and up into the tree house.

Little Miss Sunshine:

Rise, color-blocked boardshorts with embroidered logo. There’s a reason Merchant made a living making boardshorts; his are the best. This one with rays of sky blue and lime green shooting out from one side shout sunshine. These are what you wear from the kayak to the bar this summer. s

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