Ski fashion in Vail |

Ski fashion in Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Snow Fashion 1 DT 11-19-08

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Even with the stock market mired in a record slump, we in Vail still have to shell out for necessities like food, gas and Gor-Tex coats. I did a little window shopping for you at local gear stores. Check out these five style trends for the mountain:

Remember how mom always told you to dress for the job you want, not the job you have? Now that expression can justify dropping a few buck on snowboarding gear. Labels like Burton and Volcom are duplicating jackets worn by the pros. That means you can now look and ride (cough, yeah right) like your favorite pro.

Oakley trotted out a $280 Gretchen Bleiler jacket. A tribute to the 5-foot-5-inch snowboarder, the yellow coat sports leather-encased snaps and a belt, and can be found at Vail Mountain Adventure Center in Vail. Just do yourself a favor: Don’t attempt Bleiler’s signature move at home. They call it the “Crippler 540” for a reason.

Also at Vail Mountain Adventure Center, guys can find a Volcom jacket inspired by Norwegian boarder Torstein Horgmo. Red and blue with black-and-gray stripes, this $360 Gor-Tex coat comes with everything but Horgmo’s gold metal from the X-games.

At Billabong in Vail, boarders will find an acid-green Tara Dakides coat ($230). Trying on this waterproof coat will leave you wondering why Sports Illustrated named Dakides “The Coolest Sports Woman in 2001” instead of you.

On the goggles front, glasses cases across the valley are packed with pro-inspired models. For instance, the Danny Kass Oakley goggles ($145) sport a black-and-white pattern frame with the rider’s name etched on the strap.

This year’s hues are louder than the tunes blasting from your iPod. Check out the Bonfire jacket in the photo. With white, magenta, lime green, yellow and navy splashed in a festive pattern, the $160 coat looks “like an acid trip, almost,” notes Justin Myers, assistant manager of retail at the Vail Mountain Adventure Center.

“Flat, just plain colors are kind of played out now,” Myers said. “Almost every jacket has a pattern or a crazy button or a unique zipper ” something that makes their jacket different from every other jacket.”

Oversized buttons and decorative belts spice up women’s Bonfire coats, while a pair of snowpants rock a fake gold chain. Meanwhile, a men’s Mountain Hardwear jacket comes in a dayglow lime green. The Gor-Tex coat sells for $495 at Ptarmigan Sports in Edwards.

“It’s a color you don’t see every day and haven’t seen in a while,” store manager Mike Sayers said. “And your friends definitely won’t lose you.”

Once confined to professors’ suit jackets, tweed has crept into snow gear. OK, not tweed exactly. Weave and patterns once associated with tweed. Clothing companies have taken “Twill” and “Herringbone” and turned them into waterproof fashion statements.

“A lot of companies are coming out with fabrics that don’t look waterproof, but they are,” Myers said.

To demonstrate, Jeff Evans, general manager of Christy Sports in Beaver Creek, poured a glass of water onto the sleeve of a ladies’ twill Obermeyer jacket. “That’s kind of the craziness of it all,” he said, as the water beaded up and ran off the coat. These jackets may look as spongy as your tweed couch from the thrift store, but they are deceptively impermeable. At Billabong in Vail, a turquoise herringbone jacket with rainbow threads sells for $165.

From the twill camp, a pair of black and white Billabong pants are likewise peppered with rainbow-colored accents ($125). For men, Billabong came out with a military-style herringbone coat in mustard yellow.

“Just overall, it looks like something you might have seen in years past, wars past,” store manager Jay Madrid said. The tweed-inspired trend is evident at Ptarmigan Sports as well.

“The ski pants are starting to look like street pants as far as the herringbone and twill,” store manager Mike Sayers said, gesturing to a pair of brown herringbone pants. “Like these pants: They look like you could wear them right out to the bar.”

Ninety-nine percent of women are always cold. That’s not a real statistic, but it’s common knowledge. To keep the thermally-challenged gender warm, clothing companies in years past designed bulky down coats.

Only in recent years have those brands produced slimmer models. Thin down jackets from brands like Patagonia, Marmot and The North Face are the most popular women’s item at Ptarmigan Sports, Sayers said. Women find them more flattering than their poofier counterparts.

“They don’t (want to) look like the Michelin man, but they still like to be warm,” Sayers said.

The shells of yore were stiff and boxy. This season, designers produced softer shells that stretch slightly.

“The material has gotten a lot better,” Evans said, gesturing to a zebra print Fire and Ice shell ($299). “If you put this on, it feels like a second skin.”

At Ptarmigan Sports, an Arcteryx coat is made from Gore-Tex soft shell. “It tends to be what men are gravitating to as far as shells,” Sayers said. “They’re getting away from hard shells and going toward soft shells.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

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