Get the inside scoop on looking slick on the slopes with pro tips for clothing, attitude, gear, and etiquette that will upgrade your winter mountain cred.
Every ski insider knows that a sloppy style kills the vibe. Sure, not everyone can be a designer fashion icon and a professional skier at the same time. Only Eileen Gu is Eileen Gu. But there are certain unwritten rules to keep in mind – etiquette, if you must. Let’s be honest here, most people go to the mountains for the après rather than the actual skiing – and that is completely understandable. That doesn’t mean, however, that the verdict finds you not guilty of whatever crime you are committing. If you want to make sure you get it right this coming season, stay put. Here’s how to avoid falling into the all the gear and no idea trap.
You might be wondering ‘why would I care what some dopey kid thinks of my vibe?’. Well, you definitely shouldn’t. Take this as an intrinsic deed. In other words: know your shit, and you will feel more confident. You wouldn’t believe the weight you can take off your impostor syndrome just by acing your fashion on the slopes – skiing is all about attitude. You can fake it with no need to make it. How you are perceived solely depends on how you present yourself, and if done right, it’s a pretty powerful placebo to boost your confidence, and hence your performance on the skis.
First order of business: clothing. The key here lies in the harmony, since a single thing out of proportion causes the aesthetic to fall apart. Luckily, there are some simple pointers everyone can agree upon. For instance, pants always go over boots. Under no circumstance should you ever tuck them inside, as boots will appear chunkier than they really are and your legs will seem way shorter than they ever should. This one is non negotiable. You should also avoid the jerry gap, that infamous space between your helmet and your goggles that connoisseurs hate so much. If the fit is not seamless, your goggles are too small for you, but a chunky goggle frame is not a good sign either.
Third, please don’t open your jacket completely. You will most likely look like a sailboat as the wind shoots it backwards as you cruise down the slope. Winter seasons are slowly but steadily getting warmer, and you should definitely invest in an outfit that is properly layered. Combining thinner garments that you can easily switch around will really help. Choose something that fits your body type and, more importantly, your personality. If you’re looking for technical stuff, Norrona and Arc’teryx are the top of the line. If you would rather choose glamorous luxury, you can’t go wrong with long-standing Moncler and Bogner. Whatever you wear, just make sure you put in the panache such a piece deserves.
Let’s talk swagger. As we said, how you feel feeds back into how you behave, and it is really easy to tell when someone is overwhelmed by their way of moving around when not on their skis. Walking with boots can seem a bit of a daunting task for the inexperienced. Make sure you get a pair with GripWalk sole technology, the latest innovation. You would be getting a dinosaur, in ski technology terms, otherwise. As the name suggests, you will have more grip – and will be able to hold your own even after that last beer at the pub. Also, open up your buckles! It takes two seconds and it will make a massive difference on how gracefully you move. After all, you don’t want to look like an astronaut on the international space station. Just make sure your boots are properly tight-fitted before you take off.
Another golden rule is to be mindful of the space around you. This applies to the manic pole-swinging we so often see, as well as to the million ways of carrying your skis wrong. Do whatever feels more comfortable, as long as you are not poking anyone in the eye. It’s hard to get out of your head when it’s up in the clouds, but not breaking this bad habit might cost you your slope cred.
On to the final pickle: choice of equipment. For your own enjoyment (and safety), make sure you get the right pair of skis, poles, and should you need it, a backpack. Unfortunately, skis are not like Ikea’s emblematic all-purpose blue bags. Depending on the terrain, your level and a myriad of other things, you will need a ski of a certain profile. Without getting too technical, you want a wider ski with a more pronounced rocker for fresh powder and a narrower ski (particularly at the waist) with a traditional camber for groomed snow. If you don’t know (or care) what any of this means, just ask your ski shop. The most important thing here is to be realistic with your level. You might want those race-edition Stöcklis, but crème de la crème skis tend to require a certain degree of technical know-how. Be humble – sometimes less is more. This also goes to chronic packers who take a stuffed 50l backpack for just a quick cruise. If you’re going off piste, you certainly should take your avalanche safety equipment with you. But you rarely need three sweaters, a foldable yoga matt and an assortment of charcuterie. Don’t be that person! You want to feel light and breezy, and you can’t do that if you pick the wrong equipment – especially too much of it.
Long story short, your flair on the slopes is like a three-course meal. If the entrée sucks, everything else suddenly does too. Be impeccable in your clothing, be elegant in the way you move, and pick your gear wisely. Luckily, that will happen easily if you just relax. Keep cool, you are not at a tea party. Ultimately, attitude precedes image.