The Daily Telegraph
How to look good on the slopes for under £250
Follow the lead of the stylish skiers going for rental, vintage and supermarket bargains, says Tamara Abraham
You’ve booked a last-minute ski holiday for an absolute bargain. All you need now is something to wear on the slopes, and the tired pre-pandemic gear currently gathering dust in the attic just won’t cut it.
If you don’t have friends who can lend you more au courant skiwear, this can be an expensive problem. Performance jackets by traditional snowsport brands such as Helly Hansen, Arc’teryx and Schöffel cost upwards of £280 (for a cult label like Perfect Moment, it’s more like £500). Trousers or salopettes, another £200. Then there are your base layers (easily £100-150 for Merino wool), socks, gloves (one of which you’ll probably lose on a lift), decent goggles that won’t fog up – and that’s before you’ve even thought about the cost of renting a helmet, skis and boots. Suddenly, your budget getaway isn’t very budget at all.
I can empathise. I also want to look the part when cruising down a red run. In the age of social media, holiday snaps are shared with the world, and your on- and off-piste attire can say a lot about your personal style and taste.
There’s also an expectation to be bold. The slopes are catnip for fashion peacocks (see: King Charles’s natty neckerchief, or Heidi Klum in her floral jumpsuit). It’s a visual expression of the sheer joy induced by hurtling down a slope at speed, or bouncing across a series of moguls – although there’s a practical side to that peacockery too; it makes it much easier to identify members of your group in a blizzard.
“You can’t ignore the fact that skiing, more than any other sport, is a social activity with a certain ‘scene’ attached to it, so it’s worth considering your look,” says Telegraph men’s style editor Stephen Doig. “It’s not a fashion parade obviously, but feeling good in your getup does lend a bit of ‘oomph’ to your performance on the blacks too.”
So what are the options for a stylishyet-frugal skier in 2023? If you know where to look, it’s actually not that hard to get kitted out to a standard that both pro skiers and fashion types will appreciate, without spending more than £250. It’s not nothing, but it’s a lot more affordable than it used to be.
If you want glamour and designer labels, rental is your friend and the offering has never been so strong. At fashion rental platform Hurr, skiwear accounts for 20 per cent of total revenue, up from 5 per cent at this time last year.
“It’s a booming category for us,” says founder Victoria Prew. “Skiwear is bulky, it goes in and out of fashion really quickly. And you probably don’t want it in your wardrobe full time. Rental lends itself perfectly to those moments where you want to access something for four to 20 days, but still have the joy of wearing something new.”
Head-to-toe coordinated styles by Perfect Moment (loved by Reese Witherspoon, Bradley Cooper and Emma Roberts for its houndstooth prints and slogan knitwear) is proving popular, Prew reveals, as well as retro all-in-ones by OOSC, which are akin to the kind of thing Princess Diana would have worn in the 1980s. There’s also demand for statement après-skiwear: the Rowing Blazers “I’m a Luxury” jumper (£250 to buy; £38 to rent for four days), inspired by one worn by Diana, is one of the most rented pieces in Hurr’s skiwear, as is a pair of vintage Chanel knitted salopettes (£2,500 to buy; £211 to rent for four days).
High-end rental skiwear for men is harder to find, an opportunity seized upon by Ernest Amoako, founder of Blanqo, which stocks Amundsen, Volcom and Poivre Blanc designs. “Skiing is such an expensive sport to try for the first time and even if you know you’ll love it, high-quality, technical skiwear is a big investment,” he says.
“I learnt to ski when I was 21 and had signed up for a ski season after university. I bought the most affordable jacket I could find, and it fell apart pretty quickly. A friend gave me a really high quality jacket to wear, and over a decade later I still always take it on holiday with me.”
If individuality is important to you, consider a visit to Coal Drops Yard in London’s King’s Cross, where vintage boutique Beyond Retro has been transformed into a second-hand skiwear Mecca. “Some of the ski gear is just full on, particularly from the 80s and early 90s,” says founder Steven Bethell. With jackets starting at £50 and jumpsuits from £60 (shop online at beyondretro.com), it’s proved so popular, he plans to go even bigger and better on the ski offering next winter.
“I’m sure the tech is much much better now,” he admits. “But the construction of skiwear is designed for a long life. It’s the perfect example of something that should be bought secondhand… But I’ve been skiing in a 1950s lumberjack jacket. It may have weighed three times as much, but it’s still performed.”
As a Canadian, Bethell is probably a better skier than most – only the most confident take to the slopes in jeans or lumberjacks, because falling over is not an option – so choose your second-hand ski gear carefully (is it waterproof? Is there a ski pass pocket?) based on your ability.
Anyone squeamish about wearing secondhand kit might prefer to look to Zara, which has launched a sleek and minimalist line of skiwear this season. It’s all black and cream, bar one statement green duvet coat. The ski suits feel a little thin, but they work well under a jacket, as I’ve done here. Another unlikely source? Aldi. Its jackets cost around £35, feature flattering vertical panels, and come in a surprisingly elegant camel and black palette.
Of course, you should take your destination into account too; each resort has a different crowd and aesthetic. The Swiss resort of Zermatt, for instance, is not the place to be too flash, according to Jane Gottschalk, creative director of Perfect Moment. “They take skiing very seriously and it’s not for the faint hearted. I would say it’s low on the fashion side, focus on all-weather tech.”
Ditto Verbier, Switzerland, and Whistler, Canada. In Klosters, you might find yourself sharing a ski lift with royalty, but it’s Gstaad, Lech, Aspen or St Moritz, where you can really pull out all the stops, says Gottschalk. “These are the best destinations in terms of glamour, celebrity and expense,” she says. “Valentino, Chanel and Dior can be seen on the terraces.”
Practicality should always be a consideration, but whether you’re wearing Fendi or Aldi on the slopes this season, the most important thing is that it makes you feel good. In a cost of living crisis, our holidays are more precious than ever, and your kit has the potential to enhance the pleasure.
“If you go into our Dalston store, you’ll see the words on the floor of the changing rooms: ‘If it makes you happy, you should wear it.’ says Bethell. “That’s the joy of it. Especially if you’re balling down a hill in neon green.”
Prew echoes that sentiment. “Fashion is such a bringer of joy and fun,” she says. “It always comes back to the dopamine hit.”