How to rock the slopes
Let's be honest here. For women, there are two imperatives when dressing for the slopes. And only one of them is practicality.
The other, of course is looking good, though in skiing as in most other arenas, looking fabulous depends, to a significant degree, on looking appropriate.
In this case, "appropriate" is about dressing for infinite quantities of snow and ice, temperatures that veer between below-zero and midday melting and, of course, the actual skiing.
Add to this the potential to fall down - thus rendering, for example, achingly fashionable, elbow-length cashmere gloves about as useful as a pair of Jimmy Choos on a mermaid - and you quickly realize that practicality is an undervalued virtue.
Fortunately, combining practicality and style has become much easier in the last decade, with technical advances in fabric, making jackets, ski pants and salopettes lighter, warmer, more wind- and waterproof and more "breathable", as well as often better cut and, mostly but not universally, in better colours.
When choosing outerwear the water resistance and "breathability" ratings are both crucial: the best offer 20,000mm/20k of water resistance and 20,000g of breathability, but unless you are about to be employed as one of Sir David Attenborough's crew on Frozen Planet Two, 5,000mm/5k and 5,000g is adequate to keep you dry, warm and comfortable.
Chanel apart, where darling Karl has a loyal clientele of Russian oligarchs and their wives for his ski clothes, accessories and even his skis, most designers seem to leave the field to specialist brands like Moncler whose jackets, ironically, have moved from the slopes to the streets in recent seasons.
Other skiwear brands worth seeking out include Kjus, whose jackets are Moncler pricey, but very on-trend, and include a plain black women's jacket at £960, and Noronna, which has truly gorgeous colours like sizzling lime or purple trimmed with red zips. Saloman, Spyder, Roxy, Peak Performance and The North Face, all offer some strong styling as long as you ignore some of the crimes-against-fashion colours, like BHS turquoise and warm (not hot) pink.
Since skiwear is so much easier to buy online - being mainly about length, shape and technical stuff - Internet shopping has opened up a new world for skiers. So, in addition to default high street destinations like Snow & Rock, there are internet ski-wear specialists such as Perfect Moment (www.perfectmoment.com) offering funky jackets and ski-pants that feature bold prints and bright colours, with prices from around £195.
Topshop, too, has its online capsule ski collection - also available in a few stores - with zingy lemon as this year's highlight colour, as well as the perennial black and white. Jackets are around £95.
Fashion website GoBritish (www.gobritish.co.uk), with their extravagantly glamorous cashmere and fur accessories from Hockley, should be the online destination for all après-ski snow queens, while those possessing less Oligarch-like budgets for après-ski wear will love the beautiful alpaca scarves and hats from eco-luxe specialists Toft Alpaca (www.thetoftalpacashop.co.uk), which include a snow-flake beanie at £79 and ecru knitted scarf with cream furry pom-poms at £64.
For those a bit over Uggs for apres-ski, Celtic Sheepskin make durable sheepskin boots, handmade in Cornwall, using high quality skins and traditional craftsmanship. Double stitched and supportive so they don't collapse over the heel, the boots are machine washable - and cost £120. The Universal Traveller collection from Cushe is also designed for comfort and durability. At around £110, they have Navajo inspired embroidery, lambswool lining, memory foam cushioning, arch supports, and are waterproof.
For those vital under layers, Odlo, the Swiss-based sportswear specialist, has highly functional underwear combining comfort and breathability. Seamless and with an ergonomic fit that moulds to the body, the zipped base layer vests (£68) and leggings (£55) also incorporate patented technology that prevents odour problems normally associated with synthetic underwear. More affordably, Aldi offer excellent long-sleeved thermal ski vests and leggings at £8.99 each.