Today, thanks to the regular arrival of technically advanced fabrics, looking gorgeous on the slopes doesn’t preclude comfort and warmth. Which is fortunate because there is nothing especially glamorous about focusing on fashion at the expense of practicality and ending up looking more like a drowned (or frozen) rabbit than yummy bunny.
Experienced skiers don’t need to be reminded that successful snow dressing is all about wearing lots of layers, since temperatures can be sizzling when you are in the sun, and then dip dramatically as the afternoon progresses. Ideally, you want to start your layers with a thermal vest that looks good enough to show off (restaurants are invariably well heated and even if you are lunching al fresco, a combination of sun and outdoor heaters can require a quick peel of outer layers). Uniqlo’s Heat-Tech camisoles and tees are pretty enough to show off, won’t make you clammy, are available in around a dozen colours and cost a distinctly affordable £5.99, while Topshop’s Sno collection includes vests (£12, or £15 for the long-sleeve version) in nude and grey that fit the current underwear-as-outerwear vibe.
The perfect mid-layer should be streamlined to avoid comparisons with the Michelin man, and in a fabric engineered to be warm, lightweight and breathable. Eider has fitted, long-sleeve tops with zip neck and flat-lock seams in Thermostretch fabric, available at Snow & Rock; while for those who prefer wool, New Zealand company, Icebreaker (www.icebreaker.com) has vests, tees, camisoles and leggings in high quality merino wool that is light enough to be worn singly or in layers, offers effective insulation yet never feels clammy.
It is high-tech fabrics and the quality of the filling that allows your ski-jacket to achieve that essential combination of style, warmth and comfort as well as repelling water. If you are choosing a down-filled jacket, look for a higher “fill” — 400-450 is medium, 500-550 is good, with lower fill in the sleeves for ease of movement. For the outer-shell, there are a slew of waterproof, windproof, heat-retaining, breathable fabrics including Omni-shield, HyVent, HellyTech and Saloman’s ClimaPro2.
Once you have ascertained your jacket is made in the right fabric and has the requisite features (snap-away powder skirt, internal stretch cuffs, goggle pocket, MP3 pocket, etc), you can focus on colour (monochrome is classic while the season’s on-trend colours are paintbox brights acid lime, yellow, fuchsia and purple) and styling (streamlined is always good to show off a gym-toned body). Brands that combine good cut and sizzling colours include The North Face, Columbia, Eider and Schoffel.
It is the specialist shops like Snow & Rock and Black’s which offer the best selection of skiwear, though you will still find skiwear in Harrods, which offers not only technical wizardry from brands like Dynastar, Nordica, Salomon, Killy and Spyder, but the ski collections from Prada, Pucci, Dior, Fendi and Moncler. Fenwick Brent Cross is also a great one-stop shop for skiwear, with collections by North Face, Degre 7, Campagnolo, Columbia, Ice Peak and Poivre Blanc.