Truth be told, you should always wear what you feel best in, what you feel warm in, and what will fit in your luggage, that said, rocking some great mountain town style can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of a ski vacation. That’s why we’ve compiled this concise guide of what to wear, how to wear it, and where to wear it based on the mountain town you’ll be venturing to this ski season.
Classic Colorado resorts made their names for big skiing as well as big fashion, and while style standards have shifted over the decades, the glitzed-out villages at these resorts remain places to see and be seen. That doesn’t mean you have to get glamorous, but hey – it’s a nice excuse to put on your winter best for a night out on the town. Pack and plan ahead, or indulge in some serious shopping at the boutiques upon arrival – most specialise in high-end outerwear that blends city style with functionality.
Women: Pair waterproof faux fur boots with a cosy knee length parka for maximum style and protection for the elements. The Sorel Joan of Arctic Boots and Patagonia Down With It Parka will keep you warm and fabulous as you cruise the cobblestone streets of Vail or the art galleries of Aspen.
Men: You may be in a mountain town, but note that city-slicker accessories like a solid cashmere scarf easily transfer to mountain town style. Pair an Aran-Knit Scarf with an Aran Wool Sweater and nice jeans for a night out on the town.
This style happens to be my favourite. Why? It perfectly blends wild west attitude with hipster flair for the mountain town getup dripping with “cool”. There’s something about these Rocky Mountain resorts far away from the I-70 corridor that offers a sincerely western character to community, and that character shows through in the fantastic style of locals and tourists alike. Expect to see old puffy down jackets paired with designer cowboy boots, and ten-gallon hats atop men and women donning their fanciest flannels for a night of two-stepping at the local bluegrass bar.
Women: Authentic cowboy boots are a must around the streets of Jackson Hole and company – invest in a good pair when you arrive, or roll into town wearing your favourite Fryes from home. A goose-down vest like the Marmot Jena Vest is the most versatile layer for a day on the slopes and evening of après.
Men: The staple style item for mountain town dudes is a good flannel button-down shirt – Stio is a go-to for high quality and good fit. For bitter cold days or post-skiing beers, be sure to pack a good hat, like the Mountain Hardwear Dockland's Beanie; baseball caps don’t cut it when the sun goes down.
New England Hip
New England is all about sustainable clothing and gear that withstands the elements while offering understated, laid-back style appeal. Think wool sweaters for the dampness and waterproof shells that can stuffed into any pack for when the weather turns. Hardcore New Englanders are well known for using gear and outerwear until it falls apart – which means they choose the highest quality goods that will likely last a decade or longer. Keep it simple with a few staples that will wear well and never go out of style.
Women: Hunt down a woollen skirt like the Uniqlo Wool Blended Mini Skirt which you can wear over thermals at après or walking around town. We also recommend a waterproof outer layer – New England weather is notoriously temperamental, and you’ll be happy for the protection if the rain or hail sets in. Keep it local with the LL Bean Patroller Jacket.
Men: Score cool points and the most durable pair of pants you’ll ever own with classic Carhartts, which use 100% cotton ring-spun washed duck fabric for superb durability. Pair them with Kinco 901 gloves and you’ll blend in with the most seasoned locals.
European resorts tend to take ski town fashion to the next level. Forget about outdoor stores sporting beanies and generic down jackets: the streets of resorts like St. Moritz boast major labels like Burberry, Gucci, and Cartier, amongst smaller boutiques with fabulous finds. This doesn’t mean you have to burn a hole in your wallet, but it does give you an idea of these Alpine resort vibes. We actually love the blend of casual après skiers that don ski boots until late night and club-goers who get glammed up for nights on the dance floor. Find your happy medium, and follow these recommendations for everyday basics.
Women: Plan for a few versatile basics. A cashmere sweater dress over leggings can be worn around town or out to a fondue dinner, and stylish sunglasses are a signature Alps accessory. The Treasure&Bond Turtleneck Sweater Dress and Smith Sydney Sunglasses will keep you cosy and chic.
Men: Leave the loafers at home and be sure to bring a good pair of snow boots (the Sorel Madson Moc Toe Boot is a favourite) for walking around the alpine villages. At least one button-down dress shirt will suit you up for a night of dancing at the clubs; pack more for multiple party nights, and laundry can be inconvenient in the Alps.
Big Mountain Best
True to their big mountain roots, resorts like Whistler and those surrounding Lake Tahoe boast an unmistakable flair for all things outdoors, including excellent style. Wellness and big mountain adventure are the core of lifestyle in these special places, and you’ll see quite clearly that clothing style falls right in line. Moisture-wicking layers are best to take you from chilly mornings on the slopes with sunbathing at après on sunny afternoons. Bright colours abound, and even the dudes wear their yoga pants around town.
Women: These big mountain towns are all about wellness and versatility: pack leggings that double for yoga class and lounging fireside with a hot toddy. Alo Goddess Leggings pair well with must-have accessories like The North Face Triple Cable Pom Beanie.
Men: Keep it casual with your favourite jeans and merino wool layers for calorie-burning tram laps followed by après on sunny slopeside decks. Get the look with Mountain Khakis jeans and Patagonia 100% merino wool thermals.