You’ve had an excellent day in the snow: skiing, riding, tubing, snow-biking, perhaps even doing a round of snow yoga. But now the sun is setting, the fire’s roaring in the fireplace, your friends and family are starting to gather around, and it’s time for a hot cup of cocoa, an ice-cold beer, a good bottle of red, or perhaps a snifter of vintage port. But what to wear?
Whether you’ve earned that drink by exceeding your personal best outdoors, or whether you’re basically faking it, having spent the entire day inside at the spa (yes, we’ve done that once or twice), this is a chance to relax, unwind, and be both chic and totally comfortable – how many times does life present such a wonderful opportunity?
Our deep belief about après-ski is that you are allowed to be completely at ease. If you over-think it, you’ll take the magic and fun out of it. Your work for the day is done now. Don’t stress.
Here’s our simple set of guidelines on how to luxuriate in one of the happiest times of winter:
Have fun with color. Your ultimate color palette depends on your mood, your coloring, and what’s in your closet. We favor colors naturally found in winter as our guide: snow; ice; the night sky; moonlight, evergreens; bird feathers, the fur of foxes and raccoons; the hues of deer and moose. That can translate into lovely colors like winter white; sapphire blue; charcoal grey, cardinal red, rich dark brown, or forest green. We generally abandon black at moments like these, and go with softer colors like navy, camel and grey, but that’s your call.
Play with texture. Cable-knit sweaters are an excellent option for all – a chunky pullover or a cardigan, either will do. You could choose a more fitted rib knit. Or a fisherman’s knit (the pros call these Aran knits, and the best ones are hand-knit or hand-loomed). You could go with embroidered or appliqued knits to add some variety. Or sport your favorite argyle sweater.
Be a little flaky. Go ahead, embrace your inner preppy and wear that Fair Isle sweater. Snowflake prints are not just acceptable, they’re practically de rigueur après ski, so why not go for it? Intarsia sweaters with polar bears, skis, snowmen, chair lifts and snow-related jokes or phrases would also be cool. Or just rock a tee or a sweatshirt from your favorite ski resort.
Keep it soft. Hand-feel is crucial for comfort, and we think that après ski items should feel like PJs when they touch your skin (many luxury brands now sell “loungewear” that would work well around the fire with loved ones; they’re basically pajamas with a tiny bit more structure and coverage). That means literally feeling around in your closet or your sweater drawer as you pack for your trip for items that are luxuriously soft. If you’re wearing a turtleneck under a sweater, it should never be scratchy, or too tight at the neck. Recently, we discovered a new brand of cashmere hoodies with fresh and fun prints that are perfect for hanging out in front of the fireplace: it’s called Chinti and Parker, and we bought and road-tested a couple of them, and they’re fantastic (and no, we are NOT being paid to say that, or anything else in this post). Guys can opt for joggers instead of jeans – Loro Piana makes cashmere sweat pants that would fit the bill nicely. We love wearing a faux fur scarf at the end of a long cold winter adventure. You’ve played hard all day, and you deserve a cushy cocoon now.
Keep it sporty. We don’t wear much jewelry après ski, because the look is meant to be sports-inspired. Ditto high heels and heavy makeup. Not necessary and not on-point. If you wouldn’t ski in it, or work out in it, this isn’t the time to wear it. Meaning you should opt for really simple earrings, and probably nothing more in terms of jewelry. Save the bling for your beach vacation.
Don’t lose your balance. It’s pretty hard to screw up après ski style – but the one way to do so is to wear too much of anything – as in, too many prints, too many over-sized items, too much fur. Nailing this look is no different from any other – you want a flattering silhouette, a maximum of two “statement” areas of visual focus, and an effortless feel to it all. This is definitely not a time to try too hard.
Hat hair is fine. If you have to go outside, grab one of those adorable knit beanies, preferably with a poof of fur or a pompom on top. Or rock a trapper’s cap lined in shearling. It always makes us smile when we’re walking the streets of Manhattan on a cold day and seeing the incredible array of funny, whimsical and beautiful winter hats that are on display. Fun for you, and fun for everyone who sees you.
Shoes are optional. If you’re hanging out at home – yours or someone else’s – by all means, ditch the footwear altogether and pad around in your sock feet. There are tons of super-soft, warm, brightly patterned socks and slippers for times like these. If you’re at a bar or a restaurant, we vote for lace-up shearling- or fur-lined booties, or those iconic shaggy fur booties that you see everywhere in Aspen – that’s probably the closest you’ll be allowed to get to sock feet in a food service establishment.
Which luxury brands are best for après ski? Many of the same ones we recommend for snow sports. A simple rule of thumb that we use? Go with brands that originate in places with long cold winters. Swiss, German, Austrian, French, Italian, Canadian, and anything from Scandinavia – you get the idea. Brands that grew up in countries where nailing the concept of fashionable shelter from the cold is well understood. A sample list, by no means comprehensive, includes: Kjus, Falke, Arc’teryx, Canada Goose, Dale of Norway, Fusalp, Perfect Moment, Rossignol, Bogner, Hanro, Zimmerli, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Bruno Cucinelli, Armani and Vilebrequin (this chic French swimwear brand just entered the ski and après ski market). Prefer to buy American but still want luxury craftsmanship? Your options include Ralph Lauren, M. Miller, Nils, or Overland, or you can shop legendary ski shop Gorsuch.
Don’t forget that as you’re getting ready for a fun evening, you need to hydrate and moisturize. It’s not chic to be parched with thirst, or scaly from the dry air.
We think that does it: great outfit, roaring fire, good companions, and your favorite beverage. Heaven. First round’s on us.