Ski & Snow Fashion Through The Years

It’s that time of year’s so cold we can’t feel our faces and the exciting build up to Christmas and New Year is now sadly behind us. When all we’re faced with is a long stretch of gloomy winter blues, the only silver lining for many of us is dreams of a skiing holiday. For those of us that don’t have any kind of snowy mountain getaway in the pipeline, though, there’s still room for appreciation for one of the most prominent annual fashion trends.

Loved for its bold colour palettes, rich fabrics and novelty accessories, skiwear has always been one of the most distinct categories of dress out there. From chunky knitwear to ski jackets, whenever it’s cold enough, you’ll always see people unashamedly sporting snow gear both on and off the slopes.

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The last century has seen huge advances in the sport, not only in the materials and equipment needed but also in the clothes we wear when facing a colder climate. The innovation of skiwear over the years has inspired many designers to get on board to invent gear that was not only sufficiently warm and practical, but also on-trend and well aligned with the style of the times.

Some of the boldly obnoxious ski fashion from the past is unmistakable from the more plain and subtle gear of today, and here at Rokit we reckon the way to stand out on the slopes is obviously to shop vintage. Here we reminisce about some of the unforgettable trends that skiwear has seen over the years, some firmly in the past and some revolutionary enough to have stuck around today!


Bridgette Bardot Skiing in France, and Lucy & Ethel, 1950s. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

Though we admit that most of us here at Rokit are not old enough to remember this decade ourselves, there’s a lot to be said for its uniqueness in all areas of fashion, especially skiwear.

Due to the quicker and easier access to travel and the invention of many new materials, the 50s was the decade when skiing first really solidified itself as a recreational sport. Still in its teething stage, the fashion that came with it still had a long way to come in terms of practicality at the time, so it was also was the last period where ski clothing bore very little resemblance to what we wear today.

Bogner ski suit on the cover of Grazia Italia, Dec 1951. Willy and Maria Bogner. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

Skiwear worked wonders for textile technology when people discovered that synthetics were a lot more waterproof than natural fibers. Brand new polyester (introduced in 1953) jumpers were everywhere, along with other exciting new fabrics like Balenciaga’s Cracknyl, and one of the most revolutionary inventions of the time, the Bogner stretch pants. Created by Bogner’s wife Maria Lux, the pants were made from a wool/nylon blend with a strap at the inset to keep the pants snug in ski boots.

The stirrup pants were hugely successful and with icons like Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Jayne Mansfield all catching onto the trend, everyone wanted a pair.

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L'Officiel, December 1962. Pierre Cardin Outfits, 1963. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

The swinging 60s saw skiwear really starting to develop its glamorous side. With royalty and Hollywood stars seen hitting the slopes and more ski scenes on the silver screen, a new generation of fashion designers were fascinated by the allure of ski life.

Jean Claude Killy, 1960s. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

Skiwear became more fashion conscious, inspired by mod runway looks, with high fashion fabrics and tighter fit clothing like the newly invented spandex. It was the decade when skiwear became sexy. Audrey Hepburn in Charade is the epitome of 60s skiwear, which is said by many to be the height of ski fashion.

Audrey Hepburn, Charade, 1963. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

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Mike Reinhardt, Condé Nast, 1972. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

Everyone knows the 70s was a time of the avant-garde and experimentation, and this was certainly the case for skiwear which saw a serious advancement in technology during this decade. Aside from the futuristic moon boots, fake fur and Pierre Cardin’s unforgettable white ribbed bodysuit with a hood that looked like a space helmet, the 70s was when ski wear designers got clever.

Pierre Cardin Outfit, 1971. Courrèges Knit Suit, Vogue, 1972. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

The fleece midlayer and quilted nylon jackets with zip off sleeves were introduced, fashion breakthroughs that became regular fashion items off the slopes, and are still worn today. Ski fashion was different and it was fun, and this decade saw it finally breaking into the mainstream.

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Five people pose in winter sport outfits in France, Dec 1984. Pic: Getty Images

The 80s was probably the most distinct and unmistakable era of ski wear, and one that not everyone dares to re-live. People were zipping around the slopes in overalls and romper suits, and obnoxious abstract patterns, fluorescent colours and animal print were everywhere.

Princess Bianca Hanau-Schaumburg, 80s. Pic: Shrimpton Couture

Princess Bianca Hanau-Schaumburg is the perfect picture of the garish glamour of the era, pictured here at her Gstaad chalet with her classic goggle tan, glass of champagne and ridiculous Mongolian fur boots. We’re not sure the world will ever be able to top 80s ski fashion.

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Prince Charles with young Harry and William, 1990s. Pic: Getty Images

Though initially not far off the gaudy trends of the 80s, the 90s said goodbye to the perms and the legwarmers and toned ski fashion down a notch. The clothing became less showy and more practical with the rise of environmentally aware outdoor companies like The North Face and Patagonia, brands which have ended up dominating street style in recent years as well as sport.

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With the ever-growing popularity of snowboarding and extreme winter sports, ski fashion today is futuristic with a constant need for technological innovation, but its designs will always somewhat be an amalgamation of the past. Although certain lurid trends will likely be left firmly where they came from, designers, skiers and fashion lovers alike will always continue to revisit the past for style inspiration.

Thankfully here at Rokit by our very nature we’ve got skiwear galore from all your favourite vintage eras available in all Rokit stores and of course here online! Shop Mens and Womens skiwear now.

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