Snapshot: Fashion on the Slopes

From the heavy wool fabrics of the last century to high-tech materials such as Gore-Tex and stretch fabrics, ski fashion reflects not only the history of skiing, but also the evolution of society. A look into the history of ski fashion.
byDora Filli (Dokumentationsbibliothek St. Moritz)

Dora Filli is the head of the Documentation Library St. Moritz. The library documents the history, present, and development of St. Moritz. In short, it is the memory of the municipality of St. Moritz

Fashion on the slopes, circa 1960

What should I wear when skiing? Nowadays, technical fabrics, stretch, Gore-Tex, Windstopper and down substitutes are commonplace.

In the early days of skiing, around 1900, this was a challenging question. Heavy woollen fabrics and ankle gaiters were an option for men, who were more likely to be found on skis. The few women wore long wool skirts, cardigans and large hats. Clothes that were normal for everyday wear, but not comfortable or practical.

It was not until after the First World War that it became common and acceptable for women to wear trousers for sports. More emphasis was placed on functionality and the zipper, an invention from the First World War, was introduced into fashion. The so-called Norwegian suit, consisting of wide trousers that tapered towards the bottom and a short jacket, became standard equipment for skiers. Woollen pullovers, hats and gloves were also worn. The skirt, however, remained compulsory for women off the slopes.

In the early 1950s, the invention of elastane brought the first stretchable fabrics onto the market. The Munich company Bogner sold the first stretch ski pants, called stirrup pants, in 1953. The use of synthetics soon became the norm. From tight jet pants to brightly patterned ski overalls, ski fashion followed general fashion trends. In recent years, wool has made a comeback in sports fashion as a result of the sustainability debate.

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