14/12/2009

Going skiing.... in style

Thankfully for all of us exhausted little fashionistas out there, we are fast approaching the holidays and I for one am so looking forward to my annual trip to the French Alps with hubby dearest. These last few months have been particularly tough on the two of us, and so we're staying there two whole weeks to recover.


However whenever there is a vacation coming up I have to face one of my most dreaded activities: packing!... I can't believe that with all the stupid inventions out there (yes, the tricycle landmower is patented in the US, believe it or not!) nobody has come up with some automated way of packing yet. Please don't comment that I should be employing a butler or a maid, I haven't won the lottery just yet. So, until some kind soul comes up with the packing machine, I try to plan my packing ahead in order to avoid the dreaded last minute anxiety attack. And this time, I have to be extra organised because there is more days to pack for and I will be extremely busy with my work and social agenda right until the time of our flight. As a matter of fact, I'm being a bit extreme on the OCD front, having prepared an excel spreadsheet of what I will be taking... Sorry, I digress.

When it comes to ski holidays, I believe that more is more, as my moto on the pistes and après-ski is: if you must freeze, you might as well look as good as you can in the process. So, how to I try to maintain my fashionista status on the pistes?

1) Ski jacket
For me, the perfect ski jacket needs to achieve 3 major goals. First, to keep me warm for the whole day (this usually comes from super technical fabrics and insulation); second, to ensure I look like a woman and not like a bulky smurf-bibendum chimera (for this I need a grown-up colour, a fitted or belted shape, and some fur trimming around the hood, and in a heartbeat Russian Princess is my nickname!); and finally, to enable me to move comfortably. One word of advice: avoid the puffa and the slouchy looks at all costs, they are far from flattering; also a reminder: ski jackets should stop no lower than the hip, any lower and it looks like you're skiing in your mac. For a stylish yet technical jacket, expect to spend at least £400. It's a lot, but you will get a very good cost-per-wear out of it; remember, this is what you will be wearing everyday on the pistes so find something you really love (in my experience, if you don't like your ski gear, you'll end up buying one at the ski resort where prices increase with the altitude, apparently). I bought a new jacket last year, and turned to Spyder as they provide some of the best quality gear out there, otherwise Killy and E+O are also good options.
One last thought on jackets: people usually recommend getting a jacket with a great deal of pockets; I say go easy on the pockets and even if you have a lot don't fill them. I recommend going for a fitted look, which would be spoiled by stuffed pockets. However I have to say hubby dearest's has got plenty of pockets which accomodate my lip gloss, Estherderm tube of sunblock, the keys to our appartment and we don't really do the whole "picnicking" on the pistes scene... cheating, moi?

2) Ski trousers
Here again, steer well away from the slouchy look and leave the boyfriend cut to the person it's originally intended for. However, don't go all extreme, avoid the pure 1980s drainpipe look, which is flattering for about 2% of the adult woman population in ski resorts. Instead, go for a bootcut look, preferably with a maximum of two pockets (again, no need to add bulk when you're already wearing layers and layers of clothing). Not only is the bootcut leg easier on anyone who has given anorexia a miss, it is also very easy to zip it over ski shoes. Size-wise, I recommend getting ski trousers one size bigger than usual, to allow for the warm-layer legging to fit comfortably under.

3) Baselayers
Although a lot of fashionistas have jumped on the fleece bandwagon the only concession I have made to "modern" fabrics is for the baselayer, where I get the most technical and light-weight thermals I can get my little hands on. For a ski holiday, you'll need to stock up on a couple of leggings, a couple of long-sleeved crew-necks (preferrable to turtlenecks if you like to take even if just a little bit of sun at lunchtime), and don't forget ski socks and silk gloves. Usually I go for black which is more flattering (read less see-through) than white, and which means I can play scrabble in my baselayers when we get back to the flat after a long day of skiing.

4) Classic layering
Once equipped with the baselayers, I revert to my love of natural fibers such as cashmere and silk for everything else. I am quite happy to report that I do not own a single item of fleece and I am quite warm and toasty on the pistes nonetheless. Typically, I wear a two or four-ply turtleneck cashmere sweater, and I tuck a Hermès silk scarf under the colar to add an extra layer of heat. My favourite Hermès carrés to take on a ski trip are Découpages, Passage à Moscou and Légende Moghole. My ski jacket and trousers being black, I mix in some greys, off-whites and beige tones with the cashmere sweaters, and the Hermès scarves add the colour touches. As my skis and ski boots are grey, the whole look is quite grown-up, but I believe it works, as classic elegance looks better than crazy sportswear or Slutlana sparklemania on me (if I may add, crazy sportswear looks good on pretty much noone in Courchevel, sadly).

5) Headgear: Unlike hubby dearest, I didn't learn skiing whilst learning to walk (they didn't really offer that option in my home country of Morocco), so he has tried to hint gently at me wearing a helmet to protect my head in case of falls but there is just no way... instead I've learned skiing super fast and have fallen only a couple of times in the last 5 years. So I alternate between wearing a cashmere hat or a Hermès scarf pirate-way on a cold day, to nothing but a braid on warmer days. No need to over-complicate it.
P.S. For the avoidance of doubt, I also thought I'd give you a quick list of what no self-respecting fashionista needs on the slopes:
A backpack: all you need to carry around is some lipgloss, sunblock, your ski-pass, a credit card, and a few Euro coins (if you are in one of the European top-notch resorts, make that notes, not coins... sigh) and these all fit in hubby dearest's pockets, so why some people insist on the day-glo coloured backpacks is beyond me, until I'm sitting in a gondola with them and suddenly they open them to reveal smelly tartiflette sandwiches (help....)

A crazy ski hat: I'm sure you've seen them before, the brightly coloured snakes hat, the dragon hat, etc etc. They look utterly ridiculous on anyone older than 13 years old and yet people insist on wearing them. Why, I don't know. If you are offered one, it may be a good idea to pass.

Jeans: Yes, I have noticed an increase in the number of skiers wearing jeans on the pistes in the last few years. They all looked totally frozen and wet. Not a good look.

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