Sound charmingly inviting?
It needn’t be just an enticing proposition, for you see what I just outlined is fashionably attainable. All one must do to bring it to stylish fruition is pencil in an apropos apres-ski style winter weekend getaway.
Considered by some as the holy grail of gentlemanly winter vacations, skiing excursions — experienced après-ski style — are often culturally refined getaways defined by the promises of homely comfort and (borderline excessive) luxury pampering. Escapes where good taste comes in many stylish forms — from wardrobing and fine cuisine to smart entertainment (film festivals included).
Suffice it to say, it is simply a trip that every gentleman should take it upon himself to experiencing at least once in his lifetime.
Willing and able to satiate any cultural, sartorial, or outdoor adventure wanderlust, winter ski getaways are for one-and-all. From the shameless art aficionado to the rugged woodsman, with a healthy sprinkling of the modern sartorial gent aptly mixed in, apres-ski culture simply has something that will please any (and every) type of gentleman out there.
And with it being about that time of year when the snow decides to seasonally reacquaint itself with the world, many a gent will be considering taking full advantage of our white-washed alpine regions, beset upon hitting the slopes, chalets, and streets with unrelenting style in mind.
Après-ski culture provides the perfect backdrop to do just that, providing a host of fresh (and varied) opportunities to break out ones winter bests, be it his casual woollens knits, performance backed sporting attire, or even his (under-utilized) cold-weather tailoring.
Suffice it to say, there truly is no need to settle for the run-of-the-mill stereotypical ski style — the garish metallic parkas, the oversized sweaters, the gaudy snow suits — when there is indeed a sartorially versatile smorgasbord of refined options awaiting one's creative touch.
In other words, don't let your stylish laurels wane just because you are on vacation.
Because looking well put-together — whether out on the slopes or attending a formal dinner soiree — will never go out of style!
And it is with that in mind that I’ve crafted this cultured style guide in hopes of sartorially inspiring those who would otherwise abandon their stylish ideals come winter (and vacation for that matter).
This feature can be a starting reference point for those gent's, the ones who are of the sound mind of not letting that happen.
So, here's how to look that proper part, from day-to-night, while indulging in an après-ski style weekend getaway.
Flash forward to the modern day and what you will find is a vacation that is nearly unidentifiable to that of the past, with the most common variant being an extravagantly fulfilling, all-inclusive skiing getaway wherein the act of skiing itself has been skirted aside to make way for social and cultural indulgences to be experienced off of the slopes.
With its original parameters being bastardized in the name of progress and malleable commercialization, it has since come to represent a form of lifestyle defined by sport, entertainment, shopping, and style rather then that of a basic, striped-down communal evening gathering predicated solely upon the daily injection of tangible sporting activity.
Although formally attributed to — and coined by — the French, the true origins of the après-ski movement owes its formative dues to the Norwegians who introduced to the world the controlled downhill skiing technique— during the mid-1800’s — in which the apres-ski culture was fashioned and established upon.
And while that initial entry point should rightfully be acknowledged, its modest effect on the overarching worldwide views on après-ski culture and style should be dually noted as well.
Having initially surfacing — taking on its formative structuring — in the personal homes and residences of avid and passionate skiers, the movements first true worldwide notoriety came after the creation of the Christiania (now Oslo, Norway) Ski Club in 1877 — it being the first après-ski club of its kind in the world.
The creation of winter tourism was its prominent turning point — the precise moment in which the modern movement draws outstripped those of the past, relegating to historical antiquity the prime ideals of the old sporting guard.
As consequence, one can now find ski-resorts — not merely lonesome chalets or club lodgings — dotting mountain ranges worldwide. And these are not simple hotels but rather comprehensively detailed, pain-stakingly designed resort villages and towns that have been built upon the winter tourism economy itself. They were created solely to cater to the contemporary ski travellers every passing whim and desire.
With that in mind, a gentleman’s après-ski style vacation, in essence, hints towards a refined touch of class otherwise missing from the winter vacation — or any vacation for that matter. Whether basking in the stylishly irresistible contrasted draw of fine luxury and rugged creature comfort or “roughing” it alone in a charming cabin in the woods (ski’s in hand), the gentleman’s version of après-ski is all about a refined and stylized approach steeped in sheer comfort and relaxation.
In that vein, apres-ski (and its style) can mean different things to different groups of individuals, from the staunch traditionalists beset on the express attractions of simple (i.e. pamper free) lodgings to the non-sporting type luxury vacationer who accepts nothing but the finest even when “experiencing” winter and nature’s seasonal bounty itself.
Nevertheless, it’s a rather mute point no matter which end of the spectrum one culturally associates himself with. What truly matters nowadays is that he take the time to enjoy the après-ski lifestyle, be it luxuriously accentuated or not.
Whether bombing down the mountainside or enjoying a catered formal date night in, there is just something immensely — and inherently — appealing and masculine about taking to the alpine terrain for some weekend sport and relaxation; too fighting the elements — and the stereotypically gaudy fashion mores often attributed to ski resorts — with an unrelentingly stylish panache that is practically driven and epitomized by performance utility wears, characteristic heritage refinements, and unequivocally traditional and durable craftsmanship.
So, how does one go about packing an apropos capsule (apres) ski collection?
Well, I can say that there is indeed no one cookie-cutter type style solution to fit all.
Nonetheless, an approach to dress predicated upon calculated essentialism — one that utilizes timeless winter classics — comes highly recommended (and is highlighted throughout this features inspired outfits).
Having been liberated from its privileged (affluent) sporting roots, and with a sartorial ethos grounded in performance sporting attire and chunky (often Fair Isle) knitwear, most would jump to conclude that the definitive style of après-ski vacations would not make for a very fruitfully refined sartorial muse. And they would be right…if our insatiably innate desire to redefine and recreate — basic human evolution itself — did not exist.
Anchored by an impressive array of contrasting styles and designs — from spirited retro patterned knits to classically muted formal wears — and characteristically dictated by the frigid winter vicissitudes of mother nature herself, the après-ski aesthetic presents an opportunity for the gentleman to put his cold weather bests to proper use whilst allowing him to be stylishly playful all the same— albeit with a touch of studied sophistication in hand.
The aesthetic itself is defined by the practical application of tried-and-tested seasonal classics. Beyond that, well one is free to acquiesce to any personal style fancies that seemingly surface, just so long as they align with the incremental demands set forth by the climate itself.
With that said, the essentialist draws of modern après-ski style could not be more elementary apparent or simply attainable, especially for the discerning sartorial gentleman of this day-and-age.
SPORT IT WELL: Polar vortex be damned, because this functional and stylish performance down puffer from Moncler — the standard-bearer of winter ski wears — makes taking on the cold-weather a mere afterthought. Survival gear at its finest and an undeniable ski essential, it allows bulky layering to be kept to a maneuverable-friendly minimum. With that in mind, a retro Fair Isle sweater is all you need to be peaking stylishly out underneath in order to take on the elements with complete comfort and retro-inspired style.
Trousers wise, if you are a master on the slopes, I’d advise festively fashioning your bottom half with some boldly understated black and blue checked skinny trousers (wool/cotton) with forming fitting performance long johns beneath (for warmth). On the contrary, if you are a beginner (who is likely to take numerous tumbles) then I’d recommend some all-white slim-fitted performance ski trousers (like these) that will keep you dry and properly prepared for what is to come during your formative hours learning to ski.
Whatever the case may be, you should complete the look with some padded (and fully lined) leather gloves and a luxe Rolex (or your favourite value brand) ski watch in order to keep you respectively warm and on time.
(Not shown: wool socks + ski boots + ski’s)
From quintessential luxury performance ski outfitters like Moncler to rugged heritage purveyors like Barbour and — yes — even J-Crew, properly kitting oneself out for a weekend ski getaway has become a rather convenient and straightforward process. These brands have made dressing in modern proportions whilst injecting some nostalgic Nordic ski culture charm into each look a joyful breeze.
Nevertheless, and in alluding to what has been previously noted, one may not even need to reach that far into performance wear wardrobing because many modern gents simply opt for skipping sporting activities all together. They instead would rather explore avenues of unbridled personal indulgence to be had off the slopes, with the après-ski tenants of shopping, hot air balloon rides, perusing art galleries, and attending costumed balls being but a few of the exemplary definitive offerings in which have taken over (often completely replacing) the skiing itself — which for many has become simply an afterthought, a mere sporting diversion rather then spotlight attraction.
Be that as it may, there is just something about witnessing the vaunted finery and preserves of the privileged past (and present) being appropriated by the wider style-possessed community that catches the eye — especially when it stylishly facilitates a creative interplay of sporting luxe ( athleisurewear enthusiasts rejoice), formal essentialism, and retro heritage in the due course of crafting a truly unique and stylish winter aesthetic unlike any other.
SPORT IT WELL: Retro-inspired and impeccably tasteful, a fitted houndstooth dinner jacket (with a shawl collar) represents what is most likely uncharted territory for most gents, being a sartorial power move that is guaranteed to set you apart from the throngs of traditionalists. But don’t let that little detail deter you because this jacket is simply sublime, and incredibly easy to pull off thanks to its tonally muted palette.
To that tune, one would do well in allowing the jacket to fully realize its starring role by eschewing further patterned formality above the waist. That means opting for a refined, finely-gauged black (or cream/white if you’d prefer) rollback (turtleneck) sweater in lieu of the safe — omniscient — dress shirt + tie pairing. It’s not only handsome, polished, and situationally apropos, but also (physically) thinning and will carry you through most any formal occasion.
Venturing below the belt, a pair of standard solid black fitted tuxedo trousers are recommended. Muted and plain, they play the ever important sideline role of trusty sidekick — necessary but completely understanding of their role and place.
As for footwear, well this is where your festively playful nature can really shine though, and this pair of plush red velvet formal slippers is more then fit for duty.
Too loud for you?
Substitute a more universally friendly grey velvet slipper in there place. You may also be considering going sockless, but its important to be mindful of the fact that you are indeed in the mountains — so leave that radically formal gesture for the city (and a warmer climate) by wearing some black ribbed silk (to match the turtleneck) socks.
Is this look pragmatically indulgent? Possibly. Stylishly refined? Most definitely!
Because that would mistakingly mislead many gents into believing that planning ones wardrobe for just such a trip is an unnecessary burden, when in reality it could not be more of an absolute necessity — due to après-ski's vastly variable stylized nature. Do you pack for casual outing only? Do you throw in formal essentials?
With that glaring reality in tow, its best you do not approach your wardrobing by underestimating the sartorial demands of après-ski vacationing. So plan ahead so that you are properly kitted for any situation — casual, formal, or sporting — that may arise.
From lively festive jumpers and performance ski wear to formal after-hours tailoring, there is a genuine charm and sartorial congenitally behind all these seemingly opposing moving parts.
Kitschy vagaries aside, experiencing — and culturally imbibing in — apres-ski is not about merely capturing one specific look or about wearing predestined signature winter essentials, but rather, and most importantly, its about unearthing the nostalgic soul and sporting essence behind the whole vaunted experience — whether you partake in any skiing or not.
Fashionably splintered betwixt the stereotypically gaudy — think along the lines of oversized metallic parkas, bright neon jumpsuits, and oddly structured Christmas jumpers and sweaters alike — and the sartorially astute, contemporary après-ski is something that, if done properly, is a truly pleasurable experience both culturally and aesthetically speaking.
In layman’s terms, it’s all about stress-free experiences — on-and-off the slopes.
Official and unofficial dress codes and segregated alpine tribes — skiers, snowboarders, tobaganneers? — withstanding, après-ski styling is a universally relatable — its foundation being built upon wardrobe staples — and attainable aesthetic that can be pulled off with aplomb by any gent, given he makes minimal effort.
SPORT IT WELL: Being both relaxed and warm — quintessential elements to any mountaineering look —a luxe donegal wool belted cardigan like this can function as part outerwear, part cardigan for those more humid and relaxed days spent off the slopes. Boasting a detailed après-ski aesthetic — belted waist, suede elbow patches, extra-chunky cable knit weaving — it is this looks subtle statement piece. Pair it with a bold buffalo plaid flannel shirt and some hearty caramel corduroy trousers and you will be set for whatever the day of adventure has in store for you — which in this instance is a early morning mountain hike accompanied by an apropos lunchtime picnic.
Still feeling a tad chilly? Well, if the temperatures become more testy, simply layer a padded tweed gilet (beneath the sweater) in order to recapture (and trap) heat.
As for the finishing touch, there really is only one option, with that being a (snug) winter knit beanie — which no self-respecting mountain man would be complete without. Boldness on your mind? Sport one with added pompom, it will add a creative touch of refined playfulness to the whole look.
Combining charmingly rugged casual practicality alongside confidently reassuring formally, these trips can be amongst the most stylishly diverse and genteel of all the options at ones creative getaway disposal.
Proving that there is indeed a right tool for every job, après-ski is that stylishly utilitarian indicator writ large. Its not only about enduring the more trying environmental conditions, but rather of enjoying them and taking them on in the most refined of sartorially technical manners — of being casually nonchalant and unequivocally sophisticated in ones approach.
In spite of that all, I must reiterate that, familiar crutches aside — theres no denying the prescient draw that an après-ski vacation brings to the table — its a vacation fit for one-and-all and not merely for the sporting inclined gentleman of yore.
Although I would be remiss if I did not (at the least) mention that an après-ski excursion would not be the same without one actually hitting the slopes in one form or another, to actively participating in any winter sport you hold near and dear to your heart — skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, downhill tubbing, and so on and so forth.
Just make sure to do it all in style!
No après-ski adventure would be complete without the necessary accoutrementation.
And when it comes to accessorizing for the mountains its best to think along the lines of adopting refined heritage wears that have been updated (fabricated & technical performance wise) to best befit the sartorial landscape of the times.
Be that as it may, a quality chunky knit scarf is one of the most indispensable winter wardrobe essentials a gent should consider investing in. Opt for one in a muted, solid colour to get your money’s worth in year-to-year dividends — one that can be worn beyond Christmas and New Years (ie. skip the patterned looks). My recommendation would be in seeking one crafted in a cable-knit lambswool which will serve the dual purpose of trapping warmth while adding a welcomed textural punch to any ensemble.
Your next stop would be gloves. Essential both on and off slope, they would ideally be down-filled or fur-lined so as to help one cope with the extremely cold conditions experienced in mountainous regions.
Sporting accessory wise, no true gentleman would dare take a ski vacation without partaking in what should still be the paramount draw: the skiing itself. To him the requisite high performance ski’s, poles, and (ski) boots are an absolute necessity (although in this instance renting would also be sufficiently acceptable if you but partake in skiing but only once a year…not unlike rental tuxedos, which should be avoided like the plague)
And last, but certainly not least, one's style (and travel needs) would not be met or complete without a sturdy leather weekend holdall (duffle) to bring it all together. From providing ample space to pack all that is required for the excursion (sans ski’s) to braving the elements, it is without question one of most tellingly distinguished staple items that every gentleman should own. A staple essential accessory for any gentleman on the go.
Trying to find ski-specific music that was not only relevant but also catchy and memorable was an exercise in futility. So instead, I opted for one of my favourite bands, the Dropkick Murphy's, who for whatever reason seemingly fit the bill, albeit in a very non-traditional nor festive way.
With that said, Rose Tattoo is just a little something that would be on my personal skiing playlist.
A shocking choice? Maybe so. I'll let you be the judge…
From cozy inns, B&B’s, and secluded cabins offering the bare essentials to the resplendently decorous ski resort towns dangling unfettered luxury to all who care to veer over, après-ski type style vacations have shred their formatively plain roots, being seduced by the likes of high-fashion shopping, ballroom tea dancing, staged plays, elaborate costumed parties, film festivals…you name it, it will most likely have it.
Which collectively makes après-ski dressing just as much about not bowing to the elemental challenges as it is about practically crafting a myriad of stylishly non-sporting looks for events held both on-and-off the mountain. Meaning that whether you go skiing or not, you’ll need to continually consider and factor in winter functionality, practicality and style into every look you wear — mother nature necessitates and dictates just such an approach.
With that said, its really all about smartly mixing-and-matching your casual wardrobe essentials with your winter knits and formal attire, which in the process makes staple pieces like turtleneck sweaters and grey wool trousers all that more notably influential, universally versatile, and transitionally applicable.
So, whether you choose to combine your favourite crewneck Fair Isle knit with your down-filled ski jacket for a day on the slopes, a trusty belted cardigan with a tweed vest and flannel shirt for a mountain hike, or that smart and sophisticated fine-gauge rollback with you dinner jacket and velvet slippers for a formal evening in, keeping up appearances will be a cinch if you pack intelligently.
That means opting for a few winter essentials that double (even triple-down) as transitionally versatile — casual, formal, and sporting alike — pieces.
So, heres to navigating the winter style slalom effortlessly with true après-ski aesthetics in tow.
(and Happy Skiing)
Are you the winter sporting type? What's your stance on apres-ski styling and culture? And, do you have any planned getaways this winter season? Chime in below and start a conversation if you are so inclined to do so!
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