If you’ve spent much time on skis, you’ve probably seen a poor newbie trying to make his way down the hill in a pair of jeans. We’re all for quality denim, but there’s a time and place for everything. To mark our first offering of technical winter sports gear on Gilt, we asked Kelly Dachtler, cofounder of online outdoor outfitters The Clymb, for a few tips on how to properly prepare for a day on the mountain. And, of course, who’s the most stylish skier of all time. (Hint: He once played a close friend of Butch Cassidy…)
Let’s start basic: How is dressing for skiing and snowboarding different from dressing for snow in the city?
You’re going to be extremely active and creating a lot of body heat, so you’ll have to deal with changing temperatures a lot more than you would walking down the streets of New York.
Does that translate to needing a bunch of layers and vents on your jackets?
Yeah, it’s of critical importance to have a great base layer — you need one that wicks moisture as your body heats up and you sweating, because there’s nothing worse than being wet and cold at the same time. And then yeah, there’s really no substitute for venting on your outerwear — unless you’re in extreme cold conditions, you’re going to be zipping and unzipping those vents, which is why great ski-specific gear is so critical to an enjoyable experience.
Which materials are best for a base layer?
In the realm of synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics, you’re looking at polypropylene and other technical fabrics. On the natural side there’s a huge resurgence happening with merino wool. It doesn’t work for everyone, but some people swear by it.
What’s the worst mistake you’ve seen someone make when they’re trying to dress for the slopes?
[laughs] In the early days of the snowboarding industry, there were a lot of new companies building waterproof garments that didn’t have any breathability, so you’d have these sort of death traps where your body temperature might get to 105 degrees just from the clothes. A more common mistake, though, is that people forget to bring gloves or goggles, or to have back-ups for when things get lost. There’s nothing sadder than seeing that lonely glove on the hill as you’re coming down.
Who’s had the best style on the slopes over the years?
Robert Redford is the ultimate mountain style icon. His 1969 flick Downhill Racer is a beautiful film that set an aesthetic standard for both cinema and ski style. Redford is a true man of the mountain — he helped make Park City, Utah a truly global destination (perhaps to the chagrin of locals).
If you’re dressing up in a suit, you can wear a cool tie to stand out. What’s a good way to stand out with ski or snowboard gear?
Your goggles are a great way to express your aesthetic without going overboard, and the variety and creativity that’s happening with goggles these days is pretty outstanding. At the end of the day, though, it really comes down to having gear that’s going to perform well — the best gear, in my opinion, looks the best as well.
What are your favorite picks from our Gilt assortment?
I like the Bergans of Norway down jackets — they’ll keep you toasty in the harshest conditions, and the reversible styling works on or off the mountain. My cofounder, Cec Annett, likes the color blocked styling of the Powfunk jacket, designed by our friends at TREW. It’s right on trend with the core freeski crowd. You can also never go wrong with the classic ski styling on the Killy Winnecke jacket.