Style on the Slopes

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Fernie Alpine Resort, Fernie, B.C.


Parties that ring in the new year can get a bit overwhelming. All that built up expectation and plans and romance and whatnot. It's a lot. I love New Years parties but every few years I tend to switch it up and head to the mountain. All that fresh air and exercise clears the mind and ensures deep sleep come night. The healing powers of powder, aprés ski, and hot tubs… ahhhhh. I want to grab my gear and hit the road.

Although skiing is trés cool these days snowboard industry is still big business. A quick search did not yield much free resources for Canada – argh – but our neighbours to the south can provide some context. Although the amount of U.S. snowboarders are on the decline (from over 6 million at the peak in 2007 to over 5 million in 2015) sales of equipment is still over $400 million annually. Brand heavy hitter Burton leads the snowboard equipment pack claiming 55% of market share. This merchandise segment is no joke.

I have been fortunate enough to ski or ride yearly at Fernie Alpine Resort in B.C. for the past twenty years. You’d think I’d be a great rider by now. Sadly, I’m medium at best. What I may lack in athletic finesse does not stop me from enjoying my time. I’d like to think with all that experience on the hill soaking up the sights, I’ve got a few tips for advanced slope style.

Check out past season’s stock

A lot of the times you can get last year’s stock and a fraction of the cost. This helps save the wallet without sacrificing style as ski trends don’t move as fast as other fashion trends. Nothing like getting a snowboard valued at $700 for $300 of your hard earned, am I right?

Don’t dress too matchy-matchy

New rider alert on full blast if you’re head to toe matching. Plus it’s kind of boring. Being able to hit the slopes is such an extreme showcase of privilege so who really wants to blend in? There's no need to hold back. Why not throw in a clashing colour? Or how about wearing your dad’s old onesie. Or simply swapping out boring black pants for bright printed ones? Same coloured uniforms are not required so I urge you to have a little fun with it.

Rotate in one new replacement item per year

Pragmatically, buying all new gear every year is very expensive (and unnecessary). Between the hard gear (board, boots, bindings, goggles, and helmet) and the soft goods (jacket, pants, gloves, and under layers) you can be looking at well over $1,000 dollars. May I suggest swapping in a replacement item every year or two to keep up with technology advances and style in a more manageable way.

Borrow from a friend

If you only get out a few days a year consider borrowing a soft goods item from a friend. There is usually a spare set of mitts or jacket that can be used should yours not be up to snuff. Plus it’s a great way to try some different gear at a lower risk. If you love it, you can buy something similar later. For those looking to try out a hard goods item, there are often demo skis and boards for rent at the hill for a fraction of the cost of buying outright.

Pick a distinguishing colour to help out your group

When you’re on the hill in a group, it’s key to watch out for each other. Safety first, right? Help your crew out by having at least one item that helps you stand out. For instance, tie a contrasting colour scarf around your neck. If scarves are not your jam try a contrasting helmet or goggles. Your group mates will thank you when scanning the hill to be sure you’re still with the group.

Beat up gear is a badge of honour, sort of

If you see a rider with scuffs on their helmet or a tiny rip in their pants, counter to a more urban setting you don’t assume that they are down on their luck. Rather, you assume that they get out and get after it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean battered and broken gear, that may be unsafe, but a few worn in marks indicates effort and experience.

Tacky is in

Ski and snowboard gear can get a bit campy in tone. I think this is because on the one hand it has to accommodate layers under it. Thus it tends to be straighter lines and more technical in construction. I.E. Water resistant but boxy and not necessarily figure flattering. On the other hand, it makes up for the lacklustre technical elements with bright colours, patterns, and prints. If you really want to show off how game you are, do all three at once. It’s loud - and a bit silly - but totally fun.

No matter your personal style, get out there. I’m sending you my slope style love while you send it off the top.