Ski Wear Throughout The Decades

Ski wear has changed drastically over the decades. From wool to nylon, each style is unique and truly represents the time period it was made in. The history behind the them is as intriguing as the suits themselves.

Today’s post showcases three ski suits from three separate decades. Each suit is a statement of the progression in fashion and represents what made the 40’s, 60’s, and 80’s what we know them as today.

The far left suit dates back to 1943-1944. It is a blue                                                      wool ski suit with embroidery trim. Ribbed knit cuffs at wrists and ankles, lined with cotton flannel. It was from Snow Togs by J.C. Penney Co. It is currently on loan from Smith College of Historic Clothing Collection.

Skiing became very popular in the 1940’s. This was because hundreds of Austrian skiers came to America in order to escape the German take-over. In the fashion world, the ski suit became more streamlined when the war caused a shortage in fabric. Women were able to wear ski pants with zippers on bottom portion to allow for easier movement, and the ski skirts basically ended in the 1930’s when the majority of people decided that those were for more expert skiers than your average, everyday skier.

As fashion moved into the later 1960’s, the fabric used began to change. By 1968, the idea of 100% wool ski suits dropped when synthetics were introduced. Nylon became popular. It made the suits lighter while they also became more tightly fitted.

The middle ski suit is from 1968, the turning point for wool and nylon. It is a light green nylon hooded ski ensemble with an insulated jacket and stretch nylon/wool gabardine pants. It came from Head Ski and Sportswear.

This company was formed by an Aeronautical engineer Howard Head. On a ski trip, he was astonished when he found that skies were being made with wood in an age of metals and plastics. He worked for the Glenn L. Martin Company where they used aluminum and plastic laminate to build fuselages in aircrafts, and he believed that the same material would make an excellent pair of skies. His revolutionary idea made skiing dramatically easier. He created a new company, which grew rapidly and became the leading ski manufacturer in both the U.S. and the UK. He later sold his company and took up tennis and became the head manufacturer for tennis racquets in Boulder, Colorado, and kennelbech, Austria. He also went into athletic footwear and introduced “Radial Tennis Shoes”. In 1997, he created the first titanium and graphite tennis racket, and acquired three more companies within th next two years. His brand also had clothing apparel, accessories, bicycles, skates, watches, balls, and fitness equipment.

The far right ski suit screams 1980’s. It is a pink nylon ski jumpsuit with animal print accents. We also see the high waistline affect made popular in the 80’s, and is even coming back in today’s fashion. The 80’s were all about big, bold styles. Designers went from the subdue colors of brown, tan, and grey in the 70’s to vibrant pinks and blues, and of course, cheetah print. 

At this point, the production of clothing using nylon was in full swing. The ski suits of the day were becoming more and more like everyday street wear, creating a more casual look. This particular suit is from Steinebronn Sportcouture. 

In today’s fashion, the official ski outfit is almost nonexistent. As time goes on, the fashion becomes more and more casual. We see this in more than just ski suits. From swim wear to street wear to ski wear, the looks are increasingly informal.



1935: A time of Ohio State History in Fashion

1935 was a year for Ohio State fashion and history. The 1935 sweater above was worn by Loyal Orlando “Dick” Richard. His wife, Maxine Virginia Wicker, is also pictured above. Maxine was born in 1912 to Maud Adams and Lovell J. Wicker (1869-1942). She grew up in the Detroit, Michigan area. While in high school, she met Dick Richard. He was born in Williams County, Ohio in 1907 to Jesse Richert/Richard and Jesse’s mail order bride, Frances “Fanny” Cromwell Riley Richard. The family moved to Akron, and Dick attended school until his mother died in 1921. However, he later returned to finish his degree. At his time away from school, he ended up in the Detroit, Michigan area. His older half brothers owned the Richards Brothers Co. that made parts for the auto industry. After being encouraged to go back to school, it was then he met Maxine. After high school, he went off to The Ohio State University, but he left school once again before earning a degree.

After graduation, Maxine went on to become a secretary. The two dated for a total of six years until they married on October 12, 1935 in Keego Harbor, Michigan. they had three children (William “Bill” Loyal Richard, Mary Ann Richard, and John “Jack” Charles Richard) and lived in the Detroit area until Dick’s job was transferred to Cleveland, Ohio. Then, in 1951, they moved to Bay Village, Ohio in December 1951.

Dick died in 1969 from a subdural hematoma that occurred when he bumped his head while sanding his boat. Maxine went on to live 37 more years until she died of old age in 2007.

The 1935 sweater was worn by Dick. He was an Ohio State fan for life, and both of his sons attended the university. Bill studied English while Jack chose radio technology until he transferred to Kent State.

The photo was taken in 1932 with the couple wearing their OSU gear. Perhaps they were even dressed to watch for a football game. Their outfits were spectators sportswear, which includes their sweaters, jodhpurs and knickers.


A special thanks to Laura Keating for the information and photo