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.