Oddly enough, for someone who loves clothes and make-up and stresses about their hair frequently, if not daily, I’ve never worried about how I look on the ski trail. Even when we were still down-hill skiing, where ski chic is more of a thing, ski chic was not a thing for me. Being warm and comfortable, able to move freely, wearing light layers, which can be stripped off if I get too hot, has always been the priority. But a thought dawned on me this week when we were skiing in Quebec. Do I worry more than I used to about being ski chic? Or not?
When I first started skiing on a regular basis, back when I met Hubby, I had no ski clothes at all. I wore whatever extra things he had. In fact, in a post I wrote a while ago about skiing over the years, I have a picture of me on the trail in 1985 decked out almost totally in Hubby’s clothes. The turtleneck was my own. You can read that post here if you’re interested.
Over the years, Hubby has always bought my ski clothes, usually as Christmas gifts. Gortex pants and jackets, good quality, rainproof outerwear that can be worn skiing, but also canoeing and hiking. Ski underwear (tops and bottoms), what the outfitters call “base layers”. Socks and mitts. Mid-layer fleece sweaters to wear over the underwear, and under the outerwear. Everything purchased with warmth in mind, not style. I’ve always bought my own toques. In that alone did I try for some sort of ski chic.
But, since we’ve been travelling a lot, I have wrested control of the ski wear from Hubby. That’s because my Gortex jacket is now not just for skiing/hiking/canoeing. I also pack it for cool, rainy days when we’re travelling. And while I don’t worry too much about ski chic on the trails, I do draw the line at wearing Hubby’s cast-offs in Paris. Or Edinburgh. Or wherever we are that isn’t the wilderness.
So a couple of years ago I bought a new Gortex jacket in a slimmer cut that looks good with jeans and a sweater. Then a new neck warmer that also looks fabulous with my white down jacket. And a couple of new toques, like my woolly hat above. It’s fleece-lined, super warm, and the brim rolls down and fits snugly across my forehead. I have a problem with my sinuses. An hour or more on the trail in temperatures under -5°C can make me feel as if I’ve had a nail driven into my forehead. In the past I’ve tried to layer a headband under a toque with limited success. But this hat solves my problem. Plus it looks cute with my down jacket for forays into town.
If ski chic has never been much of a thing for me, it’s not on Hubby’s radar at all. His ancient black woollen toque, below, is faded to a navy-ish dark grey. His white turtleneck is so ratty it’s soon to become strictly gardening-wear. And…. witness how we’ve come full circle…. Hubby is wearing my old Gortex pants. He bought them for me about twenty years ago. Then, years later, he bought me new pants strictly for skiing, and I bought myself light rain pants for summer. So I re-gifted the old Gortex pants back to him. They’re tight in the waist, and too long in the legs, but too good not to be worn. Or so I’m told. He’s right about that; they are really good pants, if old. So I think he’ll probably take them to the seamstress to loosen the waist band and shorten the legs.
I’m telling you, people, Hubby is the original ethical shopper.
Chic or not, we had a great week skiing in the Laurentians recently. We had sunshine on most days. A fresh fall of snow early in the week. And the temperatures hovered around -5°C all week. Perfect cross-country ski weather.
This is the view of the small lake on which Auberge de Lac Morencey sits. The condos are arranged up the hillside with the lodge on the lakefront. The resort is not a ski resort. People come here for the dog-sledding, the snowmobile tours, and for peace and quiet. We made good use of the small gym and hot tub one day. The rest of the time we skied the local trails. When we weren’t skiing we ate, sipped wine or tea, read, and watched the selection of DVDs we’d brought.
Most nights we ate in. That’s one of my tourtières, below, left over from Christmas. After dinner each night, we read up a storm, including some guide books about Africa, debated our options for that trip, and watched a complete season of the New Zealand series The Brokenwood Mysteries.
One night we cleaned up and walked down the hill to the lodge for dinner. The food is always wonderful. That’s Hubby’s scallop main course below. Before dinner, we had a great chat in the bar with a bunch of gold miners. Yep. Gold miners. Or rather people who work for a gold mining company and who were at the lodge for a retreat. They were a rowdy bunch, but so cheery and friendly that we joined their conversation. One young guy from Calgary, whom we talked to the most, is the only person we’ve ever met who worked in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Kalgoorlie is a big gold mining area, with remnants still visible in the town of its gold rush heyday. He was surprised when we said we’d been there. “We may be old… but we’ve been around,” Hubby joked.
We skied each day along various sections of Le P’tit Train du Nord, a linear park built along the old railway bed. The trail is always perfectly groomed and track set. For lunch, one day, we skied back to the trailside Café de la Gare built in the old Sainte-Adèle railway station. And on our last day we stopped here for a latté before heading home to pack. I love this little café. Nothing new-fangled about this place. Except the espresso machine. Old wood floors, freshly painted, bright blue, wooden benches, and framed vintage photos of skiers in the thirties and forties taking the train up here from Montreal to ski. Plus great coffee. This is our kind of place.
Here’s a selection of ski wear options I chose on-line today. I love those Sweaty Betty underwear tops and bottoms. And I’d love to own that Perfect Moment turtleneck. But my ski togs are still in good condition. It will be a few years before I’ll need new stuff.
I have a pair of Helly Hansen light waterproof pants (like those, below, on the left) for fishing and walking in the rain. My five year old ski pants are very similar to the Fulsap pants here. That Patagonia jacket is similar to my navy Gortex one, but mine is from Mountain Equipment, and no longer available. I also like that Fulsap jacket which would be warmer than my current jacket. The older I get and the slower I ski, the warmer the clothes need to be.
I travel with a fluffy fleece sweater just like that Patagonia one, below, to wear under light jackets. Or for cosying up around the condo with my tea and a book. That neck warmer and hat are similar to mine. And that J Brand Fair Isle sweater… well… I’d love to own that. But I already have two homemade Fair Isle sweaters that I can’t bear to part with. Still… a girl can look, eh?
I still don’t bother much about ski chic when I’m skiing. I don’t worry about my hair or wearing make-up on the trail. Except for the application of a good sunscreen. My jackets and pants may be better fitting, my neck warmer and my hat may go with my street clothes as well as with my ski gear, but the priority is still to be warm, and comfortable.
Skiing is, after all, about getting some exercise. About getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine. And about getting away from the stresses of everyday life. Including worrying about my hair and make-up. Or if I look good.
So on the trails, one can be ski chic or not. And I guess that Hubby and I still, for the most part, choose not.
How about you, my friends? Are you chic when you ski? Or cycle, or walk the dog? Or not?
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