Ski Chic or Not

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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.

Me on the trail in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec. Not too worried about being ski chic.
Sunshine, crisp temperatures, and a warm forehead make me smile.

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.

Hubby on the trail at Le P'tit Train du Nord in Prevost, Quebec.
Hubby in his Gortex canoeing jacket, my old pants, and a faded woollen toque.

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.

View from the condo down to the lake at Auberge de Lac Morency. Quebec.
Sunset over Lac Morency

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.

Our homemade tourtière dinner at our ski condo, in Lac Morencey, Quebec.
Our brought from home dinner.

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.

Our dinner at
Fine dining at Auberge de Lac Morency.

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.

Café de la Gare in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec
First the skiing. Now for some lunch.

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.

Last day on the trails in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec.
Last day on the trail. Home tomorrow.

How about you, my friends? Are you chic when you ski? Or cycle, or walk the dog? Or not?

P.S. Affiliate links in this post will trigger a commission for me, if you purchase something after clicking my link.

Linking up with Catherine at #IWillWearWhatILike and #ShareAllLinkup, and Patti at Visible Monday.

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30 thoughts on “Ski Chic or Not”

  1. Walk the dog in whatever I can find, but having said that, at present I am walking the dog at 6am so not a lot of people around.
    Bike riding, i tend to ride to a place, either for coffee or lunch or maybe the library, so I do wear a top that might be considered more suitable for bike riding, trousers tend to be some sort of stretch. Having said that I like my top to match my bike, at present, bikes red, top is aqua with red flowers, stretch with small zip at neck.

    1. I have a weakness for good looking bike gear. My colleagues gave me a gift card to a local sports outfitters store here in Ottawa when I retired, so I bought new cycle shorts and a top. Think I’ll be wearing those until the fall apart. 🙂

  2. Walking is my favourite activity and I try to look reasonably put together. I have to admit I am not always successful especially in the summer. The heat and humidity are style killers for me as my sunscreen slides off and my curly hair turns to frizz.

  3. Literally, never. Dog walking requires waterproof jacket with many pockets in the chilly months and sometimes mud-caked walking boots. Actually, scrub the never. In the summer I can look rather fine. One of the best things about running was not having to think twice about what I looked like, only that I wasn’t too hot/too cold/too wet/crippled by my footwear. Looking forward to digging it out again next month.

    1. I still think a hat covers a lot of ills… at least for me. Plus the yoga gear I bought when I thought I would try yoga, and did and hated it… is still serving me well for walking in the summer.

  4. Another lovely travelogue post . So many corners of Canada I’ve never heard of . I used to be quite a scruffy dog walker . Then we got a scruffy dog & I didn’t want to look like the local down & out ( we were getting some funny looks ) So tidier now . I like more colour too – helps me cope with grey weather . There’s such a wonderful selection of waterproof clothing these days in all colours . My dad wore Barbour jackets on his motor bike in the 60s & he’d be amazed at their range of colours now ( & the prices ) They’ve a nice anorak in ice white which I’m drawn to but I’m seeing it covered in muddy paw prints . I like Aigle too . Off to check out your suggestions .

    1. Oh yes… only three… but they followed quite a bit of food. We had the table d-hote. So after a salmon amuse-bouche, homemade rolls, then the starter. Hubby had snails in filo psatry. Then the scallops which were very rich, he said. Then dessert. So he was well stuffed by the time we pushed away from the table.

      1. I like to look decent enough when I’m working out, but given that good technical wear isn’t always the most eco (micro-fibres, spandex, etc.), I don’t indulge in more than the basics in good quality. Lululemon, generally. My hair is a problem because taming the bedhead in the morning requires a full soaking and I rarely blow-dry. If I’m running, I squash it under a ball cap; if cycling, same but under my helmet. . . and given that, what would be the point of make-up, right? For the gym downstairs in our building, it’s a bit trickier because these people are my neighbours! But even so, I generally chat with a wide, stretchy hairband. And then try to look as serious as possible with my goblet squats 😉 . . . we’ve been talking about getting our cross-country gear out of storage, and if we do, I’d have to think seriously about what clothes I’d need. But I don’t think I’d manage Ski Chic, even if I wanted to!
        I think I’ve said this before, when you posted about your ski holidays — I would love to get to Le Petit Train du Nord some day. I have very fond memories of skiing for a few days of Montebello, which is not so far away, I think.

        1. I keep my ball cap in the truck all summer, so I can slap it on when I take my cycling helmet off. Ha. I think you and Paul would love it up where we go. The trails and the small towns. The great casse croute when one is in need of good french fires. (Which I usually am once a trip) Even the old Lac Morency Lodge which has a kind of faded elegance vibe.

  5. Hi Sue
    Ski chic…not me! My colourful indestructible (7 yrs old) ski coat still looks new. I will update my light-weight jacket (8 yrs old). I do enjoy a new yearly hat which I quickly put on after I take my helmet off. I wear minimal makeup because that’s just me.
    Now walking around the neighbourhood…I really need to work on that wardrobe!
    Sounds like you two had the perfect week!
    Robin

  6. OMG, you have touched a nerve! (Alpine) skiing chic is important to me! I learned this while skiing in Italy, where looking chic is super important. -And it is so much fun! Over the years, I have bought gorgeous, nice fitting ski clothing, and I use them only for skiing. Once I finish skiing for the season, I store my ski clothes for the next trip. I buy items when they are on sale at Sporting Life, or on sale in Italy. The items are expensive, but sooooo nice; they are top quality, beautiful, lightweight and warm. I feel great wearing them. I have skied for five decades. I love skiing. And I love beautiful ski clothing! 😎

    1. I’m the same, Elaine. If I happen to own a great looking ski sweater… great. But I just wear what I have, and although the stuff that Hubby has bought me over the years is good quality, it’s more about its ability to keep me warm than to look good.

  7. Lovely blog. So glad you and your husband love the same activities and take advantage of the beautiful opportunities you have in Canada. The mid 70’s in San Antonio, Texas , makes me enjoy your skiing adventures even more!

  8. ChristineCascadia

    In the 70’s, when I first started cross country skiing, most people wore knickers and heavy socks. Don’t see that too much anymore 🙂

  9. No ski chic for me here. No skis either. Although I adore the chalet scenes from old James Bond movies and the retro luxe-romance of the “in” ski set. I went skiing once, in Detroit!, coldest day of the year, and mastered the bunny hill. Too frozen, I never tried again, despite being in Vancouver, sigh. My fave would be a hill on an old farm with a ski rope and a snowmobile for towing. And layers of cast-off woolens.

  10. Your holidays sound like a dream!
    Long time ago,when my men were skiing,I use to ski walk in snow (perfect walks from Nassfeld,Austria to the first caffe in Italy). I’ve had a ski jacket and ski trousers,fleece sweater or turtleneck,but all those years ,the same one (maybe Helly Hansen,not sure) .I used to wear all of that for sledging at home,or other snow activities.,without any make up,it is usually only SPF and lip protection
    I can’t stand wool hats
    When I think about it,my home attire is something like italian “hostess outfit” at Materfamilias italian fashion exibition,only without pom-poms 🙂
    Dottoressa

  11. You look adorable! I haven’t skiied in years. I should make a point of doing it at least once again – the smell of the snow and the whoosh of my self is so wonderful. (Downhill, BTW, and decidedly intermediate at best.)

  12. Hi: Many years ago when I got my first computer, one evening I was looking at “search” so I typed in my maiden name which is unusual, We are from Poland. And I don’t know my relatives. A lot of people with the same name came up all in Polish except one which was from Australia and from the email address I deduced that she was in education. I emailed her and told her my name and said perhaps we are related. Long story short we are. But at this time she was working in Kalgoorlie. I had never heard of that place She is a mining engineer with two doctorates and under graduate degrees. And my dad was a coal miner. Wow!!

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