I’m the first to admit I’m not much of a skier, despite living super-close to some of the world’s most renowned downhill runs. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love my skiwear — especially those fitted, ’80s-style numbers with the big collars and nipped-in waists. My affection for this style most certainly comes from my ’80s youth, when at 16, I started working in the design department of a local skiwear company that had grown from the owner’s basement into a world-wide brand in only a few short years, complete with its own, custom-built headquarters and state-of-the-art production and design equipment like CAD systems, giant pattern printers and automated cutting machines. It wasn’t a high fashion couture house in Paris or a hipster workroom in New York, but it was still a dream for my fashion-obsessed ’80s self.
I learned everything I could — and fast. I started cutting samples from Gore-tex, Supplex and the like, and quickly graduated to CAD training, working on patterns and even at one point representing the brand at the now-defunct Canadian Festival of Fashion in Toronto. I could tell you anything you needed to know about any jacket in the line: how it was made, what it was made of, how a customer could expect it to perform on the ski hill. Not that I’d know the latter information from personal experience. I worked at the company between the ages of 16 and 19 and spent my salary on trips to San Francisco and Montreal, where I would stock up on heaps of stylish clothes. But that I rarely wore a ski jacket didn’t mean I didn’t love them and that soft spot exists today. It’s almost impossible for me to pass up an awesome ’80s ski jacket in great shape in great colours when I find one at a thrift shop. And I’d rather wear, the short, fitted vintage style than a giant puffy jacket on a cold day (plus you can wear an ’80s ski jacket with a skirt without it looking totally weird).
As we drop deeper into winter, I’ll surely be breaking out my ’80s ski wear. Not for hitting the slopes, mind you, but to keep warm walking the city streets.
1. Colmar Skiwear, Mademoiselle, November 1985. Photograph by David Stoecklein.
2. Roffe, Mademoiselle, November 1981.
3. Obermeyer, Self, November 1985.
4. Colmar Skiwear, Harper’s Bazaar, December 1984.
5. Robert Diadul for IN Fashion, January 1989.
6. Gilles Bensimon for Elle, December 1987.
7. Jane Mohr for Seventeen, January 1985.
8. Gilles Bensimon for Mademoiselle, November 1985. Skisuit by Colmar.
9. Mark Mainguy for Flare, November 1987.