I’d been thinking for quite some time about the conundrum surrounding ski wear. Not the après-ski fashions one wears while shopping in Vail or Aspen, but the insulated clothing one actually wears on the slopes. The outfits cost a fortune and often they’re pretty darned cute. But how frequently do we wear them? Unless one happens to live near a ski resort, the answer is what, maybe once or twice a year?
I’d been noting with increasing certainty, with the weather on the eastern seaboard remaining predictably cold this time of year and with my commute from Baltimore County to the Library of Congress in downtown Washington D.C. combining car travel, subway travel and a lot of walking outdoors, what a blessing it would be to wear a truly insulated yet fashionable outfit that would bend with my movements and yet be stylish, even a bit sexy. Warmth without bulk. Why don’t women ever wear their ski suits to work in this bitter cold?
Some might consider me quite brave for writing a fashion blog and putting myself out in the public eye for scrutiny day after day. But, really, my fashion choices are generally pretty conservative. I had a bad experience once, and the incident could very well have set me on a lifelong path toward fashion timidity. The year was 1966. I was ten years old. In my closet hung a white "slip dress". Not the kind that term conjures nowadays – a slim sheath of a gown – but rather a one-piece undergarment comprised of a white, ruffled blouse on top and a thin slip beneath, for wearing under a skirt of my choice. It was a warm spring day, as I recall. I decided, in my ten-year-old wisdom, that I didn’t need to wear a skirt over the bottom portion of the slip. It would do just fine on its own as a thin summer dress. I buckled a belt around my waist, somehow passed muster with my mother (for which I never forgave her) and headed off to my fifth grade class at Los Perales Elementary School in Moraga, California.
|Example of a blouse-slip|
from the 1950s
I don’t exactly recall how I was "outed", but within a couple of hours I found myself in the principal’s office with my mother on her way in the family station wagon to bring me a skirt to put on over the slip. I recall being mortified over the episode. I was teased about it for weeks by the other girls in my class. The experience certainly tempered my enthusiasm for avant-garde fashion.
Fast forward to January 2013. There hung not one, but two absolutely stunning, fashionable ski suits in my closet. Sure, in just a few more weeks I’d be shushing through the high peaks of Utah’s Deer Valley Ski Resort wearing one or the other of my beautiful ski outfits, but it was cold here. Now. In Baltimore. Dressed up with high-heeled boots and a bit of jewelry, it would look no different than a form-fitting jumpsuit, no?
I hesitated for several weeks. I just wasn’t brave enough to take such a bold step. But today, with a slight head-cold trying to worm its way past my immune system, I threw caution to the wind and put on one of the outfits, a vintage beauty by SKEA featuring slim all-black stretch pants and gold swirls on an attached, quilted bodice with an asymmetrical collar. I picked the one-piece up on eBay last March for a song, thanks to an alert fan from Washington state who sent me a picture to ask my opinion. The size turned out to be wrong for her but perfect for me. I put in a bid which was accepted the same day.
To today’s pick I added my favorite high-heeled boots, vintage kicks by Pleaser that I’ve owned for over thirty years, and a choker necklace of mixed gold and silver metals on a black cord from Tina’s Antiques & Jewelry, a quirky but fabulous little shop at 237 Main Street in Reisterstown, Maryland (410-833-9337). I hid the metal tab on the breast to which a skier's lift-ticket is usually attached by pinning a crepe flower to it. I plucked a gold and black Dea Dread by Thea Osato of Baltimore (http://DeaDreads.etsy.com) from my collection of hair accessories, and took a look in the mirror. Hmmmm. The ensemble looked even better than I thought it would. Did I dare to actually walk out of the house in it?
I did. And I was warm as toast all day today, despite gloomy gray skies and a 34-degree temperature. So you, dear readers, decide. Was this a "fashion-forward" thing to do? To repurpose my once-a-year ski apparel as a fashionable and comfy jumpsuit on the streets of our nation’s capitol? Or have I committed a "fashion faux pas" by not limiting my ski apparel to the slopes and the lodge? Weigh in with your comments, and I will take your advice to heart.