December 30, 2011 10:08 pm

Chalet girls

There’s a cold wind blowing in fashion, thanks to streamlined ski pants and graphic knits inspired by the slopes

What? There’s a cold wind blowing in fashion, thanks to streamlined ski pants and graphic knits inspired by the slopes. Whether suggestive of slaloming down the mountain or sipping glühwein in the chalet, these are the latest twists on a theme that comes round every year: it’s much more reliable than the powder.

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Where? Raf Simons’ autumn/winter collection for Jil Sander was inspired by Louise Dahl Wolfe’s mid-century photographs of couture in ski resorts and billed as “the concept of dynamism ... a combination of couture forms, bold colours and ski-inspired elements”. Mid-century style cocoon coats and jackets, and full dresses made from puffy padded satin contrasted with lean 1960s ski ensembles. Slim-fit knits – some hooded – with go-faster squiggles and zig-zags were paired with stirruped ski pants for a Bond girl look. The streamlined silhouette was echoed at Céline, where fitted jumpers with angular shard patterns were layered over polo necks with the skinniest of trousers, and also at Rodarte, although there a patterned jumper was also teamed with a full net skirt for a more eclectic feel. Skinny jumpers with Fair Isle designs showed a cosier side to the 1970s at Pringle, as did white cable-knit capes at Moschino Cheap & Chic, while at Rag & Bone the look was more modern, with slim, fur-trimmed jackets featuring quilted panels.

Skiers on the slopes in 1963

Skiers on the slopes in 1963

Why? The cruise collections might be coming into store but if you’re off to Crans-Montana, or Verbier, or just soaking up the sleet in England, then tropical-print silk isn’t much use. Instead, the last blasts of autumn/winter – cosy knits, cabled capes or fur-trimmed hoods – combine style with warmth, and will see you through to March. After all, girls just want to stay warm. Sarah Walters, founder of travel fashion website stylepassport.com, says: “Having endured two very cold winters in the UK I think lots of people here have understood the importance of having ‘ski’ warm clothing.” The trend is also connected to the meteoric rise of the “It” knit; whether intricately crafted or graphic and fitted, sweaters now take centre stage in an outfit.

Should you invest? Practical items are generally a safer bet than more frivolous garments and, even if you’re just trudging to work in the snow, taking inspiration from the slopes is a good starting point for adding jet-set glamour to winter wardrobes. Labels such as Phillip Lim and Stella McCartney have done kitschy Christmas jumpers but at this stage in the season reindeers can look as appealing as cold sprouts on Boxing day. For more sophistication opt for graphic retro patterns, sleek shapes or interesting textures. Try the Mowden jumper by Aubin & Wills in a red, marled cable knit (£125, www.aubinandwills.com). And then there are ski pants, which can look like the ultimate in chalet chic (try Alexander Wang, £180, www.net-a-porter.com) but they’ve also had a checkered history. Heed the advice of Kay Barron, senior fashion news and features editor of Grazia: “I wouldn’t wear them with a ski jumper or polo neck, for fear of looking like a frumpy Elle Macpherson. I’d pair them with a white shirt instead.” Only embrace this look head to toe if you really are training for 2014’s Winter Olympics.

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