Legacy: 1969

Gear
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Gear

Today's skiwear is a technological marvel—advanced fabrics are waterproof, breathable, light and warm, and looser cuts provide unsurpassed range of motion. But sexy they're not. Pat Doran, SKI's fashion editor during the 1960s, is puzzled. "Why is it that today's woman regularly reveals parts of her body that never used to be seen in public, but on the slopes she wears bulky garb that doesn't show off her hard-earned toned body?" In Doran's day, ski fashion was different.

By the late 1960s, the original stretch pant of the 1950s had evolved into a svelte, coordinated, head-to-toe look that seized the fashion world's imagination. Skiwear designers at companies like Bogner, White Stag and Roffe used new "smart" fibers to flatter the human shape. Jackets, pants, turtlenecks and sweaters were color-matched in bright, vibrant hues and as seamlessly coordinated as eveningwear. The dramatic new ski fashions were shown off to great effect in the 1969 James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Sure, the styles were sexy, says Laurie Miller, wife of filmmaker Warren Miller and a ski retailer at the time. "But we weren't trying to treat women—or men—as sex objects," she says. "Clothes are as much a part of skiing as blue sky, snow and liftlines in which you might get acquainted with someone who looks attractive." A more prosaic benefit of the new look: Under the jackets and pants of the time, skiers first learned to layer thinner apparel to keep warm.

Sixties' ski clothes have become collectibles. Today, skiers can even rent stretch pants, wind shirts, striped sweaters and other accouterments of the era at Richard Allen's Vintage Ski World in Aspen, Colo. Reports Allen: "Kids think it's ancient, but really cool."

November 2005