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by The Daily Telegraph, October 31, 2016
Style and substance: can the two co-exist in skiwear? Not so long ago, it was an either-or situation: either look like a Bond girl at the risk of hypothermia (and you thought a smooth-talking spy was the biggest hazard) or go for technical gear that wasn't terribly sexy, but did the job.
Thankfully, the two aren't so mutually exclusive any more. The kit is constantly being tweaked for the better on both fronts, and there's now more choice than ever - which makes shopping for it doubly fun. Moncler has been instrumental in fashioning tech-specs into elegant designs (so elegant that their jackets have become the ultimate city staples in winter). The upmarket label has boutiques at some of the world's swankiest ski resorts including Courchevel, Zermatt and Chamonix, catering for über-discerning customers.
There are others, too: Bogner (fabulous coloured jackets), M Miller (one of the sleekest ski labels around) and Stella McCartney, who has made designer skiwear accessible with her long-running partnership with adidas, are a few highlights.
If you're heading to the slopes for the first or fortieth time this winter, our guide will have everything you need to know about what to pack - and why. Because having a soggy bum from a jacket without a snow skirt (all will be explained below) is the last thing you need everything we've picked has passed our beady eye in terms of both form and function.
How to choose the right ski jacket
It'll be the hardest working piece of your gear, so your jacket needs to be technically spot on: as it's nippy, it needs to be warm and windproof; if you fall, it needs to be waterproof. It should also be light and breathable, because you'll get sweaty racing around on the slopes.
Attention to detail counts for everything. Every jacket should have a snow skirt - a width of waterproof fabric that buttons up around the waist and keeps the jacket secure so snow doesn't go up your back if you fall over. Pockets are crucial: a zippered one on the wrist arm means you have somewhere to tuck that pesky ski pass; inner pockets are handy for sunglasses or phones. Cuff seals - basically wrist warmers with thumb loops - will act as another barrier to the cold, and waterproof zips are a saving grace.
Moncler's supremely chic jackets from Grenoble, its specialist ski range, are the dream here because they have all these features and many boast figure-flattering nipped waists.
Marinet jacket, £790, Moncler
More affordable but no less technical are adidas by Stella McCartney's ski jackets. Some have in-built Recco, a reflector chip which allows search teams to locate you if you get buried.
Stella McCartney Climastorm technical ski jacket, £220, Matches Fashion
Salomon also does a catalogue of mountain-ready jackets that come in a handful of punchy colours.
Icetown JKT jacket, £300, Salomon
Add warm, versatile layers under your ski clothes
Think wool here - you don't want cotton because it doesn't insulate if your top gets wet. And think thin thermal layers, as these will allow you to move freely when you're on-piste. Kiwi brand Icebreaker's thermals are made from merino wool, which come in different weightings, and have a "no-stink" guarantee. They even do thermal underwear.
Women's Oasis top, £80, Icebreaker
For lounging, you may want to swap thermals for something thicker. Longlanier's are on-the-money - the label's forte is sleek ski sweaters that gun for the glamour of early alpine skiing with a retro fabric patch on the shoulders, should you feel the urge to sling your skis over yours.
Hanneli MustapartaCredit: Instagram In terms of trousers, look for ski gear with a slight kick-flare
We've heard horror stories of trousers ripping at the bum on particularly enthusiastic sessions because they were too tight, so check that they have enough wiggle room. Most come with a fleece lining, but double up with thermals if you feel the need.
Contrary to popular belief, tucking leggings into ski boots is a bit of a no-no because they can rub against the skin. Which is why a slight kick-flare is the more popular style, as they can be worn over the boot - look for ones with zips at the end and gaiters, which blankets the top of the boot to prevent snow from sneaking in. If you've got a short ski jacket, you might want to consider high-waisted trousers to protect your back if you fall. And they should be waterproof, obviously. Henri Duvillard's Ingrid Pant are the most flattering pair we have found, but outdoor retailer Snow + Rock stock multiple trouser and salopette styles.
Ingrid pants, £225, Henri Duvillard
Chloe Moretz Credit: Instagram Après-ski boots can be stylish and practical
We're talking about boots for après-ski, rather than the slopes. All the obvious rules for snow boots apply: non-slip, waterproof, sturdy, warm. Winter boots specialist Sorel's are rather elegant, and will give your feet some lovin' after a day on the slopes - Elle Macpherson's a fan. Moon boots are more statement-making - and Bogner's make the right kind (read: doesn't look ridiculous, as they are apt to do).
Revellers in Gstaad wearing Jimmy Choo bootsCredit: Instagram The extra important ski accessories
Mittens or gloves? The pros for mittens: they're warmer as less surface area is exposed. Cons: they're a bit clunky, which is where gloves win. The North Face's e-Tip gloves have a tip on the index finger so that you can work your phone or iPod without taking them off.
The Northface Etip gloves, £35, Snow + Rock
Inners - basically thermals for hands - are also a smart buy for extra-warmth under gloves; buy them from Icebreakers. And if they're properly numb, Hot Hands instant hand-warmers - just open the packet - are ingenious. Stock up on Amazon before your holiday.
Thick socks are also a must; the best come with extra padding on areas where the feet take a particular battering from ski boots, such as the toes and shins - resort workers favour Smartwool PhD's.
Smartwool PhD socks, £12, Snow + Rock
A lot of insurance companies won't cover you on certain slopes, particularly in America, unless you're wearing a helmet. Kask's are beautifully minimal, come with in-built goggles and vents so it doesn't get too stuffy.
For goggles, Oakley is hard to beat. They're anti-fog so don't steam up and come with professional skiers' stamp of approval (if in doubt, trust the pros). Cap it off with a beanie or balaclava.
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