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How to dress for après ski: Learn the unspoken dress code

There may be no dress code for après ski, but that doesn't mean you can't look great

Ski lodge at night
Josh Hild / Pexels

If you have ever stayed at a ski resort, you have had one of many possible experiences surrounding the environment once you are off your skis or snowboard and in your lodge. You could have the laid-back and relaxing experience or the nightclub that rages on until 6 a.m. No matter which you got, or which you like, there is one thing that is for certain, you need more to wear than your ski pants and boots for après ski.

Skis and snowboards on a rack
Oleksandr P / Pexels

What is après ski?

During the 1950s, the phrase après ski became popular to describe your downtime activities when not on the mountain. The phrase is French and translates literally to “after ski” or “after skiing.” It’s now defined as the post-ski social activities and entertainment.

If you’re in France, it is likely Champagne. If you’re in America, you’re probably better off being prepared for beer. The start time depends on a lot of things. Most notably when you finish skiing for the day in the mid to late afternoon. Pro tip, don’t call it your last run; it is horribly bad luck. Sometime in the hours before dinner, the upscale resorts host a more laid-back vibe, while the more common vacation spots will see a more lively scene.

A man standing on the mountain wearing ski gloves.
Steve Johnston / Unsplash

What is the après-ski dress code?

What you wear in your après-ski time is important for the image you want to project. If you are a beginner on the slopes, you will likely just swap your helmet for a thick beanie as an après-ski hat and call it good, but if you want to appear as more of a seasoned veteran on the mountain, you will have some items that are a little more tailored for the moment, letting your ski pants dry for the next day’s runs. Here are the best items to pick up if you want to adhere to the unspoken après-ski dress code.

Land's End cashmere turtleneck
Land's End

The turtleneck

The trick to looking like you want to look great but also that you are staying warm (and throw in the idea of looking like you have been there and done that) is functional fashion. Having a great outfit is all well and good, but you’re on a mountain after all, so these items need to keep you just as warm as they are stylish. That is where the turtleneck comes in — it’s one of the most stylish sweaters you can get in 2023, and it has the added bonus of hugging your neck to keep the cool air out. This should be your number-one choice for the base layer of your outfit.

Our choice – Land’s End cashmere turtleneck

Overland Heath shearling vest
Overland Sheepskin Co.

The shearling vest

Could you go with a leather jacket or a long-sleeved parka? Sure. But why would you miss the opportunity to throw on your best Yellowstone-inspired vest and let the manliness radiate? You may especially want to do this if you aren’t a good skier and people watch you eat it all day. Furthermore, if you’re going bar-hopping during your après ski, the temperature will go up and down as you jump from one bar to the next or from bar room to balcony. This keeps your core warm while letting your arms breathe.

Our choice – Overland Heath shearling vest

Mugsy Toasties flannel-lined jeans
Mugsy Jeans

The flannel-lined jeans

The pants are a little more difficult as your ski pants are specifically made to keep you warm while you are on the mountain. However, nothing is worse than being in a crowded bar with a ton of people in oversized, puffy clothing. Instead, opt for a pair of warm, flannel-lined jeans that are slim enough to keep you looking good, flexible to avoid getting stuck in the crowd, and warm enough to let your ski pants dry out for the next adventure on the slope.

Our choice – Mugsy Toasties flannel-lined jeans

Meindl Comfort Fit Light Hikers
Meindl USA

The dry boots

Here is the deal: You may be the kind of person who truly doesn’t want to pack an extra pair of boots. But your ski boots need to air out and dry out, and your feet need a break from them. So packing a separate pair of waterproof boots that work well in the snow is the best way to keep you looking and feeling sharp. Our favorite choice is light hiking boots that work like a slimmed-down version of your ski boots. Trust us, you will thank us when you see others get chastised for taking off their ski boots in the bar. Major party foul.

Our choice – Meindl Comfort Fit Light Hikers

First Lite Zero Cold Weather OTC Sock
First Lite

The thermal socks

Just like the boots, you really don’t want to wear the same socks you have had on when going down the slopes for hours while you jump from bar to bar. The best thing to do is pack a pair of warm, dry alternatives. Packing tip: Roll them up, and stick them in the extra boots when traveling so you don’t lose the extra space. Make sure they are cold-weather-rated and cushioned socks. Your feet may have taken a pounding throughout the day and deserve a break.

Our choice – First Lite Zero Cold Weather OTC Sock

Huckberry beanie
Huckberry

The beanie

Remember when we said you shouldn’t be that guy who simply swapped out his helmet for a beanie? We didn’t say you shouldn’t do that. It just shouldn’t be the ONLY thing you do. Once you get rid of the helmet and goggles, you will want to replace the protective layer with another one. You are in the cold mountains, and you likely sweat in your helmet, so covering your head will protect you from losing your body temperature. Of course, you’ll also look stellar.

Our choice – Huckberry beanie

Pack your bags — the prime ski season in the Southern Alps in New Zealand may be wrapping up, but the European Alps are just starting to ramp up. Grab one of each of these items and make a statement once you hop off the skis and are ready for après ski.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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