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The Sun Valley Guide magazine is distributed free twice yearly to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area communities.

Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper will receive the Sun Valley Guide with their subscription.

Photo courtesy Sun Valley Company 

Sun Valley style

Local ski fashion through the ages

by Jennifer Pattison


Sun Valley has always had style. The resort and its fashionable patrons graced the covers of Vogue and Esquire magazines within a few months of the 1936 opening. And while the chic celebrities and well-dressed wealthy who call this town a place to hang their ski poles have, on the whole, added to that inimitable style, Sun Valley’s first trendsetters were in fact the men of the original Sun Valley Ski School.

These Austrian imports brought with them their country’s ideas for stylish skiwear. From trachten to lederhosen, this unique European garb was a hit with the resort’s many celebrity skiers. Hollywood legend Gary Cooper was often seen on the slopes in Austrian attire.


By the early ’40s the resort was in its heyday. Mary Pickford, Jimmy Stewart and Ginger Rogers were all regular visions on the slopes of Sun Valley, bringing with them their movie star panache. To keep current with the ski fashions, the ladies of the lodge favored Picard, a Manhattan ski wear designer who had been brought in to run Sun Valley’s ski shop.

All of the outfits pictured here were designed by
Frederick A. Picard, whose work combined the style of the era with the practicalities of the very unladylike pursuit of hurtling down a mountainside on two planks of wood.


In fashion terms, the ’50s largely overlooked Sun Valley. The celebrities flocked to a newer, and, at the time, more chic ski town—Aspen. The resort compensated by catering instead to America’s burgeoning middle class. Consequently, the slopes lost a little of their elegance. This Dollar Mountain daredevil shows off the style for spring skiing in 1950: a straw hat, a smile and a pair of socks that any grandma would be proud of.


While the rest of the world swung through the ’60s in some truly fabulous clothing, Sun Valley’s clientele were not exactly the foot soldiers of the fashion revolution, but then mini skirts are hard to pull off on the top of a mountain.

Mercifully, the deeply unflattering lederhosen-inspired trousers of previous decades had vanished, and the figure slimming versions pictured here were clearly a precursor to the suavely sexy style of the ’70s. But these two ladies atop Baldy in the early ’60s certainly needed some direction, of the fashion kind.


The style of the slopes came into its own in the decade of disco and divas. The valley was littered with Bogner babes wearing the figure hugging styles of German designer, and professional skier, Willy Bogner.

These sleek, all-in-ones were some of the first truly trendy, yet practical, clothing to be designed specifically for the sport. Bogner’s design house still supplies the German Olympic ski team with their uniforms. The downside? With Willy cornering the market in sexy skiwear, snow bunnies in the valley were hard to tell apart.


The ’80s, a decade that fashion disowned, fell in love with skiwear. Two of the worst faux pas in fashion history were prevalent on Baldy in the ’80s, leggings (which even Jane Fonda couldn’t pull off) and neon (which should be reserved for construction workers alone). On the plus side, however, the ski patrol could find people much more easily.

Spring skiing also entered a daring flesh-baring phase in this decade, as valley twins Caroline and Charlotte demonstrated for local photographer David Stoecklein. Just don’t fall over girls.


The dress down decade of the ’90s compelled skiwear manufacturers to move away from the fads of high fashion towards a niche market of specialist winter sport clothing that emphasized comfort. Items that would be laughed off runways in Manhattan were necessities on the slopes of the Rockies.

That is not to say that skiwear became unfashionable, in fact, quite the opposite occurred. By focusing on the needs of the skier rather than the demands of fashion, labels such as North Face created something of a skiwear craze. The result being that clothes designed for skiing were worn by many people who had never even seen a chairlift.

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