| The Downhill Report, December 1996|
Pea green matched with deep mustard rust. Mile-wide stripes. The dare-me look of animal print on nylon. Welcome to 1997, where winter chic is spelled R-E-T-R-O and the slopes suddenly feel like Studio 54 all over again. Herewith, some must-have pieces that combine seventies flair with nineties function. And yes, these beauties can handle all conditions.
ø Make the scene in the Ice Queen Parka, with its glossy, lime-green snakeskin print and fuzzy shearling trim, and ready yourself for shouts of "Who loves you, baby!" The Queen ($160; from Sims, 888-360-7467) has all the features you've been missing in a parka--puffy quilted lining, generous knit storm cuffs, and a trove of high-tech adaptations, including a drawstring at the waist for snowproofing, a two-way front zipper, and no-nonsense insulation. It's a coat that performs both on the mountain and mid-Hamill Camel on the skating rink.
ø Reality check: Today's bulky, Velcro-intensive overmitts are overrated. Eliminate the hassles of layering with a pair of red-leather Knockout Mittens ($65; from Grandoe, 800-472-6363), ski mitts made to look like the boxing gloves Barbra Streisand wore in The Main Event. Soft and satiny as a well-worn beanbag on the outside and fleecy warm within, Knockouts are três comfy. No matter: The unmistakable, Leon-Spinks-has-nothing-on-me design works on the street, too, paired with a gray hooded sweatshirt. Nifty white lace-ups enhance the boxing-ring effect but seem to serve no practical purpose.
ø No ski outfit would be complete without the ultimate accessory, a suede bota bag from Bota of Boulder ($16; 800-530-8489). Sling it over your shoulder for that brassy, devil-may-care look that says Caution: This Skier Brakes for Gallo. Crack it open on the chairlift and share a swig with that special someone whose palm you just read, or save it for aprês-ski in the hot tub with sideburned strangers. Fancy leather lacing is a nice touch. Besides, what can enthrall like the musky scent of suede?
ø As homey as a Chuck Mangione LP by candlelight, the knitted wool ski mask cleverly named The Mask ($26; from Sims) is suddenly hot again. (Armed robbers and Green Bay Packers fans, of course, never forgot its charms.) Pull it up over your nose and mouth for full coverage, hook it under your chin on balmy days, or simply don it stocking-cap style. Added feature: cozy fleece lining.
ø Versatile, fast, and responsive, El Camino skis ($565; from K2, 206-463-3631) look and feel comfortable, like a toasty basement den decked out with wood paneling, shag carpet, and bumper pool. Their deep sidecut and wide, powder-friendly design make them all-mountain skis, perfect for hitting the bumps, chopping the steeps, or just cruising. The faux-pine finish with black and red trim gives them a sleek but powerful look, like a '75 TransAm blasting the music of Foghat.
Filed To: Snow Sports