Steamboat Springs A one-piece ski suit makes a basic snow apparel choice - fashion or function? - a tricky question.
Five years ago, the lone blaze orange onesie hanging in a corner at The Click snowboard gear and apparel store would have been a joke, a non-fashion-forward way to stay dry or maybe to poke fun at the past.
In 2008, the lone onesie is alone because the store has sold the style in every size that is not extra large.
"One company made one style last year, but now all the companies seem to have at least one style of them," said Casey McGlone, an employee at The Click. McGlone explained that in this case, the fashion or function question is a toss-up.
"The whole fact of being dry the whole time you're up there and never getting snow anywhere, especially inside your pants, is huge," he said. Along with a collection of pants and coats in bold colors, the orange suit points to a shift away from full-body patterns. There still are plenty of urban-inspired prints on the racks at The Click, and there's a wall of black-and-white soft goods. But there's also a lot of neon.
It appears - after years of actively avoiding looking this way, after dressing up for countless Gaper Days and poking fun at the people who actually wear these things - snowboard apparel companies have made 1980s ski fashion their own.
And so, you have it: the ultimate ironic snowboarding ensemble. It's a one-piece hooded thermal suit with a skeleton pattern spread across the front, a pair of Day-Glo yellow snow pants with suspenders, and an electric-blue-and-salmon color-block jacket. Lime green gloves. Purple goggles. White bindings. A graffiti-patterned board.
McGlone said that look comes in a variety of fits.
"There are the smaller, thinner fits for the guys you see walking around town in chick pants. Then there's the standard fit, which is what you see 80 percent of the people on the mountain wearing. And then there's the team fit, which is just enormous," he said.
As men's snowboarding apparel moves further away from tradition by looping back to neon-glowing nostalgia, the women's styles at Christy Sports embrace a more elegant look.
"It's taking something that would be traditional or classic and then making it a little bit funkier," said Kelly Hanna, an assistant manager at the store. The store's selection of jackets features asymmetrical zippers, houndstooth patterns, pearl buttons and fur-lined hoods. Large plaid patterns, simple designs and diagonal cuts give the inventory at Christy Sports a classic look, like someone saw a wool winter coat and adapted it for the mountain.
"It's taking something you would normally expect and then putting a little twist on it," Hanna said.