Forget the Olympics. The slopestyle I’m thinking about right now is which ski jacket to buy.
After all, it’s not an obvious choice for the woman over 35. Or maybe there are too many choices, and those less than $500 just happen to be uninspiring. (Those more than $500 are a little too inspiring, if you catch my drift.)
I went shopping with my dad, who has a good eye for these things. I told the sales person I didn’t want anything ‘ridiculous.’ "You mean ridiculous in price?” he asked. “No," I replied. “Ridiculous like this,” holding up a black number decorated with roses. “Although I don’t want to spend a grand, either,” I said, looking at the price tag.
The sales assistant and I made our way around the floor. I tried on a Columbia jacket. Too utilitarian. I tried on a Descente jacket. The black and white design was too severe. I objected to having a spider on my jacket.
I was at a loss. For two years, since returning to the slopes after a seven-year hiatus with an almost unworn and almost out-of-date red Marker jacket, I’ve been thinking about what to get next. I’ve looked with envy and amusement at the 20-somethings. Snowpants with a cross-word puzzle designs, quilted patches and 3D blocks. Jacket with deep space nebula, preppy checks and neon leopard prints. Colour, prints, and more colour matched with more prints.
I tried to see the brands of jackets on women whose style I liked. (Spyder! Moncler! Now what?) I realised I was turning into a person who cared what brand my ski jacket was, and it’s been years since I was led by a brand. (Gloria Vanderbilt jeans at 12; Guess jeans at 16. OK, Kate Spade at 25.) This was becoming a 'thing', and this brand was going to have to represent me. I knew what I wasn’t: a 25-year-old wearing Quiksilver, O’Neill or Burton; a practical person wearing North Face, Patagonia or Salomon; or a diva wearing Bogner, Chanel or Pucci. (This reversible Pucci quilted cape is awesome, though, but maybe not for skiing.)
Finally, after as my assistant was going to hapless to hopeless, he led me to the Aurora Borealis, found on the inside of the hood of the Helly Hansen Floria jacket. All I knew about Helly Hansen was that it's Norwegian, and the Breckenridge resort staff was decked in it last year. (I have since learned the company started in 1877, when HH started making oilskin outerwear, and is now majority owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund. What a coincidence!) As for the rest of it, the jacket was the right colour (black), had details I like, it's lightweight but warm, and seriously comfortable. And the inside print reminded me of the Aurora Borealis.
I'm in. While it's not a perfect 10, taking into consideration brand, style, technical ability and price, it's a solid 9.5. And for my slopestyle, that'll do fine.
Editor's note: While researching this article, I came upon a jacket I liked more. And it was on sale up the street. So that was that. HH was out. Phenix was in. (Phenix? What on earth kind of spelling is that?) I feel like I'll be able to wear it off the slopes as well. Let's hope I'm right.