Winter Clothing

Winter Sports: Apparel Arts 1932

While some people decide to spend time at a warm weather destination during the winter, others prefer winter sports like alpine- or cross country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and so forth.

In days past, winter was still a stylish season. Today, most of the winter sports apparel is made of artificial fibers, starting with all manner of synthetic boots, worn over synthetic blend socks, and continuing to the underwear, gloves, hats, helmets and goggles. Despite my aspirations, I too have succumbed to the lure of modern apparel for freezing cold, windy and occasionally dangerous conditions on the slopes, seen right.

All these items are functional and keep the wearer warm and safe while on the slopes, and yet, they have not retained the elegance of their predecessors. Unfortunately, many people continue to wear their ski attire for the rest of the day; even at fine restaurants, one can glimpse soggy ski boots beneath white tablecloths. Apparently, refined apres-ski glamour is but a memory.

In the 1930’s, synthetic materials had yet to appear, and natural fibers like wool were popular. Interestingly, despite the predominance of synthetic fibers, wool is supposedly an ideal fiber for sporting purposes. According to Klättermusen, the Swedish manufacturer of outdoor apparel for extreme conditions, wool absorbs 10 times more moisture than any synthetics, which is very important since the transportation of moisture through the diffusion shell is slower than perspiration.  Moreover, wool fibers have air compartments that help the wearer to stay warm, even if the garment is wet.

Then, as now, practicality was important, especially on the slopes, and so special attire was developed. However, once people were done with skiing, they changed into more dressy clothes. In 1932, Apparel Arts advised the following wardrobe for the gentleman who wanted to spend a few days at a winter sport resort:

A single breasted heavy tweed jacket and a pair of heavy tweed knickers or knicker-breeches (jacket need not match the knickers)

Heavy underwear, one or two heavy sweaters or knitted vests as well as heavy woolen gloves, warm woolen hose and a heavy wool scarf are of great use. For the head, a wool or fur cap and for the feet, regulation ski boots were suggested. With regard to topcoats, a heavy ulster or fur lined overcoat were recommended. With this outfit, a man could supposedly take part in any of the winter sport activities except ski-jumping, which required a special suit.

Moreover they wrote ”Last winter at the famous Continental spas, where winter sports have been traditional for decades, white was an important apparel note. White jackets were worn with blue knickers or ski trousers. Nevertheless, with the above outfit the average American gentleman will find himself well attired for a sojourn at a Northern winter resort.”

The Apparel Arts fashion forecast in 1932 looked as follows:

  1. For cross-country skiing, Apparel Arts recommended wearing a special suit with jacket that was laced at bottom and on sides and featured two large breast pockets. The blue knickers were paired with a matching Norwegian ski cap. The scarf matched the over the calf socks and the mittens had a Norwegian peasant pattern.
  2. For ski jumping, the blue gabardine suit was the garment of choice. It had a short double breasted jacket, ski trousers with bands at the bottom, a Norwegian ski cap, a yellow scarf and matching and knit gloves.
  3. For hunting during the cold days, the gentleman could wear a brown Harris Tweed suit with a red overplaid. It was paired with matching knicker breeches, a brown tweed grouse hat, a nice burgundy colored sweater, and a contrasting yellow dotted silk scarf, as well as heavy wool over-the-calf socks, shooting gaiters, brogued shoes.
  4. With formal hunt clothes, a black fur-lined broadcloth coat with a fur collar was considered to be de rigeur.
  5. Apparently, the green felt Tyrolean hat, a dark green fur lined short overcoat with raccoon collar, shepherd check breeches, scarf, gloves and over the calf socks of heavy wool in Norwegian pattern and ski boots were part of a practical ensemble that could be seen at famous Winter Spas like St. Moritz, Chamonix, and Lake Placid.
  6. For ice skating, this grey Shetland Half Norfolk jacket, with matching knickers, turtle neck sweater and two pairs of heavy hose and ski boots was considered to be an ideal outfit.

The following picture is a composition of actual “shots” made with a candid camera at the Lake Placid Winter Olympic games 1932 by Robert L. Jacobson.

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