Ski Suits from the 1920s

Wintersport Clothing 1928

Although it is almost the end of January, some of you may have yet to hit the slopes, especially since it there was very little snow in many winter sporting areas until now. Although you may recall an article about winter sports clothing from the 1930s, I would like to introduce some German winter sports clothing from 1928.

Classic Wrap Ski Suit

Classic Wrap Ski Suit

Today functionality and marketability are probably the most important factors in winter sport clothing, but the 1920s and 1930s, style – not just in clothing – was much more important. Back then, winter sport clothing was not widely available and so tailors began to adapt classic garments for more functionality when skiing. The German tailor trade magazine Der Schneidermeister (The Master Tailor) stipulates: “For a winter suit, it is essential to provide a good fit, unconditional comfort and it must be made from durable materials.” Just like today, only bespoke garments were able to achieve an absolutely superb fit, although the modern suits of professional skiers such as Bode Miller no longer bear any similarities to the suits of the 1930s.

In order to properly prepare for winter sports, natural materials like wool were of the greatest importance. The Schneidermeister specifically recommends a flat weave of a “Covercoat” or Covert fabric, Gaberdine, or Tricot to minimize the snow from sticking to the garment. Ideally, the fabric was quick drying and highly moisture-resistant. The combination of plain cotton outerwear and warm wool sweaters and underwear used to be popular combination during the era.

Like shooting clothing, the colors were more muted in order to hide dirt. Consequently, the blue ski suit seems to have been the favorite back then, but the colors sometimes suffered from frequent sun exposure.

To guarantee comfort, the coat was cut shorter and the trousers were cut in the Norwegian style, which likely refers to the tapering at the ankle.

In the following, let’s look at a few fashion illustrations and photographs from a German tailoring magazine in 1928.

Ski Suits

Vintage Ski Suit

Vintage Ski Suit

The man on top of the page wears an English model of a ski suit. The coat has a huge overlap for added warmth and closes with a belt as opposed to buttons. It also features large patch pockets with flaps, which prevent things from falling out while going down the slopes. It is combined with Norwegian trousers,  long turtleneck, long lined leather mittens and a knit hat.
The illustration on the right shows a coat that is buttoned to the pants to prevent gaps that might let in cold air or snow. The collar does have a storm button, allowing the wearer to close the neck completely. The bottom pockets are shaped in the same way as the buttoned flaps. The trousers were cut so they fit very tight around the ankle, preventing snow from entering.

Ski Suit And Leather Boots

Ski Suit And Leather Boots

Now, although this is a ski outfit, the tie was still worn!

Next up is a rare photograph from 1928. The high-waisted pants feature a rubber band so the shirt will remain tucked in. The coat has a button fly and the shoulders are reinforced.

Norwegian Ski Jacket

Norwegian Ski Jacket

Instead of a tie, he wears a scarf and on his feet he has heavy duty, square toed, leather ski boots that are basically non existent today. While the hat has an unusual shape, the mittens were always the way to go since they kept the fingers warmer than gloves.

This Norwegian ski jacket has a very similar shape to the Litewka uniform body coat. Overall, this simplistic jacket serves its functionality and creates a clean look.

Winter Hiking Outfits

Hiking Knickerbocker Suit 1928

Hiking Knickerbocker Suit 1928

The picture on the left shows us a winter hiking outfit. The coat bears some similarities to a waistcoat, and is made of suede leather. Note that the lower pockets are located in the horizontal waist seam.

The full cut knickerbocker trousers go very well with the vest and they are, of course, worn with nicely patterned, heavy wool socks.

The chap on the right wears a similar knickerbocker suit, although his trousers are not cut quite as full. The coat’s waistband is cut narrow and buttoned to the trousers – again this all serves the purpose of proper insulation.

Hiking Outfit

Hiking Outfit

The large patch pockets are expandable due to a fold and are hence very practical. He also wears heavy wool socks with boots and gaiters.

Last but not least, let’s look at this interesting fashion photograph from 1928.

This gentleman wears a heavy wool cap and a double breasted, short winter overcoat with patch pockets and flaps – even on the breast pocket.  The collar is equipped with a piece of fur that matches the width of the lapels. All edges features decorative, heavy machine stitching and the knickerbocker trousers go well with the coat.

Fashion Photography 1920's

Fashion Photography 1920’s

Unlike the other men, he incorporates gloves and plain, pointed captoe oxford shoes into his outfit. Oddly, the combination is not appropriate for winter sports, nor is it suitable for the city.

Overall, men were dressed much more stylishly during this era, though the garments were also much heavier. Interestingly, a number of modern companies continue to offer wool undergarments because it is such a great fiber  – it insulates well and absorbs more moisture than nylon or polyester.

What do you wear when skiing? Would you like to see more stylish clothing on the slopes? Let us know.


2 replies
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