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Skiwear '80: styles turn to tradition

Classic styles are hitting the slopes this season. For the last several seasons, the trend has been the sportswear looks, in both parka and pant design. Fabrications in corduroy and poplin were made with multi-use wearability in mind. Peter Bauer, president of White Stag Action Sports, sums up the situation: "There comes a point of no return, when White Stag could become just another sportswear line. For Skiwear '80, we are returning to traditional design -- stretch pants and classic parkas. Garments that fit well and look like ski clothes."

Stretch pants are back. Boots are climbing to the knee this season, and they look best worn with lean, in-the-boot pants. The hottest items are gaiters that manufacturers are making to work with the in-the-boot pant. Roffe, long known for its excellent stretch skiwear, leads the way with colorful gaiters that fit the whole family. Over-the-boot stretch pants are being given the gaiter look by many manufacturers, too. Remember to check for knee padding, and comfortable foot stirrups, when buying stretch pants.

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Jacket styles come in multilengths, but the freshest silhouette for both men and women is the stretch pant (with high waistband), combined with the pull-over anorak. These paras have pockets galore and are nipped at the waist with knitted ribbing or worn slightly loose.

Women, take note. Street-lenght ski coats are available this season. Their appearance marks a response to consumer appeal for more ski sportswear. These coats are perfect for women who live in colder climes. They come puffy or sleek , shiny or furry. Grab them. They might not be around next season.

Fills have become even more varied this year. 3M Thinsulate has given designers the option to bring skiwear closer to the body. A new process of stretch quilting trims puffy stylings. Down and pseudo-down are for those who need the warmth.

Reversible is a byword for skiwear '80. Parkas and vests are constructed to work both ways, giving the ski wardrobe more variety in color and design.

Vests have become multipurpose, too. Many styles have zip-off sleeves. Monica Tilley, designer for Levi's, has created a jacket called "Parka-Plus" that features a removable corduroy vest. There's not a trace of denim to be found in the Levi's line this year. It has changed its look to iridescent nylon , trimmed with embroidered leather yokes.

Fabrics show a lot of class. Iridescent nylons look rich in burgundy and teal tones. Levi's features an iridescent stretch corduroy; the base is one color, the pile another.

If you haven't seen GoreTex in skiwear, you will season. GoreTex is a bonding process that sandwiches two fabrics together for waterproofing with maximum breathability. The garments are expensive, but the fabrics have taken on a softer, more pliable hand, eliminating the feeling that you will break you bend.

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There are glamour fabrics, too, including velours, velvets, and fake furs. This season they are water repellant, quilted, and often reverse to nylon. The pants seem more lodge-oriented. They are great looking with the after-ski boots that come in increasing varieties of styles and sizes.

Color will be a matter of personal choice, but crayon colors (bright and clear) are strongly represented, contrasted with dull, earthy tones, especially wine and jade green. As usual, black and white can't be beat.

Cross-country skiers, take heart. More and more retailers and mufacturers are carrying merchandise designed especially for the sport. Manufacturers are hoping that X-C will become more visible, in the fashion sense of happening in public view. Consider converting a snow-covered golf course into a cross-county trail, using the clubhouse as a refueling stopover. This would provide the audience that skiwear enjoys on the slopes and in the lodge.

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