A group of skiers laughs together as they builds a snowman.
SKI & SNOW

How to Après-Ski: A Complete Guide

We’ve got the scoop on what to wear and which type of après party best suits your style
BY RACHEL CAVANAUGH
Sure, skiing is fun—presumably it’s why you trudged up the mountain in the first place. It’s hard to beat those big, fluffy powder turns or waist-deep face shots. But once you’re back in the lodge with the faux fur boots out and the peppermint schnapps flowing, it’s hard to argue that après is any less fun. In fact, some might argue it’s the best part of the day. Warm beverages, crackling fireplaces, good friends—what’s not to love? And that’s before you even get to the epic outfits.

While the vibe will be different depending on where you après (yep, it’s also a verb), your attire is likely to include items such as retro ski jackets, fur-lined clothing, and vintage ski suits. To help you decide what to wear, where to go, and what to expect, we've put together a complete après-ski guide below answering all of your questions and explaining the different types of après-ski events you may encounter.
A skier looks at the camera smiling while a gorup of friends stands in the background. 

What is après-ski?

First things first—what is après-ski? Literally speaking, the meaning of the French phrase can be translated as “after skiing.” It describes the social activities that follow a day of skiing, when mountain enthusiasts gather together to eat, drink, and be merry.

It’s when skiers change into comfier clothes and regale each other with tales from their day, often against a backdrop of music, food, and entertainment. It can take place in the ski lodge, out in the parking lot, at local bars and restaurants, or in private homes.

The ritual began in the 1950s and has evolved over the years to become a major part of ski culture. Nowadays, pubs and restaurants in ski towns often host elaborate après-ski parties with uniquely themed cocktails, appetizers, and even costumes.

How do you pronounce après-ski?

Après-ski is pronounced “ah-preh-ski.” (Being a French word, the descending accent on top of the “e” is pronounced with a short “e” sound, as in “bell” or “sell,” and the “a” at the beginning sounds like the “o” in “opera.” The “ski” is the same as in English).

That said, while “ah-preh-ski” is the correct pronunciation, it is common to hear people refer to it as “ah-pray-ski.”

What do you wear to après-ski?

Après-ski is all about your outfit, which typically involves a vintage look, although there are many different styles and themes. The main idea is to change out of your ski gear into softer, more comfortable clothing that’s also stylish. Here are a few key items you may want to invest in:

  • Après-ski sweater: Nothing says après-ski like a cozy winter sweater. Whether it’s a brightly colored retro look or more of an “ugly sweater” vibe (often popular around the holidays), make sure it is soft and comfortable. Fleeces and tunics also make great après attire—and cozy midlayers are absolutely essential.

  • Après-ski boots: Aside from the vintage ski suit, your après-ski boots may be the most important component of your post-ski outfit. Given that you’ll have just spent the day in stiff ski boots, you’ll want something ultra-soft and comfortable—and they need to have good traction, too, so you don’t slip and fall. Whether you choose frilly faux fur or a sleek, practical look, pick something with high-tech traction like AdaptTrax when selecting your boots for après.
A recipe for the “Tough Mother Toddy.”
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  • Après-ski vests: Wearing a stylish winter vest around the mountain is a great way to accessorize your après-ski look. Vests are extremely versatile, both in style and function, and they come in a wide range of warmth levels. You can choose between synthetic and natural down varieties, and they make fantastic layering pieces too.

  • Après-ski accessories: Don’t forget your winter accessories. This includes hats, neck gaiters or scarves, and gloves. Just like a winter vest, these cold-weather accessories come in tons of colors and styles, offering you the chance to add personality to your après-ski outfit.
A woman stands in the snow wearing fluffy gloves and a jacket with a faux fur trim smiling at the camera. 

Types of après parties

While all après-ski involves socializing after a day on the mountain, the type of socializing you do—and the look that goes with it—can vary widely. While some skiers hang out in fancy upscale bars, others grill hot dogs in the parking lot. Each type of event will call for a very different style, so you’ll want to dress accordingly.

Here are some common types of après parties you’ll see on the mountain:
The Posh Soirée: For this kind of party, think high-end Aspen vibe. Here, you’re likely to spot a lot of fur-lined ski suits, gold jewelry, fuzzy boots, and upscale lounge attire. There will be elkhorns on the walls, bearskin rugs by the fire, and an endless flow of swanky cocktails.

The Dirtbag Tailgate: This après-ski party is just the opposite—instead of sipping martinis by the fire, these folks are in the parking lot wearing the same baggy pants they skied in all day. Adding comfy boots and a warm midlayer, they’ll be sitting on the bumpers of their cars cooking burgers on a mini-grill. This type of après is especially popular in the springtime after pond skims, half-pipe contests, and other late-season events.
A woman in a pink retro ski suit walks onto the gondola. 
The Retro Ski Party: With an ’80s or ’90s theme, this wilder après party typically takes place in someone's private home or one of the many rowdy bars common to ski towns. Full of one-piece ski suits with neon colors and funky patterns, these parties are often held at night and can go until the wee hours of morning. If you plan on attending, you’ll want the coolest retro ski suit you can find.

The European Chalet Happy Hour: Tamer than the retro ski party, this daytime event is more family-oriented with a distinctly European vibe. Although it’s as common nowadays in the Rocky Mountains as in Chamonix, you’ll still find Euro-themed menus with things like charcuterie boards, raclette, and apéro spreads. People will be wearing decorative sweaters and tight racer suits—and there will be vintage ski posters on the walls.
Ready to put your après-ski outfit together? Check out our retro ski gear.