Après Ski: What to Wear and Do’s and Don’ts

Published on 05/26/2023 · 10 min readSki trips aren't just about your time on the slopes! Skiing Expert Lauren Dobbins gives some tips on what to wear, do, and not to do at the end of your ski day!
Lauren Dobbins, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Lauren Dobbins

Broken Compass Brewing Company in Breckenridge. Photo by Lauren Dobbins

When taking a ski trip, the time spent on the mountain is often only half of the adventure. For many of us, having the best après ski possible is just as important. If you don’t know, après ski is literally “after ski” in French. Many skiers (and snowboarders) enjoy a good après to relax after a hard day working the legs. It is a celebration of conquering the mountain! For others, the après scene is the place to be seen and to let everyone on the internet know that you spent a lot of money to be on vacation. Regardless of your mindset, knowing what to wear and do at the post-skiing bar is part of the journey.

In case you didn’t know, I’m a fan of a post-skiing drink. In fact, you can check out my article about my favorite places to après in my home state of Colorado. Besides enjoying a good hard cider, I absolutely love to people-watch. As I have learned from my numerous trips to the local bar, there are many colorful characters that you will see time and time again. So let’s walk through some of these après regulars so you can learn how to dress and act in a way that doesn’t scream, “I’m a tourist.”

I love a good cider (or four) from Waldshänke in Denver! Photo by Lauren Dobbins

Top 10 Après Ski Regulars

1. The Designer-Obsessed

Labels on labels on labels. This person wants you to know they have money by slapping every major fashion brand on their body. They are loaning an overpriced ski suit from Rent the Runway if they can't afford it. They can be seen wearing Moon Boots paired with a Gucci bag. This regular is often found in the most expensive ski towns like Aspen and Telluride. Champagne is almost always already in hand. Do they know how to ski? Maybe?

2. The Influencer

But first, let me take a selfie. This patron (who may or may not also be The Designer-Obsessed) is at the mountain to spice up their Instagram feed. They took the gondola to the top for a quick photoshoot with their rental gear before taking the gondola back down. They spend more time perfecting the latest TikTok dance than they do actually skiing. They want to be the king or queen of nightlife and will follow you online if you follow them and their other influencer friend (who is probably a DJ). Why pay for cocktails when you can give the local bar exposure?!?

3. The Stuck in the Glory Days

This person was once scouted to be in a Warren Miller film in 1982 and will never let that glory go. I’m sure they will have no problem arguing why Glen Plake is a way better skier than that hip youngster Jonny Moseley. They will spend their time telling you that high-speed chairlifts are overrated when the lines take so long to get through. They will be mad about the cost of parking and on-mountain food. Back in their day, skiing was way better than it is now. They will be sporting their original ski jacket paired with their favorite straight skis from the same decade.

4. The Clueless Family

This family of four will each have a varying degree of a gaper gap with their rental helmets and goggles. The parents spend their time pretending they don’t have children, and the children will pretend they don’t have parents. Screaming and crying can occur from all four members. They all wonder why they didn’t take a family trip to Disney World instead.

5. The Non-Skier Friend

The group's non-skier (or non-snowboarder) took this trip for quality time with their family and/or friends and to enjoy the fresh mountain air. They didn’t realize they would spend most of their time at the base area next to scenic I-70. They are in their regular winter clothes, but no one in their group knows this because they are too busy skiing without them. This person will often be spotted looking rather bored with numerous empty glasses at their table.

6. The Braggart

“You really aren’t experiencing Lake Tahoe if you don’t have sake from Japan.” - The Braggart. Photo by Lauren Dobbins

The Braggart is quick to tell you that this pathetic resort is way less impressive than (insert major resort here). They will quickly name-drop every famous resort they can think of and will make sure you are jealous. They are on a mission to ski in just about every European country, but it is more important to them that you KNOW they skied in all of these places. If you haven’t been to the Alps, they have and will tell you all about it. They will often have stickers on their helmet of every resort they have been to or wear a sweatshirt and beanie with resort names on them.

7. The “My State Is the Best State” Patron

Anyone from Colorado will quickly tell you that Outer Range has some of the best beer OF ALL TIME! Photo by Lauren Dobbins

West Coast, Best Coast. East Coast, Beast Coast. Regardless of where this person came from, they will tell you how their home state is much better. Like The Braggart, they will be wearing swag from their local resort. They will talk so much about their home resort that it makes you wonder why they took a ski trip in the first place. They will also complain about the lack of their favorite craft beers.

8. The Fraternity

The Fraternity is here to make the rental Suburban look like a clown car. They can be spotted by the constant screaming of “Wooooo, spring break” and their matching college sweatshirts. They are young and athletic but are often too drunk to show off their skiing prowess. Why sip when you can chug? The local bars love them for the sheer amount of alcohol and pizza they purchase but hate them for the insane mess they leave behind. The less local skiing available to them at their college, the more rowdy the crowd (I’m looking at you, LSU alums).

9. The Ski Bum

Is that a person or a snowman? This patron has been deep in the powder all day and is proudly still in their ski gear. Their jacket reeks of sweat from the 55 days they have skied so far (and it’s only December). Their clothes are loaded with holes, but who needs new ski pants when you can use duct tape? They need the beer for the calories since they took no breaks on the mountain.

10. The Local Legend

A true local legend is always ready for the shot ski at Arapahoe Basin! Photo by Lauren Dobbins

Every resort has its own Local Legend. This person is the best skier on the mountain, and they will rack up more days than the young bucks. The Local Legend is known by name at every bar (think “Cheers” but for the whole town). They are loved because they tip well and share the best stories. This person is always the first to do the shot ski with strangers each night. They are cool, and we all aspire to be them someday.

The Après Ski Do’s & Don’ts

Now that we have covered the 10 regulars at the après scene, you probably have an idea of who you do or don’t want to be (or maybe, who you even are). So, let’s cover a few do’s and don’ts to ensure you are the best patron possible.

Do: Dress for the Weather

Last NYE at Arapahoe Basin was not for the faint of heart! Photo by Lauren Dobbins

It shouldn’t be surprising that ski towns are often cold and snowy. Keep the weather in mind when you head to the après scene. If you can change after skiing, be sure to wear layers so you are comfortable both outside and indoors. Use snow boots and a winter jacket (even your ski jacket if you don’t want to overpack). Consider bringing gloves/mittens and a scarf with you if you get cold easily. Don’t forget sunglasses if it is still daylight. If you are heading to the bar straight from the slopes, brush all the snow off you and leave your skis outside.

Don’t: Obsess Over Fashion

When it comes to getting ready, remember it is function over fashion. It’s great if you look fashionable, but you don’t want to freeze! Wear comfortable clothes; no one really cares what you look like. Bars and restaurants in ski towns know they serve skiers, so they don’t mind if you look like you just came from the slopes. While there may be some super upscale places with a dress code, most are ready to welcome you in your baselayers.

Do: Scope Out the Local Crowd

The George in Vail is the best place for debauchery! Photo by Lauren Dobbins

This tip is important depending on who you are traveling with. If you are looking for a rowdy good time, find a spot with live music or other entertainment. If you have a bunch of kids with you, look for places with kids or have an easily accessible kids' menu. Different spots cater to different types of crowds, and finding a crowd that matches your group will help maximize your fun.

Don’t: Overtake a Space

If you are with a large group, look for a place to accommodate that (either through reservations or a large location). Don’t cram your group into a small space or around a tiny bar, even if the host lets you do so. Be aware of your noise levels, and don’t encroach into other people’s space or shared spaces (i.e., hallways).

Do: Support Local Businesses

Snitching Lady Distillery in Fairplay has a message for the tourists. Photo by Lauren Dobbins

Many resort base areas and ski towns are loaded with businesses owned by mega corporations (such as Vail Resorts). Whenever possible, give your time and money to the local businesses. These local places are the heart of these communities, and the people who work there are typically year-round inhabitants. They will also have the inside scope on some of the best things to see and do while you are there.

Don’t: Stick to Just the Base Area

While the ski resort base area is convenient to the slopes, it lacks a lot of local flavor. Venture into the true town to help support the local economy. Some of the best bars and restaurants will be farther from the resort but are well worth the trip! Don’t be afraid to check out neighboring towns as well.

Do: Enjoy the Town

This tip might seem straightforward, but enjoy your time! Talk about the fun skiing you did that day, and don’t be shy to share your favorite runs. Tell your servers how much you enjoy this area, and be open to local suggestions. Positivity breeds positivity!

Don’t: Be a Party Pooper

The last thing any server, bartender, or patron wants to hear is how much you don’t like this ski resort (or how much you like another ski area). These people live in this area for a reason, and they don’t want to hear about how much you think it sucks. Someone who hears you talking bad about their home won’t be telling you where the best local spots are (because they don’t want you stinking up their favorite bar).

Do: Be Kind and Patient

Being kind and patient is one of the golden rules of life. Ski towns deal with a lot of incoming tourists every season, and it can be incredibly hectic. Be nice and understanding of potentially long wait times. Many of the locals you encounter in ski towns work very hard to be able to live there, and many still have to live in neighboring towns to commute to work. Have compassion for everyone, and tell them you appreciate their work to make this ski town special! Always tip, and tip well when you’ve experienced outstanding service.

Don’t: Ski or Ride Drunk

My mid-mountain pit stop at Snowbasin. Photo by Lauren Dobbins

Many people stop at the mid-mountain bar to enjoy an end-of-day drink. At a high elevation, the effects of alcohol on your body will become more apparent after fewer drinks. Know your limits, and DO NOT GO DOWN THE MOUNTAIN DRUNK! If you’ve had one too many and are still on the mountain, you are able to take the main chairlift or gondola down to the base area.

Conclusion

Arapahoe Basin is legendary for a reason (it’s the Bloody Mary). Photo by Lauren Dobbins

Are you ready to live it up like a local on your next ski trip? Hopefully, you now know the best way to maximize your time in the après scene. If you need help finding ski gear that can take you from the slopes to the bars, reach out to me or another awesome Skiing Expert here at Curated to find your new favorite après attire!

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