There's cool and there's cool

Winter wear can be functional and fashionable

For new residents in Steamboat Springs who have yet to experience a Yampa Valley winter, get ready for snow, ice and numbing temperatures.

The best way to prepare when the barometer plummets is to make sure you have the appropriate winter clothing. But stylish clothing isn't just for the city folk fashion doesn't have to take the back burner.

Although shopping malls and outlet stores are not an option in Steamboat Springs, plenty of local businesses allow residents to get ahead on the newest winter fashions while staying warm without having to take the lengthy drive to Denver.

Standing around to observe winter activities, such as Winter Carnival, can feel like an arctic blast. And no one wants to stand in the snow in a skirt with heeled boots and a skimpy top.

Marita Fiedler of Ski Haus said cotton is the devil during winter. People with cotton socks may see frostbite if they continue to wear them while standing still in the snow.

"If feet sweat, cotton gets wet and holds in moisture. It's like wearing wet socks all day. You want to layer with fabrics that wick," Fiedler said of the process that moves moisture away from the body.

If you're into the fashion that keeps you the warmest, Fiedler said fleece, wool and down are three insulating materials that will do the trick.

But soft shell technologies have created fabrics that are water and wind resistant that still allow breathing room for your body.

"Your body regulates its temperature a little better. The snow isn't necessarily always wet around here," Fiedler said.

If you're not standing in snow for a long time, Fiedler said the slip-on treaded shoe has become extremely popular in Steamboat.

"They have a little insulation and a tread that's snow friendly. People don't want to have to bend over and tie it," Fiedler said.

Loretta Hammerslag, a new co-owner of 8th Street West, said they intentionally buy a new line of winter boots every year that provide a good tread. But if you want a combination of warmth and style, local retailers in Steamboat say there is no need to sacrifice one for the other.

"The three-quarter length sweater coat goes well for Steamboat," said Bette Vandahl, also a co-owner of 8th Street West.

With more fitted, thin tops and low-riding, hip-hugging pants, sweater coats give people warmth in the length and a style made for the city, although city fashion has seeped into mountain ski towns such as Steamboat.

Those big bulky sweaters popular in the '80s and '90s in the winter have been replaced with tighter fitting clothing made of synthetic or natural fibers that allow room to move and provide just as much warmth.

Men and women who work in professional fields or need an outfit for attending the weekly dinner party can still be fashionable while being functional.

Although Allen's is lined with snowboarding and ski pants and jackets for men and women, tighter fitting sweaters and micro fleeces are the wave of the future, owner Todd Allen said.

"It's light-weight that's not bulky. This is out-to-dinner in Steamboat," Allen said.

While many men in Steamboat don't opt for the dress shirt and necktie, Allen said his store is one of the few in town where men can buy jeans, slacks and ties.

Allen said style and fashion are not so much of an issue in a town such as Steamboat; however, women might think a bit differently.

"Women like to feel like they look good," said Jody Peterson, manager of Chez Nous. "We're a sporty town, but we want to be fashionable."

Peterson said after 23years living in Steamboat, she's mastered style and comfort. Slip on shoes or mules can still be worn in the winter. Peterson recommended wearing boots outside in the snow, but packing a small work shoe in a large bag-style purse for indoors.

"You don't have to spend a lot of money to look fashionable," said Marylen Lyons of Chez Nous, adding that women in professional fields should dress for the job more in Steamboat.

Peterson said you never can have enough black pants made of a wool blend because black is easily complemented by any other color. Dressing for winter can be difficult. You want to bundle to go outdoors, but once you're inside, you may be sweating.

Peterson said cardigans and vests also are popular when you want to layer and be able to disrobe until you're comfortable.

Faux suede jackets with a shearling liner have added a colorful and warm style to wardrobes, Peterson said.

"Leather is big, real or faux. Oh, and equestrian is really big," Lyons said, also agreeing that sweater coats have made a come back from the 1970s.

The ladies from 8th Street West and Chez Nous said scarves and hats would appropriately accessorize any outfit.

"Scarves can make a total difference," Hammerslag said.

Along with the tighter fitting tops and silky undergarments, Hammerslag said large necks on tops are popular.

Although tight fitting turtlenecks still are popular, diverse necklines have invaded clothing stores and catalogs.

Get ready for the velvets and silks to dress up holiday festivities while staying toasty.

Local stores said most of the winter clothing has arrived.

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