Aspen Princess: Tips on looking not-so-much like an out-of-towner

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

Merry Christmas, Aspen!

If you’re a local, you’re probably working today, and that’s just one of the many sacrifices we have to make to live in a little town called Asssspen, where it’s snowing as if Santa Claus himself requested it from the concierge at The Little Nell.

If you’re not a local, I thought it might be helpful to give you a few tips for how to feel and act like one. That way, you can fit in instead of unknowingly irritating every single person you encounter during your stay.

Without further ado, the Aspen Princess Guide for how to do Christmas like a Local:

Ditch the cowboy hats.

Newsflash: No one in Colorado wears cowboy hats unless they work on a ranch or are Kurt Russell. The only exception to this rule is during summertime when cowboy hats are the perfect outdoor concert accessory. They keep the sun off your face and provide that perfect relaxed element to a more dressed up look, be it a slinky silk halter top or a short dress to show off those super fit legs. As a side note, never, ever wear more than one Western accessory at a time (cowboy boots with a cowboy hat, western belt buckle with a bolero tie, etc.) unless you are at a costume party, strip club or you work at Kemosabe. The jury’s out on cowboy boots. If you have a really beautiful vintage pair that are timeless, know how to pair them with an appropriately modern outfit, and have the confidence or ease to pull them off then go ahead and rock it. Just know real locals choose function over fashion — most likely a pair of beat up Sorels or sneakers with their ski pants rolled up.

If you must do fur, do it sparingly.

Let it be known there is nothing worse than the cliche wearing a full-length fur coat on the streets of Aspen, especially if you are a man. With all due respect to the animal activists out there (I can already see the hate mail I’m going to get now, with key words written in shouty capitals, oy vey), a little fur here and there is an integral part of the Aspen look, but in moderation: a fur-lined collar, pompom on a cashmere blend hat, or maybe a touch of fur on the cuff of your boots or mittens. It’s just the thing to give you that fuzzy, cozy, snow bunny look — just don’t overdo it. And yes, there are some pretty damn good faux fur products out there these days to save the animals and save you a couple bucks. It’s a win-win. Here’s a tip: for the best sporty luxury look, head to Moncler.

Stop at pedestrian crosswalks.

This is the biggest of all red flags that you are from out of town. Drivers who blow through crosswalks without at least slowing down to make sure no one is crossing the street are from out of town. Here’s a little local fact: Pedestrians always have the right of way on downtown Aspen streets. That means you have to stop to let them pass. It doesn’t matter if you are late for your yoga class or Botox injections. The worst thing you can do is drive fast and then try to stop, therefore sliding uncontrollably through the intersection and doing more damage than if you had just blown through the stop sign in the first place. Better yet, stay out of your car altogether. This is a walking town.

Tip well.

Aspen locals might work three jobs and never have more than a few hundred dollars in their checking accounts, but they always tip large. Ryan is always guilty of this; partly because he’s horrible at math, but also because he knows what it means to work hard and how much it will be appreciated. Remember, most locals work over the holidays and are far from home, away from their families, with oceans and many time zones between them. On the flip side, most of us would tell you that our lives are better than your vacation. It has its price, sure, but it never has to end.

Hit the slopes early or late.

Even after living here for almost 20 years, I still marvel at the locals who skin up Aspen Mountain before the lifts start spinning. They do this partly because it’s a rule — uphill skiers must reach the summit before 9. But they also do it because it gives them a chance to enjoy the peace and quiet of the mountain before it’s jammed with half-drunk Texans and desperate housewives of California/New York/Chicago who might very well be hiding a little pill problem. My personal favorite are the late afternoon sessions, especially on a storm day when Cloud 9 is already packed with people wasting perfectly good Champagne and I’m just getting warmed up, say around 2 p.m. If I’m really lucky, the falling snow will fill everything in for a little surprise powder day, without having to compete for fresh tracks.

Get off the mountain and into the wild.

Aspen has a reputation for its wild party scene, but locals know the true wild is out there, in the quiet places away from the crowds where you can clear your head and burn off last night’s hangover. You don’t have to go too far or get too extreme to experience this; it might be a cross-country ski up the East Aspen Trail, a snowshoe up Maroon Creek or even at the John Denver sanctuary, a place that can make the middle of it all feel like a million miles away.

Whatever you do, enjoy your stay, stay out of jail, and whatever you do, don’t ask celebrities for a selfie.

Wishing you lots of love and powder days,

Aspen Princess

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