Sean Beckwith: The Snowboard Sartorialist |

Sean Beckwith: The Snowboard Sartorialist

There are many things that can be learned from “Johnny Tsunami,” Disney’s pre-eminent foray into extreme sports about a kid who moves from Hawaii to Vermont and goes from surfing to snowboarding. I hadn’t seen the movie in probably decades until this weekend.

The film featured multiple ski movie stereotypes: rich kids ski, public school kids board; relentlessly high/dumb snowboard shop employee; grand finale race on the toughest run; swaggerless ski douche villain (Brett). However, the main staple that defines (and dates) any ski movie is the fashion.

Nowhere — other than a runway — are white people more fearless with clothing than in ski towns. Remember those hats with the fabric “dreads” on them? I wish I could forget. How about a nice snowflake-patterned headband? Never had one but unless you’re wearing sunglasses with it, you’re doing it wrong.

I know almost nothing about fashion. I have no clue about Windsor knots, how many buttons a suit should have, hats without baseball logos on them, watches, scarves or what terms like cocktail casual mean. Wedding invites should spell out specific guidelines for guys. Tie, button-up, khakis. Suit. Tuxedo. Whatever you wear to a beach wedding.

That said, I can offer some tips to keep you from showing up on opening day looking like you came off the set of “Johnny Tsunami” circa 1999.


From a scale of JNCO Jeans to skinny jeans, your pants should skew toward the preferred apparel of disgruntled mid-’90s suburban kids. The only way you can flaunt your ass on the slopes is in movement/circulation-restricting, semi-leather pants and a jacket short enough to allow people to stare at your tuchus but not long enough to keep the snow out. Yoga pants are the official uniform of Aspenites so you can still show off all the work you put in on the Peloton at apres. (Side note: I thought people bought home-workout equipment to avoid being yelled at by overly intense trainers.)

Baggy pants allow you to layer up at your leisure. I prefer long socks and basketball shorts because it gets hot shredding that sweet nectar, but I’ve comfortably worn sweatpants underneath, too.

Two final points: If you pull your pants over your boots and you can see the outline of the boot, your pants are too tight. If there is reinforced fabric on the inside base of your pants, they’re ski pants. If there is reinforced fabric on the back by the heel, they’re snowboard pants.


The most important piece of clothing you can buy for the winter is your jacket. You don’t have to — and probably shouldn’t — spend $300-plus at Pata-Gucci. If you have any semblance of send, your coat is going to get destroyed anyway.

Buy something reasonable that you haven’t seen 40 middle-aged men wearing and make sure it hangs significantly below your belt. That’s not advice for functionality, it is just aesthetics. I shouldn’t see your crack when you strap in.

And now a word on powder skirts: You’re going to get a butt-full of snow regardless but powder skirts only serve to trap said snow inside your jacket, unless you have matching gear with buttons that connect skirt to pants. And in that case, good for you, Captain North Face.

Also, and this is crucial, make sure the pockets are plentiful and waterproof. You need a large, warm pocket for your phone; a cushioned, dry spot for safety equipment; and an easily accessible pocket or pockets for a flask or lift beers.

Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with bright colors and some panache but if you look like a crossing guard, you might want to scale it back.


While your jacket is the most important, the small details are close second. Nothing says “avoid me” like a hunting facemask. We’re not invading Guam. A normal, non-scary clown mouth neck warmer will suffice. I personally don’t wear a neck warmer because it fogs up my lens.

Speaking of things to avoid, the elbow-length, tasseled Native American gloves are borderline racist. Just because they’re expensive doesn’t mean they look good. Although, if there was ever specific gear to splurge on, it’s gloves. A nice pair will last long and keep your hands dry. That Amazon Prime deal for $40 off-brand mittens marked down to $20 will ruin your day.

Another thing to spend money on is goggles, which preferably should be worn inside your helmet and definitely not dangling off the back of it. I like to take out the lining inside my helmet to accommodate a hat and bandanna because I have a large head.

If you want to buy the new helmet with the visor that moves up and down, I won’t ride with you. That also applies to wearing your ski pass on the outside of your jacket and coats with 17 different pattern/color combinations on them. Keep it clean.

You don’t want to end up like that classist ass clown Brett. I can’t stop you from being a waste of human flesh, but I can keep you from dressing like an extra in “Ski Patrol.”

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email at