The Joys of Long Underwear

I love to ski for many reasons and well, I’ll admit, I also love to ski because it gives me full authorization to wear nothing but long underwear for all of the days.

I might not be a complete and total ski bum (I don’t smoke pot in the trees off of a ski run, I like to have some sort of gainful  employment, and I haven’t lived out of a van or on a couch for a season) but during ski season, which I’m just on the brink of, I do look and smell very much like a ski bum. I do ski most days and that means wearing long underwear underneath my ski pants (can we talk about how poorly designed women’s ski clothes are for real women’s bodies? No, I don’t want to suffer from a case of frostbite to my hips or top of butt crack,  so could the rise actually rise up and provide some coverage for these well-earned curves?). When I  get home at night, the ski pants come off but the long underwear do not.

I’m lazy, I generally smell after a long day out skiing around the mountain, a hat replaces daily hair washing, and I don’t regularly change my clothes. Welcome to my life during the winter.

Long underwear is the most perfect piece of clothing I own because it serves many useful purposes, unlike the healed pseudo-cowboy styled boots my dear and stylish friend Claire talked me into buying in Denver two months ago ( the boots have zero traction in the snow). First and foremost is long underwear’s (LU’s)  function: to keep me warm when it’s not warm outside. Secondly, it helps wick sweat away from the body, which is always good when the temperature is hovering somewhere around zero and my body’s quite warm from touring around the mountains but that will change dramatically on the descent. And finally, it looks good. Or at least I think it looks good. It looks good when I’m skiing and it looks really great when I’m standing in my pale blue saggy-butt  long underwear bottoms (Oh who am I kidding? Clothing does not sag on my butt. It clings! I have an ass, people!) trying to find something in the refrigerator that can be easily prepared for dinner and then in complete exhaustion, fall to the couch, still baring a grin from a day spent playing in the snow.

I love my new wool long underwear because it magically doesn’t stink after a day or two of skiing! Unlike synthetic layers that leave a traceable and distinct odor (not OK to wear when you’re waiting tables at the apres’ ski bar) my wool layers look kinda fancy and they’re sneaky too: Oh no, I haven’t skied in this shirt! Not me. No, I went home and changed before I came to work in something that resembles something I’d wear skiing. Ha ha!

I’ll admit that I own more long underwear items than dress pants, skirts or button down shirts. I love, love getting new long underwear layers and spend a bit too much time pouring over catalogs, comparing each item’s thread count and functional capabilities. Of course, a nifty photo of a skier deep in Alaska’s backcountry (wait…isn’t all of Alaska backcountry?) next to said wonder layer doesn’t hurt either. I have lightweight layers for days when it’s not so cold, like summer in Glacier where I only pack one down jacket. I even found my dream layer: fleece boxer shorts! While I do have a big skier’s ass, it gets really cold. It’s like all the fat and muscle pushed out any room for my circulation system to function properly, and after a day spent outside in the elements, my behind could be an easy substitute for a freezer. I’ve struggled for years to find the right combination of fabrics and layers to keep my butt warm during winter. From wearing no panties under my long underwear, to only wearing special active panties, to layering two pairs of bottoms over my bottom–resulting in a total lack of range of motion, to cutting up old fleece pants and wearing these handmade shorts over a thick pair of bottoms, none of these options remedied the frozen butt syndrome, until, on a sale rack in Missoula did I spy a pair of deeply discounted sleek black boxers. With its nice wide waist band (it won’t bind or pinch!) and lovely stretch fleece, I realized that my behind just might find some comfort in the coming colder months. My fleece boxer shorts are also perfect for camping–just the right amount of warmness in those sensitive areas that the down sleeping bag just won’t heat properly. When my friends ask why I’m wearing bicycle shorts under my ski pants, I proudly proclaim that while these shorts may just look like unflattering cycling shorts, they are not and in fact are the best shorts ever invented and my friends are only jealous that their lower bodies can’t be swathed in such toasty goodness.

In the tops department, thankfully there’s a wide selection available to this overeager consumer to easily accommodate any temperature range and fitness activity level. Each morning during ski season, I rise, roll over in bed and wait to hear something good from that man in my life: the snow reporter at Whitefish Mountain Resort (better known as Big Mountain, which is still the name of the physical mountain). From his report and then my findings at the NOAA weather website, I make my layering decision. Well, lets see, I’ll probably hike up Hellroaring Peak today since we’ve got some new snow, and I’m tele skiing so I’m bound to get a little bit sweatier than normal, so it’ll be my light wool shirt followed by my favorite score from the lost and found section (obtained at the end of ski season, I don’t go around taking people’s LU’s until the season is over. I’m not that obsessive!) a heavier pullover number with a chest zip pocket, perfect for chap stick, candy, and other essentials I like to take with me, like my Yeti soap.

One ski season I got a bit lost from my friends Dave and Kevin. While I knew exactly where I was on the mountain, they had no clue where I was. And it was getting dark. We found each other just before Kevin dialed search and rescue and ever since that night, Dave’s given me a bar of Yeti soap, the only deterrent to ward against Yetis who like capture lost female skiers and hold them hostage until they become quite stinky and achieve an optimum amount of facial hair. While I do approach that high level of rank on most days, facial hair I do not possess.

After a day skiing, I’m usually quite tired. I think it’s because my soul is just so damn happy that it’s worn itself out. Oh and my quads are usually pretty beat too. So, with a beer in my stomach I head home for the night and like nothing better than to wander around the house, lie with the dogs, and hope that Cole makes something great to eat, all in my LU’s. I even wear them to bed because you never know if you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and are forced to run out of your house for an emergency and not even have time to get dressed. Think of that. Think of standing outside your house in a winter storm, freezing to a near death of hypothermia and embarrassment because you don’t wear long underwear to bed and the unexpected happens. Or it also means that you’re a highly prepared individual who knows that the next day might bring over six inches of new snow, requiring an immediate departure from your house in the early morning to arrive at the ski hill and line up for first chair– and you can’t waste those precious minutes on getting dressed!

I’m actually wearing long underwear right now, as I type. I didn’t ski today, but I did the day before. I did change out of my skied in long underwear, sat in the hot tub (hot tubbing is that same as showering, correct?) and then changed into a different pair of bottoms, black one’s I’m “borrowing” from Cole right now. Winter’s the only time of year I can actually get away with wearing tights all day, every day and even in public (without wearing those silly boots I bought in Colorado!), so let it snow, snow, snow and I’ll stay perfectly warm and content my long underwear.

Ah, it truly is love and long underwear.


3 thoughts on “The Joys of Long Underwear

  1. Jeff

    Maggie. Love this article. I am also a avid wearer of long underwear. October to April, it’s underwear to the ankles. Thanks for sharing your appreciation and feelings for long underwear.

  2. jeff

    Thank you Maggie. Like the photos. Out in public in your long johns…… Scandalous Thanks again for the great article. Enjoy the skiing season.

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