FASHIONS: Over the Whimsies

Once upon a time, anyone who wanted to ski simply pulled on a sweater and an old pair of pants, shouldered skis and took off for the hills. That was before the U.S. clothing industry made it its $15 million-a-year business to make sure that skiers got to the wilds suitably groomed to: 1) ski and 2) impress other skiers. Last week, with snow falling in Canada's Laurentians and in the U.S. Midwest, department stores went after the skiers with fashion shows, grand openings and a fanfare of flashy publicity.

Gushed a fashion writer: "Ski wear in general has...

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