What Is Mountain Casual Attire?

Mountain Casual. Copyright Justin Horrocks

Mountain casual attire is the norm at many ski resorts and most establishments in a ski town. It's also a common style specified for outdoor weddings, particularly those held in a mountainous location, and it applies to all seasons. What you might actually wear for mountain casual depends on the venue and the time of year. 

What Mountain Casual Means 

Mountain casual essentially is an outdoorsy version of business casual, very similar to country club casual. If you look like you stepped out of an Eddie Bauer catalog, you're on the right track. Suitable mountain casual attire ranges from jeans, boots, and a rugged button-up shirt to khakis, loafers, and a sport coat.

What mountain casual isn't is casual. That means no T-shirts, flip-flops, short-shorts, or swim attire. Those expensive designer ripped jeans are also a no-no. If the dress code is truly casual, there's usually no dress code mentioned at all.  

Mountain Casual Options

Mountain casual is what you wear when visiting nice shops and fairly fancy restaurants in a ski town. The idea is that you look nice but are also properly dressed for winter weather and perhaps a long hike from your hotel. Footwear is practical, and parkas are just fine. 

  • Pants: Jeans, cords, and khakis (rugged or standard) are good for men. Women can wear the same and also can pair some nice-looking stretch pants with winter boots.
  • Shirts: Collared shirts and sweaters, usually in natural fabrics and colors. Golf shirts are fine in summer, but T-shirts are too casual.
  • Dresses: Summer dresses in warm weather; knitted dresses in cold weather.
  • Shoes: Hiking boots, cowboy boots, and most street shoes are fine. Women can wear all sorts of apres ski boots, which are a major fashion feature in ski towns. Sneakers and real ski boots are too casual. 
  • Hats: Winter hats, baseball caps, and cowboy hats are all standard but should be taken off in all but the most casual restaurants. 
  • Jackets: Whatever the weather dictates. A stylish ski jacket, a slim-fit zip-up fleece, or vest all work well. A sport coat is also fine for men, but leave the tie at home.

Mountain Casual Weddings

Mountain weddings often have a casual, outdoorsy feel, but guests should stay on the formal side of mountain casual. Western wear does a nice job here of balancing casual and formal. A sport coat is a safe bet, while a suit may be overkill.  For women, a sundress or Western-inspired skirt with sandals or dressy cowboy boots may be appropriate. Even accessories capture the mountain casual vibe. Rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings made of metals and minerals complement the attire.

As with any wedding, consider the couple's preferences to gauge how casual—or formal—you should go. And consider the location of the wedding and reception. If the venue is the fanciest restaurant in town or the exclusive private country club, lean toward the dressier end of mountain casual. If it's outside in a park or someone's backyard, you can go with more casual attire.