The humble balaclava is back in style
Offering warmth, practicality and versatility, knitted balaclavas are set to make a fashion comeback in 2018
When it’s cold outside, a cosy hat is the perfect accessory, keeping you warm as well as making a style statement. There a number of hats predicted to top the style charts in 2018, including the beanie, beret, and even the cowboy hat, but perhaps the most surprising trend prediction is the resurgence of the knitted ski mask. Already seen in growing numbers across Europe’s ski resorts this season, knitted ski masks are becoming a must-have winter fashion item!
Children of the 1970s and 1980s may remember the ski mask or balaclava from their early years, but this warm and practical accessory is set to make a fashion comeback, with its benefits being recognised by sportspeople, celebrities and fashionistas alike.
A practical option
Balaclavas date back to the Crimean War of the 1850s when hundreds of hand knitted ski masks were sent over from the UK to help protect British troops from the bitterly cold weather. The head garment got the name ‘Balaclava Helmet’ after the town of Balaklava near Sevastopol in the Crimea.
As those first soldiers discovered, balaclavas are a hugely practical option, keeping wearers protected from the elements without compromising visibility. They’re also incredibly versatile; depending on how much coverage you need at any given time, you can wear your balaclava over your entire face, roll it up to create a cosy knitted hat, or pull it down to create a warm collar for your neck.
As well as providing people with a warm cover-up for winter days, the practicality and versatility offered by balaclavas have long made them a must-have for those who work outdoors or enjoy activities such as skiing and snowboarding, mountain climbing, hiking, and cycling, which is why they are so popular on the ski slopes this year.
But it’s not just outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate the benefits of the humble balaclava – celebrities such as Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Cara Delevigne and even Jay-Z and Beyoncé have all been spotted out and about with their very own knitted ski masks, which, aside from offering a warm cover-up, also provide the perfect disguise from waiting paparazzi. And the fashion world has also been quick to jump on the trend with designers such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, and streetwear label Black Score creating their own luxury versions of the knitted headwear.
It’s clear to see that balaclavas have come a long way since those early days in the Crimea. Instead of regulation black wool they are now available in a wide range of colours and fabrics, such as neoprene, cotton and polar fleece. You can even get hold of novelty balaclavas – perfect for little ones, or for when you want to make a statement on the slopes!
But, while ski masks are readily available to buy, both online and in stores, many people are wearing home-knitted ones. By knitting your own balaclava, you can choose the colour and style of wool, enabling you to create something that is truly unique.
If you’re tempted to pick up the knitting needles and have a stab (no pun intended!) at knitting your own balaclava, there are some great patterns out there, such as the one for this Simple Chunky Balaclava by MadMonkeyKnits, which is perfect for a chunky Aran yarn and can be created in four different sizes – man, woman, child and baby. And if your knitting skills are a little rusty, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube to help you along.
So, this winter, ditch the beanie, forget the bobble hat, and keep yourself snug and warm in your very own knitted ski mask. Whether you are enjoying the northern lights, exploring Eastern Europe or playing in the French Alps, a ski mask will keep you warm and cosy this winter.