molly hurford returns with a look at biking fashionably …
As the “green” movement continues to gather momentum and fixed gears are still the epitome of hipster-dom, riding bikes for fun, environmental concern, fitness, and commuting ease is becoming more and more of a trend. And while bikes themselves don’t lend themselves to a style column, what to wear if you’re shifting to a more two-wheeled lifestyle is definitely worth a post.
As someone who races bikes, commutes on bikes, and writes about bikes for a living, I’ve recently begun to realize that my sense of fashion has evolved to fit this lifestyle. And while I’m often no longer the epitome of style (heels and pedals don’t mix too well), I try to make do with what I have. So for those who opt for a bike that maybe isn’t conducive to a pencil skirt, I’ve started to develop a few tricks of the trade.
1. Bag choice is key. While you might want to carry that awesome new handbag you found, there’s nothing less fashionable than someone fumbling and weaving on her bike because her bag is swaying in the breeze. Opt for a backpack (tiny backpacks are very in again!) or a messenger bag (so many great sizes and shapes now. I have a large, medium and small version of the same bag, for different occasions.)
2. Keep it simple. When you get sweaty every time you leave the house, the more complicated the outfit, the stranger you look. Stick to chic basics, for more reasons than one.
3. Speaking of sweat … carry deodorant or a spray perfume. You’ll thank me later. Additionally, keep an eye out for fashionable sweat-wicking options. A lot of stores like EMS or REI carry functional yet fashionable clothing, and you might want to look into some of their more casual day-wear if you ride a lot. If you feel like you’re sweating a lot post-ride, consider bringing a change of shirt to wherever you’re headed: if there’s one thing that isn’t stylish, it’s huge sweat stains.
*Watch out for straps, ties, and scarves. Have accessories flapping in the wind? Make sure they aren’t long enough to get caught in the wheels or pedals. This is especially true of shoelaces. As far as scarves go, as it gets colder, check out infinity scarves- no problems there! And when deciding on gloves, make sure you can still operate the shifters and brakes- sometimes the warmest, biggest mittens you have can be a very, very bad idea.
4. Avoid wide legged pants. Thankfully, skinny jeans, jeggings and leggings are still fashionable, because this reporter has destroyed more than one pair of flares by getting it caught in the chain. If you feel the need to rock a bootcut, wear knee socks under the jeans and cuff them to at least halfway up your calf.
5. Skirts aren’t something to be feared. For shorter skirts, especially as the weather gets chillier and chillier, rock wool stockings underneath for both propriety and warmth.
6. Not much can be done about bike shoes, especially if you’re like me and have clip-in pedals on your ride. But that being said, you can either carry other shoes with you or just keep an eye out for a more stylish cycling shoe. Lots of brands make a “commuter version” that resembles sneakers and is more walking-friendly.
7. Pimp your ride! My first bike was one I built myself, and it was a pink fixed gear with purple accents and cards in the spokes. It was awesome. Now, I ride a much less interesting bike, but the point stands: if you want that cool bike bell, go for it. Another safety-oriented thing to add is definitely a good headlight or at least a rear one, especially as it gets dark earlier and earlier. Fenders are a great way of keeping your butt clean when roads start getting wet, and they’re fairly inexpensive. Stop by your local bike shop and check them out!
8. Speaking of your bike, keeping it clean and well-maintained is also stylish. There’s nothing a bike messenger will laugh at more than if you’re pedaling down the street, dressed to the nines, with a creaking bottom bracket and a mud-covered frame. Wipe down your bike, check tire pressure, and if you have any problems you can’t solve, take it to the bike shop: they’re happy to give you some tips on bike repair and maintenance.
9. Say it with me: Helmets are always stylish. Cracked open skulls, not so much. If you fear helmet hair, carry a cool hat, or wear a cycling cap under the helmet. If you think regular helmets look dorky, there are plenty of “cooler” options out there, just shop around.