Beautiful Bike Apparel You Won't Want To Miss Because Cycling Doesn't Have To Mean Spandex
Warm and reassuring, the morning sun creeps up over the horizon, sublimely illuminating your path. As the wind races smoothly across your skin, you're reminded once again how liberating your bike commute can be, and smile briefly as you glance down to admire your beautiful bike apparel. That's right, for those of us who are genuinely enthralled by the thrills and chills provided by a daily bike ride — whether to work, or to unwind — there are a myriad of garments out there created to fuse fashion and practicality. These styles go far beyond the classic cycling garb of Spandex and Lycra, and truly allow for self expression and convenience while riding a bike.
There was a time when it seemed being a female cyclist meant having to tough it out in the land of neon elasticity, which unfortunately, didn't lend itself well to scenarios in which you had to transition quickly from biking to say, working in an office with a dress code. And until fairly recently, the majority of employers in the United States weren't overly inclined to provide locker rooms or showers for employees who chose to bike to work. Thanks to education in part by the League of American Bicyclists, many companies are learning to embrace and promote bicycle friendly business.
In case your employer isn't quite there yet, or if you simply enjoy biking on your own terms and yearn to look lovely doing so, I've compiled a list of fun, innovative options for the serious cycle chick. Not to mention, a few spins on your current day to day styles that are perfect for looking radiant during shorter bike rides (cat heads not included).
1. Pretty In Pink
Women's Juliette, $110, cafeducycliste.com
This lightweight jersey features reflective elements and an odor resistant Merino wool blend with considerable moisture transfer and thermoregulation. But perhaps its most convenient aspect is the reinforced three pocket structure on the back of the garment for personal items, which has been created with comfort in mind as you ride. And of course, the soft rose color is truly lovely.
2. Reflective Threads
Dash Dress, Black Flash, $138, vespertinenyc.com
Vespertine, the New York City company behind the Dash Dress, focuses on fusing haute couture with cycling safety. The 3M Scotchlite Reflective Thread woven into the breathable, moisture wicking fabric of this dress allows for illumination from headlights 2,000 feet away. It's been a long time, if ever, that safety has looked so chic, and allowed for such seamless transition between work, play, and two-wheeled commute.
3. Couture Coverage
TRENCH Oyster, $536, vespertinenyc.com
Duly stunning, in the daytime and night, the handmade TRENCH Oyster is another star from Vespertine's radiantly reflective line. Created from a linen/cotton blend and treated with a mother-of-pearl coating, the trench wicks away water while keeping you warm with a full zip-out lining of merino wool. The best part? (Oh, beyond the illumination from 2,000 feet away?) Zippered pockets, which, as most bikers will agree, lend a much appreciated level of reassurance while dodging puddles and potholes.
4. Brilliant Blossom Bling
Blossom Clip/PIN Quicksilver, Petite, $24, vespertinenyc.com
Certainly a bit less expensive than the previous two items, this brilliant little blossom features similar 3M Scotchlite material, and can be worn in your hair, clipped to a bag, jacket, or helmet to provide another layer of lovely reflective protection.
5. Handlebar Handbags
Six Corners Handlebar Bag, $40, pocampo.com
In 2009, when Chicago industrial designer Maria Boustead couldn't find a bag that boasted enough versatility and practicality to attach to her bike and stun as a handbag in an office setting, she decided to remedy the problem herself. Since then, she and the fine folks at PO Campo have been designing lovely, weatherproof, vegan bags that blend perfectly into the active urban lifestyle.
The bags come in a variety of styles and patterns, and PO Campo ranks highly on my list of woman-owned small companies worth supporting, especially since for every 50 bags they sell in their online store, they donate a bike to a girl in Africa through a partnership with World Bicycle Relief.
6. Thumb Holes
Randygoat Hoody, $150, nau.com
Thumb holes. I'm not sure that I really need to say anything else here. But, on the off chance that a sleek, asymmetrical hoodie with thumb holes doesn't excite you, purchasing this heathered Merino wool hoodie (with a recycled poly fleece inner lining) specifically from Nau might.
Not only does Nau strive for function based designs that minimize their environmental impact and promote sustainability (choosing textile manufacturers that comply with their extensive code of conduct), they also donate 2 percent of every sale to organizations working for the environment, human health, and worldwide communities.
7. Maximum Mobility
Mobility Pant, $100, giro.com
Featuring classic four-pocket styling and an ergonomically contoured waistband, these cotton/poly twilled pants allow for, as their name suggests, great mobility. Not to mention they look great, too.
8. Cap Protection
Grey Checkered Cityzen Fashionable Urban Helmet, $65, lazersport.com
Looking for an alternative to the typical bike helmet? Lazersport offers ventilated, fabric finished, certified helmets that are more reminiscent of a cap than a bike helmet.
Another fun option with less padding, but still protective is the Ribcap. Not technically a helmet, but still helpful.
9. Ergonomic Kicks
Civila, $150, giro.com
When it comes to ergonomic interchangeability, Giro's got you covered. The women's Civila recreational riding shoe boasts durability and style, and is designed to transition seamlessly between cycling and walking. Plus, their 60 day comfort guarantee offers a whole lot of added support — if the shoe's fit isn't comfortable within the first 60 days, they'll make it right.
10. Sweet Socks
Check these flashy bits of footwear out! You may already have some stellar socks in your drawers, and that's good news. Rocking foot fashion on a bike can be a great way to showcase your personal style — just make sure they offer good ventilation and moisture control.
11. Short Shorts
Although you have to be a little careful about the fabric you choose to ensure chafing doesn't rock your world (in the worst possible way), short shorts provide excellent mobility, and a really refreshing feeling when worn on a bike. There's nothing quite so exhilarating as feeling the wind and sun on your skin as you bike down a long slope, mid-summer.
12. Jumper Shorts And Bibs On Bikes
Jumper shorts provide cycle chicks with an adorable, versatile opportunity for added confidence while biking. Why? If you've ever biked in low-rise pants or skirts, you know the sneaking suspicion that comes with bending your midsection while biking. Are you showing the world your undies? Can everyone see your oh-so-ladylike plumber's crack? Nope. Not if you're wearing jumper shorts.
And of course, if you're looking for added protection, why not opt for overalls? They've made a big comeback, and are durable enough to keep your legs safe in case of spin outs.
The Mindy Skirt, $119, iladora.com
Luckily, when it comes right down to it, you can wear a whole variety of garments on a bike if you're dedicated enough. That being said, some skirts can prove temperamental. If you're concerned about making the skirts you have on hand work well for your daily bike commute, check out this simple biking in a skirt tip to improve your comfort.
But, if you want a skirt genuinely designed for biking, The Mindy Skirt will treat you well. Constructed from a durable, four-way stretch, water resistant textile, the skirt features a secret zipper pocket, raised waistband, and drop-tail hemline to provide greater coverage while seated on a bike. See? Great fashion while biking is totally plausible.