Bicycle Network: Women's Cycling
Dressing for the destination
- bike riding attire, cycle chic
Even fashionistas can ride a bike
Wouldn't be seen dead in lycra? Here's good news for fashionistas... you can wear stylish clothes and lead a cycling lifestyle.
In Europe, bikes are not just for recreation, they are a real transport option used by people of all ages every day. There's no big fuss - they just dress for their destination, hop on a bike and go.
The idea that you need to wear special clothes to ride is a factor in deterring Australians from embracing cycling as part of their everyday life. But this is set to change, as bike fashion events encroach upon the public consciousness.
Melbourne's first bicycle fashion event, Spin Cycle, took place during the 2004 Fringe Festival. Briefed to take the bicycle as their inspiration, designers came up with everything from wearable art made of bike bits to practical, chic clothing made with cycling in mind. The 2005 Ride to Work Day, in Melbourne, was also host to a fashion parade aimed at breaking down the misconception that the clothes you wear on your bike cannot be the clothes you wear for the rest of your day.
Tips for combining fashion form with cycling function
- choose clothing made from slightly stretchy or knitted fabrics
- ankle bands are great for keeping cuffs out of the chain
- a bike with a step-through frame is a good option if you prefer wearing skirts
- front and back mudguards will help keep your clothes clean if the roads are wet
- a basket enables you to take whatever bags and accessories you like without having to lug around panniers or other special bike bags once you get there
- don't race - take it easy and you'll have no sweat.
As a fashion designer and a cyclist, Melanie Liertz wants clothes to match her lifestyle. Melanie makes three-quarter pants, cyclist-cut jackets and snug pullovers that look good, feel comfortable and function well on the bike. She has designed pants with cargo-style pockets that open to the side rather than the top for ease of access while riding. Her pants also feature button cuffs to keep them out of the chain.
Melanie knows that her clothes have to be versatile to become favourites. "People want clothes that can go from cafe to work to shopping. You don't want to look like you've just stepped out of the Tour de France." She draws inspiration from cycle courier street style, and the casual urban style of funky young things around Melbourne.
Another Melbourne designer and cyclist, Jerry Robinson, has a similar vision. For his JerryCann label he makes denim shorts and three-quarter pants for the cyclist looking for something "funky on the bike and when you get there".
Robinson's gear is designed to be tough. "I like to have two or three pairs of shorts and wear them to death." He puts Kevlar into the knees of one of his styles for extra durability and his circus-harness sewing experience makes sure his garments are going to last.
In New Zealand, the mountain-bike clothing label Ground Effect has found a following among bicycle commuters who are looking for less serious, casual gear. Product developer Fraser McLachlin explains 'We saw an opportunity to make cycling and cycle clothing less serious - more fun. Our premise was to create cycle clothes from technical fabrics that weren't necessarily shiny or body hugging, nor made you look like a mobile billboard'.
Make it a lifestyle choice
Whatever your look, combining it with a cycling lifestyle should not pose much of a problem. With fossil-fuelled transport fast becoming an expensive dinosaur, we look forward to the day more Australians embrace bikes as real transport, along with the European habit of wearing real clothes on their commute.
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Bicycle Network Victoria's Ride On magazine.