Style: A quality of imagination and individuality expressed in one’s actions and tastes.
How does one cycle in style? If you follow any of the variety of cycle chic blogs that have popped up around the internet, it seems a pretty pressing question. And it is important. When cyclists look stylish, cool or just plain comfortable, non-cyclists are able to see themselves on a bike. Abolishing a cycling uniform is key to breaking down the barriers between “cyclist” and “non-cyclist,” and broadening the bicycling movement. So yeah, style is more than just clothes.
If you were to divide cyclists into camps, the lycra-clad racers would be on one side and cycle chic fashionistas on the other, with everyone else falling somewhere in the middle. The division is rooted in the amount of “bike-specific” clothing one wears when cycling, or rather, the degree to which an outfit screams “CYCLIST!” to the casual observer. An outfit made up of a racing jersey, bike shorts and a sleek helmet matches the common image of a bicyclist, and also creates a barrier to entry for the first time rider. Someone wearing street clothes while biking presents cycling as simple and hassle-free. On the road in Seattle I see a lot of commuters mixing bike-specific clothing with street clothes, like a brightly-colored raincoat and jeans or bike shorts and a T-shirt. Customize your outfit to what feels comfortable to you.
So what’s the golden mean between the two camps? First, the intensity and kind of riding affect what clothing is appropriate. For example, a century is probably much more comfortable with bike shorts, while a chamois is overkill for a short trip to the grocery store (if you need bike shorts for shopping, consult your doctor or change your saddle). Location, topography, weather and personal preference also influence clothing choice. For bike commuting, take these factors, along with your personal sense of style, into account when choosing an outfit.
The key to cycling in style is to just be yourself, but on a bike. There is no style guide to cycling, and I’m certainly not qualified to write one. Style is personal. You know what makes you feel comfortable and look good.
I get inspiration from people I see biking everyday. If I see someone wearing something I like, I ask them about it. They’re usually flattered.