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Riding a bicycle as part of my daily life means I’ve made minor adaptations to my wardrobe selections.
For most city riding experiences you shouldn’t need special clothes. Particularly if your bicycle trips are like mine and relatively slow, on an upright bicycle, and your destination is within 5 easy miles (8 km) of your starting point.
Can I ride a bicycle comfortably wearing any of the clothes that hang in my closet? For the most part yes, but there are exceptions. If my skirt is short or tight, I am completely restricted to riding slowly to keep from flashing passers-by. If my dress or my slacks are too long or wide, then I could get fabric stuck in my bike – even with hub-mounted brakes, a full chainguard, and a skirt guard.
Riding a bicycle as part of my daily life means I’ve made minor adaptations to my wardrobe selections. Whenever I buy clothes, I always think about how they’ll feel when I am riding my bike.
Recognizing some of these issues – and as a response to the growing number of people riding bikes in cities – there has been an influx of bike fashion in the North American marketplace. Entire companies are designing clothes with riding in mind. Smaller brands, like Outlier, Swrve, Dish, Proof, and Iva Jean, have launched bike fashion lines. Larger brands, such as Levi’s, have targeted city riders with a specific line.
Bike fashion has not always been as sophisticated and attractive as it is now. Slapping a piece of reflective material on trouser cuffs or a back pocket is by no means innovation in fashion design. Some designs go to the extreme. No one really needs a suit designed for riding a racing bike when upright city bikes work well for almost any ready-made suit. Thankfully, most brands focus on features that do matter. Minor modifications such as a wider hem around the thighs and added length in the arms can make clothing enhance your daily rides.
Special clothes are never a necessity for biking. However, current bike fashion does allow you to add well-made pieces to your wardrobe designed specifically for riding. I consider these a wardrobe upgrade. I do hear complaints from readers that bike fashion is expensive. True. You will pay more for well-designed pieces of clothing made in small batches. Well-designed and well-made clothing can be expensive, whether for riding a bike or not. It comes down to choices. Your local thrift store can be a good bet for quality clothing as well. And if that doesn’t work for you, there is always a sale at H&M.
We want to hear your thoughts on bike fashion. Let us know in the comments!