How to Dress for a Hot Summer by Bike

It can be tough to stay cool through a hot commute, but it doesn’t have to be tough to look great!

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hot weather bike style

Who says the heat means you need to dress down? Hot weather bike style in NYC, photo by David Niddrie.

The warm days and long evenings of summer draw out the crowds of people who put their bike away for the winter, excited by the possibility of long, leisurely cruises and rain-free rides. But along with the relaxed pace of summer comes one significant hurdle: how are you going to ride a bike in that heat without arriving at work absolutely drenched in sweat?

We asked a few of our staff, friends, and readers for their tips for looking great on a hot summer commute:

A flowy tank top thrown over a pair of shorts (I was excited to break out one of my favorite pair with a bicycle print on them recently) and flip flops are my go-to weekend wear this time of year.  Living in the subtropics, summer weather is a good reminder to slow life down a bit. And my bike acts like natural air conditioning.” – Emilie Bahr, New Orleans city planner and author of Urban Revolutions, a woman’s guide to two-wheeled transportation.

“Linen! You can wear long sleeves and it’s still breathable, so it keeps the sun off of your arms but you’re still cool. On a hot day I’ll wear a linen dress, a pair of Fleuvogs, and big sunglasses.” – Tania Lo, Momentum Mag Publisher 

“Button-up short-sleeved collared shirt. That way I’m cool on the ride in but I can jump off the bike and walk into the office looking presentable and ready for the day. I wear shorts where I can, but on a day when shorts aren’t appropriate, the L2X cycling jeans from DU/ER are lifesavers. They’re moisture-wicking and super breathable.” – Sam Cawkell, Momentum Mag Marketing Coordinator 

“I’m a big fan of rompers, loose flowy dresses and platform sandals when it gets really hot.  I tend to steer away from polyester that absorbs sweat and choose natural fabrics or mixed fabrics that still look fashionable and not frumpy.  The key to staying cool is drinking as many cold drinks as possible and riding slow. Life’s not a race you know ;)” – Zara Ansar, XoVelo

“Short-sleeved collared shirt and a nice pair of shorts most days. On a really warm day when I have a meeting, I’ll ride in shorts a t-shirt with my suit packed in my garment pannier. Some days it is just too hot to avoid changing clothes.” – Reid Hemsing, founder and CEO of Two Wheel Gear

“I’m all about dresses in the summer. Loose cotton dresses paired with nice sandals are my go-to for a hot day’s ride, and if I need to look a little fancier I’ll dress it up with jewelry. I’ve been loving crocheted pieces as well lately, super breezy!” – Hilary Angus, Momentum Mag Managing Editor

“On a workday I stick to light cotton or linen short-sleeved shirts, and a nice pair of shorts. Tackling San Francisco’s hills can work up a serious sweat, so I avoid colors such as light blue or grey which tend to show it more. Weekends in Santa Cruz I’ll ride in a tank top, and I’ll pack my swimsuit in my panniers so I can hop in the ocean whenever it gets too hot.” – Evan Soderberg, Software Engineer at Myagi 

“I stick to natural fabrics in the summer, like bamboo or hemp, which have moisture-wicking properties and don’t feel tacky against your skin. You can get some really fashionable items in natural fibers these days – everything from blouses to dresses to work-appropriate shorts – so that’s become my everyday cycling staple.” – Taylor Carr, film industry hair stylist. 

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  • I desperately hope nobody actually takes this as legitimate cycling gear advice.

    A flower crown is not a substitute for a helmet. No fashion statement is worth sustaining a TBI. Protect your noggin.

    And for all that is holy, wear proper shoes. You’re operating a machine; this is not a time for heels or flip flops. Closed-toed shoes are the only rational choice, but if you insist on baring your piggies, the least you can do is choose sandals that buckle around the ankle.

    I know safety isn’t glamorous, but hospital gowns really aren’t ultra chic either. Practice common sense, please.

    • morlamweb

      @Dustin: a helmet won’t protect you from a brain injury any more than a flower crown. Defensive cycling – confidently asserting your rights to be on the road, and staying visible with the aid of lights and/or clothing – is a far better protective measure than any plastic hat. As for shoes: I don’t know what you mean by “proper” shoes, but heels are a perfectly rational choice for cycling. They’re no more, or less, safe than other types of shoes for cycling, provided that the shoes grip the pedal sufficiently.

      • karem

        I am surprised for the nonsense of your words, and this article, I am a fashion stylish woman dressing glamorous on my bike but safe and wearing nice trainers and a blue navy helmet and I am safeguarding myself and at the same time looking hot.

  • Rousch

    Pretty insipid, even for a Rapha ad delivery system like Momentum.

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