Posts tagged ‘pants’

March 24, 2012

The Skirt Scoot: A Key Maneuver

Skirts can be easier to ride in than pants, but they have their dark side. Read on for a little Twitter discussion I was reminded of the other day. (Note for those who aren’t on Twitter: When someone replies to a tweet the original appears above with the reply below in this format, so you’ll see some tweets duplicated.)

Just the other day I experienced “some alarm” and was reminded yet again of the importance of the skirt scoot maneuver.

What’s that, you ask? My nickname for a little move I’ve adopted, born of a combination of the occasional disastrous skirt fabric/length combo and my fondness/weakness for alliteration.

Cream-colored vintage knit dress from Carousel Vintage, Spokane, WA

Love-love-love this stretchy little number from Carousel Vintage. It’s a soft, nubbly knit and even if I forget my skirt scoot I can easily pull the skirt up and off the saddle just by standing on the pedals. Woven fabrics? Not so forgiving in your nanosecond of need.

This is the maneuver I now try to remember to execute any time I get on the bike, whether it’s as I leave the house in the morning or when the light turns green: Lift up and slide back, making sure the fabric of the skirt is trapped between the saddle and your butt.

It’s just a simple little step, but an easy one to forget. The times I have forgotten it and just plopped onto the saddle led to the “some alarm” tweet above. Those were the times when a skirt with an unforgiving non-stretch fabric happened to be just the right length to get caught over the back of the saddle.

What happens next, as you begin to slow for a stop and plan to step smoothly and gracefully off the saddle, is that you can’t. You are caught on the saddle by the fabric of your skirt and you are starting to tip over.

So far I’ve been lucky. I’ve felt the catch in time to push back on the pedals and unhook the skirt, but not without a nice little adrenalin rush.

I’ve already mostly moved away from straight skirts in my wardrobe as I’ve shifted my shopping toward a bike-friendly mindset. I ride a regular road bike for my commuting as well as for fun and straddling the top bar is just less (ahem) ladylike in a straight skirt that I have to hoist to mid-thigh to get enough leg maneuvering space. (I still have a few I won’t give up, mind you–I’m careful about where I stand when I hoist on so I continue to be the lady my mother raised me to be. Avert your eyes, you creeper.)

The moment of panic when I realize I didn’t skirt-scoot and I am now skirt-stuck is a reinforcement of my fashion move toward skirts with a slightly flippier hemline, and definitely ones with stretchy fabric.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What clothing-induced moments of panic have you experienced?
  • Any great tips for avoiding said panic in the future, à la skirt scoot?
October 7, 2011

The Blogspedition Goes Panting for Pants

To round out Pants Week after laying out design specifications for stylish biking pants, shopping, shopping some more, and dealing with the pants I already own, the blogspedition ventured forth to see what other women bike bloggers (and a few other writers) have to say about pants—like bicycles, a symbol of women’s liberation from the fetters.

First, a homemade video I found on YouTube that shows why you’d care about pants design if you ride a bike. (Can’t embed it.)

And now, for the links.

Deep Thought Category

Practical Considerations

Fashion Industry Talk

Not pants but I just had to show you these–they’d be awesome under a skirt, wouldn’t they? Available from a company with the most amazing line-up of leggings I’ve ever seen (but then, I don’t get out much), Black Milk Clothing.

Your Turn

  • What article of clothing makes you a trifle obsessive because you can’t find just what you want for biking?
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October 6, 2011

Pants Management 101

This is the stuff they didn’t teach us in Home Ec back at Bowdish Junior High School in the Spokane Valley (go Rockets!): How to manage your pant leg so it doesn’t get caught in the bike chain.

While I’ve ranted before about the search for the perfect women’s pants for bike riding (stylish and comfortable) and have even compiled a shopping list or two, simpler answers exist that don’t involve spending (much) money.

1) Buy pants with narrow enough legs that they don’t flap and get caught.

More easily said than done, what with the changing winds of fashion and all that. Summer is fine—hello, capris—but my usual fall/winter pants have a little bit more going on in the fabric department.

Pants leg reined in with rubber band to enable bike riding.

Pants leg reined in with a rubber band. Choose fabrics that won't crinkle & crease when compressed; this polyester/rayon blend doesn't work that well, unfortunately. And yes, I ride in these shoes. Aren't they cute?

2) Fight the flap.

Sure, you can buy those uber-geeky reflective ankle straps with the Velcro fastenings, but have you ever checked out what Velcro can do to a nice fabric if it goes astray? Ugh.

I have two basic weapons in this battle, both of them straight from my desk: rubber bands and binder clips.

I slide rubber bands up over my shoes and around the ankle for the ride, then store them on my cyclometer when I park the bike.

Binder clips are a fallback because they can pop off under strain, but they don’t give in to weather the way the rubber bands do.

For wetter weather I have a great pair of North Face pants I picked up at Mountain Gear, my favorite local outdoor gear shop even though they don’t carry bike stuff.

The pants are water/wind resistant and work for most of Spokane’s weather, although I do note that “resistant” and “proof” are very different levels of protection in a really blustery downpour….

The feature that helps fight the flap is a Velcro tab at the ankle (not as risky to fabric finish as the geeky ankle strap, since there’s the extra pant leg there as protection).

Pants reined in by binder clip to enable bike riding.

The binder clip alternative can be a bit risky if you use too small a clip; it pops off under the strain.

I usually go ahead and rubber-band my office wear to make it easier to put the overpants on; otherwise I’ll spend five minutes hopping around on one leg trying to stuff the first pants leg down into the overpants leg and I end up with a lumpy, uncomfortable wad halfway down my calf.

You’ll see people who have only reined in the fabric on the right leg, where all the greasy messy mechanical stuff resides. I like to keep both legs under restraint; I’ve had at least one startled moment when a wider pant leg managed to slide over the entire pedal crank and stop its rotation completely in mid-pedal. This makes for a nasty surprise in an intersection and I’d rather be safe than sorry.

North Face pants from

Protected from road splatters in these North Face pants from Mountain Gear. I should have put my shoe covers on, though! These Ann Taylor ankle boots have been simply awesome for riding and they're easy to pop on and off for removal of the outer pair of pants.

I also found out the hard way that the tan pants I’m wearing in these photos wrinkle really easily. I left the rubber bands on through a one-hour meeting because I was just going to zip out the door and back to my office; that was enough time to leave me with pretty funny creases. I don’t buy linen any more but I thought this polyester/rayon blend (which is really smooth and doesn’t chafe) wouldn’t wrinkle. Wrong.

Turns out this is not rocket science—just some tricks you need to know to make it easier to bike in style.

P.S. For talented seamstresses like my friend Sandra, taking wide-legged pants in so they don’t flap is another option. I’m only giving you the quickies here because those tan pants in the pictures above? They’re still downstairs on my “need to take these in” pile. I put them there last fall.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What’s your secret to clothing management for riding?
October 5, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Pants for Biking: Are We There Yet? I Need to Go.

Yep, still questing. I’m listing some additional options I found after my Phase I pants quest in all those Google search sessions while my family watches a movie and I multi-task (because really, how many movies these days can hold your full attention?).

Ibex Rio Pant: An activewear pants option for women who ride bikes

The Ibex Rio Pant has some definite possibilities. go look at them on the Ibex site, where you can zoom in and see more detail (and the back side!).

I’ve had to delete some that became unavailable after my initial search, like the Sugoi HOV (Human Operated Vehicle) urban cycling line of pants and matching jackets.

I did track down one pair of the Sugoi HOV pants through an outside vendor after they disappeared from the Sugoi site but don’t figure they’re worth reviewing since you can’t get them. (Sugoi, if you’re thinking of bringing them back, let me know and I’ll write a review–with just a couple of small tweaks these could be 100% awesome and I love being able to get pants with a matching jacket for more of an office look.)

Totally bums me out that what looked like a good option disappeared from the market, which tells me that if you find something that you think might work you should jump on it.

Real possibilities:

  • Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pant. Unfortunately these only run sizes 0-12. Available in black, static gray, slate gray, marine blue, burgundy. $180. Scroll way down on the page to see a photo with some of the colors but not all (which really bugs me).
  • Ibex Global Wool Pant. Dings for the contrast stitching. Big patch pockets outlined with contrasting stitching Are. Not. Flattering. On. Any. Woman. The back pockets make these look more like jeans than like office wear. Only available in charcoal gray. $195. May as well bite the Outlier Tailored bullet, get more color choices and not have to look at the contrasting stitching and fattening pockets.
  • Icebreaker Rio Pant. They’re cute and made of wool (which I want for fall/winter). Only available in black. $100.

Too yoga/sporty for me, maybe okay for you (I’m only listing a few I spotted that look as if the legs aren’t too flared–you can find these kinds of pants everywhere):

  • SportHill Women’s Traverse Pant Plus: For plus-sized women 1X-4X. On the sporty side but some potential for a casual day, and wind resistant which is nice for riding as the temps cool down. May be swishy-sounding when you walk, though; no way to know what some of these technical fabrics are really like. $129.95
  • Columbia Anytime PantMajor points for having a little video clip with someone talking about the pants, holding them up and pointing out the hidden zipper pocket feature. Totally yoga though. $45.
  • Lolita Pant by PrAna. Only available in espresso. Totally yoga. On sale when I last looked for $37.49.
  • Patagonia Merino 3. These look too wide-legged and are definitely yoga. They show as sold out on some sites and aren’t listed on the Patagonia site any more so if you like the look, order them ASAP.

I should mention that I actually do yoga so saying pants are “totally yoga” isn’t meant as a bad thing–just not a boardroom thing.

Considered and rejected:

  • Columbia Just Right Pant: Honkin’ big zipper pocket on the left thigh, cinch things that raise and lower hem length. Not just right for my purposes.
  • Columbia Trail Twist Slim Pant: Looked great—straight legs won’t catch on pedals—until I zoomed in and caught the flashy little décor on the backs of the ankles. And I really don’t want my work pants to say “Omni-Dry” on the outside; doesn’t this suggest I’m in need of Depends? On sale last I looked, though, for $37.90.
Swrve bike knickers for women

Swrve's bike-specific knickers: Cute, but my calves get cold just looking at them as I contemplate fall/winter riding.

Not pants but so cute: Nau Confidant Short. Long enough to be considered a city or walking short, which might be fine for some workplaces and I could get away with it in summer. Made of fine merino wool which is a great fabric for active movement. Gray heather or brown heather.

Nau makes some cute pants for women that are supposed to be designed for active movement and I love their business values and design aesthetic. Organic or not, though, I just don’t like the chafe potential of denim or the failure to dry of cotton, their fabrics of choice.

Also not pants, also cute: Swrve Softshell Knickers. I just can’t figure out why anyone thinks knickers are cold-weather riding gear; do their calves not feel temperature or get wet? And for $120 (regular price–on sale right now for $90) couldn’t they use enough fabric to cover my ankles?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Add to the list! Have you found pants designed for biking and for business?
October 4, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Pants for Biking to Work: Phase I

Outlier Tailored Women's Riding Pant. Clearly, these pants make you look urban and cute. And forgetful, or she would be wearing a helmet.

The saga continues….

As I described in an earlier post, I’ve been searching for quite a while for a decent pair of pants that will work for professional settings and truly give me riding comfort.

I have purchased exactly one pair so far, and it happens to be one that’s no longer available so the quest has to continue. I’m hoping your feedback will help me narrow the choices I’ve found in my mousing around shopping online.

Here’s what I found in my first foray into the Interwebz, which took place fall 2010 (yes, I’ve really been searching that long) and which I updated recently.

(And yes, I searched high and low locally first because I believe in supporting the local economy. Everything I found fails the tests I outlined in yesterday’s post.)

The one nice-looking pair of cycling-specific women’s pants for office wear I’ve found, made by Outlier in New York City, costs $180. Gulp.

Call me cheap (I prefer “thrifty” in homage to my Depression-era parents), but I’ve never paid that much for a single pair of pants. I have a hard time paying that much for a whole suit when I know it will go on sale eventually.

I need to justify a clothing investment like that. Do I wear them every day? Back up to where I said I’m a woman and this is a fashion dilemma.

Same pair of pants every day ain’t gonna happen, although I know I’d wear a good pair of pants in a color like black or charcoal gray more than once a week during cold weather and they sound like well-made clothing that would last a long time. So actually, if I divide the price by the number of times I’d wear them, the cost per wearing comes down to something I can manage as long as I remember to think of it that way.

But then I’d have to buy online. How will I know whether I look good in these pants? A really narrow cut like this one mostly looks awesome on size 00 women, and I’ve got a bit more cush in my tush.

And did I mention they cost $180?

Also, hello again, Outlier? For me to know if I want Static Grey or Slate Grey you have to Show. The. Actual. Colors. What happened to the color swatches you showed for a brief time earlier in 2011? You show some of the colors but if you offer two shades of grey, you have to show both of them.

They do use my magic words–“comfort” and “style”–in the description…. And I wouldn’t criticize if I didn’t care so much about you ㋛.

Swrve makes knickers for women, but no trousers. (They make men’s pants, of course–biking being one of the few realms in which men have far more fashion choices and color options than women.)

And seriously, knickers? It’s nice to keep your knees warm when the temperature drops but I don’t want to look like a misplaced golfer once I’m in the office in my plus-fours. We have actual winters here. I have to wear boots. Can you say Dork Fest?

BikePortland had an article in the search results and I got all excited. It’s Portland, right? Should be plenty of bike-stylish options there, right?

They linked to the Sheila Moon site (“infuses cycling apparel with a twist of fashion”), which offers knickers in several fabrics. There’s that golfer thing again and it doesn’t change my mind just because they say knickerbockers are big with the velocouture crowd, whoever they are. I can also get stretchy yoga pants. Not so good with the suit/tie-couture crowd.

The BikePortland piece also points to Ibex, which has a slightly more promising line—at least there are the “global wool pants” that look more like trousers ($195, though–more than the Outlier and sportier in design). Icebreaker has some pants that might work too (for a mere $100).

The real test almost every product I’ve found fails is the “does it look like workout clothing?” test. Visible logos, great big seams, sizing that runs S/M/L instead of true women’s clothing sizes, descriptions that include “comfortable for yoga”—these aren’t going to pass for boardroom wear.

At least, I don’t think so when I can’t see the product clearly–often a problem with dark fabrics unless you’ve got really great photography and zoom.

Now I’d love to just head to Nordstrom’s, buy some great-looking slacks, and call it good. But let’s get real, ladies. As my friend Allyson said when I described this dilemma, “Nobody wants to divide the good china.”

Design and construction of certain seams are critical to stylish biking comfort. Compare a pair of cycling shorts to regular walking shorts and you’ll note a key difference mid-you.

That’s why great women’s professional clothing doesn’t equal “great women’s professional clothing I can wear comfortably riding a bike.”

And that’s why the quest continues.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you own any of the pants I’ve listed here? What do you think of them for riding?
  • Do you have other brands/styles to suggest?
October 3, 2011

It’s Pants Week. Share My Obsession.

For someone who rides much of the year in skirts I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about pants. The next couple of posts will take you through my by-now-slightly-obsessive quest for the perfect pants, along with some tips for managing the imperfect pants I ride in now.

By “perfect” I mean perfect for biking and working: Cycle Chic in the very best sense of that now-trademarked term.

I’m seeking workplace wear that is office-appropriate. Your office may be cool with stretchy yoga pants every day but that doesn’t work for everyone.

My personal style is more tailored (and I prefer to feel more fully dressed in the office J). As Eldest Daughter said the day I wore some suspiciously yoga-y leggings with a big sweater, “Mom! Pants for your work need to have seams!”

Everyone’s criteria will be different. For me the pants fail if:

  • They look like I could go bouldering in them. I don’t need all those pockets and zippers and places to hang carabiners; I’m not bivouacking or climbing at Red Rocks. I’m walking into a five-story academic building with a latte stand on the first floor (praise be to the coffee gods) and later I’m going to a Chamber of Commerce meeting.
  • They make a swishy sound when I walk. If it’s so wet I need truly waterproof gear, I’m putting an outer layer over my work pants anyway.
  • The detailing screams “sportswear!” In this category: Big patch pockets, really contrasty stitching, and other design elements that don’t pass the boardroom test.
  • The legs flare too much at the bottom so I’m worried that they’ll get caught and rip if I don’t do something to rein them in; that’s an extra step I’d like to avoid if I can.

Notes to manufacturers:

  • Consider that women who wear larger sizes also want to look good and feel comfortable while biking without squeezing into Spandex. You’ll have their undying love and access to their credit limits if you design for them too. Too many of the pants I looked at top out at size 12 or XL. Have you looked at America lately?
  • I wish the sportswear folks who have a head start on performance fabrics and bike-suitable tailoring could get over the need to hang your reflective logos and feature descriptions on the outside of the clothes. Ann Taylor and Liz Claiborne do not do this. (I do want reflective elements–I just want them to be subtle–even hidden until I need them.)
  • I also wish you could disabuse yourself of the notion that large front pockets are somehow flattering for women’s bodies. Um, no. Not good on anyone. Really. Trust me.
  • The more you show us your product with photos front/back and the ability to zoom, the more we can imagine the pants on our own butts. This is a requirement when buying online since I don’t have a three-way mirror and my best friend to save me from a tragic mistake.
  • If you tell me I can bike in the pants you get Bonus Awesome Points if you have actually designed them with a waistband cut slightly higher in the back, lower in the front; a gusset that eliminates seams running straight up the tender girl parts; and a fabric that has a lovely soft non-chafing finish on the inside and some dirt-repelling qualities on the outside.

This is one of the few blog posts I’m hoping gets plenty of links at the bottom from people who want to sell me something–that is, if you are the designer of the perfect pair of bike riding/work pants.

Better yet, if you’re a woman who can match my pickiness and who has a favorite pair of pants you can tell us about, go for it. Please. I beg you.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What attributes make a pair of pants perfect for your biking?
  • Have you found those pants? WHERE?!
September 20, 2011

What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.

Barb Chamberlain in a gray skirt, white tank, green jacket, and green sandals. A typical outfit for riding my bike.

A typical outfit for riding my bike--which most people would never realize. That's my point.

I’ve whined a bit about the constraints found in office-appropriate clothing that isn’t designed for biking. Honestly, though, if you have a reasonably short ride many of the things in your closet will work just fine.

Trust me—this is not about Spandex (although it’s pretty slimming, actually). You do not have to rush out and buy special shoes, special shorts that feel like you’re wearing Depends, special anything, to ride your bike.

You do have to think about what you wear for safety and comfort. Over time I’ve shopped in such a way as to create an entire closet full of “bike wear”: regular clothes that work well for riding. Here’s the list I’ve arrived at for my shopping parameters.

Reconsider, or prepare for the issues:

Straight skirts. Too hard to straddle the saddle. Less of an issue if you have a true step-through but still a challenge for freedom of movement. Just the tiniest bit of flare or A-line cut makes for much easier movement.

Secret modification tip: Many seemingly straight skirts have enough width or flare to work–it’s the lining that constricts your movement. Cut a slit at the sides of the lining and you’ll have more freedom for walking as well as for riding.

Really short skirts. Completely apart from the obvious flasher issues, I had a nasty moment with a short summer dress when, unbeknownst to me, the skirt hooked over the back of the seat as I got on. When I went to get off at a light I almost fell over. It was a non-stretch fabric so I was really caught. Luckily I had enough time to stand on the pedals, ease back a bit, and slide the fabric off.

This is not something the saleslady will think of when you’re admiring yourself in the three-way mirror at Nordstrom or Old Navy. This dress wasn’t even that short but the combination of straight cut, non-stretchy fabric, and short length almost created a wreck. You can wear them—just be prepared to negotiate with them.

Really long skirts. They get in the way when you pedal and can succumb to chain grease. If you can hike them up, fine, but how will you secure them?

Flowing skirts. Fabric could get caught in the spokes. Immediate disaster. The invention of the bloomer (thanks, Amelia!) contributed greatly to the emancipation the bicycle offered women.

If it’s a really flowing skirt, though, you may be able to improvise by grabbing a handful of skirt in each hand and tying a blousy bit around each knee. Or grab the back of the skirt, bring it up between your legs, and tuck it into the waistband. If the skirt design (or a strategically placed large safety pin) allows that to stay, voila! Bloomers.

If you have a skirt guard and chain guard on your bike this won’t be a problem for you.

Pants with flared legs. Chain grease and catching on the pedals. If you wear them you need ankle straps.

Fabrics with a coarse weave, especially for fitted pants or capris. Chafe, chafe, chafe.

Low-cut blouses if you ride a road bike. The forward posture may give away a bit more of your treasures than you intended.

Fabrics that wrinkle easily. Who likes to iron anyway?

Shoes with really slippery soles. Harder to keep your foot on the pedal.

Flip-flops. Your toes won’t thank you for the friction you create with pedaling and your foot will appreciate a slightly stiffer sole, although I’m not obsessive about that.

No problem despite what you might think:

Skirts/dresses in general. If you can walk comfortably in it you can probably ride in it. If you can’t walk comfortably in it, why did you buy it in the first place?

Burgundy T-strap stiletto heels.

Love these Bandolinos, both because they look great and because they stay on my foot when I ride. The T-strap works better than a simple slip-on pump (although I wear those too).

High heels, open-toed shoes, sandals, or boots. Silly but true: At a stoplight your foot hits the ground faster in a high heel than in a flat cycling shoe.

Dressy clothing. I’ve biked in silk suits and dresses. Why not? As long as I don’t go fast enough to sweat, no problem.

Regular clothes. What did people originally wear to ride bikes? Long before the invention of Lycra, they wore clothes. Just clothes.

Related Reading


Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • Any other clothing discoveries you’ve made about what works and what doesn’t?
  • What garment or outfit engenders more surprise than any other when people realize you biked “in THAT?!”
June 19, 2011

Women’s Clothing for Biking that Doesn’t Look Like It’s for Biking: What to Wear, What to Wear

The post that started it all…. The weeks and months of accumulated frustration that led to this post (which originally appeared on my personal blog in September 2010) also led, fairly directly, to the launch of this blog and my idea for bike fashion shopping events to bring some products to Spokane that aren’t otherwise available here.

Barb Chamberlain with bicycle at bike rack

You'd never know I'm wearing "bike clothes." That's the idea.

So in a nostalgic flashback with a few updates:

I have nothing to wear.

As in, there are very few choices if you’re a woman looking for professional clothing that’s made for cycling. This has two dimensions:

Comfort: No ill-placed seams in the crotch, no fabric that irritates, no flappy wide-legged trousers or long full skirts that get caught in the chain.

Style: You are appropriately dressed to walk into a meeting in which all the men wear ties and jackets and you’re the only person taking off a helmet and gloves.

Once upon a time I used to drive to work and hang clothes there. I now bike almost year-round so I really don’t want to drive (and was never very happy with having to decide a day or two in advance what I’d feel like wearing on a given day–what woman is?).

In my next phase I tried riding in bike clothes, rolling everything and packing it into panniers, changing when I arrived, and changing again to ride home.

But that’s a bit of a hassle and one of the major things I like about riding my bike is the hassle-free nature: no paying for gas, no looking for a parking place, and the feeling of freedom I get with every ride.

Mostly, I’ve changed my shopping habits to get to where I am now: If I can’t bike in it, I don’t buy it. Which, coincidentally, both saves me money and prevents a lot of buyer’s remorse over the guilt I feel when I look at an article of clothing I almost never wear.

I do a lot more moving and contorting in dressing rooms than I used to so I’m sure I can throw a leg over my bike and take off. I use a road bike as my commuter so there’s the potential for some serious flashing of random passers-by if I don’t remember my mother’s efforts to raise me to be ladylike.

What I really want—what I’ve started dreaming about—is good-looking clothing that no one will guess is made specifically for cycling.

Only I will know about the extra comfort elements and careful tailoring, the fabrics chosen not only for their non-chafe chamois-like interior finish but also for their water-resistant and dirt-repelling exterior qualities (with no swishing when I walk! That means most technical fabrics are off the list).

Fashion-forward options with secret gussets will get us beyond the Spandex Dork image from which cycling suffers and will help encourage more women to bike, I’m just sure of it.

Bike Shop Girl blogged about this same dilemma. I found out because I asked her via Twitter, after a semi-fruitless Google search, if she knew of anyplace to get good-looking pants. (My search, in case you’re curious: women’s tailored clothing urban biking—terms I arrived at after realizing that “professional” and “cycling” in the same search would yield nothing but Spandex and race results).

For now I’m making do with regular clothes. You’ll see posts here about how I manage some of the clothing issues and I have a whole series on pants shopping to come. Skirts and dresses are relatively easy, as you’ll be able to see from the pictures in my post on a week’s worth of clothing choices. I’ve learned quite a bit about the best shoe choices for biking in style, too.

The real answer, though, is for clothing manufacturers from the fashion and cycling industries to recognize they’re missing the opportunity that lies at their intersection. Thus my quest continues.

Your Turn

  • What are your clever accommodations if you’re a bike rider who needs to look polished at work?
  • What’s your biggest frustration with “regular” clothing?
  • What’s your biggest frustration with “cyclist” clothing?
  • And have you found the perfect pants?
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