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Melissa Davies is the brains behind Bike Pretty, a go-to site for people who want to look good while riding their bikes. Below, she schools us on cycling style.
I started commuting by bike 10 years ago, and I’ve been working in fashion for just as long. So it was only natural that I started my blog, Bike Pretty, as a way to celebrate bike-friendly babes that love to dress up and ride.
Bike fashion or vélo vogue. Doesn’t matter what you call it. Just dress for the destination, not the ride. Banish visions of neon green, skin-tight suits. Instead of the Tour De France, imagine a romantic ride along the Seine.
So how can you arrive fresh as a daisy and with your own pedal power? Here are 9 tricks to ensure that you’ll stay cycle-chic.
Think About Your ‘Under-There’ Wear
A knee-length flared skirt is the easiest style for biking. But beware of the “Marilyn Monroe Effect.” Go for a little extra coverage. Black opaque tights are great for beginners since they hide grease stains. If you prefer bloomers, make sure to get your hands on a slippery pair, like these. And ditch the cotton leggings since they’ll cause your skirt to bunch up.
Let Cooler Heads Prevail
A helmet is a good insurance policy for your brain, but it can wreak havoc on your hairdo. But don’t fret about sweat. Wear a sweet handkerchief as a headband — or Rosie the Riveter-style — and slip a helmet on top. When you reach your destination, shake your hair out like a librarian in an eighties music video.
Give Your Back a Break
It’s tempting to stuff a backpack with a change of clothes, spare shoes, an adorable chihuahua, extra bobby pins, and year-old receipts (oh, just me?). I know, I know. All those things are important. But backpacks trap sweat against the skin. Instead, get a cross-body style or a vegan leather messenger bag. You’ll stay cool and look polished. Even better, get the weight off your shoulders and onto your bike. Invest in a rear rack and strap the satchel down with bungee cords. Ahh, sweet freedom.
Save It for Spin Class
Yes, biking can be great exercise but it’s also a lazy girl’s best friend. The truth is, you don’t have to bike hard to go far. A bicycle is an efficient machine. It works hard so that you don’t have to. If you find yourself working up a sweat anyway, use the last half mile as a cool-down. Ease up on the pedal strokes, remember to breathe, and your entrance will be effortless.
Lighten Up on the Layers
If you’re warm enough during the first ten minutes of your ride, then you’re overdressed. It doesn’t take long for the body to rev up. The transition from warm-and-toasty to stifling-and-sweaty is a quick one. All of a sudden you find yourself pink-faced and frantically stripping down in the bike lane. Flapping your arms in an attempt to fan your armpits is not a good look! Ditch the parka, stash a jacket in your bag, and sport a light sweater with a thick pair of over-the-knee socks.
Kiss and Makeup
Most days I wear tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, a little lip-stain, and some waterproof mascara. You should always, always, ALWAYS wear sunscreen. At least SPF 15. Skip the blush in lieu of getting rosy cheeks the natural way: by riding a bike. Occasionally I pose for pictures while in the saddle, which calls for a full face. Like full-on foundation, contouring, falsies (eyelashes, of course) — the works. The trick to maintaining that level of maquillage is to pile on the translucent powder with a kabuki brush. Not only does it set the look, but the powder absorbs perspiration too. The one thing you should never wear while on your bike? Lip gloss. One stray strand of hair and it’s smeared all over your face like strawberry jelly.
Fit Like a Glove
Chilly morning air can do a number on your digits. A pair of colorful leather gloves will keep your fingers functional and pull your whole outfit together. Shift your style into high gear and splurge on a cashmere-lined pair.
I Love the Night Light
The days are getting longer, but you still need to prepare for biking after dark. Especially when it’s time to hit the club. In addition to a rechargeable set of front and rear lights, load up on reflective bike stickers in fun shapes. And check out these faux-flower brooches that light up the night when hit with a high beam. I’m partial to sequins too — or metallic anything, really — because: shiny.
I only know how to do one bike trick: riding in heels. The real trick is that people believe biking in heels is incredibly difficult. Here’s a secret: It’s easier to bike in heels than it is to walk in them. That said, if you can’t walk in those glitter, platform, peep-toe stilettos, just keep them on the mantel where they belong. Opt for dance-able styles. Like what Ginger Rogers would wear. If you’re still getting your sea bike legs, try the mid heel heights at ModCloth. From ballets flats to platform wedges, no matter which style of shoes you prefer, keep the ball of your foot on the pedal.
+ For more tips on how to bike fashionably, including my guide to cute helmets, visit BikePretty.com.
Amazing advice! I am Excited to bike in style this summer!
Thanks, Rachel! Dressing up in rad vintage and riding around is one of my favorite things ever. I love that striped dress you have in your shop. Super cute!
Great Advice! I bike almost daily in Oakland wearing dresses and heels and it’s true, it’s easy to bike in heels but can sometimes scuff them up. I also always wear bike shorts under my skirt incase of a strong breeze.
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