Bike fashion
Ditch the spandex for new commuter clothes

AIMEE BLANCHETTE
McClatchy Tribune News Service
Modified: May 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm •  Published: May 9, 2013
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photo - For those who use bicycles for commuting to work or errands, cycling fashion is going from spandex to multi-functional such as this Tired Ol' Belt made from recycled bike parts. (Courtney Perry/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)
For those who use bicycles for commuting to work or errands, cycling fashion is going from spandex to multi-functional such as this Tired Ol' Belt made from recycled bike parts. (Courtney Perry/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

class="krtText">“There hasn’t been a lot of gear out there that you can wear comfortably in the office,” said Greg Kurowski, who commutes 25 miles from Victoria, Minn., to downtown Minneapolis several days a week. The president and CEO of Periscope advertising agency said he’s had to wear his racing gear on hot days.

“Now, there are cycling-specific technical clothes that breathe better, wick moisture — they don’t look like normal cycling clothes,” Morrison said. “You can wear this stuff to the office and it’s making commuting by bike a lot more feasible.”

But commuter-friendly clothing isn’t cheap. The pants in Levi’s commuter line ($78) are water- and odor-resistant, feature reflective tape on the cuffs and a loop for a bike lock at the waist band. A Lands’ End bike blazer ($250) also has reflective tape, hidden pockets and a spot for earbuds. Mostly, it just looks like a stylish sport coat.

ARE YOU CYCLE CHIC?

When Lisa Austin started biking frequently in the early ‘90s, she recalls having zero options for women’s bike clothes. Not even a Lycra jersey. Now the options are wide open.

“It’s refreshing to see people biking and wearing anything they want,” she said.

For her that means skirts — and even heels.

“They’re totally easy to ride in,” Austin said.

Cyclists are hitting the local runways, too. “All of this is helping to redefine our bike culture,” said Patty Soldner, events manager for the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, which plans to hold its second bicycle fashion show next year.

Then there are the blogs, such as San Francisco-based Bike Pretty, which inspires people to, well, ride a bike and look pretty. Blog entries include: “How to ride in a maxi skirt” and “How to dominate hills in a dress.”

Zachariah Schaap ascribes to a larger movement called “cycle chic,” which refers to cycling in everyday fashionable clothes. The 27-year-old graphic designer and co-founder of “30 Days of Biking” shows up to meetings on his bike wearing button-up custom-made shirts and ties, and leather-soled dress shoes.

Schaap says cycling in streetwear requires no more effort than any other commute in Minnesota’s temperamental weather — and provides much more of a payoff.

“Being stuck in a car during rush hour is the bane of my existence,” he said. “I’d much rather look fancy on my bike.”

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QUICK TIPS FOR BIKING IN STYLE

Wear a skirt: You can do it without flashing people. A-line or wider styles work best. Equip your bike with a skirt guard or fashion a garter out of a headband and safety pin. Skirt weights keep hems in check.

Wear heels: Pedaling in heels is easier than walking in them. Just make sure they fit properly.

Suit up: Invest in a pannier bag made to carry a suit without wrinkling it.

Stay dry: Invest in fenders if you commute year-round.

Safety first: Always wear a helmet (hopefully a stylish one), plus reflective tape and lights.

Don’t sweat: Racing around like you’re in the Tour de France will only make you perspire. Slow down and savor the views.