Getting into gear: Tips for the fashion-savvy cyclist

Isobel Laidler 30 January 2015

As a hill college student, I have, perhaps, an unhealthy attachment to my bike. It is a rickety, warped, noisy, vintage beast that proves the power of gaffer-tape and barely justifies the use of a lock – without this trusty steed, my Cambridge bubble would be shaken to the ground. Those extra eleven minutes in bed each morning, and the ability to magically arrive bang on time when that eleven minutes accidently triples…There is, however, an unforeseen consequence of depending so much upon one’s bike, and that is the effect it has on your wardrobe:

Skirts and Dresses (and anything maxi length)

The least imaginative of beings can envisage the issues resulting from cycling in skirts. Length is key: too short and the commuters can see your knickers as you cycle up the hill; too long and it won’t survive the term as each pedal nicks the hem, not to mention if you forget your ladylike choice as you mount your bike, you will suddenly find yourself unable to move, with the majority of the skirt between your legs and veiling more of the rear wheel than your frozen knees.

Shoes

This traumatic decision has the added frustration of requiring a consideration of the weather. Boots are always safe, but not if they are too high in the heel, or you may find they scrape the tarmac and you will appear to lose height as the term goes on. Slip-on shoes are convenient animals, but once you’ve been forced through potholes by a bus with a clearly bitter inferiority complex attempting to assert dominance, you momentarily compare your sodden Achilles heel to trench foot. Then you realise you’re having an internal dialogue about egocentric buses and the morals of melodramatic comparisons as you cycle to Sainsbury’s, and that you really are taking procrastination to a new level. Also slip-ons can fall off. A lot.

Hats

Also fall off. How does Dr. Wilmer do it? Helmet hair it is.

But the most exciting thing is seeing how far you can push the numerous unspoken rules of cycling – why not cycle in a ballgown and heels if you can only work out how?