Black. Safe. Flattering. The only colour commonly available for shorts. Not so with the crazy rainbow of jerseys available out there now for us women. Whether your preference is for single shade understated style, floral swirls and curlicues that wouldn’t look out of place in a seventies “fashion” catalogue or smart geometric and colour block designs, there’s plenty of opportunity for a shade to suit every taste.
Irrespective of all the (very true) stuff about the ride being what’s important and the rest is just trimming, there’s no way I’m leaving the house looking like an explosion in a Skittles factory. I like to think my cycling style reflects my “normal” look as far as possible, and it definitely adds a little extra something to any ride if I know I’m looking sharp. If I’m honest, it’s never going to hurt if a fellow female rider comments on how cool my ensemble is either! I’m shallow. Deal with it.
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Truth be told, there aren’t any real illusions that any of us, beyond elite riders, actually “rocks” lycra, is there? To a degree it’s a game of damage limitation. But dressed in a smart spotted jersey, with coordinating spotty socks and a striped gilet, it’s a little easier to forget that the world and his dog can see THAT bit of your legs and that you’re effectively wearing padded pants.
Socks and gloves are an easy, disturbingly addictive and thankfully inexpensive way of bringing a little je ne sais quoi to any bike outfit and deserve pride of place in every female cyclist’s style arsenal. I’ve more cycling socks than everyday ones, and more gloves than Michael Jackson wore in his whole career.
The stumbling block for me is often the helmet. Obviously its primary purposes are safety and comfort, and unless I want a wardrobe of (frankly expensive) cycling lids, I’m favouring nondescript over garish, much as magnolia is always the easiest option for interior décor.
One day, someone will invent an effective and safe helmet that looks like a jaunty beret and we’ll all embrace our inner Audrey Hepburn with a nonchalant half-smile and clashing colours be damned.
I have, on occasion, been known to venture out in a red, white and black helmet, shiny red cycling shoes, white gloves and a red jersey, carefully coordinated to a carbon, red and white bike. I felt like a pro. And I was faster. Honest.
But, on an ongoing basis, I’m simply not prepared to limit my sartorial choices to one single colourway. So, sadly, it’s a reality that despite my best efforts to style it out, there’s inevitably going to be a catastrophic clash with the steed itself. Surely, a perfect and unassailable argument for a stable of differently hued bicycles...?
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