Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Wear your skirt with pride - How to cycle in a skirt

GOLLY GOSH, STOP THE TRAFFIC PLEASE...I have noticed a MAJOR cycle chic problem on our roads and it's not looking pretty. Please tell me, why aren't more women wearing skirts on their bicycles?  It is very rare for me to see fellow skirted cyclists in the mornings, so rare that I feel like applauding when one gracefully cycles by. They certainly aren't pedalling around my patch of London.

I try my very best to not change my wardrobe to suit cycling. I believe that you don’t need lycra and pink cycling jerseys to get to work in the morning and anyway, cycling leggings just don’t do me any favours! With my reluctance to succumb to the wonderful world of cycling attire, I like to think that I have mastered the technique of cycling in a skirt. So I thought I’d provide a few pointers of what I have discovered over the years in my quest to cycle in style.

Firstly, I couldn’t help admire these stylish women on their bikes from the Paris Cycle Chic blog (good for inspiration too!).

French chic... by CycleChicParis

Paris Cycle Chic by Txell HGTenue de soirée... by CycleChicParis

Velib' - Paris by Bart Omeu

So let’s get down to business.
Choosing your skirt

I have found that short body cons skirts and very tight pencil skirts are best to be avoided. It may be good for the office but trust me, there is no room for your lovely thighs and knees to move around when pedaling. You end up resembling an Egyptian mummy rather than a dapper cyclist. The two skirts in the pictures above are firm favourites with me. The hounds tooth skirt on the left is just the right length and has a little bit of stretch in the material. The pleats in the skirt on the right adds extra coverage and flows whimsically in the breeze, very FRENCH. Both are nice for the office and means I don't have to change when I get to work.

Watch out for the shortness of your skirt. Going too short will alert the fashion police.  I have found that I can’t go shorter than 12 cm above the knee before I end up showing the world more than my thighs. To find out how short you can really go, try out a couple of skirts by cycling around the block before you brave a longer journey.

Make sure your skirt isn't too flowing. This can be a problem if your skirt is also very short, the wind ends up flowing underneath it like a tent and you will be spending more time holding your skirt down than holding your handlebars.

For extra comfort, wear a skirt with a little bit of stretch in it. This can be a godsend when you're manoeuvring on and off the bike and riding at speed.

Now that it’s cold outside, I find that wearing tights provides me with more opportunities to wear shorter skirts. A longer winter coat also gives extra good coverage. Bonus!

Starting your journey
When getting onto your bike you may risk a brief flashing, or if your skirt is a pencil skirt, you may find you are restricted. Whenever possible, elegantly hop onto your bike using the curb of the pavement. The extra height makes it a whole lot easier and more eloquent. If there isn't a curb nearby, just nip on quickly making sure to maintain that air of sophistication.

Once on the bike, be sure to check that you are sitting on the back of your skirt. You don’t want to give the car drivers an extra reason to beep you. To do this, I like to stand up slightly whilst cruising and push the skirt down as I sit back on the saddle. It’s an art form.

...and knees together..
On the ride
When you cycle your skirt tends to hike up a bit, you can re-adjust when in stationery traffic or at traffic lights.

If my skirt is short, then I like to cycle with my knees slightly together to avoid any mini flashes.

                                                        Off the bike
Getting off the bike is easy peasy if you have a ladies bike, they are made for such dignified manoeuvres! Just put your knees together and hop off. Get it? Knees together and HOP.

Last but not least, if you are locking your bike and wearing a short skirt make sure to not bend over too far!

So let's all get this straight....let's ditch the cycling leggings and WEAR YOUR SKIRT WITH PRIDE, repeat after me, WEAR YOUR SKIRT WITH PRIDE.


Anonymous said...

Excellent! Skirts and dresses are by far the most comfortable garments to cycle in...for me anyway. :)

emilyobyrne said...

I don't commute in a skirt, as I worry that the 12 mile round trip to work will wear out my lovely frocks. And I wouldn't get to wear my favourite but fragile silk dress or my too tight to ride in wiggle dress to work.

Instead, I choose some very nice Endura baggies or even more dashing cord pedal pushers, teamed with striped knee socks and a smart wool jersey. A silk scarf at the neck keeps the chill out and I think adds a touch of elegance. I'm aiming more for Edwardian cycling dandy than urban lycra lout. And I never ever wear anything in fluoro yellow. Or that ghastly lurid pink that lady cyclists seem to go for.

If I do need to cycle in a frock, however, my favourite outfit is a merino wool jumper dress teamed with leggings or wool tights. It's a loose fitting tunic dress and never rides up to show anything it shouldn't. Smart and practical both on and off the bike.

Jeneveve said...

I must admit I wear 'cycling attire' for my commutes as it just a bit too far to want to sit in the sweaty, grubby clothes I've ridden in all day. But I'll happily cycle in a skirt at the weekend, although I tend to go for short, flippy ones with leggings or shorts underneath and be merrily blase about whether I'm flashing anyone!

Jemma said...

I think it also depends how far you commute! I cycle 10 miles a day and it's not too far that I get sweaty, especially during the winter when it's chilly!

commuterjohn said...

Very informative article, but I think I would get arrested if I tried it!

Anonymous said...

You can wear a long flowing skirt (or dress) - you just need to bring a clip or a hairband and tie it to a length that avoids it getting into the wheels. Or tuck in the waistline. I do this all the time. (-:

I wouldn't wear any of the skirts in the pics above (too short for me - except maybe the red one), but I do wear skirts and dress on my bike all the time!

Barton said...

That is nice and all, and the models look lovely, but it is all predicated on having a step through, or "ladies bike," which I do not own. And, I will also stick to my much maligned lycra shorts/tights for my commute, as it is 25 miles and I do it at a sweat producing rate.

alualuna said...

@Barton - my bike doesn't have a step through frame. :-)

But I can understanding using shorts for a commute of that length.

alualuna said...

*understand (sorry, I hate typos)

Anonymous said...

Great tips!

I agree with not doing the lycra stuff, & going with what you like to wear. However, still find myself shopping for normal clothing, that I find more comfortable to cycle in.
I often cycle in skirts & I find that the slightly A Line cut is great, with tights or leggings, you ready to roll
This is one of my winter favourites:
I can't cope with the body con type skirts as after a few miles, they often end up looking more like a wide, ruffled belt
Skorts seem like a good option but I'm yet to try them.


gafas de sol carrera said...

Eso es bonito y todo, y los modelos muy guapa!

Campfire said...

I don't commute at all, don't wear a skirt on a bike, unless I ride my Gitane, vintage sports bike.

Many years ago I used to cycle to work in a skirt, on a road bike (with top tube) as that was the only bike I had. I used to secure anything other than a straightish skirt to the top tube by a clothes peg. I did used to get some comments and looks but didn't care, I was only in my late teens/early 20s then.

As I was only going a couple of miles into the town centre, that was fine. I don't think I would have gone much further in a skirt, rather the normal cycling legwear, can't remember what that was, it was too long ago.

Nowadays, if I'm cycling to the shops, I'd wear Ron HIlls and if out for a longish ride, either Ron Hills or Lycra leggings, I don't wear cycle shorts other than underneath. I'm not of the school of thought that ladies getting on a bit look nice in cycle shorts, unless they are straight up and down in shape.

Slim young things - well they just look nice in most things.

jobot said...

Great article!

I practically live in surfer-girl dresses (Animal, White Stuff, etc) these are great for cycling, smart enough for the office and different to what everyone else is wearing!

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