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“Making your fashion both functional and cute while cycling is as easy as when going for a walk”, says Cécile Robin.

A happy woman wearing her normal clothes and collecting her veg at her local Galway farm  @MadYolkFarm (https://www.instagram.com/madyolkfarm/)

Cycling has exploded in popularity this year – so much so that it’s been near-impossible to get your hands on a bike over the past few months.

It’s a great way to get out and about without using public transport, and manages to sneak a bit of extra exercise into your day. Rookies will almost certainly have to build their cycling habits, but have no fear on the clothing front.

It can be tricky to pick what to wear when going out (we have all experienced the dilemma of “I don’t know what to wear” while staring at a closet full of clothes). An outfit that is comfortable as well as stylish is the ideal for most of us, and the same criteria apply when it comes to cycling.

Luckily, cyclewear isn’t just about Lycra and clip-in shoes and it’s entirely possible to be yourself on your bike. So, what are the golden rules for looking yourself when cycling?  

(these tips apply to any gender)

1. Choose your footwear as usual

Fortunately, cycling doesn’t prevent you from wearing your favorite heels, if that’s what you are into. The advised foot placement on a pedal being the front part of the foot makes high heels totally suitable for cycling. That’s why, for example, pedal cages on road bikes are made to clip on the front part of the shoe.  You can always carry a spare pair of shoes if you want to go for a run at lunchtime, but in general your regular shoes will suffice.  

Your local charity shop, red heels, less than €5
Handed down from your friend who does not wear them anymore, free

2. Choose your clothes as usual

If you’re new to cycling, you will soon notice  (if you wear skirts and dresses) that wearing a skirt is completely compatible. Firstly, if you are lucky to have a so-called “female” bike, they by default have a low bar which allows you to elegantly sit on your bike without having to adopt the peeing-dog-posture.

Skirts have been part of bike outfits since as far as women started cycling (see for example a picture from 1910 above).

You usually have nothing to worry about when wearing skirts of shorter length until mid-calf. Indeed, the front wind that you get from cycling[1] will push and keep your skirt down towards your saddle. It is the little known but scientifically-proven third law of “aero-skirt dynamics”, as shown in the illustration below (more scientific explanation available here).

Aero-skirt dynamics front

Aero-skirt dynamics back

However, a few little adjustments can still be handy for some specific outfits. Here are a few tips.

For long skirts, the method I recommend most (tested and approved) is called the “Penny In Yo’ Pants”. You may not have guessed, but this advanced technology is brought to us all the way from the UK (see illustration below on how to use it).

This technique is very flexible, and works with any type of coins, pebbles, sticks, and other random things that can be found on the ground around you.

For floaty trousers, we recommend a hair clip, bobby pin or hair elastic band just to keep your right leg away from the dirt of the chain.

And, for all other outfits… well, you actually don’t need any tips!

French brand, two lengths blue-green skirt (collection 2010 or maybe before), price unknown
Body&Soul, festival-style long wrap skirt, sentimental value

3. Keep a jacket in your pannier

Ok, let’s face it, despite what we tell ourselves, it does not actually rain that much in Ireland. Indeed, Ireland is famous for its 4 seasons in one day, which makes the rain easily avoidable by just waiting for 5 min. You can wear your favourite suede jacket, and only keep an “emergency” pocket-sized rain jacket in your panniers to put on top of your current clothes if things turn bad before you reach your destination.

Decathlon, City cycling rain overtrousers, €20

If you really get caught in a nasty downpour before you reach your destination, just cover your clothes with your emergency rain gear (stored in your pannier), and remove it on arrival,  as if nothing happened. The transformation is mind blowing!

Festival season might be postponed this year but there are plenty of bright and colourful foldable rain jackets in the shops, which will be perfect for cycling and many other outdoor activities. Plus, jazzy colours will match perfectly your joyful cycling mood!

Parka-in-a-pocket rain jacket, leftover in the closet by previous occupants, free

4. Choose your headgear (long hair)

This point almost goes without saying, but having your hair in your face is not the easiest when trying to commute. Luckily, hair claws have come a long way since the tacky ones you wore as a kid, and you can get sleek styles in sober or funky colours, which you won’t be at all embarrassed to wear.

Our model trying to do a “model” pose with her outstanding hair claw
Boots, Large Hair Claw for Thick Hair,  €4.49
Boots, Large Claw,  €3.99

5. Invest in panniers

Fortunately, you won’t have to carry your beloved work handbag on your shoulders, as you can just tuck it into a basket or pannier. There is now a huge variety of baskets and panniers available on the market, so you will definitely find something for your taste.

You will also quickly realize that panniers on bikes is a popular topic of discussion, and is a great conversation-starter among your fellow bike peers.

 DECATHLON, Double bag – 2 X 15L, €24

One of the biggest trends at the moment is the fully waterproof roll-and-clip type of panniers. They are available in any bicycle shop. Sizes 15L and above can fit a typical sized grocery bag without trouble. Personally, I like my cheap zipped Decathlon bags.

HALFORDS, Advanced Waterproof Pannier Bag, €33

Armed with these tools, you will see that maintaining your own personal style while cycling can be as straightforward as heading out for a walk.

And that’s it! You are now in the know about all the little tricks on how to ride your bike with any of your normal outfits.

Also, you might be interested in checking out the Mary Poppins Effect, a very interesting phenomenon!


[1] yes, let’s face it, the wind will very rarely be strong enough to blow you from behind, unless it is a storm, in which case we wouldn’t advise to use your bike


This post was previously published on Your Lifestyle, and appears courtesy of Cécile Robin