Photo by Tracy Chandler
I used to live in New York.
I spent a lot of time out. Out at parties, at bars, at brunch; out shopping, out walking around, out eating. The best part about New York is that no matter what you’re doing or where you are, you can dress for the occasion. And it doesn’t have to be really appropriate either. You can get into a club in sneakers and beanie or you can go to brunch in six-inch heels.
It’s not about brands or wealth or being “in,” either. It’s about expressing yourself and any way you choose to is fine. It’s celebrated. So if you want to rock a deep purple lip at 9 AM for coffee it’s like yeah girl, do it.
When I got more and more into riding, I found it totally irreconcilable with my world. I had bike friends and regular friends, bike outfits and regular outfits, and the two didn’t seem to mesh. I got to that inevitable point I’m sure most of us have, where the desire to get out early and ride starts to outweigh the desire to go out at night. I don’t want to make it sound like a pick and choose sort of situation, but I think it just naturally happens that way. You start caring what you put in your body, start taking care of yourself, and certain aspects of your life just start to fall away.
This was a positive change for me. A very corny side of myself really wants to call it trading cocktails for canyons. But still, there are things I miss. Sometimes I miss the parties, and there are a million little black dresses hanging in my closet sad and unworn. Heels that just sit on the top top shelf because they’re reached for so infrequently.
So what is it about “bike-style” that’s so incongruous with any other kind of style to which you may be partial? For one, it’s the utilitarian nature of all things bike. You want to everything to be light, easy to carry or out of the way, and technically beneficial to your riding. So we wear the spandex, we carry only the most necessary of things in our jersey pockets, we wear sport eyewear.
But sometimes when you leave the house in the morning, don’t you want to feel… like you? I do. And lately I’ve been starting to expand my on the bike wardrobe and accessories to be a little more fun, a little more stylish, and a little more me. Don’t even get me started on the frumpy design of most women’s kit… this story is about accessorizing.
For eyewear, you can pretty much go wild. Jenn taught me this. I also will never forget when I first met my friend Veronika, we were lining up for a big race. She had her signature blonde pigtails, skinsuit and helmet, obviously, and I swear this is true, her mom’s dazzling designer shades. It was so ridiculous, in a way, but she is so unapologetic in terms of who she is, and she said, "I love these, I borrowed them from my mom, don’t they look cool?"
Hell yeah they did!
So I would say barring the completely outlandish, anything that helps your vision and makes you feel cool is fine by me.
I’ve also been thinking a bit about jewelry as an accessory. As I learn more about styling our Machines shoots, I’m learning that minimal is better, but there is still a place for jewelry in your look, especially if it’s a signature. Anna Maria, you might know her from Pretty Damned Fast, does this really well. She always has a group of layered necklaces on, whether she’s in kit or in workwear. I love that.
I always wear a very minimal gold chain, but I’m not sure if it counts as a signature look or not. Jenn has some gold studs which are easy to mix and match and don't bother her on the bike. Friendship bracelets are perfect for riding as they can get wet and if they get lost it's not the end of the world.
Photo by Tracy Chandler
Wallets, too, are all about having fun. I’ve pretty much run the gamut when it comes to cycling wallets. From a little duct tape jammer, to cycling specific waterproof options, to a plain old zip lock bag, I’ve tried it all. My latest attraction to silver has got me scoping out a few new options and I think wallets are a place where you can really dial in the look.
The last and hardest thing it is to let go of, for some of us, is makeup. I wore makeup every single day from when I was thirteen(?) to 22. That’s about ten years, and it’s enough to say that walking out of the house without it is like walking out of the house naked. So when you start riding bikes, and waking up at 5 am to go sweat doesn’t really go well with the whole, concealer-foundation-powder-bronzer-eyebrows-eyeshadow-eyeliner-mascara-highlighter-lipstick timeline (that was my routine, anyway). So in a way, we’re forced to let go. I certainly don’t judge any woman that does decide to keep her makeup on while riding, but for me, it was time to try a new way of going out into the world each morning. And yeah, it really sucks at first. It feels like everyone notices how bad your skin looks and you look tired and sick and all that. But here’s the thing; you’re there to ride bikes and no one’s really looking at your skin or your brow arch. Especially if you have some really flashy carbon wheels.
We don’t have a ton of options when it comes to accessorizing your kit, but I say, work with what you got. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t be afraid of looking “un-pro.” That first race with Veronica and her “totally inappropriate” sunglasses? She kicked my butt. Lesson learned.