Thinking green, by Caitlin

Thoughts and ideas on environmental topics from Caitlin Howlett, editor of Green Lifestyle.

Eco-chic cycle fashion

Riding to work

Credit: iStockphoto

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By Caitlin Howlett, G writer.

A bicycle is the most stylish accessory; cooler than clutching a Gucci handbag, bikes are more practical than stilettos and they never go out of season. Best of all, riding a bike doesn’t cause any greenhouse emissions and it sends a strong statement about your love of the planet, without the need to grow dreadlocks.

I haven’t looked back since taking up cycling on Ride to Work Day last year. I set a goal of riding to work twice a week, and on average, I’ve been maintaining this (I admit take a break when I’m sick and get the bus). Now, I’m even taking my bike on the trains to get around for longer distances, and I’m zipping about the city to meet friends.

Once I realised that I could get away with a chunky heel on my bike, I started to think that there might be some more eco-chic bike options to wear. Obviously I need to choose practical clothing, but I still want to turn up to that art exhibition, birthday party or date looking stylish. I’m not the kind of person who wears lycra, and I think other people are more likely to take up cycling if they see that you can wear what you want on a bike.

I’ve slowly been adapting my wardrobe to my bike. Now, with the change of the season, I’ve had to rethink my wardrobe again. Here’s a few dos and don’ts that I’ve learnt along the way:

Dos:

- Choose bright, light colours for safety. You want to be very visible to cars, and nothing will ruin look like a daggy fluoro vest over the top of your LBD.
- Knee-length, flowing skirts work well, and transfer easily to winter with some stockings. On windy days, sit on the extra material unless you’re prepared to become a two-wheeled version of Marilyn Monroe.
- Keep well-stocked on deodorant. It’s a good idea to keep a small perfume spray in your bag too.
- Opt for a basket or pannikins (bags that sit on either side of the back wheel). Shoulder bags with a long strap work well too. A backpack is another option, but you’ll get a sweaty back and crinkle your shirt.
- Leave plenty of time to get to your destination – that way you won’t turn up red, hot and sweaty, but rather with a fresh peachy glow from the gentle exercise.
- Bring a rain jacket, not an umbrella. I learnt this one the hard way.

Don’ts:

- Avoid long bootleg pants or saggy boots; they’ll just get cut-up and oily from your chain. Even if you’re prepared to tie a rubber band around your pants, you’ll arrive at your destination with wrinkly pant-legs, so plan to change into them when you arrive, or just ditch them altogether.
- Avoid jeans that are a tight squeeze. There’s nothing worse than a muffin top.
- Think about the accessories you're wearing; I once wore a long necklace and nearly lost my neck, so now I take them off when cycling.
- You’ll have to stop and take off your helmet if you wear a jumper and heat up along the way. Go for zippered cardi’s, jackets or even shawls and scarves.
- Be careful with pockets – things fall out easily (again, I learnt this the hard way). Pockets with zippers are handy though for money or your phone, but you wouldn’t want to be distracted by riding and talking on your phone anyway.

Some fashion designers have designed their own labels exclusively for cycling wear, but really, you can wear anything that you feel comfortable in. Make sure you have a helmet – nutcase do funky patterned ‘skater-style’ helmets. And finally, the change of the season means shorter daylight hours, so make sure you have front and back lights. There are ‘eco’ options available such as solar- or USB-charged LEDs, just make they’re at least three watts so they’re bright enough for cars to be able to see you easily.

Do you have any other eco-chic cycling tips? Leave a comment below, or drop us a line at G by emailing us at letters@gmagazine.com.au and let us know!