Alternatives to Cycling-Specific Clothing – Outfit #2


Cycling-specific women’s clothing that you’d wear even if you weren’t on a bike is still hard to find. There have been a few products (Outlier offers one pair of women’s pants that appear to be pretty flattering) but more common are collections such as “city riding” from Rapha or Levi’s Commuter Series, which don’t offer any women’s options. Where there are clothes designed with the non-racing, transport-focused female cyclist in mind, they tend to be very pricy, i.e. Lululemon.

What’s a girl to do? Wear clothing designed to look good doing sporty things that aren’t bike specific. Generally, manufacturers make clothing bike-specific in a few different ways.

1. First and most importantly, they use quick drying, sweat wicking materials. These can be found in many garments designed for many different uses.

2. For shirts, they make the back longer to prevent plumber’s butt while cycling (and keep our backs warm!) I’ve found several non-cycling specific shirts that are plenty long enough.

3. Pants will sometimes have a removable chamois. I can’t comment on this, since I never use them. They also may have seams designed in such a way that they are not rubbing on saddle contact areas such as your sit bones and inner thighs. It’s a (very) personal thing, but I’m happy to report that even when I ride 25 miles a day, I have been pretty happy with jeans or twill pants, providing they are weather-appropriate.

4. There seems to be a trend of subtle reflective detailing. This makes no sense to me. In my opinion, reflective detailing that doesn’t call attention to itself during the day is also of little use at night. I am personally tackling this problem by making my bike as reflective/visible as possible. I figure that if my bike/bag/helmet etc. are loud, it won’t be as important for my clothing to be high-vis.

Back to non-cycling specific clothing. I bought this red shirt at TJ Maxx. It was made by a tennis apparel company called Bolle and it’s pretty good for biking.


Style pros and cons: Nothing flashy here, just a tailored T-shirt that looks professional enough for work – except for the back. The front is a double layer of fabric, so it’s not clingy. Somebody didn’t think that was an important feature for the back, but I’d rather not show every contour of my bra, thanks. Best for underneath a sweater or blazer.

Biking pros and cons: The V-neck isn’t so low-cut that I show more than I want when riding with drop handlebars. The back is long enough to cover as long as I’m not wearing really low-rise jeans. The material is wicking, though the difference between synthetic material’s odor-control ability (pretty-much non-existent) and that of my merino wool garments is striking. I am trying to add some color to my wardrobe, and this is a nice bright shade for summer bike commuting.

I wouldn’t have paid full price for this shirt, but I think it’s a pretty good TJ Maxx find. Besides the Bolle shirt, I’m also wearing stretchy jeans, my black leather boots with wool socks, a black leather watch, a stack of Maasai bracelets bought from ASK, and a stone necklace a friend brought back from China.


3 comments on “Alternatives to Cycling-Specific Clothing – Outfit #2

  1. I tend to buy the “Tall” shirts from Gap since I have a longer torso. This sort of helps with covering my crack, though the quality of their product has dropped.

    I also own a pair of the Outlier’s women’s pants. Never have I spent so much on pants before, but I will say they are great at being versatile for work or play and comfortable for biking. Pockets are too shallow though.

  2. Of all the pants I’ve worn and worn out in the last 5 years or so, the only pair I can remember having truly functional pockets (outside of my quick-dry hiking cargo pants) was from Patagonia. It would seem that making flattering women’s clothing with real pockets is a big challenge. I suspect the real issue is that we haven’t demanded it, so manufacturers just don’t bother.

  3. […] new resolution to do more biking in sleeveless tops and less mid-day riding in t-shirts. Like the Bolle top I blogged about earlier this spring, the Bandha is double-lined in front but not in back. There are […]

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