Still trying to figure out how to cycle to the office and still look polished and professional for your working day? Unsure if you should go for cycle gear and do a quick washdown when you get there or do your best to exercise in your formal work clothes?
It’s certainly a tough one – there are plenty of pros and cons for each approach to cycling clothes, especially when you’re a woman.
However, so many brands have recently designed ultra-trendy commuter-friendly cycling clothing lately that it’s easier than ever to find the perfect solution for you, no matter what approach you prefer. Just figure out what helps you feel most comfortable and choose accordingly.
Keep reading to find out more about the pros and cons of each, what cycle to work clothing you should be looking for, plus tips on how to cope with sweaty hair, terrible weather and dirty shoes.
Here’s what we’ll be covering along the way:
- How to dress for your ride to work: bike clothes vs work clothes?
- Office-friendly bike clothing
- Cycling to work in a suit
- Urban bike clothes
- Waterproof cycle clothing for women
- Ways to be discreet
- Related Questions
How to dress for your ride to work: bike clothes vs work clothes?
As mentioned above, making a decision about what to wear to cycle to work can be tricky and there are tons of factors that will influence your decision. I’ll give you a quick rundown of the main pros and cons below to help you decide.
But remember; you’ll need to experiment with these options to find out which works best for you. We’re all unique!
Bike clothes are fantastic for cycling to work as they have been designed to be as aerodynamic and comfortable as possible while you’re on a bike.
When you wear this type of cycle clothing to work, you won’t need to worry about working up a sweat, getting dirty or smelly or whether you’ll catch your expensive pants in your bike chain. You’ll also be better able to tackle longer journeys and even brave those hills if needed.
However, this does mean that you’ll need to think about how you will freshen up and change into your work clothes. You’ll also need to think about how you’ll carry that extra clothing with you and whether you need to fit pannier bags or invest in a backpack to carry your smarter clothes.
On the other hand, cycling to work wearing your smart clothes can be a good choice for some. It means that you won’t have to mess around getting changed when you get to work. Nor will you have to carry around extra clothes or fixing them to your bike.
However, sweat and dirt can be an issue and even the most thorough use of the ‘baby-wipe wash’ won’t leave you feeling squeaky clean. Whether this is an issue really depends on how formal your workplace is and whether you’ll be attending big meetings or formal events.
Of course, this also means that you’ll want to take it easy and go slowly when it comes to the commute itself. There’s no way you want to be working up a sweat or racing up hills if you know you need to wear the same clothes all day.
Office-friendly bike clothing
Despite how it might appear from reading the above, you do have plenty of options when it comes to deciding what to wear when you commute to work by bike. You don’t have to dress head to toe in lycra, nor do you have to struggle figuring out how to cycle in your tight fitting, uncomfortable work clothes. Unless you want to, of course.
Because cycling to work has exploded in popularity over recent years, there are now plenty of alternatives that blend the divisions between street wear, work wear and professional wear. This clothing is designed exactly for us active females and works equally well whether you want to work, rest or play.
These include ultra- sporty-looking activewear, casual urban-friendly clothing and office friendly clothes that you are sure to love.
Don’t believe that you have to choose any of these cycling-focused options though. You can also wear regular street clothing, provided it works for your needs. Look for designs that allow movement and breathable fabrics that protect against odor.
Cycling to work in a suit
If you’re even considering commuting to work wearing your suit, you’re amazing.
Suits really aren’t a great choice when cycling because, 9 times out of 10, they don’t allow you to move your limbs freely. They’re also more likely to be made from fabrics that actually trap heat, sweat, and nasty smells.
If you’re absolutely sure that it has to be a suit, try to keep your commute as short as it can be and cycle more slowly than you need to so that you can avoid overheating and arrive looking as presentable as possible.
Also make sure that you keep your bike as clean as possible and avoid cycling through overly dirty, dusty or muddy places. Your clothes will thank you for it!
If you’re wearing regular pants to cycle, invest in pant straps to keep them exactly where they should be and avoid getting them trapped in the chain mechanism. On the other side of the coin, make sure skirts are easy to cycle in and consider wearing shorts underneath to avoid exposing your underpants!
Urban bike clothes
The trouble with the regular type of brightly colored, lycra-based cycling clothes is that they can feel like overkill when you’re going to the office, going to pick your kids up from daycare or school or simply doing errands. You’re likely to feel more like you’re going to steal Brie Larson’s role in the next Captain Marvel movie if you do.
That’s why there’s an increasing number of companies who are filling the gap between serious cycling gear and street wear by making comfortable, stylish and durable clothes that look and feel great.
Watch out for design features like gusseted crotches, zip pockets, stretch fit, reflective details and sweat wicking for maximum comfort, safety and style. Again, look for waterproof fabrics whenever you can and merino wool for extra breathability.
Waterproof cycle clothing for women
Even if you’re not too sure whether you’ll opt for dedicated cycle clothing or travel to work wearing your office clothes, you’ll need to get yourself some decent waterproof gear.
There’s nothing quite like the combo of torrential rain, huge trucks flying past you on the highway and crazy amounts of mud to ruin your mood for the day and leave you absolutely dreading the commute home by bike.
The great news, especially for us girls is that waterproof gear doesn’t have to be ugly or embarrassing.
There’s a huge range of stylish, on-trend, breathable, even professional-looking waterproof clothing that will help you stay dry and comfortable, no matter what the weather is doing. This ranges from full-length winter coats and urban ponchos to the more sporty-looking cycling jackets.
When you’re looking for your ideal waterproof jacket or trousers, look for something breathable, slim cut, lightweight and ideally, packable too. These qualities mean that you can move with ease on your bike, you won’t get too hot and you can stash it away when you arrive at work.
Always take your time to ensure that any jacket you choose definitely, 100% does the job. Working up a sweat when you’re wearing a waterproof can feel like torture if you’ve bought the wrong one….
They’re really easy to slip on and off and make a great addition to your commuting kit.
Ways to be discreet
Honesty, if you commute to work by bike then you’re a complete badass who deserves recognition. You’re doing awesome work when it comes to minimizing your carbon footprint and keeping yourself healthy.
But regardless, you might not want everyone to know about it. You might believe it doesn’t look professional. Or you don’t want to be judged. Or you don’t want to give people reason to criticize your performance. Here are a few tips:
- Arrive slightly earlier to give yourself time to cool down, clean yourself up and make yourself presentable
- Store your work shoes in a box under your desk. No one needs to know…
- Park your bike slightly further away from the office and walk the remaining distance
- Go to the bathroom as soon as you arrive and use dry shampoo and baby wipes to clean off, then wash your hands.
- Cycle more slowly for the final 5-10 minute before you arrive at work so you can avoid that tired-I-just-exercised look.
- Wear a buff under your helmet to help soak up the sweat and keep you looking fresh.
- Consider getting a shorter hair cut to avoid your hair looking too messy or put it into a ponytail or plaits.
Can you ride a bike with a dress? Riding a bike in a skirt or dress isn’t ideal, but it is possible. Tuck your skirt under your legs, or wear leggings or cycle shorts underneath.
How to freshen up after a bike commute? Keep spare underwear and perhaps a fresh pair of socks in your bag to change into when you arrive at work. Deodorant, wet wipes and dry shampoo are all sensible additions if you have space in your bag.
How do you carry work clothes on a bike? Take care when packing your clothes. Fold them along the seams, then roll to avoid wrinkles. Unroll them as soon as you arrive at work while you freshen up.
Do cycling clothes make a difference? Proper cycling clothes have been designed for better performance and will be more aerodynamic than regular clothes.