This is a preview of a new column. Article and photos to come in the November issue of Girl on Bike Online Magazine.
Lesson One: Clothing
I know, some of you girls are saying to yourself, “Please, I KNOW how to shop for clothes. I don’t need any help in that department.” But times have changed in the cycling industry; new technology has developed in fabrics, stitching, and construction. Seriously folks, it’s a whole new ballgame. So unless you’re a “clothing technology fanatic” like me, you don’t spend much time reading and testing. Let’s face it; testing can be fun, but constantly reading about tech stuff is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately for you, I’ve read all the dry technical stuff with all the details, and I’ll be constructing a regularly featured column of things you’ll need to know about cycling clothing, plus stuff you’ll want to know (like when you can get a good bang for your buck, and what looks and feels fabulous). Plus for those who want to, you can remain lycra-free.
Here are a few hints about how to shop for bike clothing, for girls shopping around in a store or bike shop:
- Is the fabric soft?
A lot of us don’t think about this, but it’s true; women have softer skin, so we need softer fabrics. Plus we don’t have an extra layer of protection in the form of hair all over our bodies, the way that men do (generally speaking). So the bottom line is that we need softer fabrics, and even closures should be softer (I avoid scratchy Velcro).
- Turn the garment inside out. How is the stitching?
Be careful for overlock stitching in sensitive places. The longer the trip, the more important stitching becomes. A three-point junction of stitching shouldn’t feel like an annoying knob.
- How is it constructed? If it is a technical garment, is it constructed in 3-dimensional “bike position”?
While the garment is still inside out, lay it down on a flat surface. Is it hard to figure out how you’d fold this thing? That’s 3D clothing. While commuter clothing can have a two dimensional construction (it lays flat), road, track, and some mountain biking clothes (rule of thumb, anything with chamois), is better off with a 3D cut.
- Try on the garment, but don’t just try on the one garment. Take the time to pick out the full outfit: top, bottom, and jacket).
Trying on a full outfit will give you the true feeling of how it will ride. Don’t look in the mirror first. Rather, sit down, or squat down into bike position. If you mountain bike, shift around a lot, and feel for seams that rub you. Roadies should imitate “the drops position”; the garment should fit best in this position and it should not ride up.
- OK, now look in the mirror
Seriously, cool or dork, whatever you feel comfortable with, own it. C’mon now, we’re still women. If we don’t feel great about the clothes we’re wearing, chances are we won’t wear them. So pick out “the look” for you but pay attention, to the fabric, stitching and construction first, so that you can get girlie in front of the mirror. And have fun with it; it’s shopping, after all!