Chic Cyclists in High Heels

Fashion and cycling: what’s a girl not to love about these two things?

For the past year  I’ve noticed while checking out my favorite on-line fashion site “The Sartorialist” photos of women cycling in very stylish clothing. This whole culture of commuter cycling in fashionable clothing is called “cycle chic.” In many big European cities cycling is everyday transport so many wear normal everyday clothes rather than typical cycling clothes like Lycra. The phrase “cycle chic” was coined by a blogger from the cycling friendly city of Copenhagen, Denmark. The blog is called “Cycle Chic-the Original from Copenhagen.”  There is even a Copenhagen Cycle Chic Manifesto which follows below.

I choose to cycle chic and, at every opportunity, I will choose style over speed.

I embrace my responsibility to contribute visually to a more aesthetically pleasing urban landscape.

I am aware that my mere presence in said urban landscape will inspire others without me being labeled as a “bicycle activist.”

I will ride with grace, elegance and dignity.

I will choose a bicycle that reflects my personality and style.

I will, however, regard my bicycle as transport and as a mere supplement to my own personal style. Allowing my bike to upstage me is unacceptable.

I will endeavor to ensure that the total value of my clothes always exceeds that of my bicycle.

I will accessorize in accordance with the standards of a bicycle culture and acquire, where possible, a chain guard, kickstand, skirt guard, fenders, bell and basket.

I will respect the traffic laws.

I will refrain from wearing and owning any form of “cycle wear.” The only exception being a bicycle helmet – if I choose to exercise my freedom of personal choice and wear one.

In Great Britain, a project call “Beauty and the Bike” was established to determine why girls stopped cycling. Most of them said because it wasn’t cool and only nerds wearing Lycra cycled. They visited Germany and saw girls riding bicycles in whatever they wanted, not the typical “nerd cycling clothing” so they started riding bikes to school again once they got home.

The business of “cycle chic” clothing and accessories is taking off with a couple of super cool London companies like Cyclechic and Rapha.

Cycling in fashionable clothes has recently caught on in US cities like New York City and Los Angeles. Boise might be a few years behind this trend since living and working in Boise doesn’t require having a high fashion wardrobe and most people wear casual clothing to work and even to our trendiest restaurants. My closet is full of casual outdoor clothing from Nau and Patagonia and the only high fashion item I own is my beloved Louis Vuitton shoulder bag and wallet. Unless I fork out a few thousand dollars for a new high fashion wardrobe, I won’t be hopping on the cycle chic bandwagon anytime soon (especially since my commuter would always exceed the price of my clothes!). However, it would be fun to head out for ride on my commuter bike wearing high heels and drop a bunch of weekend warriors wearing full spandex kits on their fancy carbon bikes. Until then, I will continue to wear my “nerd clothing” while riding to work.


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