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Biking in work attire–Harmony, Mary & Rachel weigh in

Women discuss their commuting attire

Hello, ladies of BikePGH! A few weeks ago I asked the women of our Facebook community about their bike commuting wardrobe and I was shocked by how many women were willing to participate and share their knowledge. In the first few hours, I was contacted by about thirty of you! I asked each woman to share three things that she wears on her commute, what (if any) rain gear she carries, and the length of her commute.

This is the first of seven posts on the topic of clothing and rain gear. All of the local riders featured in today’s post wear their work clothes on their ride, and have gained helpful insights about what works and what doesn’t.


Mary Slaughter

What type of clothing do you wear when you’re bike-commuting to work? Is there a specific garment that is your favorite for commuting? I am lucky that my workplace has a casual dress code, so I pretty much wear whatever I want when I bike to work (though I’ve learned not to wear certain skirts as I’ve had a few rides where I probably flashed a lot of people. Jean skirts are usually okay). I do, however, wear a bright yellow Pearl Izumi jacket as I think it really helps make me visible and therefore, safer, which I now wear all the time. It’s great because it can be converted to sleeveless in the summer and if it’s cold out, I can wear more layers underneath, as it’s a very thin material. I insist my biking jackets now be neon bright; I found a few that would work in the winter but they weren’t bright enough for me. I always wear a helmet but I don’t bother with bike shoes because they’re too much hassle.

If you bike when it rains, what is your rain gear situation like? Are there any products you’d recommend to fellow bicyclists? I am lucky that my workplace has a flexible work schedule so I usually plan my biking around the rain, using my phone app “Dark Sky.” A few times it failed me and I got caught in a torrential downpour, leaving me to show up to work looking like a drowned rat. Fortunately, I keep a stash of clean, dry clothes at work, so it ended up not being a problem. I have since bought a pair of heavy duty rainproof bike pants, but I’ve only worn them twice. They work well, but they are pretty bulky and thick so I would prefer not to wear them and just plan better to avoid rain.

Where do you work and where do you commute from (i.e. live in Shadyside and commute to Downtown)? I work in Oakland and live in Squirrel Hill, although I am moving to Point Breeze, so my commute will now be longer.


 

Harmony VenturinoHarmony Venturino

What type of clothing do you wear when you’re bike-commuting to work? Is there a specific garment that is your favorite for commuting? I usually wear jeans to ride to work, not particularly in my favor, but it’s part of my uniform and it’s easier for me to stay in my jeans. It’s not very comfortable all the time, but you get used to it. I love these Champion undergarment shorts that I wear. They have lots of stretching room and breathable material. There’s no rubbing against the skin causing those horrid rashes in between the thighs, the material catches the sweat and the shorts go to a little above the knee. They’re great for winter and summer.

If you bike when it rains, what is your rain gear situation like? Are there products you’d recommend to fellow bicyclists? Unfortunately, I only have one item for rain: my rain jacket. It’s a Columbia jacket and is pretty breathable, but super warm for hot summer days. It keeps me dry, though.

Where do you work and where do you commute from (i.e. live in Shadyside and commute to Downtown)? I commute from West Mifflin to Downtown Pittsburgh.


Rachel Kartch

What type of clothing do you wear when you’re bike-commuting to work? Is there a specific garment that is your favorite for commuting? I wear the same clothes for biking that I do for work—mostly dresses and occasionally jeans. I find my style works well for biking because I wear a lot of knee-length or just above knee-length dresses in stretchy fabric, and they’re comfortable and easy to bike in. In winter I wear opaque tights underneath, which is modest enough; in warm weather when I’m bare-legged under my dresses, I will wear lycra shorts so I’m not flashing everyone on the road. Since my ride is short and not very sweaty in the morning, I don’t need to wear anything special for my commute or change clothes when I get there. I learned I can’t wear my 3” platform sandals since they increase my leg length enough that I would need to adjust my seat height when riding in order to get enough leg extension, so I’ll wear regular flat sandals or sneakers and change my shoes at the office.

If you bike when it rains, what is your rain gear situation like? Are there any products you’d recommend to fellow bicyclists? I will not bike to work if it’s raining in the morning, because I don’t want to have to change clothes when I get there. If it’s going to rain in the afternoon, I may chance it because I don’t care if I get wet on the way home. I just wear my regular work clothes, and wear my rain parka if it’s colder out, although I still get pretty wet. If it’s warm out I just get wet without the parka. However, I would love to get a good rain cape so that I can bike in the morning in the rain without needing a whole extra set of clothes. I do have waterproof panniers which are good for keeping all my stuff dry and I just need the cape for myself now.

Where do you work and where do you commute from (i.e. live in Shadyside and commute to Downtown)? My commute is short: I live in Bloomfield and commute to Oakland. It’s a moderate downhill on the way to work, which is perfect because I’m unlikely to sweat too much even on very warm mornings.


Thank you to everyone who participated and helped make this blog series possible. Check back every week for the next installment.

Stay safe and happy riding!

Gretchen Hershberger


 

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