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You may be on your way to work, a night out, or just to hang out with friends on a sunny afternoon. Whatever the occasion, if you want to wear a dress or a skirt, there’s no reason for this to stop you from hopping on your bike. It can be perfectly practical to cycle in a dress – either through choice, or necessity.
When looking for cycling clothing for our bottom half, we’re bombarded with options for trousers or shorts – no matter what kind of ride we’re undertaking. There are trousers, including jeans and chinos, to suit every kind of cycling journey.
However, it’s fair to say that dresses and skirts are barely included within the huge range of bike clothing on offer.
Can You Cycle in a Dress or a Skirt?
Yes, you can cycle in a dress or a skirt! Technically, you can cycle in almost anything. The real question is, can you cycle comfortably and safely in a dress or a skirt?
The answer is still yes. There are a variety of ways to make it easy and safe, without even spending any money.
As kids, we used to tuck our skirts into our underwear. However, if you’re not keen on everyone you pass seeing what colour of pants you’re wearing, don’t worry! There are plenty of other solutions.
The first, and obvious one, regardless of the type of skirt/dress you’re wearing (or bike you’re riding), is to wear a pair of shorts or leggings underneath. Problem solved! Your modesty will remain intact, regardless of how flowy your skirt is.
The second, and more serious problem, is how to prevent a dress or a skirt from getting caught up in your bike wheels. Not only is this extremely dangerous, it could also destroy your favourite piece of clothing.
Is it Hard to Bike in a Dress?
It’s not hard to cycle in a dress, as long as you adapt the dress to make it suitable and safe to ride in. There are various ways to do this. You can purchase accessories like dress clips, which help to keep the dress weighted and contained. However, there are simple DIY hacks too.
Consider the type of bike you’re riding. If you’re riding a step-through bike (like a city or Dutch-style bike) it’ll be much easier to get on and off when wearing a dress. But if your bike has a crossbar, and you’re wearing a pencil skirt without much stretch, it’s going to be pretty awkward to swing your leg over.
Let’s assume you do have a crossbar. Cycling in a short, stretchy skirt will be easy enough, but it will inevitably ride up as you pedal – so don’t forget that pair of shorts underneath!
However, if you’re riding in a mid-length, flowy skirt, you need a way to gather in the excess material.
Tie a Knot
One of the quickest and easiest things to do is to tie a knot in your skirt. Essentially, you want to collect as much material as possible, and secure it to prevent it flapping into the wheels – or into your face!
You can tie a knot at the front, or two knots at the sides. Make sure you’re sitting on the back of the skirt, and it’s not hanging down over the wheel.
The only downside to this is that a knot can scrunch up the material, and the skirt may look a bit crumpled afterwards. Don’t worry – there are other solutions too.
Turn Your Skirt/Dress Into Shorts
Take the back hem of your skirt and pull it through your legs to the front. Pull it up, and attach it to the top of the skirt with a clip. You can also tuck it into your belt, if you have one. And there you have it – an instant, makeshift pair of shorts!
Weigh the Skirt Down
A reasonably heavy office binder clip will work for this. Simply clip it onto the bottom hem of the dress to keep the skirt down as you ride.
(You can also use a dress clip for this, which we’ll talk more about below.)
Penny in Yo’ Pants Bike Trick
This is a brilliant hack, created by blogger and cycling enthusiast Johanna Holtan. Using a penny and a rubber band, you can make your skirt cycling-safe in the most ingenious way.
It’s a simple, two-step process:
- Take a penny (or any other coin). Put it behind your skirt, and push it between your legs. The coin should be covered by the fabric at both the front and back of the skirt.
- Next, wrap a rubber band around the fabric and coin, fastening it, and holding the material together. It should look a little like a button.
Voila, you’ve made a makeshift pair of shorts! Simple, but very effective on short or medium-length skirts and dresses.
How to Ride a Bike in a Long Dress
Safety is a key issue when cycling in a long dress. Weighing the hem down isn’t going to stop all that material finding its way into the wheels. Therefore I’d recommend tying a knot or two, or pulling the back hem through and securing it to the top of the skirt, making a longer pair of ‘shorts’.
You could also consider getting a skirt guard. These attach to the bike, usually covering the top part of the wheel and the chain. They can help prevent your dress getting caught up, or dirty. However, even if you’re using a skirt guard, I would advise gathering up some of the material as well.
Cycling Dress Clips
A cycling dress clip, such as the Nomonro Dress Clip, is a specially designed accessory that attaches to the bottom hem of your dress or skirt. They keep the front and back of your garment together and weigh it down. These can be magnetic, or have a snap clip fastener.
They’re small and easy to carry around when not in use, and can come in very attractive designs. You can read our thoughts on the Nomonro Dress Clip here.
Women’s Cycling Dresses
Whether you’re wearing a cycling-specific dress/skirt or otherwise, the important thing is to be able to move, and to be comfortable. Stretchy, synthetic materials are best, especially with tighter skirts, as cotton doesn’t wick moisture as effectively.
We’ve chosen some dresses that will not only keep you dry and comfortable, but are suitable for any occasion.
This versatile and attractive skirt, created by the environmentally-friendly Forest and Fin clothing shop, came to our attention some time ago. You can read the Discerning Cyclist review here.
With a hidden fastening system and two removable fabric straps, you won’t need any DIY hacks to prevent this skirt from flying around as you ride. It also has a hidden pocket, and a removable hip pouch, offering plenty of storage for your valuables.
Available in four colours, this stylish, lightweight, and sleeveless dress is perfect for summer commuting. It also wouldn’t look out of place on a beach, in the park, or at a party.
Made of a moisture-wicking, stretch fabric, you can stay chic and fresh wherever you’re cycling to.
Yes it’s a mouthful, but this is a great dress for those looking for something cheap, flexible and fun to cycle in. Made of a high-stretch nylon fabric that absorbs sweat, and dries quickly, this is an ideal casual dress for energetic rides.