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Around this time of year, a two-wheeled jaunt through the city starts to look pretty good—provided you can do it without looking like a bike messenger. To help you face down the considerable challenge of looking good on a bike, we sat down with Aldan Shank of Seattle’s Hub and Bespoke—a combination bike shop and boutique—for a primer on sophisticated bike style.

What do you think of the state of American bike style?
It’s strange. In Copenhagen nobody wears helmets. Everyone just wears plain everyday clothes. We’re trying to do is get to that, but it takes a little transitioning. I don’t think people think of themselves as bikers or cyclists. The bicycle is just a tool. It’s something that everyone has. I’ve heard one person refer to it as a like a vacuum. Everybody has a vacuum but nobody talks about it, nobody calls themselves a vacuumist. People who are vacumming don’t wave to each other when they see each other. So they would think it’s absurd to change their clothes into a special biking outfit. Theyre just wearing what they wear to work or going about their daily routine. When you look at Copenhagen Cycle Chic you see women in skirts and dresses, men in full business suits.

Here, it’s different. Part of that is that you’ve got weather considerations and sometimes you’ve got hills, but there’s a middle ground where you can slow it down a little bit, and wear something that’s meant to be stylish. Normal clothing, but with a few extra considerations in the way it’s cut to make it work better for movement.

What about stuff that’s already in your closet?
Generally speaking, you don’t want a bunch of loose clothing, things that could get caught in chains and spokes and that sort of deal. But there are ways around that. I don’t want to say no loose clothing because that rules out dresses and skirts and it’s possible for girls to ride in those.

But the slim pant is going to do better than the boot cut.
Yeah. You don’t need super-tight jeans, but something a little trimmer. Since we’re in Seattle and it’s so weather-oriented, we tend to use a lot of wool, especially in a base layer like an Ibex Woolie. It just breaths really well and regulates your body temperature really well. It also doesn’t smell up quite as fast as a lot of synthetic fibers.

What clothes wouldn’t you recommend?
Too much cotton. Especially around here, where it can rain any time of day. If you sweat at all, cotton just soaks it up, so it can make for an uncomfortable ride. And once you get where you’re going, cotton takes a long time to dry out so you basically have to bring along a change of clothes. I would stay away from wearing jeans and cotton shirts in general. If it’s a clear, cool day, it can work great, but I usually don’t chance it.

Aldan Shank is co-founder of Hub and Bespoke in Seattle.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom