Ask The Bean: Working with Helmet Hair

May 26, 2007 • Magazine

Ask The Bean: Working with Helmet Hair

Ask The Bean: Working with Helmet Hair

Sat, 2007-05-26 11:00

Biking to Work Without Breaking Your Style

Dear Bean,

I live and work in the city and bike to work during the week. I love saving time and money commuting by bicycle versus by car or public transit, but I can’t seem to walk into work without feeling like I have helmet hair or I need to iron my outfit in the bathroom. Can you give me some suggestions on how to still look professional at work after arriving by bike?


Crazed Commuter

Dear Crazed,

Congratulations on being commuter savvy; and what better timing for biking tips than during national bike month! However, I definitely understand your frustration — the routine of commuting safely to work by bicycle almost demands a whole change of outfit, hair and makeup upon arrival at work. In order to avoid carrying a suitcase of outfit alternates on your back, here are a few tips to ease out of your daily commute and into the office with style and ease.

First of all, gauge the length of your commute. The difference between 30 minutes and a couple blocks can be a decision-maker between the oxford and the jersey. Yet keep in mind that even if your commute is on the longer side, you are not in a triathlon so the padded bike shorts aren’t mandatory. They might be more comfortable, but we’re going for easy style transition here.

Now, this might go against fashionista doctrine, but keep one thing in mind before picking out your attire in the morning: Dress for safety before style. If you commute by bicycle in a city to work, you have to worry about cars, pedestrians and sometimes other cyclists. Wear clothing so others can see you, wear clothing that is comfortable and bicycle-friendly, and above-all wear a helmet. NOTE: look for helmets that are Snell/ANSI certified.

For visibility’s sake, the evening bike attire includes bright clothing or a reflective vest. Keep that in mind when leaving work in the daytime. And during your morning commute, try to wear a bright-colored helmet or even a colored scarf (think a modern-day Grace Kelly) to let other commuters know you’re on the road. Now with the concern being an effortless transition from bike to work, my advice is to wear as much of your work attire during your commute as you can. And if you’re concerned about the safety of your clothing, consider wearing protective clothing over your outfit. A good standard to keep on hand is a cycling jacket or vest that’s wind and water resistant. Gore-Tex is the popular standard in this category. When it’s too warm for the jacket and you’re concerned about the safety of your cardigan, try donning this adorable shrug by Sheila Moon featuring Dri-Fit Body Care fabric for moisture and UV protection.

Also take note that skirts can get stuck in the gears of your bicycle if they’re too long. If you want to err on the side of caution, stick with pants depending on your company dress code. And to ensure your slacks don’t rub on the chain ring, roll them up, stick them in your sock or use an ankle strap.

I’m sorry to say this, but heels simply do not work with bicycles. However, with the necessity of packing and carrying them with you, you have the phenomenal excuse to go shopping for the adorable bike-friendly backpack! Throw the heels in your bag and wear sneakers, sport sandals or cycling shoes. However, if you usually wear flats or loafers, you can still wear them during your commute without scuffing the finish by covering them with cycling booties or shoe covers. It’s not the most fashionable of options, but it might save some room in your bag for extra cosmetics. Cycling gloves are also a good investment for comfort and the essential protection of one’s manicure.

Along with those extra cosmetics, you’ll be surprised with all you can fit into a messenger bag or backpack while riding a bicycle. Think of packing your bike bag like packing a gym bag — what toiletries and outfit add-ons will you need when you get into work? It’s nearly impossible to look fresh and conference-ready right when you step off the bicycle, but it can be an easier transition than finding the nearest gym shower. Some items to consider having on hand include: hairbrush, travel hairspray, body wipes (look into the Dove body wipes for extra moisture and no alcohol), face blotting paper, deodorant, purse w/ wallet and other necessities, packed lunch, pair of shoes (wrapped in a separate shoe bag for protection), laptop, small jewelry bag, and extra clothing if needed. In order to free up room in your bag for work necessities, keep extra toiletries in your desk or office for the pre-workday primp.

With all this in mind, you will probably need an additional couple minutes to freshen up before settling into your desk. In order to feel clean and refreshed for work, give yourself an extra five minutes during your commute. Because the last thing you want while ensuring your stylish commute, is the stress of being late!

1. Showers Pass Women’s ELITE eVent Rain Jacket
2. Gore Bike Wear Gore-Tex City Overshoe
3. Gore Bike Wear Gore-Tex Sportive Jacket
4. Sheila Moon Bolero
5. Biking To Work
6. Louis Garneau Toe Covers
7. Louis Garneau ErgoAir Long Finger Glove
8. Timbuk2 Pro Series Messenger Bag

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