Sunday, 14 August 2011

The psychology of clothing

I've written about bike clothing before - mainly pointing out how silly it all is when taken out of context. But I realised today something fairly obvious but something that seemed at the time to be a major revelation. Now, I'm sure when people read this major revelation, they'll think "um, yeah, that's obvious", but the fact I consider it a major revelation says a lot about my attitude to clothing in general.
Off the bike, I wear the following outfits.
  • For work, jeans, t-shirt, sometimes a shirt if I'm meeting someone external or very important. I have a pair of shoes too. They're brown and casual.
  • For evenings at home, I wear whatever I had on at work. I might change out of the shirt though. And I take off my shoes.
  • For weekends, jeans, t-shirt and the same pair of shoes. Can you see a pattern emerging?
  • Now, how about "evenings out"? A birthday meal, or a night on the town? Well, obviously I'm going to wear jeans, a "going-out" shirt and my shoes. You know, the brown ones.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.... that's about it. My attitude to non-bike clothing is very much "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Normal clothing is not particularly important to me. Besides, I like my brown shoes.

Now I've put some context around my attitude to clothing, I can let you in on the revelation.

I am very picky about what I wear on the bike.
What I wear affects how I ride.
I know. Astounding. You might imagine that I have a simple range of tops, shorts and one pair of shoes that I use for everything. Not so. I choose on style, colour, practicality, warmth, fit and even fashion. Take today for example -  a singlespeed mountain bike ride. Firstly, mountain bike generally means looser fit unless I'm racing. Colour is less important as being seen by drivers is not as much of a consideration.  Indeed, blending into the countryside is almost an advantage. Singlespeed is also more laid back in attitude than normal mountain biking therefore I'm more likely to wear clothing with "wanker" written on it.

Some general guidelines to get you started.
  • Road. Tight lycra, as little as you can get away with. A modicum of colour but stay away from fluorescants. Matching is important. Red top = red gloves. Black and white top = white gloves. Remember, first get the look, then get the speed. Shoes must match the weather. Don't wear white shoes in the rain. Roadie clothing makes me want to ride fast and hard. I find gentle rides in lycra almost impossible.
  • Mountain Bike - bimbling. Baggies, loose top, casual shoes. Can use some colour but avoid bright unless you're trying to make a statement. Casual shoes = casual riding. Flow, relax, look at the birds and the trees and the deer and the flowers.
  • Mountain Bike - training. Baggies, tighter top, race shoes. More colour is acceptable. Team shirts are allowed. Now I'm concentrating on being smooth and being fast.
  • Mountain Bike - racing. The only time lycra should be worn off road. Essentially, roadie look with different shoes and less colour matching. Breathing will be heavy and laboured.
  • Singlespeed. Naked is best, otherwise rough shorts and sandals. Wellies in the winter. Breathing is not important.
Remember the brown all purpose shoes? I have seven pairs of bike shoes. As Lance said, it's not about the bike.

It's about the look.
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