WINTER LOOKS I spend a lot of time convincing my friends that we should ride our bikes places, and the main pushback I get is due to the fact that they don’t want to look like they just got off a bike.
It’s faulty reasoning. Leaving aside how attractive environmental awareness is, anyone who has ever checked out the Vélo Vogue style blog or the global family of Copenhagen Chic websites knows that a bike can make an already-stylish outfit look sexy in a precarious, fly-by-night way. Think about watching someone run gracefully in heels.
Honestly, I don’t think you need a special wardrobe to be bangin’ on a bike. A tip that I do tend to pay mind to: high-waisted pants are your friends. A man once stopped me when my thong had risen above my denim horizon to ask me if I had no modesty. A cretin, yes — but his brand of stick-up-assery is easily mitigated by a kicky pair of retro mom jeans. Also, fear not the high heel, but rather the boot or flat with little heel-arch delineation — unless you have toe cages, in which case you can wear nearly any footwear you like as long as the cages are tight enough, even flip-flops.
Of course, if you are wearing flip-flops in San Francisco you have larger style issues, ones that may not be resolved by reading about bike brands that are crafting clothes that are at once sturdy enough to brave the biting winds and occasional damp of winter months, yet are still exciting and stylish. For the rest of us, such is the list that follows.
RAPHA CYCLE COMPANY
This Italian bike brand’s Marina café-store could be the perfect spot to begin your quest for cold weather gear. First of all: coffee. Four Barrel percolates in a cafe tucked away in the corner of the sales floor — which is mainly occupied by a long communal table where riders mingle on their way out to the foggy Marin hills or the grocery store. Clothing-wise, the selection isn’t huge, but Rapha’s urban wear is well-made and classy. Straight-leg men’s jeans are made with a blend of nylon, cotton, and elastane yarn, with a waist cut higher in the back, and shiny stuff inside for when you roll up them cuffs.
2198 Filbert, SF. (415) 896-4671, www.rapha.cc
I’ve yet to see a more versatile option for biking in the rain than this Seattle brand’s silver-gray cape. There’s a front pouch to keep your keys in, and ample ruching options to allow onlookers a glimpse at what you’ve got going on underneath. It’s like a blanket, a sexy, functional, water-repellant blanket.
Perhaps you’ll stop by this bike shop nook in Duboce Triangle for a special edition Unicanitor-Barry McGee saddle — just don’t forget to check out what’s on offer that’ll make your morning commute drier. Histogram arm warmers promise extra sleeve coverage, there’s henleys and rain trenches for the taking, and Bay Area-made Inside Line Equipment water-proof backpacks will set you apart from the omnipresent Chrome crowd.
733 14th St., SF. (415) 448-6611, www.mashsf.com
This label from Brooklyn makes subdued designs functional enough that “they” won’t blink an eye if you have to follow that polished dismount with a day at work, and then with a night tramping around town. I’m a particular fan of the women’s daily riding pant, made of doubleweave twill. The fabric is smooth enough to shred the city streets, and comes in fetching blues and gray that’ll last you through spring.
But perhaps none of these items are quite what you are looking for. Sweets, if that’s the case — and if you’re the type to buy signature pieces that last you for years, cuz these pricetags are no joke — you should go to Oakland’s Nan Eastep. Her B.Spoke Tailor line births custom-made biking raincoats with extra-long sleeves that don’t make coat-backs pull across shoulderblades. Or try her capes. Why not, you now qualify as a fashion superhero.
(510) 435-3890, www.bspoketailor.com