Fashion v. Function: Cycling Clothes

Biking around Claremont isn’t just a way to get from point A to point B: It is also a sport, a way to have fun, and, for some, a way to form a community. 

Gabi Guerra PO ’14 and Spencer Johnson PO ’14 are part of a group of Claremont Colleges students that began the Claremont Colleges Dope Bike Collective, a group passionate about biking that organizes events and rides. I was curious about how biking everywhere informs their daily fashion choices: Do they dress to bike or bike despite what they wear?

It appears that for both Guerra and Johnson, it hasn’t been necessary to make many adaptations to their daily garb to accommodate their mode of transportation. 

“The praxis of fashion and biking is all about flirting with disaster. Fashion disaster, with mismatching prints, clashing colors, topknots, scarves, pajamas, and hotel-carpet felted clogs,” Guerra said. “And literal disaster, by ensuring that my garb dangles dangerously close to the spokes of my wheels—that baggy pants and shoelaces occasionally catch inside bike gears and that hooded clothing obscures my perception of pedestrians and vehicles.” 

This may seem dangerous, but Guerra is confident about her risk-taking. 

“If the worst consequence of dressing and biking ‘on-the-edge’ is maybe falling off … well, worse things have happened,” she said. 

Worse things have happened, but safety is still a consideration on her daily rides. She encouraged using “U-locks for bike safety, helmets for general safety, [and] baby doll heads for style and sorcery.”

While Guerra depends upon the precariousness of dressing for biking to add a little thrill, Johnson doesn’t encounter a lot of safety problems with his clothes, but does find that biking has affected his style.

“Biking leaves its mark on my clothes despite, or perhaps because of, my lack of care in choosing biking-appropriate clothes. My favorite pair of pants now have a permanent splash of grease down the leg, which is actually one of the things I like most about them,” Johnson said.

Biking doesn’t just affect Johnson’s clothes. His bike is also an extension of his fashion, another element to his overall look.  

“When I switched from a mountain bike to a road bike years ago it was definitely an aesthetic choice, since I didn’t have much idea of the actual differences at the time,” he said. “I happen to love my current bright yellow bike, teddy bear included, even if it’s built like a tank and breaks down more often than I’d prefer.”

Clearly, dressing for a day of biking is about balance and adaptation: It’s about finding clothes that express yourself, while also being versatile enough to be able to bike around in them (and maybe get a little bike grease on them in the process).  

For more information on the Claremont Colleges Dope Bike Collective, you can visit

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