Author Topic: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)  (Read 5688 times)

superone!

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Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« on: March 01, 2016, 10:16:42 PM »
So-- I know there have been threads on this in the past...I need help with my work wardrobe.

I recently started a job that requires a much fancier level of dress--think suits or at least blazers every day. (My previous job was a t-shirt and jeans kind of place). My new commute is 2-3 miles by bike (depending on route). I need to build a new, mustachian wardrobe of nice looking professional clothes that I can either bike in or stash in my pannier bags without getting wrinkled.

Some considerations:
1. I don't have my own office space--which means leaving blazers/dress clothes at the office isn't super easy to do. I can get away with maybe one blazer on a hook, but that's not going to fly for every day.
2. There is a gym where I can change, and even shower--though a 3 mile ride doesn't exactly break a sweat most mornings, so I'm fine riding in work clothes :)
3. I've been operating with a capsule wardrobe for the past year or so and love it--but that was a lot easier to do when I didn't have to have fancy work clothes which aren't exactly what I'd normally wear. I'd love to try to do a 2 capsule system for work and play --but the key is to keep it easy.
4. I'm a lady. So far I've been doing nice dresses that I can ride in with a blazer tucked into my bag or sometimes skirt suits with bike shorts underneath. Occasionally pants, but I only have one pair of dress pants that I can ride a bike in without risking a rip :)
5. I live in southern CA, so weather's not as much of an issue for me as it would be for some.

Ideas? I pretty much have to spend some money on a few new work friendly pieces, so advice about where to buy quality stuff and also what types of business stuff is also ride friendly is really appreciated!

zhelud

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 08:37:20 AM »
Can you negotiate for a little hanging storage space at your office?  Maybe there is a closet somewhere that isn't very full.
I keep quite a few of my clothes folded up in a big filing cabinet. I also store shoes in one of the drawers.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 08:57:04 AM »
Immediately after waking up, dress and bike to work.  Shower and put your clothes on there.

You won't lose any time at all, will be able to dress all fancy, can keep your stinky clothes hidden away from everyone else, and get to make your work pay for the water you use showering.  It's win-win-win-win.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 09:00:21 AM »
Can you get space at work to install an IKEA storage unit with doors to store your clothes in? I did that for one job. It doesn't take up a lot of space or look unprofessional in an office space. It will hold a week+ worth of clothes easily as well as other personal items you might have. It's not expensive.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 09:03:24 AM »
I like a more slender stretchy dress pant tucked into boots or with dressy flats for work.  On top of that, a myriad of blouses and blazers work just fine.  For me, work is outdoors but I still need to look professional in my meetings.  The slender pant is good for active movement (wont get caught in the bike gears) and you can vary the shoes depending on the occasion.




Parizade

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 09:26:26 AM »
These 4 pieces are NOT cheap, but they are good quality. You can comfortably bike a few miles in them, or you can stick them in your panniers and they will look fine for work when you pull them out.

This is really all you need for work clothing. Add accessories, like scarves or bold jewelry, to vary the look day by day.  Buy cheaper knit shirts in trendy colors for more variety. Add a black skirt later if you like, just be sure it's a fabric that will not be wrinkled when you pull it out whatever bag you pack it in.

Good luck!

http://www.eddiebauer.com/product/women--39-s-infinity-button-down-shirt/23150292/_/A-ebSku_0310460302000060__23150292_catalog10002_en__US?showProducts=&backToCat=Women&previousPage=SCAT&tab=travex&color=529

http://www.eddiebauer.com/product/women--39-s-voyager-ii-jacket/21104583/_/A-ebSku_0110736400001002__21104583_catalog10002_en__US?showProducts=&backToCat=Women&previousPage=SCAT&tab=travex&color=100

http://www.eddiebauer.com/product/women--39-s-hasten-5-pocket-pants/20902430/_/A-ebSku_0097009100001002__20902430_catalog10002_en__US?showProducts=&backToCat=Women&previousPage=SCAT&tab=travex&color=100

http://www.eddiebauer.com/product/Women-s-Aster-Balance-Dress/23150338/_/A-ebSku_0311205390000040__23150338_catalog10002_en__US?showProducts=111&previousPage=type&pSrch=aster

merula

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 09:44:36 AM »
I also work in a professional office setting, I started biking in the summer last year, and I'm basically a blazer addict. First step is to pack your blazers so they don't wrinkle: http://lifehacker.com/5936489/the-best-way-to-fold-and-pack-a-suit-jacket.

Second, would "ankle"-type pants work for your body type? Something like this, http://www.thelimited.com/product/lexie-collection-ankle-pants/369357321440700.html, though obviously that pricetag is high. I've bought pants like that from Goodwill and been pretty happy with them, and they're very professional (at least in my workplace). If not, I see two options: (1) stick with skirts, either biking with them or packing them by rolling, or (2) get center-crease pants, fold on the crease, and pack by wrapping around your folded blazer. The center crease means that the inevitable fold lines work in your favor.

Capsule wardrobe: My suggestion would be 3-4 pants/skirts, 5 shirts or shells (I'm a big fan of shells; sleeveless is great for biking and they somehow look *more* professional than a shirt under a blazer), 6-7 blazers and some broaches, statement necklaces, scarves, etc. Make sure everything "goes" (i.e. either black/grey, blue/grey or blue/brown) and that you get enough variety by mixing stuff up.

I have bought enough from my local goodwill to actually make that capsule wardrobe, so you don't have to spend a lot to get there, but you do need to be somewhat patient, depending on what your local thrift stores are like.

HappyHoya

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2016, 09:48:34 AM »
I don't have a place to shower or change at the office, so I bike in a dress I can move enough in with athletic leggings underneath, which I swap for hose when I get to the office. I have three dresses by a company called MM LaFleur, which I got at a sample sale when they were just starting up. It's a cool company and I'd recommend them for a lot of reasons, but I don't want to sound like a sales pitch here (let me know in a message if you want a referral code which can give you a discount). They make lots of dresses that are machine washable and look great and tailored despite having adequate stretch to move in. Make sure to check the style because not all of them are equally low-maintenance. Two of my dresses are the exact same style in different colors, I just change up cardigans and accessories. I get compliments on my outfits a lot, and I'm reasonably sure they are sincere ;)

CheapskateWife

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« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 10:18:38 AM by CheapskateWife »

marcela

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2016, 11:01:10 AM »
Second, would "ankle"-type pants work for your body type? Something like this, http://www.thelimited.com/product/lexie-collection-ankle-pants/369357321440700.html, though obviously that pricetag is high.

Most of my work pants are from the Limited and I've yet to pay more than $20 a pair. Right now, there's some tan skinny ankle pants on there for $17. The limited pants don't wrinkle easily and the machine wash well. No dry cleaning bills to worry about.

:)

hyla

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2016, 03:19:50 PM »
I think a classic knit dress, blazer, tights, and dressy boots would be practical for biking and looking office appropriate.  I actually prefer biking in dress/tights/boots to pants for short trips around town, because I find tights dry out faster than pants if you do sweat or get rained on, and boots keep your feet dry and don't get stuck in the chain like pants can!

KCM5

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2016, 03:39:56 PM »
How about get a bike that's friendly to fancy schmancy work clothes?

Upright, step through, enclosed chain. I have a Gazelle, which is a Dutch bike, That basically means I can wear whatever I want. I do have to put shorts under my shorter skirts if I'm not wearing hose in order to prevent chafing. Other than that, no special clothes required. Also, biking in heals is easier than walking in them.


superone!

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 09:00:58 PM »
This is great! Thank you all! I'll have to look through all of the posts and respond. :)

I think that some of the eddie bauer stuff isn't quite schmancy enough for the new job, unfortunately. (Though I like it!) The MM LaFleur site is fantastic--if expensive! I've been looking at sites like Everlane (which I like for ethical reasons) and modcloth (which is just cute) but the real key is just stuff that won't wrinkle or be awkward to ride in. My problem is finding the right fabrics that are nice looking and wash and wear.

My problem is that I'm feeling under-dressed wearing dresses with cardigans or other "business casual" stuff--This place is really more business formal, which I don't have a lot of experience with!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 09:22:09 PM by superone! »

Parizade

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2016, 05:35:17 AM »
My problem is that I'm feeling under-dressed wearing dresses with cardigans or other "business casual" stuff--This place is really more business formal, which I don't have a lot of experience with!

aha, that helps! in that case I would go with Pendleton (tricotine or wool, stay away from their cotton and silk if you want to avoid wrinkles). I have a pair of their tricotine "destination pants" and a pair of their wool pants and consider both to be good investments (I wore the wool pants to an international formal government banquet in China and got TONS of compliments).

The tricotine is washable (machine or hand, I wash it out by hand when traveling, it dries overnight) and doesn't wrinkle. Plus the drape is very elegant.
http://www.pendleton-usa.com/product/Women/TRAVEL-TRICOTINE-DESTINATION-PANTS/168236/c/1815.uts

The wool is dry clean only but wool is so breathable you don't need to clean it as often. A wool blazer or skirt will only need dry cleaning 2-3 times a year. Wool pants will need cleaning more often, but I just carefully pull out and hand wash the lining when traveling.

High-quality no-iron shirts would also be a good investment. I recommend Lands End
http://www.landsend.com/products/womens-long-sleeve-no-iron-shirt/id_285048?sku_0=::WHI


marcela

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2016, 06:59:53 AM »
My problem is that I'm feeling under-dressed wearing dresses with cardigans or other "business casual" stuff--This place is really more business formal, which I don't have a lot of experience with!
Try swapping the cardigan for a blazer. Just keep one or two in a neutral colour in the office and put it on when you get to work. Same with heels vs flats if your workplace is one that holds to the flats are unprofessional line of thinking.
Business formal really means you should be in a full coordinated suit. Find a brand that you like that does colour matching and pick up two jackets and pants and skirts to suit up. You can rotate in dresses with the previously mentioned blazers. Ponte fabric will hold up well and not wrinkle much.

Good luck!

MBot

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2016, 08:32:19 AM »
I second (third?) the suggestion of finding ponte pants and blazers. Great fabric

superone!

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2016, 12:27:25 AM »
This is seriously helpful. I hadn't even heard of ponte before! It is indeed a suited-up kind of place, though I think I can get away with sheath dress + blazer too.

Currently I own one navy wool suit, with a blazer and a matching pants and a skirt. (Unfortunately I bought it when I was about 5-10lbs lighter, so the pants are still wearable, but *not* bikeable!).

I'm off on a ponte hunt! thank you! These websites are also really helpful!

Parizade

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2016, 04:10:01 AM »
This is seriously helpful. I hadn't even heard of ponte before! It is indeed a suited-up kind of place, though I think I can get away with sheath dress + blazer too.

Currently I own one navy wool suit, with a blazer and a matching pants and a skirt. (Unfortunately I bought it when I was about 5-10lbs lighter, so the pants are still wearable, but *not* bikeable!).

I'm off on a ponte hunt! thank you! These websites are also really helpful!

Get thee to a tailor! the wool suit can be altered and they say navy is the new black.

My only caution about ponte is that is doesn't breathe like wool. If you sweat while biking the ponte will get stinky, so you might want to change into it after you get to work. Good news is it doesn't wrinkle easily, so roll it up into your panniers without worry. Wool doesn't wrinkle easily either, so if you can't bike in the suit just bring it with and change at work.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2016, 04:46:12 AM by Parizade »

laufen

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2016, 04:40:11 AM »
Not much to add other than
1. stay far away from "pencil" skirts
2. consider a dutch bike
3. clips for your trouser cuffs while biking

Regarding the skirt, they are really hard to pedal in generally restrict movement. I've ripped a few while riding my own dutch bike.
Regarding the bike, the dutch style step in is easier to get on and off of in a suit.

merula

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2016, 07:27:20 AM »
I had another thought on how to avoid ripped pants: aftermarket chain guard! If you buy a city or "Dutch" style bike, it'll come with this, but you don't have to shell out that kind of money if you like your bike and just want something to prevent ruining your pants. They're like $20-$30.

Something like this: https://www.universalcycles.com/shopping/product_details.php?id=29418&category=54

If you're not sure what would work for your bike, you can go to any decent bike shop and they'll be able to help you.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Bike-friendly fancy schmancy work clothes (ladies)
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2016, 04:20:59 AM »
If you sweat, wear a t shirt under whatever you're wearing while you cycle. Get to work, go to loo, extract sweaty t shirt and put into bag, taking all the fresh sweat with it.