I’m going to let you in on a secret – I’m a cross-dresser at the weekend! I am super comfortable today in a pair of men’s commuter trousers – lightweight, windproof, stretchy and high-waisted, and a steal at 60% off! I’m guessing these were left on the rail because not many men actually have the junk in the trunk that these trousers seem to be designed to accommodate. I do love a bargain, especially when it fits my ass so well.
My kit locker represents several years of trial and error – and cycling kit manufacturers have improved massively in the cut, quality, variety and size of women’s kit. There are some beautiful print jerseys now, from across the big brands and bold startups alike. My best shorts hold me in like the most comfortable pair of Spanx that I could wear all day. Even my socks seem to be just so. Ladies, we have the luxury of great choice and fit, finally!
But there’s more out there to find, and not necessarily in the women’s aisle. Obviously helmets, socks, gloves and caps are pretty unisex as long as you get the right size. As are bikes! Have a look at the jerseys and shoes though. Tomorrow I’ll be riding in chartreuse – a not-quite-hi-viz-yellow shade jersey that’s not quite the same any other hi-viz-yellow and I’m afraid I do have to be matchy-matchy. But a long sleeve women’s jersey wasn’t available, so it was either go with the guys’ one, or go home. I was really unsure about buying anything designed for men – I’m curvy and proudly so – and mens’ jerseys are so square. So I’m expecting this one to either squash my boobs and suffocate me, or bag at the waist and shoulders.
Pleasantly, it does neither, although it comes up very short in the front. The bottom of the zip just comes over the waistband of my tights, and the sleeves are very long. The fabric is gorgeous though, lovely stretch, washes beautifully, warm but not hot, and very visible on dark and gloomy winter rides. On a roll, I try a windproof gilet next, and am not disappointed. Stretchy side panels mean I can take a medium comfortably, you’d never know it was a men’s one, and it’s only £20! I don’t think I could get away with anything in a mens’ cut that had less forgiving fabric, e.g. a hardshell or a gilet without stretch, and I’ll only ever wear women’s kit on the bottom half, obvs. But I would recommend checking out the mens’ range for jerseys and accessories, particularly at sale time. Overstocking is more likely in mens’ ranges, because it’s a much bigger market – and you could find some real end-of-line bargains. I also like to / have to try mens’ shoes. A lot of brands start theirs at a size UK7 and cycling shoes tend to come up quite narrow, which suits a lot of women well.
So next time you’re browsing the sale pages, think again about checking that ‘female’ filter, and try a bit of cross dressing!