I’ve changed, and it’s because I’m wearing bike shorts.
It was about half way through Tāmaki Makaurau’s lockdown that I finally bought a pair, three years after they became a ‘thing’, worn mostly by the Kardashians and celebrities in paparazzi photos. Bike shorts and athleisure is distinctly not my vibe (I am rarely seen not in a dress or skirt), but spending so much time at home in a state of perpetual anxiety must have shifted something in my brain - and it said, ‘girlie, get over your issues about your thighs and embrace comfort’.
I know I’m extremely behind the times on this; an oversized-blazer-with-bike-shorts has been a street style go-to for years, and the Yeezy look has evolved many times over. I also know that they’re pretty divisive.
But this is a fashion item on par with the face mask to define this moment in our lives. Every second person is wearing a pair in my neighbourhood, and I have friends who, like me, are the last people you would expect to see wearing bike shorts but who, like me, caved and bought some.
For me, bike shorts are actually less about athleisure and more reminiscent of my ‘80s and ‘90s childhood: wearing them under skirts and dresses so I could climb trees and do cartwheels while not flashing my knickers. They’re Saved by the Bell, Clarissa Explains it All (maybe Blossom). They’re Cher and Dionne on the tennis court in Clueless.
For others, bike shorts immediately conjure images of Princess Diana on the go (“Am I…. Princess Diana?” goes the TikTok trend).
Today though, they’re symbolic of shifting priorities, more confidence in the fact that my thighs are my thighs, and they are completely fine - or perhaps, simply just a sign of giving up on the idea of ever wearing tailoring again.
Here, a few bike short options that have caught my eye...
Hara bike shorts, about $70
I was influenced to buy a pair of these (in brown but I was tempted by the ‘honey’ shade pictured here) after my friend Lucy Slight shared her own purchase, raving about how soft and comfortable they were. And they really are! They’re made from bamboo with natural plant-based dyes, and they look and feel like the type of shorts you could go for a walk in and spend the whole day lazing around in bed in. They remind me of the bike shorts I wore as a child. Delightful!
Nisa bike shorts, $121
With pockets to stash your essentials and a super soft recycled nylon that is actually functional, they are a great sportier option for people who actually want to wear their bike shorts to do more than just sit around the house. That is not me, but Rebecca really rates these.
Gil Rodriguez bike shorts, about $90
Another friend bought these over lockdown and they come highly recommended; probably my next bike short purchase. They’re a great mid-thigh length with a high-waist, and a soft but sturdy cotton spandex. And lots of fun colours!
Wardrobe.NYC bike shorts, $290
Super stylist and Vogue Australia fashion director Christine Centenera is partly to blame for the rise of bike shorts worn as a fashion statement, having styled Kim Kardashian in the past as well as Yeezy and Off-White shows. The oversized tailored blazer worn with a pair of black bike shorts and heels look that was everywhere in 2018? Very Christine. She channeled the influence of her sporty/sexy aesthetic - and genuine personal style - into her own brand which, of course, offers a very simple and functional pair.
Boody bike shorts, $66
I have to be honest: I don’t know much about this brand, other than that they offer basics made from bamboo fabrications and I see it pop up on Instagram a fair bit. I haven’t worn any of their bike shorts myself, but Jess Molina has regularly shared how much she loves her Boody pieces - and I trust her opinion!
Sure, these are not technically bike shorts. They’re fancy, luxurious cashmere shorts. But don’t they look comfortable? They hint at the idea of being active, while rejecting the premise entirely. They’re for lounging at home, chicly and comfortably, teamed with your best gold jewellery.