May 13, 2020

10 Ways To Style Your Bike Shorts This Summer

Just when we thought bike shorts had been fatefully cycled out of fashion, the skin-tight, knee-length activewear item has quickly re-emerged as a top stay-at-home staple this season (right up there next to sweatsuits and sourdough kits). Comfortable clothing has been key to getting us through life on lockdown, so as soon as it gets a bit too warm for even the lightest of leggings, it's only logical that we'd all be switching to a reduced version of the same exact thing. As a result, the bike short will no longer be returned to the '90s where it made its initial rise to fame on the legs of one off-duty Princess Diana. In fact, the only thing this particular piece is clinging to more tightly than our thighs is a spot in summer's trend lineup.

In addition to seeing more people spending time indoors even as states slowly start to reopen, we're anticipating a spike in the use of alternative methods of transportation as commuters aim to avoid that teeming pool of germs we call the subway. For many, this means getting reacquainted with their bicycles — and the outfits best suited to the occasion. No matter how you envision yourself navigating the next few months, the bike short is ready and raring to be of service. But we don't want to just embrace this timeworn trend... we want to give it a summer-ready refresh. So in addition to rounding up a selection of pairs for your consideration (there's only so much sweat one set of shorts can handle), we've included 10 styling tips to transition the style into warm weather wear.

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1. Keep it commuter-friendly


The bike short, at its core, was designed to be worn for actual exercising. So for anyone intending to be fashionable active this summer, pair your functional shorts with sneakers and a light sweater to keep cool while you're on the move. Stick within the same color palette for a look that feels elevated, and add a fanny pack to the mix for an equally practical piece that'll still earn you style points.


lululemon Align Short 6", $, available at lululemon

2. Less is more


This is summer we're talking about after all, and the next best thing to walking around in a straight-up bikini is rocking a barely-there ensemble that fits like a second skin. Think tiny tops, textured details, and subtly scalloped hems to set this look apart from your regular old activewear.

Intimately Lyla Bike Shorts, $, available at Free People

3. Break out the blazer


Two good things are better than one, and since the oversized blazer has proven to be a fabulous stay-at-home style item, why not layer it over your trusty bike shorts for the ultimate outfit pairing? Consider this a trendy take on the term "business casual."

And Other Stories Cycling Shorts, $, available at And Other Stories

4. Embrace the unitard


One trend we're sure will take off this season is the one-hit-wonder known as the unitard. It simplifies outfit planning by offering you all the look with a fraction of the effort. So let your biker shorts live within this item and just add chunky sneakers and a visible sock to achieve that whole subtle norm-core-meets-off-duty-gymnast thing.

PrettyLittleThing Cotton Ruched Bust Unitard, $, available at PrettyLittleThing

5. Add a little denim to the mix

Name one summer look that doesn't look good under a denim jacket — we dare you. This classic piece of outerwear will certainly get along with your bike shorts while giving off all sorts of effortless-cool vibes.

Billie the Label Peggy Short, $, available at Billie Official

6. Compare and contrast


When your bottoms are stuck-to-the-skin levels of sleek, balance them out on top with a boxier silhouette. We're very into the with the way this cropped jacket hovers over the waistline in stark comparison to its slim-fitting counterpart. Another option for achieving this look is to opt for an oversized sweatshirt à la '90s-era Diana.

Universal Standard Knockout Bike Shorts, $, available at Universal Standard

7. Get matchy-matchy


The simplest way to style bike shorts is to buy them as part of a matching set. Using both pieces as your base, accessorize on top of it with funky sunglasses or an OTT scrunchy. Coordinating with a friend is not required, but we do recommend it for major matchy matchy-ness.

Girlfriend Collective Agave High-Rise Bike Short, $, available at Girlfriend Collective

8. Pile on the patterns


Maybe you find bike shorts boring. Maybe you'd like them to stay put in the world of workout gear. But look no further than indie brands like Abacaxi for inspiration and you'll find designers who have managed to adopt the trend as part of a more eclectic aesthetic through the use of bright patterns and unexpected fabrics. Top the shorts off with an extra dose of prints and you've got yourself a look that's full-on fashion.

Abacaxi Smocked Shorts, $, available at Abacaxi

9. Mix ladylike pieces


After sliding into your best pair of bike shorts, throw on an unexpected refined item like a cardigan and slip on a pair of mules for a dainty meets sporty look. Surprisingly, it won't turn out to look as oscillating as it sounds.

Storets Andrea Biker Shorts, $, available at Storets

10. Wear 'em under a skirt


Let us not forget one of the most utilitarian reasons for wearing bike shorts — they allow us to do cartwheels in skirts (or err, ride a bike) without having a little show-and-tell accident. It can also be a purposeful styling choice under a sheer skirt for a '80s Madonna Virgin tour look.


Adidas Adicolor Cycling Shorts, $, available at SSENSE
10. Color block

Staud x New Balance Performance Bike Short Kelly, $, available at Staud

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

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