Cycling Shorts: Would You Wear The Look?

The athleisure trend is now undeniably mainstream, with trainers, joggers and hoodies fast becoming an everyday part of the fashion vernacular. But the latest off-shoot looks less likely to enter the mainstream: cycling shorts are everywhere right now, and our fashion ed isn’t convinced…

I don’t often pay much attention to what Kim Kardashian’s wearing. Other than a quick glance at Mail Online, or a flick through the comical Yeezy look books, KKW’s fashion choices aren’t hugely on my radar – it’s time-consuming enough to keep up with credible style influencers as it is. But sometimes a trend begins to emerge that could only have been spawned by the reality TV clan; impossibly skinny glasses came first (thanks Kendall), then ugly dad sneakers emerged (although Gigi and Bella can take some credit for that too). And now, the cycling short trend. Kim, Kourtney and the krew may have been lone proprietors of the look initially, but now everyone – from valid bloggers to industry insiders – is sporting the piece.

Annoyingly enough, Kim’s propensity towards the trend has been credited by US Vogue as the catalyst for its subsequent legitimacy. The magazine reported back in September 2017 that, thanks to Kim, “One of fashion’s most heinous trends (was) staging a comeback”, with everyone from Natacha Ramsay-Levi in her debut Chloé show to Dolce & Gabbana showcasing cycling shorts on their SS18 runways. Streetwear houses have, of course, also jumped on the look – Off-White, Y/Project and Alexander Wang have all created versions. But just because something prances down the catwalk, it doesn’t mean it will trickle down into the mainstream – for that, we have the mega influencers to thank.

Aside from their star following, why exactly are the masses embracing the look? Well, according to Kim’s stylist Elizabeth Sulcer, they’re surprisingly flattering: "They show off your legs in a different, more discrete sexy way”. I’m not sure discrete is the word I’d choose, but there’s no denying that if you’re looking to create sexy curves, cycling shorts will do the trick; perhaps that’s why the likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin and other bambi-legged models have been drawn to the style. Vogue declared them “the fresh, tomboyish alternative to the slinky party dress”, but I suspect it’s more the inverse that is wooing fans – the athleisure trend can feel unfeminine, unsexy and a little slovenly at times, and cycling shorts are the way around that.

The athleisure trend can feel unfeminine, unsexy and a little slovenly at times, and cycling shorts are the way to circumnavigate that.

If you are tempted to try the look, I suggest taking a leaf out of Christine Centenera’s book. The Vogue Australia fashion director’s cult capsule closet brand, Wardrobe NYC, now features a figure-hugging bike short, and the grown-up editor has been spotted layering the look with structured, longline blazers. This is a clever tactic for not revealing too much, whilst showing off your legs in a look that scores more contemporary fashion points than skinny trousers. Plus, the formality of a tailored jacket is the perfect juxtaposition – as with pulling off all athleisure trends, it’s about finding that elusive high-low balance.

Personally, I’ll be avoiding the look – fear of camel toe is enough to make me want to steer clear. But if you’re straight-up-and-down with a desire to embrace this summer’s trends, why not give them a go – with prices starting at £4 on the high street, you don’t have to have Kim’s bank balance to pull them off.

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