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Bum steer: how cycling shorts became the height of fashion

Cycling shorts, as seen on the Dolce & Gabbana catwalk.
Cycling shorts, as seen on the Dolce & Gabbana catwalk. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Name: Black cycling shorts.

Appearance: Black cycling shorts.

What are they? Black cycling shorts.

Ah, yes. I think I’ve seen these. Are they the things I get stuck behind whenever I drive uphill on a sunny Saturday? That’s right. Cycling shorts are tight, stretchy leg coverings that stop above the knee and often contain the bottom, thighs and genitals of an obsessive pedaller.

Oh, believe me, I can see exactly what they contain. I have to stare at them for hours while I wait to overtake. My sympathies.

But it is practical to wear them for a long bike ride, I suppose. Absolutely. They are aerodynamic and allow your legs to move freely while you exercise. And they keep you relatively warm and dry.

I achieve the same effect by placing myself inside some kind of building, such as a house or pub. Each to their own. But, of course, cycling shorts are at the cutting edge of fashion.

No, they’re not. Oh yes they are. Black cycling shorts were part of Dior’s and Dolce & Gabbana’s latest catwalk shows. Both Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid have recently been seen wearing them.

While pedalling up Ditchling Beacon? No. While prancing about being famous.

Did they have those padded bottoms? The shorts?

Yes. I don’t believe so. These are designer shorts, remember, from labels such as Vatanika. Think of them more as cut-off leggings.

OK. And they don’t absolutely have to be black. Naomi Campbell wore white ones at Off-White’s catwalk show in Paris.

Can they have brightly coloured sponsors’ logos all over them? They cannot.

So what will become fashionable next? Metal clips on the soles of high heels? Weird, creepy goggles? A water bottle strapped to your clutch bag? Puncture repair kits? I doubt it. This trend is more about the skintight silhouette than any great devotion to cycling. It’s not as if fashion models and competitive cyclists have much in common, after all.

Apart, of course, from a reputed fondness for leg-shaving? Yes. Apart from that.

Do say: “Bringing together the luxuriant shine of kangaroo leather and the punk aesthetic of detachable metal studs, football boots are the perfect choice to finish any weekend outfit with éclat.”

Don’t say: “Accessorise with shin pads.”

  • This article was amended on 9 October 2017 to correct the spelling of “pedaller”.
This article titled "Bum steer: how cycling shorts became the height of fashion" was written by , for The Guardian on Monday 9 October 2017 04.52pm

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