2018 was a loooong year. There was a royal wedding, we had a Winter Olympics, kids ate tide pods, and, apparently, wearing bike shorts outside of athletic events made a comeback from the days of leg warmers and Princess Diana. Also known as cycling shorts, these bad boys popped up on the Dolce & Gabbana runway and on Instagram influencer profiles. They’ve even been ~sported~ by Mrs. Kim K herself.
Athleisure is nothing new to Millennials and Gen Z, with an estimated 44 billion dollar market size in the US in 2018, it’s been predicted that global sales will grow to over 350 billion by 2020. But why is stylish athletic wear so popular? Writers at Forbes believe it’s due to younger generations spending their money on experiences rather than material goods. “As athleisure clothing is typically worn for an experience…[Millennials] are more likely to spend their money on it.” And just like any other fashion style, athleisure wear also cycles through new looks – thus, the bike short trend is re-born.
This sartorial statement has been popular both on and off runways and social media and is projected to be one of the biggest trends of 2019. Obviously there are a ton of ways to wear bike shorts, so if you’re interested in jumping on this train but you’re not too sure where to start, here a just a few ideas to get your wheels turning (see what I did there?).
1. Pair them with an oversized top
Whether you’re wearing a crop top underneath an oversized bomber jacket or a baggy sweater, deciding to pair a loose top with a tight bottom is always a safe bet in the fashion world. For anyone who’s looking for a more comfortable way to wear these fitted shorts, this pairing is foolproof. And for those who are still feeling out the style and seeing if it’s going to be their new thing, this simple combo is a great place to start. This style also gives you that Ariana Grande vibe, which is all the more reason to try this out.
2. Play with color
Fashion is meant to be an experiment, so playing with colors and prints is a surefire way to make a statement. You could pair your neutral-colored shorts with a bright top, or wear your favorite vibrant hue or geometric print on the shorts themselves. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, make your outfit all one color. Wearing all black, all gray, or even all orange (if that’s what you’re feeling at the minute) is completely on trend right now.
From the hundreds of pictures of bloggers, influencers and celebrities in bike shorts, it’s safe to say that about 70 percent of their outfits include a fanny pack. Some matched the bag with their outfit, and others used it as a statement piece. With the right accessories, you can easily transition your look from a day-spent-in-the-library look to an I'm-ready-to-party look for a night about the town.
4. Pair them with heels
Another great way to elevate your bike shorts is by accessorizing with a killer pair of shoes. While wearing bike shorts with some sort of athletic shoe is expected (and definitely the route most people often take), there’s also the option of wearing heels. Have some fun with your accessorizing and swap your sneakers for a pair of high-heeled, thigh-high boots or even a strappy wedge.
5. Wear them under denim shorts
This is a great way to wear your favorite shorts that might be a touch too short for your school’s dress code policy. It also gives any outfit that extra boost to take it to a whole new level.
You can style this look with a nice top and neutral-colored cardigan, a chunky necklace and round it out with a pair of flats. But if you're really feeling the denim look, why not eliminate the middle man all together like Gigi Hadid and wear a pair of denim bike shorts? Alternatively, if you're simply not interested in rocking the Levi's, try the avant-garde approach wear them underneath a printed skirt or short dress as seen in the MSGM show during the Milan Fashion Week.
There are even options to add a bit of texture to this look - like these lace trim "slip shorts" featured on Amazon.
6. Go full-on sporty
Who said athleisure has to die in the new year? There’s nothing wrong with wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable while at the same time allowing you to always be ready for an impromptu jog to Taco Bell. So wear your bike shorts with a sports bra or a workout hoodie and rock your new look! Because this is a classic ensemble, you'll have the opportunity to put your own spin on it. Try playing with the color or invest in a stylish jacket to be the accent piece.
7. Try business casual
Hear us out: When we say “bike shorts” the last thing you usually think of is a blazer and a pair of red-bottom heels. But hey, it works.
It’s definitely a statement, but if you’re ready to give it a go, then why not? While we don’t recommend wearing this outfit to a job interview, this is a great way to spice up a class presentation or just go about your business around town.
If you're interested in another perspective, fashion blogger Sarah Spellings chronicles her quest to find the best way to wear bike shorts like an influencer, and she includes pictures of her attempting three different looks. She even references this look from Maryam Nassir Zadeh which is a great example of combining business, a pop of color, and minimal accessories that tie the outfit together. But whether you’re looking to pair them with an oversized sweater and a pair of Converse, or you want to make a statement with Christian Louboutins and a blazer, there’s no wrong way to wear a pair of bike shorts.
Let us know if you give this look a try by posting a picture to Instagram and tagging @hercampusstyle or adding the hashtag #HCWearsWhat. We'd love to know what you think!