I was surprised and comforted by the reactions to yesterday’s post about how I feel trying to buy clothes as a bigger woman – I hadn’t realised how many people feel exactly the same – and how it seems like the cycling clothing marketing is missing a huge trick, as so many groups can’t find cycling clothing that fits them. Women over UK 16 (US 10/Europe 44), smaller women with big boobs, or small boobs, tall women with big shoulders, women with muscular thighs, or arms… Clearly there’s a massive gap in the market – but luckily I’ve had TONS of recommendations for companies that do cater to us. So I’m going to split them into two (or maybe three) posts. I’ll begin with the companies that sell cycling clothing that goes up into the “plus-sizes” (hate that term – above and UK 18/USA 12/Europe 46), then I’ll have one for those that sell 16-18, and that have room for boobs, and I’ll do a third post with any more recommendations that come in, and anything I’ve missed.
Before I start, though, I just want to thank everyone for your lovely comments, here and on twitter, and for sharing your recommendations – and to clear something up. I was saying on twitter that cycling will never become “ordinary” until ordinary people can buy cycling clothes, and a couple of people took issue with that – that in the Netherlands (eg), or for commuting, people don’t need special clothes for cycling.
My response to that is both yes and no – I mean, of course there shouldn’t be a uniform for everyday riding, but I’m not just talking about bibshorts (I’ve never even tried bibs, myself) but things like a rain jacket for cycling. My normal raincoat, for walking (and hiking) in, didn’t work for cycling, because it was too long & flappy – I wanted something that fitted more, zipped up fully when I’m in the riding position, with accessible pockets for my house keys and work pass so I wasn’t fumbling around in the rain, and hi-viz features for winter riding etc, but didn’t look ridiculous if I was riding to meet a friend for a coffee. And I love my Vulpine cycling jersey (out of stock at the moment) for those warm days when I want to ride the path along the river without a bag – just put keys, phone, camera and a snack in the back pockets, a water bottle on the bike, and go. It’s not all about the lycra (although that is important too), it’s about clothing that makes the most basic cycling more fun, designed to make the activity easier.
That said, on with the recommendations! As always, I don’t get any financial or other benefit from mentioning these companies, and I’ve not tried any of these myself – you might want to google for reviews to see what other people think of them.
A word about sizing. I got really, really confused trying to convert between UK and USA sizes – I was using this wikipedia article that tells me how sizes convert, but it’s confusing because tops are different sizes to dress sizes? So many apologies if I’ve got the sizing wrong, and as always I’d recommend checking the sizing guides on the different sites, and if in doubt, go by the measurements rather than trusting to the size
So, these are recommendations for cycling clothes that go into up into the Plus Sizes – and of course, smaller sizes too.
Megster always gives me fantastic recommendations – in fact, I once dedicated a whole “gift ideas for women’s cycling fans & women who like bikes” post to her fantastic recommendations – so I wasn’t surprised she had a great one for me here. Team Estrogen are an “online retailer of women’s cycling, triathlon, running, swimming and fitness apparel”. I have to admit, USA sizes confuse me, so I apologise if I get this wrong, but Meg says they’re super-friendly, and you can call them in the USA for free on 1-877-310-4592, or try asking them a question online. It looks like their (very pretty) jerseys go up to US 5X (55-57″ chest) – and their shorts go up to 4X (47-50″ waist) which looks like it’s well into the (UK) 20s. The best way to search is to hit the type of clothes you want (eg cycling jerseys or cycling shorts) scroll down until you see the size section and hit “all sizes”. I think XXXL is UK 18/USA 12, and then 2X, 3X and 4X are larger – I think 4X is UK size 22/US 16/French 50 – but the items have size charts on them, so you can check. Their shipping costs are pretty reasonable too, even internationally, and it’s free delivery over $100 within the USA.
One of those brands that does larger size women’s shorts that you can buy from Estrogen, and that have been recommended by Bec Levell, are by Terry Bicycles, another USA company, who describe themselves as “the original women’s bicycling company“. They have a Plus range of tops and bottoms, including chamois-shorts and their size chart (bust/waist/hip) goes up to USA 4X (51-53″ bust) which I think is US 16/UK 22. It’s going to be best to search by your size, I think – and look! They have a little wrap-around skorts (skirt-shorts?) for tucking in your pockets/bag & whipping out to wear for coffee stops etc. They ship internationally, or you can buy them from other online shops (possibly only in the USA, but if you have a favourite one in your country, give it a try)
Voler’s sizing charts say they go up to USA 22, UK 28, which is great, but the sizings look a little different to the wikipedia conversion charts I’ve been using, so check the measurements for your size. Shipping is a lot easier for within the USA than outside, but have a look to see how it works. They have three jerseys in 3XL (46-48″ bust) and lots more in 2XL , including lots and lots of USA-state themed jerseys, and the Pink is the new Fast jersey, where 15% of the cost goes to cyclocross & MTB rider Meredith Miller‘s Pretty In Pink fundraising campaign, which raises money for Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Foundation. The women’s shorts go up to XXL (UK 16) – with designs from a daisy trim to the stars & stripes
Corinne Dennis is a little British company based in Somerset, and their thing is things made in Britain. Their size chart (bust/waist/hips) goes up to a women’s size UK 20 (USA 14, France 48) but pretty much everything I click on doesn’t have a size option – so maybe they’re out of stock right now? They’re cheap, though, and they do padded underwear too, so if you like what you see, maybe contact them directly to ask them if it’s possible to buy from them at the moment?
Road Holland are a USA company with a small but select range. Their sizing chart had me a little bit flummoxed – I think the shorts only go up to UK 14, but the jerseys go up to 18-20? A., who recommended them said they fit bigger boobs surprisingly well, which is always a good endorsement! They look very beautiful, with an emphasis, as you can guess from the name, on Dutch orange and black. Have a look at their women’s range and if you have any questions, they have a pop-up box on the site to ask, which is always a friendly thing to do, but bear in mind if you’re not in the USA, it’s a $30 shipping fee. And just a warning, as they’re a boutiquey company, they’re definitely on the luxury price side, even with the sale on at the moment.
Hopefully that’s shown you things you might like – and I’ll be back tomorrow with recommendations for sizes UK 16-18 (XXL-XXXL? I’m so very confused by now!) Remember, if you have any more ideas of good brands in any size above UK 16, please do let me know, either in the comments, or to me on twitter. And if I’ve left out your suggestions, I apologise profusely – I was a little bit overwhelmed, in the best way, by all the responses, and I appreciate that immensely!
(A note about shipping to the UK from overseas. I’ve recently been stung badly by customs fees on clothing sent to me as presents etc, or customs fees that cost more than a t-shirt did, so if you’re in the UK buying from places like the USA or Australia, ask the company to mark it as a gift, and worth about £20, because otherwise you could be cursing. Can’t promise it’ll work, but it’ll make your life easier….)