Photo courtesy Ray Smith Photography

Photo courtesy Ray Smith Photography

David Millar: Stylemeister

by / / 87 posts

Cycling is a sport steeped in the tradition of style. There’s no denying it. From the days of miners and farmers escaping the hardships of a life spent toiling in harsh and filthy conditions either under or above ground, through Coppi and his Cosa Nostra-esque garb and swagger, Merckx and De Vlaeminck’s 70s sideburns, to Cipo and his many hits and misses both on and off the bike, there have always been riders who just look the part. I don’t hesitate to add David Millar’s name to that list as a modern day doyen of cycling style.

While we’re all wrapped up in farewells and handing out plaudits, let’s not forget that the curtain is about to be lowered on the long and storied, some may say sullied, career of this polarising British rider. Yes, we all know what he did. We have either accepted it and re-accepted him, or possibly still hold him in contempt. To me, he was always a classy Pro with a fluid riding style, a constant time trial threat, a worthy wearer of the Maillot Jaune and Maglia Rosa, a multiple stage winner in all three Grand Tours. Nothing more, nothing less. Not a fan, more an observer and moderate admirer.

Off the bike, however, Millar’s style is something I’m definitely a fan of. Maybe it’s because of his inherent Britishness that enables him to pull off the array of casual, smart, almost foppish looks which he does so well. Crisp collared shirts, tailored suits, pastel polos, smart shoes, just the right balance between ostentatious and sensible accessories. In the peloton, you could usually rely on him to be largely Rule compliant (and even if he wasn’t, he’d somehow manage to get a pass with ease). Being a tall and thin guy myself, his dress sense and attention to detail is not the worst template to work from. Especially as I’ll never pedal a bike as well as he did.

 

I think cycling has always had a tradition of being a bit dapper, especially back in the day. Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil and that older generation were renowned for being suave and sophisticated gentlemen off the bike–that’s something I was enchanted by. They always looked so cool. Cycling is based so much on form, on aesthetics, on class–the way you carry yourself on the bike, the sort of technique you have.

David Millar via

Chapeau Mr Millar.

Slideshow:
Fullscreen:

Millar’s tips from Mr Porter

The David Millar Project

// Awesome British Guys // Look Pro

  1. @Rhodri

    When I’ve met North Americans some confusion seems to come from equating British with English. That’s why us Welsh and Scots get a bit tetchy, many will be proud to be British (independence or not) but calling one English is like calling a Texan a Californian. Probably worse. The different parts of the United Kingdom each have their own long history of kings, cultures, languages, rulers and various battles both alongside and against the other UK nations.

    That sums it up. Brett referred to him as British, not English. If he had claimed English, then whole thing would have been justified. But British encompasses all entities of GB.

  2. You know you can just tell he likes nothing better than to slip into a nice woolly cardigan when no-one is looking.

    I, on the other hand, look like nothing so much as 10 pounds of shite in a 5 pound bag.

  3. @VeloVita

    Thought that was a picture of a Shih Tzu ? Then I remembered that a Shih Tzu is just a zoo with no animals.

  4. I like him. I’ve even chucked a bit of money in the direction of the film project. But them I am a Brit who is Scottish..

    It’ll be interesting to see where he goes next. I think he’s talked about having a role at the Slipstream development team in the US, though how that’ll fit with his love of Girona I’m not sure.

    As for the Bec Hill Climb, I think he said his wife is doing it to. Fun for all the family!

  5. @Barracuda

    @VeloVita

    Thought that was a picture of a Shih Tzu ? Then I remembered that a Shih Tzu is just a zoo with no animals.

    Ha! Nicely done.

  6. I like him. His book was a good, sobering read, and I’d agree with @antihero’s sentiments about the position he found himself in, and his subsequent resolve to help clean up the mess.

    He must have some style as he manages to make that minging POC kit look half decent. I’ll miss him when he’s retired, but hopefully he’ll get himself a gig as a DS or media pundit, so it’ll be a transition rather than a departure.

    Here’s a pic of him tooling around Abergavenny sometime in late June. Judging by his shoes, he must have been feeling patriotic.

  7. Fausto Coppi was stylish on and off the bicycle.

  8. Wow, what a thread. It was fascinating for its sheer pedanticness. I have seen some wild tangents, but never one so…boring in the minutiae.

  9. @therealpeel

    Wow, what a thread. It was fascinating for its sheer pedanticness. I have seen some wild tangents, but never one so…boring in the minutiae.

    There is no such word in the dictionary as “pedanticness.” I believe you’re looking for the word “pedantry.” (I would put an emoticon here, but Frank doesn’t like them.)

  10. At the start line of MSR 2014.

  11. Ok, here’s a question for Velominati regarding style. How many of you/us take a double standard approach to bike gear/clothing as opposed to casual/non-bike clothing. Example, I’m sure many of us have cycling shoes that cost many, many times what we’d pay for “regular” shoes. Or, we but a jersey/gilet, shorts that cost way more than what we’d consider prudent for off-the-bike wear. In short, we look at the cost of bike gear and think “yup, I’ll pay that”, whereas with something equivalent in non-bike gear we’d say “no way!”

    Those with spouses/significant others may also have a different approach to this than the unattached amongst us.

  12. @wiscot no double standard for me, I try to be coherent with the way I dress myself on and off the bike. But you know I’m Italian.

  13. David Millar in Milano.

  14. @therealpeel

    pedanticness

    It’s pedantry, actually.

  15. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @wiscot no double standard for me, I try to be coherent with the way I dress myself on and off the bike. But you know I’m Italian.

    Of course! You Italian boys are somehow born with superior style genes. Mind you, that being said, I’ve seen some pretty awful gear at the route launch of the Giro.

    I read that the goal is to look like you care how you dress, not how much you’ve tried. Millar cares.

  16. @Pedale.Forchetta

    At the start line of MSR 2014.

    Class. Are you sure you’re not a pro?

  17. @wiscot I’m with you!

  18. @Chris ah! This is still Millar, I don’t look that good comparing…

    PS I’m the guy with the leather jacket

  19. @wiscot My off the bike apparel has to cover a multitude of fucntions; work, smart informal (becoming increasingly the sort of clothes I wear most), watching the kids play sport in all manner of weather, gardening etc whilst my cycling kit only gets worn on the bike.

    I spend more on the suits etc for work and the smarter stuff than I do the bike wear but only theres more of it by necesity. Per garment there’s probably not a lot in it.

    Like @Pedale.Forchetta says, either way, you want to be taken seriously.

  20. @Pedale.Forchetta Ha, I meant pro photographer! I dream of taking black and white photos like that.

  21. @Pedale.Forchetta

    At the start line of MSR 2014.

    I have never really wanted a pair of those shields or the helmet until now. Damn you and your exemplary photographic skillz.

  22. @wiscot

    Ok, here’s a question for Velominati regarding style. How many of you/us take a double standard approach to bike gear/clothing as opposed to casual/non-bike clothing. Example, I’m sure many of us have cycling shoes that cost many, many times what we’d pay for “regular” shoes. Or, we but a jersey/gilet, shorts that cost way more than what we’d consider prudent for off-the-bike wear. In short, we look at the cost of bike gear and think “yup, I’ll pay that”, whereas with something equivalent in non-bike gear we’d say “no way!”

    Those with spouses/significant others may also have a different approach to this than the unattached amongst us.

    Ha, yes, exactly. Ive got Rapha gear that I didnt blink at buying and the dirty “S” shoes that I paid alot for and didnt think as its the form and function Im after.

    I was told by my father along time ago, in jest I assume, that if you cant play the game at the highest level, at least look like you can.

    When it comes to “regular” clothes, I try, but the budget somehow gets more scrutiny than the cycling specific.

    If I could ride my bike 24/7 Id be very stylish.

  23. @DeKerr

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    At the start line of MSR 2014.

    I have never really wanted a pair of those shields or the helmet until now. Damn you and your exemplary photographic skillz.

    I reckon he’s the only bloke that Ive seen pull off the POC look successfully, rest of the crew just look like bad extra’s from a Star Trek movie.

  24. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @wiscot no double standard for me, I try to be coherent with the way I dress myself on and off the bike. But you know I’m Italian.

    I am with you, my friend. Nothing makes you feel better about yourself and more ready to face the world than being well-dressed whether on or off the bike.

    The same principles apply; brutal meeting with the CEO? You better know I’m reaching for my best clothes – Gucci, Dolce, Paul Smith, Margiela…that shit will make you feel like you can take on the world properly.

    I can’t understand people who go to work in a t-shirt (even in the PNW) – nothing reminds me to be a professional more than ironing my clothes and glancing at myself as I step out the door and know I Look Fantastic.

    Not to say you can’t Look Fantastic in jeans and a t-shirt, but you get my drift.

    By the way, a $2000 suit will not make you Look Fantastic without being appropriately tailored and the appropriate shoes, tie, shirt, etc. On the other hand, an inexpensive suit that has been adjusted by a good tailor will still make you look the part.

  25. @Barracuda

    @DeKerr

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    At the start line of MSR 2014.

    I have never really wanted a pair of those shields or the helmet until now. Damn you and your exemplary photographic skillz.

    I reckon he’s the only bloke that Ive seen pull off the POC look successfully, rest of the crew just look like bad extra’s from a Star Trek movie.

    This is a fact. Not opinion, not a postulate, not a theory. A fact.

  26. @frank

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @wiscot no double standard for me, I try to be coherent with the way I dress myself on and off the bike. But you know I’m Italian.

    I am with you, my friend. Nothing makes you feel better about yourself and more ready to face the world than being well-dressed whether on or off the bike.

    The same principles apply; brutal meeting with the CEO? You better know I’m reaching for my best clothes – Gucci, Dolce, Paul Smith, Margiela…that shit will make you feel like you can take on the world properly.

    I can’t understand people who go to work in a t-shirt (even in the PNW) – nothing reminds me to be a professional more than ironing my clothes and glancing at myself as I step out the door and know I Look Fantastic.

    Not to say you can’t Look Fantastic in jeans and a t-shirt, but you get my drift.

    By the way, a $2000 suit will not make you Look Fantastic without being appropriately tailored and the appropriate shoes, tie, shirt, etc. On the other hand, an inexpensive suit that has been adjusted by a good tailor will still make you look the part.

    THIS! Our work recently relaxed the dress standards for back office staff, meaning that back office men could wear pants & a shirt sans tie…you think that means I’m not suiting up most days of the week? We sit one floor below the execs, there’s no way I’m running the risk of the visiting CEO walking down the stairs as I’m prepping lunch in some shoddy kit.

    Shoes and accessories are another thing that are truly underestimated. These boots were about $400 but have been going for the better part of a decade & are still my go to for a navy or grey suit.

  27. @Harminator Is that outfit UCI approved for competition?

  28. @Chris ahah! A beautiful misunderstanding! Too late I understoodwhat you meant, but that say a lot of me, it looks like I consider myself more a cyclist than a photographer…

  29. What about Millar’s farewell, fundraiser shoes? I found most of those to be quite ugly.

    I love style, on and off the bike. Even starting a new job soon, so I’ll have extra incentive to dress nicely and maybe pick up a few new threads too. Oh, and a rule I follow – save some money on the clothes or suit and put it into extra classy shoes. Shoes make the outfit.

    However, I do have to add this – with the explosion of sartorial gaucheness in the U.S. that I see (neon green or pink “eyeglasses” without lenses, or without prescription lenses, faux’hawks on men and women, stupid facial hair, extravagant shirts and vests and rolled up denim with workmen boots…) I fear that in wearing classy things that I like, I might be seen as part of this BS bandwagon.

    I very much don’t give a fuck what people think of me, but I feel like the hipster-turned-dandies have polluted the pool for us classy, sharp dressers. I’ll have to let this wave pass.

  30. Ok, I think I should clarify my original post. The gist of it was that I don’t blink on spending daft sums on bike gear, but do blink when buying off-the-bike gear. It also never goes unremarked at the office when I wear jeans (on rare days I have messy stuff to do, like yesterday) but when I’m suited or sport coat and tie-d) it goes unremarked as that’s my standard mode. I totally agree, it’s always better to overdress than underdress in anything.

    I’m also a sticker for ironing my shirts. “wrinkle-free” is a lie.

    It says a lot about Millar’s stylishness that he can make POC gear look good.

    “I was told by my father along time ago, in jest I assume, that if you cant play the game at the highest level, at least look like you can.” says Barracuda. Sounds like your Dad was an early adopter of the Velominati code.

  31. I dress well for work, it goes a long way I believe. As far as the bike, I do my best. I only have two styles to choose from, both are designed to look fantastic. As far as me making them look more fantastic, I’m going with the ‘fake it til you make it’ theory.

  32. When it comes to on or off bike style, I think one of the biggest factors is your comfort level with what you’re wearing. I know we bang on about “Casually Deliberate” a lot, but it’s a huge factor in how what you wear is interpreted by others.

    If you’re not projecting comfort/confidence in your sartorial choices, no one else is gonna believe you look good.

  33. Mr Miller and his classy mate. Good read.

  34. @Mikael Liddy

    When it comes to on or off bike style, I think one of the biggest factors is your comfort level with what you’re wearing. I know we bang on about “Casually Deliberate” a lot, but it’s a huge factor in how what you wear is interpreted by others.

    If you’re not projecting comfort/confidence in your sartorial choices, no one else is gonna believe you look good.

    This.

    I think we were separated at birth, I also own lots of pink Rapha gear and a pair or two of burgundy Paul Smith shoes that I’ve had for years.

  35. As much as I’m a fan of Millar’s sense of style – and I am – I’m a much bigger fan of the mentality with which he approaches the highs and lows of the sport, almost like a thinking man’s version of Jens (murky past and all). He gave an interview straight after the prologue in the 2006 Tour after coming back from his ban and it just showed how unbelievably happy he was just to be riding his bike again – as I imagine any of us would be if we ever made it to the Tour.

    On the other hand, I’ll always empathise with the frustration of the Millarcopter. I particularly liked him specifically calling out Mavic’s discs on air after suffering two punctures in the first long TT of the 2007 Tour. It’d be nice to have more pros owning up to when their equipment goes wrong and having the company take responsibility for it.

  36. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @wiscot no double standard for me, I try to be coherent with the way I dress myself on and off the bike. But you know I’m Italian.

    I am with you, my friend. Nothing makes you feel better about yourself and more ready to face the world than being well-dressed whether on or off the bike.

    The same principles apply; brutal meeting with the CEO? You better know I’m reaching for my best clothes – Gucci, Dolce, Paul Smith, Margiela…that shit will make you feel like you can take on the world properly.

    I can’t understand people who go to work in a t-shirt (even in the PNW) – nothing reminds me to be a professional more than ironing my clothes and glancing at myself as I step out the door and know I Look Fantastic.

    Not to say you can’t Look Fantastic in jeans and a t-shirt, but you get my drift.

    By the way, a $2000 suit will not make you Look Fantastic without being appropriately tailored and the appropriate shoes, tie, shirt, etc. On the other hand, an inexpensive suit that has been adjusted by a good tailor will still make you look the part.

    THIS! Our work recently relaxed the dress standards for back office staff, meaning that back office men could wear pants & a shirt sans tie…you think that means I’m not suiting up most days of the week? We sit one floor below the execs, there’s no way I’m running the risk of the visiting CEO walking down the stairs as I’m prepping lunch in some shoddy kit.

    Shoes and accessories are another thing that are truly underestimated. These boots were about $400 but have been going for the better part of a decade & are still my go to for a navy or grey suit.

    The clothes make the man. The shoes make the clothes. Damn Those are fine.

  37. Style?

  38. @wiscot

    hey Wiscot, allow me to introduce you to the concept of wife pounds and wife pound conversion. Exchange rate is approximately 1 Wife Pound = 3.5 English Pounds. ( conservative enough to be believable!) Eg the must have set of Bont’s/ Sidi’s that you’ve been drooling over come in at a very reasonable £80 WP ‘s. Cervelo S5 with Di 2 is a mere two grand. I need to add that shredding the CC bill will become a monthly ritual, batted away by casual throwaway one liners such as “i pay it on-line now sweetness.”

  39. An interesting read – plus he’s a lover of cycle caps……..

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/oct/10/david-millar-cycling

    DAvid

  40. @gilly

    @wiscot

    hey Wiscot, allow me to introduce you to the concept of wife pounds and wife pound conversion. Exchange rate is approximately 1 Wife Pound = 3.5 English Pounds. ( conservative enough to be believable!) Eg the must have set of Bont’s/ Sidi’s that you’ve been drooling over come in at a very reasonable £80 WP ‘s. Cervelo S5 with Di 2 is a mere two grand. I need to add that shredding the CC bill will become a monthly ritual, batted away by casual throwaway one liners such as “i pay it on-line now sweetness.”

    Ah-ha! Being single (and not cycling when I was married) means I’m unfamiliar with the conversion rates. I can very much understand the issue though . . .

  41. So here is Mr Millar at his last race – getting changed from a car (Jaguar) by the side of the road, a bit of a change from the Sky bus.

    And a few more shots from the Bec Hill Climb.

    Haven’t seen all the results yet but my mate Jamie won the Catford Climb – world’s longest-running cycle race – in the morning and was in third place on the Bec.

  42. @ChrisO David came 21st in the end (http://www.velouk.net/2014/10/13/result-bec-cycling-club-hill-climb/). I rather expect he hoped to do better! Having struggled up White Lane a few times myself and being pleased to get up alive in under 3:30, I wonder if he’d ever ridden it before? It’s one of those short, nasty climbs where knowing where it ramps up and where it flattens out, help cuts seconds off your time.

  43. I did a few hill climbs back in the day – end of season, usually to qualify for a season-long internal club competition. They’re a great aspect of the sport in the UK, very spectator friendly and guaranteed to put you deep, deep in the pain cave. The specialists would tailor their fixed gear ratios to each climb.

    Not sure how it is now with clipless pedals, but they always used to have a couple of blokes ready to catch riders as they crossed the line too exhausted to reach down and loosen their straps. Happy days . . .

  44. @ChrisO

    So here is Mr Millar at his last race – getting changed from a car (Jaguar) by the side of the road, a bit of a change from the Sky bus.

    And a few more shots from the Bec Hill Climb.

    Haven’t seen all the results yet but my mate Jamie won the Catford Climb – world’s longest-running cycle race – in the morning and was in third place on the Bec.

    I hope Millar rode it wearing a cap and not a helmet. The latter is just wrong for this kind of event.

  45. He did ride it with cap, as did most of the competitors in fact. I seem to have taken a picture of one of the very few wearing a helmet.

    British TT rules apply and don’t mandate helmet wearing, for those who are wondering, so why add 250 grams if you don’t need to.

    I think he’d said he hadn’t ridden White Lane before and fully expected a kicking. One of the soigneurs or Assistant DS on the Garmin team is an organiser of the event so Millar did it as a favour to him.

    Yes Jamie, who won the Catford, used a fixed gear. 39 x 20. But most people were on geared bikes. Certainly a great event. My daughter enjoyed it but our dog was going beserk with all the cheering and bikes and we had to leave before the end.

  46. No Millar in this list… or as @Oli pointed out, no Bugno.

  47. @brett

    I saw that and was surprised at both of those omissions. Nice to see Ocana in there though.

  48. Which reminds me – I got David Millar to sign my copy of The Rules at Millarcopter – he pointed out that a) He was unaware of the term and b) He had been very angry at the time

  49. @brett

    No Millar in this list… or as @Oli pointed out, no Bugno.

    That’s a super cool list (and one reason is because I didn’t have to individually click thru every 1 thru 25) and my vote goes to No 21

  50. @wilburrox

    That’s an article written by a V-sympathiser if not a full blown Velominatus.

    My favourite quote is this “Here’s a handy guide for any cyclist: when you are buying cycling kit, or even getting dressed to go out on your bike, keep this thought in mind — would Fabian Cancellara go out in this? If the answer is no, then don’t do it.”

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar