The Tightness of Being
Sprezzatura. Leave it to the Italians to dedicate a word to trying to Look Fantastic without looking like you’re trying too hard. I’ve haven’t spent much time in Italy, but I automatically love a country where an entire nation holds aesthetics in the same high regard that I do. Not to mention their dedication to drinking espresso and wine. A bottle of wine at lunch? I can work with these people.
Sprezzatura for the Velominatus applies to every aspect of the sport; how we set up our bikes, our style and technique when riding, and how we select and wear our kit. Looking good in the summer isn’t very complicated; any fool can look good in short-sleeved kit adorned with tanned guns. Where things start getting tricky is when the cold and wet sets in and we need to add more kit to the equation. How does one control the chaos as leg warmers, long-sleeve jerseys, caps, gloves, rain jackets and overshoes are added to the mix?
The basic concepts have already been covered under the principles of wearing one’s Flandrian Best; always wear as little as possible, never wear an accoutrement below when a complimentary set is not worn above (i.e. no knee warmers without arm warmers), and never – under any circumstances – wear full-length leggings.
Which brings us to today’s lesson: how to wear full-length leggings and still look as Fantastic as possible. Sometimes it is simply too cold for three-quarters and there is no denying the Pro-ness of casually wandering about sipping a pre-ride espresso in sandals, full length leg warmers, and a long sleeve jersey – especially on a warm summer day. Sprezzatura is an art, and it should not be taken lightly.
The fundamental problem with leggings is that they make the guns amorphous; lots of fabric without any points of definition give the eyes nothing to focus on. If you have amazing calves (which I don’t) then you may be able to break up the monotony with your bodacious leg curves, but the rest of us are going to need some help.
- Always go with leg warmers and not one-piece tights. The reason for this is simple: the legs of your shorts will provide the first visual delineation for the eyes to grab ahold of.
- The leggings should also always have an elastic gripper around the ankle, not a stirrup. This is Cycling, not ballet. Better yet, the ankles should have a short zipper to ease pre-departure removal of said leggings and also to provide a little more delineation.
- When it comes to materials, the more matte the better. In fact, I prefer wool. Thick materials are also handy, as they add some bulk and make the guns look less spindly. All good things.
- Look for some leggings with good, thick seams. Again, this makes wool a strong candidate. Align the seams carefully to accentuate whatever curves your leggs can muster up, and make sure both legs are symmetrical. We are not savages.
- Wear a contrasting color sock. White is preferable, of course, as demonstrated by Diego above but any color works so long as its not the same as the legging (which should obviously be black).