"Weirdest experience this morning! Was about to go for a ride on my gorgeous Abici, then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought better of it. I was working from home and looked a mess! Stained cargo pants, old T-shirt, ratty ponytail, ugh... Do you ever feel underdressed for your bike?"Okay, that's pretty funny. And I admit I've felt the same. On a day to day basis I could be wearing anything, depending on what I am doing - from a business suit to paint-stained rags. And when it happens to be the latter, I do feel self-conscious getting out there on a nice bike for the whole world to see me all disheveled. Not self-conscious enough to actually go and change, mind you. But enough to make a mental note to dress better next time.
Could it be that all the so-called "cycle chic" imagery is getting to us, so that we actually feel pressure to dress up on our bikes?
It's possible. But I think the more likely explanation, is that traveling by bicycle can make us more self-aware and self-conscious, simply because we are more visible. Sure, we can hop in the car wearing old sweats with our unwashed hair up in a bun, drive to pick up some milk, and no one will be the wiser. But on a bike we will be observed. If we ride in the same neighbourhood as we live and work, we may not want our acquaintances, romantic interests, or colleagues to see us in that state.
Then again, it may simply be the bike. Owning an elegant, civilised bicycle can make us want to follow suit. And maybe that's not such a bad thing.