To Match, or Not to Match
"So are you, like, allergic to matching kit?"
"Well it's just that I know you own shorts and jerseys from the same manufacturers. But you never wear them together."
Caught off guard by being thus scrutinised, I quickly take stock of what I've got on. Between the shorts, jersey, jacket and various warmers I count 5 different brands. Okay, the man's got a point. But hey, at least it's all vaguely the same colour. And what does it matter anyway?
I confess that my choice of what cycling clothes to don on a road ride is largely determined by what's clean. I ride a lot and don't have time to constantly be doing laundry. And since shorts and jerseys have different "can keep wearing it without washing" cycles, it just so happens that the clean jersey/short combo appropriate for that day's weather often won't match.
But while I don't intentionally go for the mismatched look, upon giving it some thought I realise that I am comfortable with it. More comfortable than with the slicker, more polished matching look. Because on the bike I am neither slick nor polished, it seems somehow appropriate - even "correct," if you will - that my style of dress reflect that.
One day early this summer I was out riding and passed a couple of cyclists on a gentle descent. They were skinny boys on nice bikes, who must have been lost in conversation and taking it easy. On the next uphill they caught up to me and we got to chatting. One of them looked over my shorts and jersey. Trying to make out the writing (it was my club's name - Ride Studio Cafe), he said with a straight face: "So who is that you ride for?" For, not with. I thought he was mocking me and turned beet red (Come on, how the hell could I ride "for" anyone, spinning uphill at 10mph?). I am still not sure whether he was joking or not, but in a roundabout way that illustrates why I shy away from wearing the matchy stuff - especially with my club's name on it.
There is all this talk among roadies about "looking pro." It is said ironically, but nonetheless meant seriously. It covers lots of things, including clothing - which, according to the rules, ought to match. In that vein, I guess I am quite happy to leave looking pro to the pros - while myself mismatching my cycling clothes with abandon.