The Well-Dressed Commuter

From time to time, we get questions about packing clothing — particularly business attire like suits and other “dressy” items — for commuters who work in formal office/courthouse environments. It’s a tough question, and one with a variety of solutions that might work. One technique that is getting a lot of traffic on various blogs is the following from Instructables, using a system of travel organizers and such to keep clothing items clean and separate. Take a look for yourself by following this link.

We’d love to hear if any of our readers have additional ideas or solutions for carrying fancy duds aboard the bike. Just drop ’em in the comments below.


11 Comments

  1. Brian Gee August 14, 2012 8:07 pm 

    I made a coat rack out of a floor lamp, so I can hang my blazer in a garment bag on the way to work — will take a picture at some point.

  2. Elizabeth August 14, 2012 8:25 pm 

    Luckily, I don’t have this issue, but I’ve seen garment bag panniers like this or this.

  3. Magnus August 14, 2012 9:15 pm 

    When I need to wear a suit, I bike wearing my suit. Hey – it works for hundreds of thousands of Europeans, no reason why it shouldn’t work here!

    I only need to slow down a little bit to avoid sweating. Obviously, this solution may not work for those who need to ride a long way or who live somewhere really hot. But for me it’s fine up to at least 5 miles.

  4. Simon August 14, 2012 10:27 pm 

    My method is simple…live in San Francisco! in 2 years of SF life it’s never been so warm that i broke a sweat riding to work in my jeans/trousers and shirt. If a suit is necessary the jacket can be folded carefully into a bag and put on at the office.

  5. Ghost Rider August 15, 2012 4:22 am 

    @Brian — we’d love to see a pic of that!

    @Magnus — you know, that does make a lot of sense, and it does work, too. I didn’t have to wear a jacket at some of my more formal jobs, but dress pants and a tie was required. I often just wore that to ride, even in Florida. Ride slow and give yourself extra time and everything works out.

    I’ve also heard tales of folks delivering a load of clothing to the office via car/public transport on Monday and taking the dirties home on Friday by bike. That method requires some storage room at the office, though, which not everyone is blessed with.

  6. allen August 15, 2012 6:38 am 

    I’ve tried the transport on monday method and the carry it in panniers method. I have also tried riding in my work clothes. In the 95-100+ degree weather we have in summer at 10 miles each way it doesn’t work for me. I keep shoes and toiletries at the office and carry my clothes in.

  7. Danny August 15, 2012 7:15 am 

    +1 for the Eagle Creek products mentioned in the link. I use the Pack-It Folder 15 for an entire clean outfit for the work day. It gets cramped quickly, so I might go up to the Pack-It 18 if I ever need another.

  8. LuckyInCali August 15, 2012 10:40 pm 

    I spent a couple weeks in Belgium and The Netherlands recently, and it showed me how much about bikes for transportation is a mindset. So I’m taking he plunge and making an effort to ride to work most of the time.

    But to the point:I saw Dutch folks commuting in dresses, skirts, suits…anything. Granted they have Few hills to deal with and cool weather, but it was inspiring to see so many people riding as transport.

  9. Iron_Man August 16, 2012 11:25 am 

    I have the hanging garment bag from Performance that Elizabeth linked to. It manages to keep my clothes rather wrinkle free. Since it’s not water tight, on rainy days I put my clothes inside of a thinner plastic garment bag first, then load that into the bag. I wrap my shoes in plastic bags as well. For a surprise shower things will stay mostly dry up until a real soaker. The zippers on the outer bags wore out after two seasons, so they stay open but still hold things well, the main compartment itself is going well for 5 seasons now.

    I don’t wear a suit to work, but I honestly could carry a suit in it just fine and no one would be any wiser.

  10. BluesCat August 16, 2012 1:02 pm 

    Luckily, my employer knows that his chances of winning $300 million in the lottery are better than seeing ME at work in a shirt and tie.

    Khakis and a polo shirt are as dressy as I get. I fold my shirt and slacks up inside a thin bath towel and place it into a large, sleeping bag stuff sack. I put a fresh pair of undies, socks and an undershirt into a plastic grocery bag and put that in the stuff sack, too. Then I put the stuff sack into a water resistant pannier on the right side of my rear rack.

    I leave my shoes, hair brush and deodorant at work. Before I leave the house in the morning I brush my teeth and shave.

  11. Cath mack September 15, 2012 11:26 pm 

    I use an altura suit pannier with clip and fix holders but as the pannier clips at an angle on my bike I occasionally get people flagging me to tell me my pannier is coming off the bike when it is perfectly secure
    I also have to carry a laptop so my other pannier is a laptop case into which I fit shoes and makeup hair straighteners etc
    No problems whilst cycling put carrying them off bike is a feature I am like a pack horse

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