go car free course

Lesson 15

Looking Good: Wardrobe, Appearance, and Grooming

“My rule is to break one sweat a day.”
 – Matthew McConaughey

man biking up hill

If you commute by mass transit, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, or by walking, jogging, or in-line skating, then you’re going to be exposed to the weather on your way to work. Wind, rain, and humidity can all take a toll on your clothing, not to mention your hair and your make-up.

You also might work up a sweat. Because no one wants to spend all day at work looking – or smelling – funky, in this lesson you’ll find strategies to help with your wardrobe, appearance, and grooming.

But first, check out this video from Tyler at Bicycle2Work.com. He has some clever ideas for bike commuters who don’t have access to a shower at work.

Wardrobe, Appearance, and Grooming Strategies

Moderate your exertion level. Regardless of the season or the temperature outside, if you walk, bicycle, or skate to work you can build up a sweat, especially under the arms. The first strategy is to avoid getting sweaty in the first place by moderating your exertion level on your way to the office.

Allow more time, slow your pace, and try to maintain a constant speed. If you feel yourself getting warm or starting to perspire, slow down. If you ride an e-bike to work, crank of the pedal assist on the way to the office, then turn it down or off on the way home.

Control your body temperature. You can regulate body temperature by adding or removing layers of clothing. In winter, removing your hat can help your body cool down rapidly. On really hot summer days it may be a good idea to commute wearing shorts and a T-shirt, then change at work.

Keep dress shoes at the office. Rather than carrying a heavy pair of dress shoes in your backpack every day, keep two or three pairs under your desk at the office. Some women I know keep a dozen pairs of heels under their desk or in a filing cabinet.

Keep a small bag of toiletries in your desk drawer. Stock it with deodorant, a hairbrush, hairspray or hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, a washcloth, spare underwear and dress socks, sunscreen, mouthwash, antibacterial wipes, and a towel. Women may want to keep a make-up kit as well.

Car Free Success Story:

Looking professional at the office is not difficult. When I’m working on a day that it has rained or snowed in the morning, none of my coworkers know that I rode my bike to work that day. My first tactic is to ride more slowly. I leave early so that I won’t feel a sense of urgency. When I arrive at my office, I take off my helmet and let my hair begin to air dry. If I’m wearing pants that day, I will lower the pant legs that I had folded up to prevent grease marks or the loose fabric getting caught on the chain of my bike. During this time, my heart rate is settling and my body is cooling off. This process requires just a few minutes.

When I enter the office, I go directly to the restroom where I have supplies stored. In the bathroom I can remove bike shorts that I am wearing if I am wearing a skirt that day. I keep hair products in the cabinet of the restroom so that I never forget to bring them. On days that it rains, I might wear a raincoat with rain pants, or just the raincoat alone. It is easy to carry a clean bra, panties, and socks in my bag.

Since I bike to work every day all year round, I take this into consideration when I am buying clothes. I wear a synthetic wicking fabric as a base layer. I never wear cotton undergarments because they take forever to dry. I also keep deodorant in my bag and a bottle of essential oil at my desk. This way, if I have to, I can mask any odor with a natural oil scent.

Anna G., 27

Paralegal and Graduate Student, Chicago, IL

If your workplace has a shower, keep a shower kit on hand. Be sure it has shampoo, deodorant soap, moisturizer, bath towel, and flip-flops to protect your feet.

Learn to take an instant shower. There are many ways to clean up after arriving at the office sweaty. Here are a few that work for me.

On days when I just barely break a sweat, I just wait to cool down, then spray on some deodorant. On moderately sweaty days, or if I’m in a hurry, I use antibacterial wet wipes under my arms and on the back of my neck.

There are many brands of wipes on the market, even baby wipes will work in a pinch. My favorite wipes for sweaty commuters are Epic Wipes. Their slogan is, “Shower on the Go.” See the video below from Grommet titled “A Shower You Carry in Your Pocket” for a review of Epic Wipes.

Amazon Product XL Wet Wipes

If I run out of Epic Wipes on days with heavy perspiration, I improvise a backup. I go into the restroom, wet some paper towels, and squirt some soap on them. I take off my shirt and lather up my underarms, chest, and neck. Then I wipe off the soap with a clean wet paper towel, blow-dry the wet parts, and spray on some more deodorant. Good as new.

Car Free Success Story:

I do not think sweating is a problem. I know a lot of people view it as insurmountable. On even the hottest days, I sit at my desk, check my morning email, etc., while I stop sweating and cool down (takes ten to fifteen minutes on a very hot day). Then I change into clean, dry clothes, and it’s not a problem, and has never been.

Richard N., 51

Management Consultant, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Speed the air-drying process. I keep a blow dryer at work that has a setting to blow cool air. If I arrive at work wet from the rain, I take the blow dryer into the restroom, point it inside my shirt collar or in one sleeve, and blow cool air. This evaporates moisture in a minute or two. And I don’t even have to take off my shirt.

Dealing with helmet-head. The hair dryer also helps cure a bad case of helmet head. Most bicycle helmets do not create helmet head because they are vented, so air can blow through and evaporate sweat.

Motorcycle helmets, however, tend to hold moisture. If you arrive at work with sweaty, matted helmet-hair, grab the blow dryer from your desk and head straight to the restroom. A few minutes of warm air should restore the body and shape of your hair. If your helmet head is really bad, try wetting your hair in the sink, adding some hair gel, and then blowing it dry.

Keep an entire change of clothes at work. On the rare occasion you get caught in a downpour, you may have to change every item of clothing you’re wearing. It’s a good idea to keep a complete change of clothes on hand (socks, underwear, belt, and so on), just in case.

Car Free Success Story:

The foulest weather here is extreme heat and extreme cold. I have a light waterproof, breathable shell jacket for layering over sweaters, and a pair of waterproof, breathable rain pants for rain and snow. Wool and tech fibers are my friends, cotton is not – except on perfect summer days.

I try to ride in my work clothes, but will pack them on the hottest days, or on days I have meetings and need to look spiffy. I think saying you can’t ride or walk to work because you don’t have showers at the workplace is a silly excuse. Sometimes I just bring a dry washcloth with some Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap (refreshing) already squirted onto it. If I arrive sweaty, I wet the cloth and wipe off the smelly bits, then reapply deodorant. Most of the time I ride at such a pace that I don’t work up a sweat at all. There’s always a way.

Lisa P.

Project Coordinator, Chicago, IL

Ask about extra storage at work. Many businesses have unused storage space, perhaps in a maintenance room or supply closet. If you can’t find any place to put your extra clothing and toiletries at work, ask the custodial staff for suggestions.

You can buy a small, locking wardrobe closet from Home Depot for about $100. Put one of these in an out-of-the-way place and your storage problem is solved.

Find a nearby health club. If you intend to jog to work, you’ll probably need a full shower before beginning your day. If your workplace doesn’t have shower facilities, look for a gym or fitness club nearby.

Some health clubs offer locker-room-only memberships at a reduced rate. If you can’t find a fitness club near work, perhaps you can walk or take mass transit to work in the morning, then jog home in the evening.

Keep an extra jacket at the office. If the weather turns bad while you’re at work, you may need some extra layers for the walk or ride home.

Enlist employer support. Ask the company you work for to install a bike rack, a shower, or some lockers for car free commuters. Remind your boss of the benefits of commuting to work without a car.

Next up is Lesson 16, Give It a Try: The Weekend Trial Run

It’s time to put these lessons into practice. Doing a trial run of your commute on the weekend is a risk-free way to make sure you can get to work on time. The weekend trial run will give you a sense for whether or not a particular mode of transportation will work for you. Lesson 16 will show you how.

error: Content is protected !!