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Biker Chic and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
By Sasha Fastovskiy
Ah yes, biker wear. Never be caught on your Harley without it, without the leather, metal, straps and zippers that, while of course providing a level of safety, also provide a level of attitude befitting the mightiest of bikes. But if you don’t actually ride a Hog, but still dig that whole bad-ass feel, there are ways of paying homage to the look without actually wearing assless chaps over your lovely Donna Karan two-piece suit. It’s called “Biker Chic.”
Biker chic has never gone out of style, and recently leather and hardware have inspired some of the most successful runway and high fashion looks. Hold on to your helmets, biker wear has come a long way. While a few yards of leather and some spikes may be enough for the average hog-riding stud, the rest of us need a little more (or less, depending on how you look at it) guidance. So from what’s already in your closet that you can incorporate into a biker-based outfit to what’s coming down the runways this season, we’ve got you covered.
Raid Your Closet
One of the most important things to remember before getting dressed up in your finest Kawasaki kicks is that it’s all about location, location, location. Unless you happen to be traveling with an actual biker gang, there’s no need to go a la Steve McQueen. Biker attire is by definition heavy and eye-catching, so just the smallest touch will get the message across. Consider giving even the simplest outfit a biker infusion; tie a bandana onto your arm, onto the knee of jeans, or underneath a hat. (Just remember that if you’re going biker chic, you’ll need the most important accessory of all: ATTITUDE. Now, don’t go getting into a bar fight, that’s not what I mean, but definitely walk tall and proud at the very least. Wallflowers need not apply.) Nicely faded boot-cut jeans are a staple; if they’ve got holes that happened naturally through wear, even better, but do NOT cut holes in them yourself. Do and you’ll be mocked. Trust me, I know…’cause I’ll be the one mocking you. Got a Harley emblem on your arm? Feel free to show it off, but guys, don’t go cheesy with a skin-tight wife-beater; a Tshirt with the sleeve rolled up to reveal just part of the tattoo is much more subtle and interesting. And speaking of tank tops, ladies, throw on a tank top (maybe something with a big Ed Hardy design on it?) and some scuffed biker boots and you’re automatically hot.
The most universally flattering piece of biker garb is the motorcycle/racing jacket. The teeny collared, tight fitting jackets are simple enough to be worn with all looks, biker or not, but have enough character to add flair to any style. Now, we mentioned jeans a couple of paragraphs back. They may seem like a no-brainer, but jeans can make or break a biker-inspired look, so pay attention: let’s assume that I don’t even have to warn against mom jeans…that should go without saying. Also don’t put on your ultra flares from a few years back ~ that would just be silly. A subtle boot cut will do just fine, as would a skinny jean if you’re planning to tuck them into a stylish biker boot. Guys, whatever you do, make SURE that the jeans are the right length, maybe even a little long so that you get the nice fray at the back of the heel ~ if your jeans are too short, you’re just going to look goofy. And when you throw that biker jacket on as the finishing touch, it’s cool to look a little disheveled…a little, well, wild.
When it comes to men’s grooming, ZZ Top called, they want their beards back. It’s great to do a messy hairstyle, though; go for a faux-hawk or a bed-head, but don’t forget to shave the beard and sideburns. If there appears to be more hair on the face than on the head, it’s time to break out the razor (no need to go right to the skin, of course, ‘cause five o’clock shadows are still sexy…they give that “been on the road all day” air). Ladies, you can let your mane go wild or you can (if age-appropriate) subdue it into two braids…basically, any style that looks wind-tousled or like it would fit under a helmet is in keeping with the overall look.
Thrift stores are the greatest places on earth for those of us who want to add in a little biker without emptying our bank accounts. There are always old leather jackets, beat-up jeans, and a few pairs of quasi-biker boots at the local Salvation Army or Goodwill ~ same goes for cool imprinted Ts and tank tops. You can also find hefty worn leather belts to add a little meat to your biker chicness. Point is, you can put together a killer Harley Homage with stuff you already have or stuff you can pick up for next to nothing (although one of the most enjoyable ways to get something like a nice worn biker jacket is to steal it from your boyfriend!)
Haute Hog Couture
This year more than in the past few, biker wear has rolled (actually, rock and rolled, sincethere’s a lot of common ground between the rock star and biker looks…leather, boots, tats, spikes are the building blocks of both, along with a devil-may-care attitude and special brand of cool) right onto the catwalk. Infused with a touch of S&M, pigskin, patent leather, and prickly spikes are in and ready to conquer. Lots of bags, shoes, and jackets will bear the actual Harley moniker, and even more will incorporate the overall feel and materials used in true biker garments.
For inspiration, look to Giles Deacon for Mulberry Spring 2007 Collection, featuring patent leather and silver buckled shoulder and bowling bags, or the Burberry Prorsum Fall 2007 collection. Burberry suggests pairing darker knits with patent leather for an even bolder, more smoldering look. Gucci developed a women’s suede jacket complete with gold grommets and studded belt. The short jacket with wide collar and lapels is definitely biker, but can be a trendy touch to any wardrobe. Pair the jacket with some killer boots, and you’re as badass as can be. This season, Aldo has put rivets on multiple pairs of shoes, so ladies, your tootsies will be in fashion hog-heaven.
Check out some super-cute biker inspired fashions at www.choppercouture.com.
Another great accessory that can be either high-end or Harley are sunglasses. Black aviators are signature and completely timeless (note that typically, biker-influenced shades don’t have thick rims). Another key to timeless biker chic is fingerless driving gloves. Michael Kors released some fine examples in various colors.
Chances are that Harley Davidson styles will always be around…and for the most part, we’re happy about that. Perhaps there’s something rebellious about wearing black leather and studs. Perhaps it’s the originality of chaps (a big no-no, by the by). Or perhaps it’s simply just what it takes to get your motor running.
Watch out, world — we’re bringing biker back.
Think you’ve got what it takes to go “whole hog” and rock authentic Harley and Buell gear? Head to these dealerships/boutiques and get ready to make a statement!
N.F. Sheldon, Inc Harley-Davidson/ Buell
914 Southbridge St., Auburn, MA
266-300 Waverly Street, Rte 135, Framingham, MA
418 Maple St., Marlboro, MA