From short pants to cool hats and bags big enough to hold a filing cabinet, bike messengers everywhere have a unique style. Riding a bike through the crowded streets of any city requires a wardrobe of practicality and freshness that clearly distinguishes couriers from geared-up roadies. Posers on shiny new Treks with "messenger style" bags from "The Gap" should take notes...
It's not just a bag, it's a money sack. The more stuff you stuff in your sack, the more money you make. Size does matter! Bags come in all shapes and sizes. There are bags big enough for two small children, bags with all nine planets artfully sewn onto the flap. There are pockets everywhere, pockets inside of pockets. Pockets hiding inside of seams and underneath straps. Then there are straps, straps that tie around your shoulders, waist, elbows and ankles. Custom made bags by R.E.Load and Bailey Works are among the favorites. A good bag is as important as the bike. It has to be able to carry all the necessities for a day in the life of a messenger, along with a case of PBR and a bag of ice.
Most messengers don't wear a helmet for obvious reasons, so a cool hat is essential. Hats can range from a shrunken ball cap to a trucker's lid. Wool is the way to go in cooler temperatures. It's important to have something to cover the ears and to keep the sun out of the eyes. Sock hats are popular among messengers. They're fairly inexpensive at the Army & Navy Discount store, plus you can easily sew on the patch of your favorite straight-edged punk band. Every messenger sews. Holes turn up in all kinds of places and duct tape won't always do the trick.
Duct tape fashion has taken on a life of it's own among the couriers here in the south. Sometimes, you just don't want to let go of that three year old pair of Dickies. So when your saddle warmer is dangling inches above street level, in plain sight of every car behind you, duct tape will prolong the life of your pants. There are even courier bags made entirely out of this versatile adhesive. Wallets of every size are another inventive accessory. Shoes can be held together with a little minor surgery; duct tape makes a perfect bandage for any old worn out sole. The next time you are pissed that you tore up your new Patagonia rain pants, don't chuck 'em, duct 'em.
Nothing beats a cold day like a cool hoody. Throw away that Old Navy sweater before it comes to life and strangles you. Hoody will keep you warm. A pullover fleece is thick enough for any winter day when layered with a good windbreaker. They come in cool messenger colors, like black and blue. They have a convenient pouch in the front where you can keep your spare pens or bike parts. A hoody is a messenger's best friend when the weather turns on him. The hood covers the head to shut out brutal wind and screaming cars. You can be creative with your hoody, use screen printing or fabric paint and stencils. Messenger gear is a canvas for many of the artistic minds that pedal the streets.
The Ghetto Fabulous messenger kicks out the fresh Vans in high gear for any time of year. Feet are important. Not only is it important to keep your toes warm, but your socks must be cool. Thankfully, there are a thousand creative socks out there. Among the favorites from SockGuy are beer drinking socks, flames, aliens, bite me's, eight balls and so on. So you show off your attitude without actually saying anything. Wear your mood swing with your skater shoes and shove some suit's face into it on the elevator without even laying a finger on them. Skater shoes are comfortable but thick enough to be used as an emergency brake. They compliment any pedal nicely. Vans has a line of biking shoes with cleats for those who are more clipless minded.
Don't leave the house without your pants, please. People will notice. They won't mind if you cut them off to keep your leg from getting caught up in the chain. No one wants you to flip over the handle bars and face plant into their car hood. That's simply not cool. Messengers cut their pants for their own safety as well as a powerful fashion statement that says, "I can walk through water." Dickies are ideal for many reasons: The thicker material dries quickly in the rain and keeps the wind out. The back pockets are good for ID and a snot rag. You don't have a snot rag? Use that old pair of cotton panties that your ex-girlfriend left over at your house. You know you still have them. What better way to keep her fresh in your mind than by blowing snot into her unmentionables? Your face will thank you for it.
Messengers everywhere have their own unique style based on climate, comfort, and affordability. It's important to keep in mind that anything you wear in the street has a short life span due to the hazardous conditions of everyday wear. T-shirts get covered in exhaust after a few months. Pants seemingly melt off of your saddle squeezer. Shoes split open and end up covered in black soot. It's not easy maintaining a fresh style amidst such cruel elements. Most messengers are naturally stylish just by remaining true to themselves. Their love for freedom and excitement adds to the mystique of a subculture that takes trends by the horns, leaving followers in the dust, literally. Ghetto fabulous is hanging from their backs and dripping down their faces. Next time you take your shiny new bike out for a ride, don't forget to bite my style.