Any well-dressed individual will unequivocally say that a proper wardrobe is paramount. Having the correct clothing for the occasion is a mark of sophistication. This applies equally to stage racing. The appropriately attired stage racer will have a wide range of selections to draw upon. Not only will he or she be fashionable, their garments will excel in function under extremely adverse conditions.
No matter what the stage racer will be putting on, it should fit well. Bespoke is not out of the question however solid off-the-peg will usually work. Not only will you look great, it will minimize discomfort. Your threads should also be in good condition from the start. Don’t step out with the ratty, derelique look. You will be there at the end of five or six days, trust me.
While there may be specialized ensembles for one-off occasions, every stage racer should have the “classics” in their racing closet. These are what you will be using at almost every race. Choose well and update to the latest colors when fashion dictates.
Most every stage racer will use compression shorts. Not only are they comfortable and reduce chafing, they keep the sand out. Some may trend to looser fitting old school designs more attuned to the basketball court or football pitch but I consider this underdressed for the occasion. Women will, of course, have the option of the running skort. Classic black is the color of choice since it does not show the dirt and you will be spending the better part of a week in the one pair you bring.
Short Sleeve Top:
Along with your compression shorts, your short sleeve top will see the most use. Fit can be loose or be tending towards compression if your physique allows. Longer in the body is preferred so it can be tucked in to prevent riding up under your pack. Wicking, tech fabrics are a requirement. No cotton! Colors or patterns are a personal choice/statement but consider lighter hues when desert racing. Be sure that all required race insignia are properly and proudly displayed in a professional manner. Sleeveless is almost never in fashion.
The appropriately attired stage racer will always have a hat. Mesh (trucker) styles typically are not appropriate but can be worn if you must. When racing under desert conditions the optional neck cape is suitable to complete the Legionnaire look as well as being quite functional.
This is considered more evening wear however they are tolerable anytime the climate is cool. Men almost always tend toward full length while some women enjoy the more sporting capris. Black again is typically the color of choice but you can go daring here. Cuffs are never in style for obvious reasons.
Long Sleeve Top:
Along with tights, this is usually part of evening wear. Its weight will be dictated by the occasion and can range from extremely lightweight to a heavy Henley type of garment. Pull-over, half zip or buttons/poppers are all quite acceptable. Usual fabrics include tech base or merino wool. It is highly advisable to coordinate with your tights. You can also expand your wardrobe in the field by wearing your long sleeve under your short sleeve to increase your comfort range.
Part of your outerwear collection, the raincoat or windbreaker is a smart choice. Waterproof, breathable and fully taped seams are a must along with the accompanying hood. Gone are the days of the slicker! High-performance waterproofs can be had to weigh about 6-8 ounces (170-225 grams). If on the other had it just looks gusty, then the lighter windbreaker will do nicely. Many models today can come in at less than a one or two (28-55 grams) but typically dispense with the hood for the more windblown hair expression.
Another important part of your outerwear ensemble. Many skimp here but this is an opportunity to go all out! Down is the fill of choice but a synthetic fill can work, fleece is passé’. Nice accoutrements include a hood and pockets for hand placement whilst standing around. High-end models can come in at just 6 ounces (170 grams) yet provide unparalleled warmth. Go bold or go home!
While many of you may have sufficient cranial insulation you still should consider the wisdom and fashion of the warm cap or toque. This can be a great statement around the camp at night showing your insight into the thermodynamics of biometric heat loss. Windproof linings go without saying.
A critical part of the stage racers wardrobe. This functional piece of clothing is more than an accessory. It can be a cap, neck gator, wristband, crop top for petite women, handkerchief, washcloth, etc. Having one as a memento from your latest stage race is also a great badge of honor to be worn anytime!
There are of course assorted accessories that need to be mentioned. Any favorite pair of sunglasses goes well. Gaiters will definitely be on the runway when the sand is deep. Some may also be sporting compression sleeves of various types. Occasionally warm and/or waterproof gloves are acceptable but a more shocking look can be obtained with nitrile or latex. And we cannot forget socks. Crew to over the calf heights are suitable. Toe socks are also a big hit with the stage racing crowd. Tech blends with Lycra are the standard, again no cotton. Bring along several pairs to choose from depending upon your mood.
On a final note, the appropriately attired stage racer will have suitable apparel for the post-race awards party. While not black tie, the operable word here is smart. Women usually wear a nice dress (typically calf length). Men should shoot for business casual with ties optional. Whatever you decide upon for the festivities you should just remember to bring a smaller belt and larger shoes…