This Stylish High-Vis Vest Will Make You Want to Ride a Bike Every Day

Vespertine NYC's recycled reflective gear looks good over clothes and outerwear.

Three women wear reflective Vespertine Eco Vests with bicycles

Vespertine NYC

Have you ever wanted to ride your bike in the city, but decided not to because you're worried about not being seen? Lack of visibility is a major concern for many would-be urban cyclists, particularly at this time of year, when the streets get so dark, so early. It feels like too great a risk to trust car drivers to see you.

But now there is something that can help. Vespertine NYC is a woman-owned, New York City-based company that makes what it cleverly calls "haute réflecture"—stylish high-visibility wear that will make you and your bike stand out in a sea of cars, thus making you far safer. Its bright reflective material is visible within 2,000 feet of cars' headlights. Furthermore, it's designed to look good and to fit comfortably over regular clothing, even puffy outerwear.

Vespertine NYC, which is a strong advocate for both slow transport and slow fashion, makes its products with top-notch materials that are built to last and withstand the elements. Sarah Canner, company founder, spoke with Treehugger about the Vespert Eco Vest, which is probably the prettiest piece of hi-vis wear you'll ever see. She explained how it differs from the traditional "crossing guard" look that turns many people off.

"The Vespert Eco Vest has a unique design that really flatters the female form. Unlike the one-size-fits-all, boxy look of traditional safety vests, the Vespert Eco comes in six sizes (XS-XXL) and is designed for women. At the same time, there’s a flexibility to the fit, thanks to wide arm openings and an adjustable tie closure. It’s super light-weight. You don’t even realize you’re wearing it, so it’s great for summer but also over coats."

Other appealing design features are the back of the vest resembling a safety triangle, built-in pockets, and the fact that it's made in small batches in New York City using water-resistant, 100% recycled polyester, with the brightest 3M Scotchlite™ reflective trim.

Canner was once a reluctant cyclist herself, but that changed when she realized that being seen was really the most important factor—and if she could ensure that, she'd be more willing to ride frequently and year-round.  

"This was a big impetus for me in starting my business, and an actionable solution to my fears. I felt I was relatively safe on the road as long as I could make sure I was seen. The easiest way to be seen? Wear something bright for daytime and reflective at night. I use my bike for transportation and am wearing my regular clothes so I wanted to wear something fun, stylish, and that made me visible."

Canner has since become a strong advocate for urban cycling, and has even written a guide for women who want to ride in the city. When Treehugger asked her to share some advice for readers who may want to ride more but feel afraid to, Canner replied, 

"Yes! I have so much sympathy for people who are afraid to bike. I used to be terrified to bike in the city. First of all, what you have to keep in mind is that [biking] is good for your health, good for the environment, easy on the wallet, often the fastest way to get to your destination in a dense urban environment, and, on top of all that, it's good plain fun. It makes you feel like a kid again. The feeling of flying on a bicycle just brings so much joy to your life."

Canner encourages women to think of biking as "a muscle that you're training. Your biking skills and confidence will grow with practice. And honestly, I think that confidence spills over into the rest of your life, too."

She went on to say, "One of the biggest realizations that ... really helped me get over the fear was that on my bike I was a part of traffic. Before I tried it, biking in a city seemed insane, like volunteering to be the frog in that old video game 'Frogger.' But it isn’t like that at all. You move with traffic, not against traffic. And sometimes you even have your own special lane and traffic lights. You are a part of traffic, just with a smaller footprint—which makes it really essential that other road users see you and know you’re there."

And that's precisely where Vespertine NYC and its haute réflecture come in. With reflective vests, jackets, blazers, blouses, mohair sweaters, biking shorts, fingerless gloves, and crossbody bags, there's something to ensure that everyone is seen on the road.

Canner said she receives great responses from customers. "Many of them tell me how much they love the Vespert Vest and that they wear it every time they are on the road. That’s just about the best feedback I could hope for."

If you're looking for more urban cycling tips and inspiration, you can check out Canner's guide, "Conquer Your Fear and Fall in Love With City Biking." It's available for free on the Vespertine NYC website, and she says it has led to some "really happy converts."

The Vespert Eco Vest retails for $72, which may seem high to some, but when you consider what it could save you from, it's a small price to pay. Plus, it's worth investing in something you actually want to wear—and don't find excuses to leave at home. This is an investment in health and safety that's well worth it.