Category Archives: style

Fashion Friday

Overcast skies and thunderstorms colored my week with steely blues and soft grays.  After months of bright sunshine and primary colors, this low-key palate soothed my eyes and spirit – and my sensitive skin, which was happy for  some cloud cover!

These colors and the feelings they evoke inspired this collage.  I began with the soothing familiarity of my own bicycle, then dressed my imaginary self in a made-to-order organic cotton dress from Portland-based designer, Makool Loves You, paired with crocheted sneakers and a silky helmet cover. The cover is made for equestrian helmets, but I wonder if it would work for bicycling?  A lovely perfume would help with the sweat-free summer strategy – here I chose iris and white musk, the scent of a flowering garden after a heady summer storm.

I always have a book with me in my bike bag and this is a good time to delve into the work of America’s new Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey.

Overhead, pelicans glide in threes—
their shadows across the sand
dark thoughts crossing the mind.

My imagination paints this scene with the same blues and grays.

What color was your week?

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Fashion Friday: Rainy Day Biking

It’s been raining for a week here. After more than a month with no rain, and weeks of scorching heat, that’s no bad thing. But it does make for a change in my riding apparel. Here’s what I wish I had to wear this rainy morning: a neutral dress with bright accents, overshoes that work with heels and a rain cape. Whee, rain capes! There are a lot of options out there; the Iva Jean I chose is on the pricey side but Amazon has options from $11. And of course, you need a bright and cheery upright bike to wear it on. I chose Sara’s.

 

Rainy day cycling

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Fashion Friday: Sporty Sweating

The weather is soooooo hooooooot!!!!!  I admit that I am not biking on this ozone-action, 103 degree day, but I have been biking most days.  There is no way not to sweat like a piglet, so my only realistic option has been to wear gym clothes while on my bike and change at work.  For this Fashion Friday, I figured that since I am sweating anyway, I could imagine myself as one of those stylish sporty cyclists.

The Patagonia dress looks so sleek, plus it’s quick-drying and offers SPF 15 protection (pretty cool!).  The Keen Commuter Cycling Sandals I actually own and love because they never smell funky.  The Terry sunglasses are not something I would buy, but I like them in this magical collage world.  Finally, the Sweetpea Little Black Dress is my absolute go-to bicycle for fantasizing about being a road warrior glamazon.  (Gorgeous!!!!)

Do you have any sporty favorites that help you feel stylish while sweating?  Or are you beyond caring in this oppressive heat?

Patagonia dress / Little Black Dress™ | Sweetpea Bicycles / Keen Women’s Commuter Cycling Sandals  / Tifosi Women’s Cycling Sunglasses |

Bicycling in a Long Dress, Part II

Last month, I posted about bicycling in a long dress.  I demonstrated using an upright Danish bike with a full chain case.  Today I wore a long dress and I wanted to ride my Rivendell, which has an exposed chain and no skirt guard.  I assume this is the type of bike that most readers have, so I’m posting Bicycling in a Long Dress: Part II – no chain guard edition.

This is almost as simple as Part I.  The only difference is that I pinned up the bottom of my skirt.

Here is a quick video to show how quick and easy making a long skirt bike-friendly is.

Has anyone else tried this with a long dress? I know a few of you commented about similar strategies in the previous post.

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Bikes and the City Print

I am a long-time follower of the always beautiful, original, creative, and intelligent Bikes and the City, but I only recently realized that the fabulous blog-runner, Meli, has original bicycle prints for sale.  I immediately chose this fabulous orange and yellow San Francisco bicycle print for my home.

The print now hangs framed on my living room wall.  Love!  The fact that it’s from Meli makes it extra special.

You can get your paws on a print of your own here.

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Fashion Friday: Star Struck

This amazing skirt by Shadowplayncy inspired me to build a whole Fashion Friday look around it. The cotton sateen skirt is hand-sewn in New York City and printed with real images from the Hubble Telescope.  All of their space-inspired pieces are jaw-droppingly beautiful and unique.

I’m also really into these studded leather flats by Marc Jacobs.  If you look closely, you can see that the toes have little mouse ears, eyes, and noses!  A fun craft project would be turning a cheap pair of flats into mice.  Another would be putting orange accents on my Dutch bike, calling it Hermes, and reselling it for $4,650.  :)

I would wear this outfit on a night bike ride (sunglasses becoming a headband after sunset) to view the International Space Station as it passes by this weekend.

{Dorothy Perkins gold top, $49, Star skirt, $138, Marc by Marc Jacobs mouse shoes, $250, Mathias Chaize star earrings, $110, Chloé square sunglasses, $143, Bicycle Hermès Surprise, $4,650}

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Roll Model: Martha Williams of Bike Fancy

I am very excited to share this week’s Roll Model: Martha Williams of the fabulous blog Bike Fancy, showing “people looking good on bikes.”  Martha, a professional photographer for Time Out Chicago magazine, has created a unique website that goes far beyond simply posting snapshots of bicyclists on the street.  She flags each person down, introduces herself, makes an intentional portrait, and follows up with an email interview.  There is no wonder how Martha earns the trust of strangers on the street: she is one of the sweetest and most welcoming people I know.  If anyone can put you at ease while taking your picture to share on the internet, it’s Martha.  She is also an experienced transportation bicyclist.  Read on to learn more about Martha, biking fancy, and the importance of Vitamin D and divided bike lanes.

Martha and her bike

Describe your bicycling style in three words.

Surprisingly stylish schleper

How long have you been riding a bike?

Well, I’ve been riding a bike in Chicago over ten years. I learned to ride a bike in third grade, which was shamefully late for a suburban kid. Our neighbor (who was the same age) taught me and my twin sister when she found out we didn’t know how to ride. I have a big family and buying two bikes and teaching two kids to ride a bike was too much at the time. After that, we borrowed our older sisters bike, and then went straight to ten speeds, no kiddie bikes.

How does bicycling fit into and/or shape your life?

I’ve modified my job to be doable by bike. I commute most days, in all weather. I also ride my bike to most of my photo shoots for work. I feel much more efficient when I can ride. I can get from my office, to the North Loop, then Taylor St, and end in Wicker Park in half the time it would take to ride public transportation or drive.

Martha and her bike

What inspires you to keep bicycling?

I don’t know if it is mental, experiential, physiological, physical, or church-of-the-wheel-spiritual, but biking makes me indescribably happy. So the selfish pursuit of happiness is my inspiration. Also, less pollution, great light that changes everyday, not getting a Vitamin D deficiency, saving money to travel!

Tell us about Bike Fancy - how it came to be, your goals for the site, and what you’ve learned about the Chicago bicycling community through the process.

When I started Bike Fancy I was full-on in love with riding my bike in the city, and I wanted to find a way to share those feelings. At first I thought that I might write a first person account of riding in the city, but I realized there were people already doing that really well (Dottie and Trisha among others!), I’m not a great writer, and I am really not interested in my own perspective, at least not in a way that could sustain a blog. I was familiar with the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog, and was completely obsessed with the Sartorialist. I had also photographed for Time Out Chicago’s public eye article (where I am a photo editor) on occasion. I realized that because I was riding around the city most days that I was uniquely positioned to document cyclists. I really wanted to address the cycling gender gap in a positive way, and show that anyone can ride a bike in the city. No need to be an athletic person, wear special clothes, or be a dude.

Fancy Cyclist Anne

I have loved getting to know the Chicago bicycling community through this blog. I have met lots of interesting people, learned about inspiring organizations, and built lots of relationships. That said, I randomly stop strangers so that I can include people that don’t consider themselves part of the cycling community. In Amsterdam and Copenhagen there is no “bicycling community,” because everyone rides a bike. I love that in the span of a few weeks I could stop a brand new rider, an experienced rider from a local racing team, and everyone in between.

Fancy Cyclist Sojourner

I have lots of goals for the site, but firstly I’d love to make a sleeker design for the site with a few more bells and whistles. Secondly, I feel constantly challenged to show a diverse range of women: age, race, neighborhood, body type, social group, etc. My goal is always to find a diverse range of fashionable women, but I’m only one person. Also, I love to travel, so photographing as many places as possible is up there.

In your experience, does the general bicycling world – shops, outreach, group rides, etc. – feel welcoming for you as a woman?

I think the general bicycling world feels very welcoming.

Fancy Winter Cyclist Cheyenne

What is your take on the “gender gap” in cycling, including media attention on how to get more women to bicycle?

Well I think those statistics are a few years old and if they were done now you would see the gap narrowing. That said– I do see a lot more men out there, and I am looking! I think women, generally speaking, are more risk adverse and cycling in a city with limited infrastructure can be really terrifying. I think most people want a stress-free commute and getting buzzed by a giant truck, or left-hooked by someone talking on their cell phone is not “stress-free.”

If you could magically change one thing to improve bicycling in your city, what would it be?

Divided bike lanes! I ride State St. a lot and there is a perfect amount of space for a 2-way bike lane right down the middle of it. It could go all the way from 95th to North Ave, but I’d be happy with a lane from Roosevelt to Kinzie.

Fancy Cyclist Tracy

Do you feel optimistic about the future of bicycling?

For sure. I think it is a no-brainer, especially with rising gas prices, the obesity epidemic, and increased urbanization. Also, I’ll share a little secret— a lot of people find it addictive.

Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?

Start slow, know where you are going so you can feel confident and calm.

Final words?

I think I wrote too much already : ) Okay I take that back. I am in the market for a new bike. Under $800, a fast lady frame, upright handlebars, a rack that matches the frame. I’m looking at the Linus but might just do a vintage custom build. Taking recommendations!

Martha at work

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Martha!

Visit Martha at Bike Fancy to see new portraits several times a week. 

Fashion Friday: Fun in the Sun

Trisha is at Bonnaroo music festival, so I am posting this Fashion Friday in her place and in her honor, since I’m sure she’s having lots of fun in the sun!

This outfit is more of a dream one for me, because I own nothing like this flowered tank, pink shorts, and silver sandals.  It would look pretty cool, though, and perfect for a fun summer weekend!  I definitely need more bright colors in my wardrobe.  The colorful, cycle chic Schwinn bike pictured is only $300 at Target, although I cannot vouch for its quality.

I hope you all have some fun in the sun of your own – just remember to wear SPF!

Old navy tank top, $18 on sale for $8, J.Crew chino shorts, $48, Schwinn Women’s Three Speed Fiets Hybrid Bike White/Green, $300, DV by Dolce Vita leather platform sandals, $59, Old navy hat, $13BCBG Max Azria plastic sunglasses, $90

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Kate Spade CHI :)

You know how the right outfit has the power to brighten your day and make the world a more fun place to live?  If no, you should probably skip this vapid post.  If so – yeah!  totally!

I wore this Kate Spade ensemble to work last week, which of course involved nearly ten miles of bicycling.  And I felt so super happy the entire time, la la la lalalalaaaa.  *birds chirping*  A bonus is that drivers might be nicer to me dressed like this (Mary Poppins Effect), if they take a moment to glance up from their iPhones.

I am usually a thrift store lady, but I am admittedly attracted to a few different designers.  Not that I pay full price!  Goodness, no!  But I am a seasoned clearance stalker and when this Kate Spade dress popped up for 1/3 of the original price, I was so there.

Luckily, the weather was not too hot and humid – I’d hate to sweat all over this dress’s lovely lining (’cause I sweat like a piglet).  Tip time!  Did you notice the socklette peeking from my mary janes?  I buy those from the drugstore and they keep my feet from getting sweaty-stinky.  ;)

I also wore my Nutcase helmet, not pictured because I won’t pretend I think helmets improve on a look.  Oh!  But you know what helmet would have been spectacular with this dress (if you’re into that kind of thing!):

Ladybug!!!

Do you have a favorite outfit that makes you feel especially happy and cheery while bicycling?  I’d love to hear about it!

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Guest Review: Cambridge Raincoat Company

A photo from Cambridge Raincoat's website

A lovely raincoat caught my eye a few months ago at a women-who-bike brunch, worn by fellow lady April.  When I mentioned the coat, April was excited to tell me all about it.  I was interested to hear that the raincoat is the clever and stylish creation of a bicycling woman in England, who started Cambridge Raincoat Company.  Since I get so many questions about bike friendly raincoats, I asked April to review hers for LGRAB.  She kindly agreed and the following review is written by April Galarza, who writes at www.ecocanary.com.  Thanks, April!

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“Cycling in the rain, cycling in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again…”

Now just set that to music and imagine me in rain boots and a trench coat holding an umbrella and swinging around my bike as if she were a lamp post.

Ok Ok, that picture is a bit too Pollyannaish, even for me.

To tell you the truth, for a long time I avoided cycling in the rain. It figures that Chicago has been so very rainy this year!  Even sunny days have included light showers!   I never mind riding in a downpour on Saturdays when I am dressed for gardening; who cares if I am wet on top of dirty?  But biking on work days had become at best a challenge and at worst downright failure to launch.  I braved out a few rain storms, trying to pick days when the rain would be heaviest during my evening commute.  I even covered my bike up with a tarp when I parked it outside my workplace to keep it dry, but honestly, those were miserable commutes—cold, wet and stressful.

Is it just me or do moderate, tolerant drivers turn into speeding-for-the-sake-of- speeding, squeeze-me-off-the-road and turn-in-front-of-me-even-though-I-am-lit-up-like-a-Christmas-tree-and-am-wearing-a-construction-worker’s-vest-over-my-raincoat jerks whenever it rains?  My old rain jacket, a packable hiking windbreaker, the color of a starless night just didn’t cut it. Besides being dark colored, it is short. My legs were completely exposed, resulting in soaked work pants or skirt!

So instead of braving the weather, I turned to the radar game:  “Spin the wheel and hope you get a sunny day,” says the host in his sparkly blue suit, slicked back hair and bright red tie as I put my hand on a wheel composed of 12 slices, 11 of which depict rain clouds and one a dull yellow sun mostly hidden behind a big gray cloud.  I spin the wheel and the dial lands on torrential downpour.  “Congratulations, April, you’ve won a trip to work on the train!”

Then I heard my fellow cyclists on Chainlink saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather for biking, only bad clothing.”

It was time to get some rain gear.  First came new boots.  They are made from post-consumer recycled rubber and Italian silk designed by a Canadian company called Kamik.   They are super comfortable, really sturdy, totally water proof, flexible, eco-friendly (I can recycle them! Kamik has a take back program) and to top it all of stylish!

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Now all I needed was a good raincoat.  Let me tell you my wish list and then I’ll tell you about the jewel-of-a-find I ended up buying.

  • Really bright color and maybe even reflective features built in (I hate wearing the vest. I feel about as cool as a crash dummy.)
  • Long enough to cover my lap and knees. (I refuse to wear rain pants. I would like to maintain a modicum of dignity riding to work.)
  • Made of a high quality fabric, something warm enough to cut the wind, but breathes well enough to wear on muggy summer days.
  • Style: doesn’t make me look like a racer or a saran-wrapped sandwich.   (I believe you should be able to integrate cycling into your daily life, wearing normal clothes and riding upright at moderate speed).

And now ladies (and gentlemen) may I present the Cambridge Raincoat!

The only raincoat that meets all of my demands and does it with style and flair!

I searched far and wide before I found the Cambridge Raincoat Company.  The American market wanted to dress me like a racer or a hiker but never an upright Dutch-style biker (sorry I’m a writer I couldn’t resist the rhyme…).  I enjoyed perusing traditional London macs and Dutch capes but nothing spoke to my needs.  Most of that rain gear was rendered in dark colors or earth tones.  Few (namely only the racing-style cyclist jackets) had reflective features and among those only the Cambridge Raincoat fit my taste and style and would coordinate with my outfits and make me feel Cycle Chic.

After emailing the owner and innovator extraordinaire Sally Guyer (Sally had the idea for the raincoats and collaborated with Savile Row graduate designer, Elizabeth Radcliffe to create them) who answered my every question and assured me she could ship to the U.S., I was sold!   Now I only had to decide what color I wanted.

The beautiful raincoats are made in a trench-coat style, however they have a decidedly fitted feminine shape, which calls to mind something worn by a 50s silver-screen starlet.  The collar is adjustable and can be worn in three ways, much like my beloved canvas navy-blue short trench coat that I wear everywhere.  The fabric is specially engineered for outdoor activities, being waterproof, wind cutting, lightweight and breathable. Perhaps the best feature of all is the integrated reflective ribbons on the belt, the buttons and the cuffs.  They are an ordinary gray color until light shines on them and then, look out!   At the time I bought my coat, there were four bright colors to choose from: Aspen Gold, Poppy Red, Iris Orchid and Vibrant Green (now there are even more!).  Each one is so chic and exciting that it took me over a week to decide on the one I wanted! Be sure to check out all of them on Cambridge Raincoat’s website!   After much deliberation I settled on the Iris Orchid color, a perfect match for my Kamik rain boots.

After riding in many heavy rainstorms on my bike under the cover of my lovely and impervious iris colored raincoat, I officially gave the Cambridge Raincoat my stamp of approval.  I carry it in my pannier if there is the slightest chance of rain.  I am told that I have an elegant and retro look while wearing it.  I love the bright cheerful color and the reflective fabric on the cuffs, buttons and belt accessory.  Also, the silk polka-dot lining is darling.   There is no better word to describe it.

Logistically it meets all my needs. It covers me from my neck all the way down past my knees. There is an extra hidden button located just below the knee in order to hold the coat closed over your lap while cycling.  Each time I have biked during rainstorms I have arrived at my destination completely dry.  I also feel that I am well seen by drivers.  There is less buzzing and honking and more than a few friendly smiles and wave-throughs.  The coat fits me well so there is none of that unsightly and annoying billowing up around me that I have noticed with other rain gear, such as ponchos.  I did notice that the coat performs slightly better when I am sitting completely upright and pedaling at a steady pace.  If I pedal too hard the coat tends to ride up a little and expose my knees.

Sally has told me that she intentionally designed the coat not to have a hood because it obstructs the periphery vision of a cyclist. I agree with her about not using a hood while biking, but I would like to see a detachable hood in future designs.  I love my raincoat and also wear it when walking to close destinations such as the library and the grocery store or taking my dog, Lola, out to play in the puddles. On these occasions a hood would be very convenient because I could forgo an umbrella and thus have my hands free to carry groceries and hold the leash. Sally has assured me that she will be designing some matching hats soon and I look forward to seeing them!

In the hot muggy days of summer, the coat was a little less breathable than I would have liked but when the cold rains of fall and winter arrived, I was no longer complaining.  It is just as impervious to cutting wind as it is to water.  It turned out to be the perfect top layer for all my winter riding.  Not only was I protected from the wind, I also felt safer during my commutes home during the dark days of winter due to its bright color and reflective features.

Of course the best part of the raincoat is that it is a stylish and fashionable item, unlike the majority of rain gear designed for bikers. I love the cut of it, how it flairs at the waist and complements the retro A-line skirts I like to wear.  I love the three ways that I can wear the collar to adjust to weather conditions and my fashion preferences.

All in all, I am extremely pleased with my raincoat.  As a daily cyclist who uses her bike as her primary form of transportation, the only time I ever dreaded and avoided riding was because of the rain.  Now I embrace it. I love it.  I find myself laughing out loud as I zoom through puddles and, yes folks, even singing a tune or two as I pedal.

A new line of raincoats has just arrived. There are additional colors and features. Check them out today!  Please keep in mind that since this is a U.K. company, the sizing is different.  Refer to this chart for size comparisons. My coat is a U.K. size 12. 

This designed and made in England coat is not cheap.  Readers of LGRAB can get a 30 pound (~$50) discount as long as supplies last by clicking the following link: www.cambridgeraincoats.co.uk/LGRAB

A photo from Cambridge Raincoat's website

How to: bicycling in a long dress

Bicycling in a long dress is possible! In fact, with the right set-up, it’s downright simple. Some may ask, “Why even bother biking in a long dress?” My response is that my bike is transportation and I do not want it to dictate what I wear (except pencil skirts, those are crazy – unless you convert it!).

If you are interested in learning how, read on!

Three major factors determine how successfully you can bike in a long dress: the dress, the bike, and the technique.

The Dress

Must allow enough freedom to move your legs in a cycling motion. The skirt needs to be relatively full or made of stretchy material with a slit, such as the one pictured above. Test the dress’s bike-ability before leaving (or purchasing) by doing some knee-lifts.

The Bike

Must have several characteristics to work with a long dress, unless you tie your dress up by your knees. First, a step-through frame (has anyone done this with a diamond frame??). Second, a covered chain to keep the skirt from being eaten and/or greased up. Third, a skirt guard if the skirt is full, so it won’t get pulled in the rear wheel spokes. Note that this was not an issue with the dress and bike above. Fourth, fenders, otherwise your skirt will rub against the rear tire. Finally, a clean frame is a good idea, since your dress will rub against it a fair bit.

The Technique

For the most part, you can bike as normal. You may benefit from hitching the skirt up a bit, to provide more give around the thighs. Experiment to determine what works best for each dress. You may also want to dismount fully at stoplights, to reduce stress on the seams of the skirt.

Here is a quick video that covers the topic. I did this on the fly yesterday, since I happened to be wearing a long dress. I’m not a professional film-maker, so not the best quality video ever, but I hope simply seeing someone bike in a long dress is helpful.

Have any of you biked in a long dress or skirt? I’d love to hear stories and additional tips in the comments! Please feel free also to share photos, via either html or links.

{For more advice, come out to my The Lady and the Bike class in Chicago tomorrow!}

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Fashion Friday: Beautiful Beige

I went all-color for my previous Fashion Friday, but this week I’m feeling the beige.  Often stereotyped as boring, a palette of subtly varied beiges can be romantic and classy.  I love pairing bright red lips with such ensembles to provide a pop of color (Chanel is my favorite).  Many women are afraid of red lips, but the bold color is guaranteed not to look tarty on a background of beige.

My weekend plans involve biking, picture-taking, reading, and brunching with my women.  Maybe I’ll look half as put together as my style collage.  :)  What’s on your agenda?

Vintage dress, vintage camera, Breukelen from Bowery Lane Bikes (love the wood crate!), Yakkay helmet, Kate Spade sunglasses, KORS shoes, Chloe bag, Chanel lipstick.

P.S. HAPPY JUNE!

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Bonjour mardi!

French braid.

 

French bike.

Maybe it was seeing Goodbye, First Love (aka Un Amour de Jeunesse) on Sunday night, but today I felt the urge to dust off poor, neglected Le Peug and take him to work today. When going back to this bike after a break, I’m always surprised by how nimble it is.

My camera is still hiding somewhere and taking Panda snaps with the iPhone in glaring sunlight is terribly awkward (mine’s a plain old 3G without a front-facing camera). So apologies for my quizzical expression. The crown braid is actually a terrific cycling hairstyle; watch for a tutorial soon. It’s easier than you might think! Until then, check out the trailer for Goodbye First Love. It’s the kind of movie that stays with you and gets better the more you think about it.

 

 

Fashion Friday: Bike Spring!

Happy Friday!  The weather in Chicago is absolutely beautiful, with blue skies and sunshine.  I am in the mood for wearing a bright spring dress and fun sandals, hopping on my bike, and riding around all weekend!  I plan to do just that, once I get this work day over with.  :)  Along with all that bike riding, my weekend plans are to go to farmer’s market, start planting a balcony garden (tomatoes and herbs!), develop some film, read a lot, and relax.

In that spirit, here is some spring bike fashion inspiration.  This is a new Fashion Friday series and the goal is to inspire – a mindset, a style, a look-alike thrift store outfit – not to advertise any particular brand.  If you are not interested in fashion, feel free to skip over these posts, but in the answers to our survey, readers overwhelmingly requested more fashion content.  The people have spoken!  :)

Nutcase “Dots” helmetSolandra T-strap sandals and Primary Blooms dress from Anthropologie, Kate Spade New York Abici from Adeline Adeline

Safety pants panda

I was planning to sit out the whole “red pants” trend now that they’ve become so ubiquitous (is it just Tennessee??). And then I saw these vintage high-waist (but petite length!) beauties in the thrift store for just $3. It takes a bold pant to make Kermit Allegra look muted, but I think these accomplish it.

 

Bonus: high visibility! If anyone squashes me in this outfit, they clearly weren’t paying attention. Alas, with summer approaching I won’t be wearing pants on the bike much longer. Considering making these into shorts, since they’re likely to be a one-season trendy item anyway.

Happy Friday to all!

Fail: spandex shorts under dress

We’ve been talking a lot about dealing with unruly skirts and dresses recently.  I shared my experiences of tying my skirt and stapling my dress.  To avoid such a faux pas in the future, I decided to wear my old Nike spandex shorts (no padding) under suspicious new dresses.

Such was the case with a dress I thrifted last week (ahem, new with Nordstrom tags, I gotta brag).  The skirt was full and the fabric light, making the dress a candidate for floating-up-with-the-wind syndrome, so I threw my spandex shorts underneath and thought I managed to be both clever and chic.

Um, nope!

I realized only when I got this film photo back from the lab that the outline of the shorts was totally visible under the dress fabric.

*sigh*  The dress never behaved inappropriately on the bike, anyway.  Such is life, I suppose.

At this point, the garter-belt-pinned-to-dress idea is looking like the best.  I’m noting that for the future.  :)

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Convert Your Skirt!

This morning, I met up with my friend Elizabeth at Heritage Bikes for a quick breakfast before continuing on to work.  Bikes and coffee and friends is a lovely way to start the day!

While there, I met Sarah, one of Elizabeth’s high school friends visiting from Berkeley.  She showed us her clever creation, a restrictive pencil skirt that she made bike-able by replacing the side seams with zippers and sewing in extra fabric.

The surprise pop of color is so fun!

At the office, you’re wearing a regular pencil skirt and then before getting on you bike at the end of the day, you unzip the sides and viola.  Here’s a short demonstration video.

Sarah has a website, Skirts on a Bike, where you can download instructions on how to convert your own skirt.  She plans to start selling kits complete with zippers and fabric in the future.

I have a few pencil skirts and dresses that I love but rarely wear due to not being able to ride my bike with them. I think it’s time to convert some skirts! :)

Has anyone else tried something like this?

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Made in Montreal Bike Dress

In a recent comment, LC of Naturally Cycling: Manchester made a great point, saying:

I have made a conscious decision of buying less but buying good quality and ethically made. So I would be happy to pay more for an item of clothing if I know (and it’s certified) that it’s made ethically, for example the workers are paid a fair living wage, the materials are of certified origins (i.e. organic cotton, fair trade etc).

If the price tag is high just because it’s ‘fashion’, then no, I am not willing to shell out so much money. But if it means workers have not been exploited then yes.

I totally agree with this philosophy.  Buying fewer things that are high quality and ethically made makes sense all around.  Although I sometimes slip up, I try to apply this reasoning to all my purchases.  (I sort of get a free pass at thrift stores, which is one reason thrifting is so fun.)

In this spirit, while visiting Marche Bonsecours in Montreal, I purchased a dress that was designed and made in the city.  The price was high compared to a mass market dress, but I was willing to pay more to support a local Montreal designer.  Plus, bicycle print!

The designer is Eve Lavoie.  I could not find much about her online, except this shop that sells her clothing.

Do you have a shopping philosophy?

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April’s Women-who-bike Brunch

On Sunday, the Chicago Women-Who-Bike gathered for our April brunch.  Although we had to cancel a planned picnic at the last minute due to the weather (never trust a Chicago forecast), a great group of both regulars and first-timers gathered at the back-up location.

Beth (on the left below), a first-timer, is preparing for a charity century ride in June and learning how to use clipless pedals.  My hat is off to her!  Those are two bikey things that I have never tried before.  I love how her Fuji manages to be both utilitarian and attractive while primarily being sporty.  You can follow her adventures at YAY BETH!! (tagline: “cheer me on, damn you.” ha!).

Jenny (on the right below) is a regular and she rides the most lovely Globe I’ve seen.  The Carolina blue frame and cream tires are so gorgeous, right?  Especially with her brown leather boots.  I’m impressed by how far the Globe has come as a utilitarian and classy bike in the past few years.

Araidia and her lovely vintage Raleigh are regulars.  I swooned over her shellacked cork grips for a bit (she shellacked them herself and they look so much nicer than my pre-shellacked ones) and we noticed that our 3-speed Sturmey Archer shifters are almost identical, even though hers is over 30 years older than mine.  Ariadia designs and creates beautiful Love Letter Slips and we made plans to go thrifting together soon!

Chika (on the left below) joined the group for the first time.  I was amazed to learn that we both grew up in North Carolina, went to the same college (the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and graduated the same year, 2003!  Meeting a fellow Tarheel in Chicago is so rare, let alone one from my class.  Very cool!

Lucy (on the right) lives near the restaurant, so she walked and I got a photo of her with her cool shoes, instead of her bike.  :) Cute skirt plus leggings plus sneakers = perfect early spring outfit.

Ann was another first-timer.  She rides a WorkCycles Fr8 with two child seats, one on the front and one on the back.  This badass setup is rare in Chicago and I realized that I spotted her one morning in Lincoln Park last year, biking her children to school.  I blogged about the sighting at the time, saying this:

I passed a woman going the other direction who was riding a Dutch bike with flowing hair, carrying a baby on the front and a toddler on the back.  It was so beautiful, I could have wept.  She must be Dutch or something, although I would love to be wrong.  Anyone know a regular Chicago mom who throws down like that?  I was tempted to turn around and catch up with her to snap a picture, but figured that would be weird.

I love that I ended up meeting her all this time later at my brunch, and I’m happy to learn that she is American!

We also had a very special guest visiting from NYC, Kim of Velojoy, a “growing online resource for city cyclists and those who may be considering riding in the bike lanes for the first time,” written by an all-female team.  Connecting with people from around the country and world through the love of bicycling is the best.  I’m so glad Kim contacted me and and now I’m excited to visit New York again soon.

I pulled out Coco for the morning.  I’ll be riding her a lot this spring, I’m sure.  Such a sweet and happy bike.  :)

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of everyone who was there (Seri, I’m looking at you!).

Of course, the women-who-bike brunch is also about food.  My favorite dish at Ann Sather, a Swedish diner, is the Swedish pancakes with lingonberries.  Yum!

Our next brunch will be the first Sunday of May and we’re also having a happy hour next Wednesday, April 11.  If you want in, email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com and I’ll add you to the mailing list.  Don’t be shy – we’re a friendly bunch!

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Wardrobe Malfunction: Tying my skirt

The other day, I wore a full pleated skirt to work, one I had worn while bicycling many times in the past with no problem.  I must have been riding Betty Foy and not Oma those previous times (like here), because this time the skirt kept ballooning up with wind and blowing back.  While the slightly leaned-forward positioning of Betty Foy causes the wind to push skirts down more securely against my thighs, Oma’s laid-back positioning can have the opposite effect.

For a while, I biked one-handed while using the other hand to hold down the skirt, but even that was not enough to tame it.  Eventually I pulled over, grabbed a ponytail holder from my bag, and tied up one side of my skirt, which worked, although it was wrinkled afterward.

Ta-da!

I was really annoyed by this situation at the time.  I know there are lots of people (both bicyclists and non-bicyclists) who think bicycling in a skirt is silly, and I probably looked like Exhibit No. 1 in support of their opinion out there, but I know that bicycling in a skirt is perfectly reasonable.   I do it all the time without incident and never have to worry about changing at my destination.

I should not care what others think, but I am cognizant of being a rarity out there and I want to represent well the idea of everyday bicycling.

In the end, the solution was easy enough – fast, effective and free – and I will simply make a mental note of this particular skirt’s limitations.

See also, Stapling my skirt.

P.S. Since we’ve been talking a lot about pricy specialty bicycling clothes lately, I’ll point out that this skirt, the pearl necklace, and the cashmere sweater all came from thrift stores.

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