Category Archives: Series

Fashion Friday: Scandalous Style

This week I burned my way through season one of Scandal on Netflix.  Love!  The best part of the show is the main character Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington.  She’s uber-capable, confident, loyal and smart as hell – and also an amazing dresser.

As much as I love her style, I found myself thinking about the difficulty of wearing her outfits on a bike.  She favors crisp white suits, sky high platform heels and wide leg pants.

So I put together my own interpretation of bike-friendly Olivia Popeness.  I swapped out her wide-legged trousers for slim pants or a skirt to avoid chain disasters, her towering stilettos for pedal-friendly wedges, and her Prada bag for a Po Campo bag.  I had to keep the white trench coat, so watch out for grease!

Now she’s good to go on the Capital Bikeshare!

Or even better – a WorkCycles Secret Service.  :-)

 

I hope everyone enjoys the (long for some) weekend.  You can find me on the couch, binge-watching season two of Scandal.

{P.S. Here’s an interesting interview with Scandal’s costumer Kristine Haag, including her tips on how to get the look on a budget.}

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Roll Models: Samantha of Ding Ding Let’s Ride

The Roll Models series is back!  Today’s roll model is my friend Samantha, cool woman and author of the blog Ding Ding Let’s Ride, which focuses on everyday family bicycling with Dutch bikes and adaptive bikes.

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Describe your bicycling style in three words.

Urban.
Everyday.
Dresses.
Cowboy boots.

(OK – so that’s 4 words, but I wanted to convey that I often wear dresses when I ride, but I’m
not a total cycle chic girly-girl and often wear pants and cowboy boots.  ;-) )

How long have you been riding a bike?

I’ve been riding a bike since I was a kid. I had a lime-green banana-seat kid’s bike, followed by
a 3-speed upright bike with a basket that I rode into my early teens. I didn’t ride much until grad
school when I started up again with a mountain bike. I haven’t stopped for the last 20+ years.

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

My bike is my primary form of transportation. I commute via bike to work year-round, run
errands and grocery shop on my bike, go on evenings out by bike, and ride to events and
activities with my family on my bike.

What inspires you to keep bicycling?

I love the city of Chicago, and riding a bike is the best way to experience it. I feel better
mentally and physically when I ride, even on cold, dreary, blustery days and I don’t ever want to
give up that feeling.

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

I think the overall attitude in the bicycling world these days is fairly welcoming to women. There
are certain shops or groups that feel a bit like a boys club sometime, but there are also so many
different kinds of bikes, riders, and events these days that I think you can find the place that is
right for you. I’ve never felt excluded from cycling businesses or events because I was a woman.

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

The way to get more women riding is to make cycling safer and it has to truly be perceived
as safer too. I’m not the first one to say that – but I’ll be glad to repeat it. And “Safer” to me
means more truly separated bike lanes with lights, and more education/public awareness of
how motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians should interact on public ways. I really do think that
the next thing the city of Chicago should do is develop a long-term bike awareness campaign
that demonstrates how one should approach an intersection with a cyclist on either side, make
a turn, handle protected bike lanes, door zones, etc. I’m happy about the bike infrastructure
improvements we’re seeing, but now we need to teach people how to use this new infrastructure
and how to walk/bike/drive in conjunction with it.

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

I would make all the buffered or ‘protected’ bike lanes in this city into truly separated bike lanes
with real dividers – perhaps like the curbs and planters I’ve seen in Long Beach CA.

Do you feel optimistic about the future of bicycling?

I feel very optimistic about the future of bicycling. I see more people cycling all the time. Each
winter here in Chicago I see more people continue to ride through the cold months than the year
before. That’s a great thing.

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

Start out in your comfort zone. If you haven’t been riding at all, you may want to start out riding
on recreational paths or side streets – don’t expect to ride in downtown traffic the first time you
get on a bike. If you’re looking for a bike, research a few different bike shops – find one that
carries the type of bike you think you’ll be interested in, and one with a staff that is welcoming
and helpful to you and not just trying to push you into any ole bike purchase.

Final words?

There are a lot of women who are biking in Chicago and writing about it so don’t be afraid to contact any of us and ask questions. We all ride for different reasons and with different styles, on different bikes, but we all share the same desire to get more cyclists out there and we are always willing to share our own experiences and knowledge to further that goal.

I certainly second that! Thanks so much to Samantha for sharing her experience, thoughts, and advice with us!  For more, visit Ding Ding Let’s Ride and follow her on Twitter.

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Fashion Friday: Chicago Bicycle Uniform

Earlier this week, I was sitting in Heritage enjoying a muffin and cappuccino, watching the morning bicycling traffic on Lincoln Avenue, when suddenly I saw my friend Maria (of Po Campo fame) cycle by.  I’m always excited to see a friend in the wild, so I texted her.  A couple of minutes later she responded that it could not have been her: she was still at home eating breakfast.  Either she has a doppelganger (it’s possible!) or I was fooled by someone who looked kinda alike and sported the same Chicago Bicycle Uniform.

As you can see by perusing the portraits on Bike Fancy, there is no set Chicago style (except for editing).   But recently I noticed that there are some accessories that show up often on Chicago’s bicycling women.

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Nutcase helmet, Po Campo bag, fall/winter/spring boots, steel-framed bike, and a certain Audrey-esque casual elegance.  :-)

Of course, not every woman wears these accessories – not even close – but I’ve enjoyed watching them become more common through the years.  The prevalence seems to signal that more “regular” people (as opposed to kids looking for an adrenaline rush) are bicycling in the city now.

Have you noticed a sort of bicycle uniform developing where you live?

P.S. Biking home that evening, I spotted my friend Sara cross my path from afar.  When I got home I texted her, wondering for a moment whether I would be wrong again, but I was right.  I’ve yet to see another blue Pashley Poppy in the city.

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Fashion Friday: Holiday Glamour

Tis the season: This weekend I’m going to no less than four festive events, which means I need at least four festive outfits. No spoilers on my real-life outfits, but they’ll probably involve glitter and sequins and satin and velvet and lace. Though alas, not a gold Brompton.

holiday glamour
I’ll post my actual holiday outfit once it has made its debut; in the meantime, anyone want to share theirs?
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Fashion Friday: Heels on Wheels

“Heels on Wheels” is a phrase that makes me cringe when used in the media to describe women riding bikes.  Since, you know, women should not be defined by a shoe type.   Yet here I go, using the phrase.  In my defense, this is only one post in a blog filled with varied topics about women and bicycling.  Also, the rhyming is irresistible.  :-)

Moving along to the point, a couple of Sundays ago the weather was unseasonably warm and as I headed out the door to a baby shower, I threw on an old pair of heels instead of my usual flats.  I rarely wear heals, preferring to tromp around the city with the steadiness of a mountain goat.  But I’m going through a wardrobe purge/overhaul of sorts and figured I should give these heels one more chance before throwing them in the ebay pile.

Turns out they are actually quite comfortable, provided I don’t stand for a long time.  And biking in them felt pretty bad ass.  The shoes created no logistical problems; as you can see in the photo below, there is plenty of contact between the pedal and the sole.  So these survive the purge, even though I probably won’t wear them often.

Now I’m drawn to the idea of stiletto heels in theory and what better way to play with this idea – sans wasted money and sore paw pads – than incorporating it into my Fashion Friday collage of imaginary outfits.  :-)  Now that the weather is straight-up cold, I winterized the concept.

{collage details}

I like this outfit because of the overall librarian feel (carried through to the Bowery Lane bike with its leather, cork, and wood), but with a kick of awesomeness from the heeled suede boots.  (Manolos are supposed to be the most comfortable heels, right?  Anyone have $600 I can borrow?  No?  Jerks.)  Of course, the stylish leather gloves would have to serve merely as the lining under my ski mittens with warmers.

So what say you: are you a heels on wheels type of person?

p.s. I really want that Everlane tote, made in Texas of Illinois canvas, priced at only $35!  (Everlane is my new style love, borne of a very cool concept.)

 

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Fashion Friday: Cozy Sparkles & Nashville Bike Brunch annoucement

I’ll be spending part of this weekend leafing through my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook (courtesy of Dottie, who gives the best hostess gifts ever) and roasting squash to prepare for making a homemade pumpkin pie next week. But I do have some evening plans, and since we’re supposed to have pretty mild weather, I love the idea of setting out for them wearing a big ol’ bulky, cozy sweater over something just a little bit glittery. Ankle boots and solid tights tie the whole thing together, and would work great on a white Felt Verza Regency bicycle.

Cozy sparkles

Anyone else doing Thanksgiving prep work or recipe research this weekend? I’m so excited that I actually get to COOK this year—I’m going to visit my parents and my family is having our first Thanksgiving ever as just the four of us.

p.s. Forgot to mention that Nashville, we’re having a bike brunch on Sunday! Meet at West End Café at 11, optional ride downtown for the mayor’s 5K afterward.

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Fashion Friday: Wool Boucle Suit for Bicycling

The outfit above is chic – there is no doubt about it in my mind.  But at some point stuff gets ridiculously expensive.  This week, I saw a gorgeous Chanel boucle suit at a consignment store…in my size…for almost $2,000.  Holy mother of god.  That is a lot of money for one second-hand outfit.  The shop lady kindly informed me that they have layaway – ha!  Luckily, the timeless Chanel designs have filtered down to the level where ordinary people like you and me can enjoy clothes that look kinda sorta the same.

The day after I left the consignment store, a friend at work randomly gave me a Chanel-esque wool boucle suit that no longer fits her.  So I ended up with a similar outfit for free!  Sure, it’s no Chanel, but it is a quality suit made in Canada.

Once I got to work, I traded  my winter boots for heels, removed my gloves and scarf, and viola: ready for the office.  Except I realize now that my bow was askew.  :-)

A co-worker said to me, “You biked in that?!”  Really, wool boucle and tweed are excellent for bicycling because the fabric has some give, never wrinkles, and is super cozy for fall and winter.  I’m going on the record now to say that a wool boucle skirt suit – in addition to being timelessly chic – is the best outfit for cold-weather cycling.  Who’s with me?  :-)

 

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Fashion Friday: Country Casual

For today’s Fashion Friday, I decided to make it easy and share more or less what I am actually wearing.

Country casual

 

There are two—well, maybe two and a half?—small exceptions: My jacket actually has a black windowpane check, which I think ties the skirt in a bit better; the hairstyle is what I would have done to my hair if I hadn’t had an early eye doctor appointment; and my tights are opaque all the way up. I chose these particular tights to highlight this odd faux-garter style, which I noticed in all the UK stores, and ask if any of you would wear it. Seems kinda like a sexy fail to me…

Oh! And I almost forgot to mention the Biria bike in a perfect fall color.  Has anyone ridden one of these? They’re quite affordable. Digging all the under-$500 city bike options that seem to be popping up in the States at long last.

What are you wearing this fall Friday?

p.s. Dottie is coming to Nashville tonight! She’s shooting a wedding (congrats, Jess and Sten!) so I don’t know how much time we’ll have for bike-related shenanigans, but if we get up to any there will be a full report.

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Fashion Friday: Riding in the Rain

Overcast and rainy skies have surrounded me lately.  Much of my riding in Amsterdam took place under damp mist and yesterday a heavy rain fell in Chicago, causing me to tuck Coco in my office for the night and take the L train home.  Alas, I was caught without a coat to fend off the sudden cold and rain.  If I could do my Thursday morning preparations over again (with dream clothes/bike collection), I would opt for something like this European-inspired rain outfit.  Why not, right?  :)

I hope all of you either have been staying dry or enjoying the wet weather in style!

{Collage details here}

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Fashion Friday: European Vacation

Today I’m heading to Europe, where I’ll meet Trisha to enjoy a whirlwind 10-day trip through London, Paris, Amsterdam, and a bit of Dublin!

This is the collage I created to plan my packing.

And here is Trisha’s packing collage.  Yes, we are planning nerds.  :-)

Everything is good for walking and bicycling comfortably while (hopefully!) looking chic.

We’ll be taking many trains and riding lots of bicycles.  And we’re shoving everything into carry-ons, so wish us luck!

How do you pack for trips?  Do you have any traveling tips to share?

 

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Fashion Friday: Flights of Fancy

Today I feel like indulging in some flights of fancy.  The result is my dream outfit.  This is by no means a shopping guide, simply an expression of my aesthetic at the moment.  This lushly beautiful Stella McCartney dress is waaaaaay too rich for my blood.  But there are some attainable luxuries, such as striking nail polish and a romantic hair style. Also, I am in love with this Bloom Theory camera strap and will have to figure out how to make my own out of whatever scraps I can find at JoAnn’s.  :-)

I could easily ride a bike in this outfit, especially a lovely upright Velorbis, while enjoying the final remaining days of tights-free weather.

{collage details}

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Fashion Friday: Foxy Fall

The crisp fall weather has officially arrived in Chicago (see here) and this week I wore gloves and a light scarf for the first time (see here).  Fall is my favorite season and I love dressing for it.  Lately I’ve been thinking of boots, burnt orange, brown leather, dark denim, and – yes – sweaters emblazoned with foxes.  A spritz of my favorite fall scent, Burberry Brit, and I’m ready to go. Since I was talking about alien baby folding bikes recently, I added a Strida to the mix: quite possibly the most alien of them all.

Now all I need is a big pile of colorful leaves to jump in.  Who’s with me?  :-)

P.S. I totally want to follow this DIY to embroider my own fox slippers.

{Collage details here.}

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Fashion Friday: Almost time for tights!

So it’s starting to feel like fall, and that means one thing to us on LGRAB: tights! With dresses or skirts, they’re the perfect riding combo. As soon as it gets a little bit cooler, I plan to rock my bright blue Riyoko lace leggings with a plain black dress like this one. But since we’re in the realm of fantasy today, I’m going to imagine wearing this outfit while riding a Republic Plato Bike. We keep getting asked if they’re any good and it would be nice to have a vague idea!

Black and blue (with bicycle too)

Black and blue (with bicycle too)

 

What are you most excited about when it comes to fall?

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Fashion Friday: Patriotic

I am all pumped up from watching the Democratic National Convention this week – mostly from Michelle Obama’s speech!  You may notice this influence in my Fashion Friday outfit.  ;-)

Happy weekend!

{Collage details here}

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Fashion Friday: Sweet & Sassy Summer outfit

My obsession with all things denim continues with this week’s chambray shirt/neon skirt combo. I love the idea of casual denim juxtaposed with bright neon and some ladylike but edgy accessories, like the pumps and cameo necklace.

Of course, pencil skirts are not the best choice for biking, but that’s where the sassiness comes in: Hike it up! Although you might not have to hike things up too far if you’re riding a Retrovelo Paula. And I had to give a shout-out to my Armitage Satchel, the one item in this set that I actually have in real life. I get compliments on it both on and off the bike.

Sweet & sassy summer outfit
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Fashion Friday: End of Summer Cycling

As the summer winds down, I find myself already growing nostalgic, but excited for cooler weather.  This outfit brings together those disparate feelings.  The bright flowers celebrate the brightness of summer, while the jeans are perfect for those evenings when there’s a slight chill in the air – and these skinny jeans won’t get pulled into bike cranks or chains.  (Hint: if you don’t want to pay for Dolce & Gabbana, buy some inexpensive jeans and fabric paint!)

I’m heading to Nashville this weekend to hang with Trisha and enjoy some Southern sun.  Then I plan to spend as much of next week outside as possible, enjoying what’s left of Chicago’s magical summertime.

How about you?

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Fashion Friday: Summer separates

As much as I love the ease of dresses, in recent months the siren song of separates has been calling to me. Not having the perfect pair of jean shorts is starting to get to me. Luckily August is the best time to find such items in the thrift store, so I’m going to cross my fingers and take a shopping trip sometime soon.

If I do find those shorts, here’s the sort of thing I’d want to wear with them, while riding Le Peug of course.

Summer shorts
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Fashion Friday: Biking to Yoga

Who else is obsessed with the Olympics?  Watching the US women’s gymnastics team (go Gabby!) was the push I needed to get my butt back to yoga, after years of saying, “I need to get back to yoga.”

I’m finishing week two of near-daily 6 a.m. classes and I love it.  I am not a morning person, but I discovered that if I get up as soon as the alarm goes off, throw on my yoga clothes, and head straight out the door – no snooze button, coffee, twitter, or other procrastination – the morning is not so bad.

This routine requires extra preparation, especially combined with biking to work.  I bike to the studio on the way to work wearing my yoga outfit (Lululemon’s yoga clothes are so expensive, but soooo perfect!).  After class, I shower at the studio and change into regular shorts and a t-shirt, since my yoga clothes are too sweaty to put back on and I get too sweaty on my bike right now to wear work clothes.  Finally, I bike the rest of the way to work and change into my work clothes.  I swear, this is not as complicated as it sounds.  Totally worth the extra effort for the wonderful feeling I get from yoga class.

Do you have a yoga or other exercise routine that you combine with your bike commute?  I’m interested to hear how others handle the logistics.

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Fashion Friday: Trying on a Trend

I’m not sure how I feel about the dropped hem trend, aka mixi dress. So I thought I would try it out virtually, before I alter all my clothes. :) I think it’d look great with a chunky heel and a chandelier earring. And maybe a Charge Hob 3—that green and gold go so well together! Have you worn this trend? Would you try it?

 

Trying on a trend

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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