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.
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.
Welcome, 2013! As I followed my ritual this morning of pouring a cup of coffee and popping open my macbook to check the weather, I was greeted by this sight:
12 degrees fahrenheit – yeesh. (That’s -11 celsius.) Normal for Chicago winter, but by far the coldest day of this season so far. At least most of last week’s snow has disappeared.
With very little traffic lately due to people being off work for the holidays, I’ve been enjoying my bike commutes along otherwise highly trafficked streets. I certainly did not want to miss out on cycling today. Here I am preparing to set off:
I wore a wool dress with tights. To this I added the following for non-bulky but highly effective layering: wool leggings and wool leg warmers, wool socks and winter boots with warmers, a light windbreaker and trench coat, cashmere scarf, glove liners and ski mittens with warmers, earmuffs and winter helmet, and sunglasses (safety glasses after dark to protect my eyes from cold wind). This is very similar to what I wore in my how-to video for winter cycling.
This worked perfectly. I was like a little moving furnace. My only problem was forgetting to fill my pockets with tissue to blow my nose, which runs like crazy in the extreme cold.
When I left work in the evening, the weather had warmed up to a relatively toasty 22 degrees and I was sweating under my layers by the time I got home.
“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.
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.)
Deciding to ride a bicycle for transportation in a place like the US, after years of driving a car everywhere like everyone else, required that I step back and really question the system that I’d accepted all my life. Through this, I realized the absurdity of using a ton of metal to carry myself a couple of miles. This one change has naturally led to reconsidering other aspects of modern society.
Fresh on my mind, following Black Friday, is consumerism. I love a good sale and I am far from a minimalist, with my collections of tchotchkes and overflowing bookshelves, but I feel that objects I bring into my home should have meaning and reflect my beliefs. I do not always live up to this standard, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to buy clothing that was made in the USA or another country known for craftsmanship and decent working conditions, like the UK, France, Italy and Canada. I know this is a complicated issue and many lives are improved by factory jobs overseas, but I personally feel better spending my money in a way that does not support corporations’ race to the bottom. (See “Garment Workers Stage Angry Protest After Bangladesh Fire” and the Clean Clothes Campaign.) Of course, I am lucky enough to have the time and resources for this, but so do most Americans. No one is perfect (I’m typing this on an Apple computer, with its Foxconn manufacturing issues, after all) but that should not stop us from thinking about the issue and making small changes where we can.
Finding products that fit my criteria is, unfortunately, harder than it sounds, but prevents me from buying a lot of crap – avoiding fast fashion and focusing on quality over quantity. And over time, I’ve built quite a nice collection. Last Friday, I realized that everything I was wearing was made in the USA. This made me happy. :-)
(Hint on Steven Alan: twice a year he has online sample sales. The fall sale just ended, unfortunately. My skirt was $30 marked down from $225!)
As Mr. Dottie pointed out, the only exception to the outfit above is me: made in Germany. And here is my wonderful mother who made me, visiting Chicago for Thanksgiving. :-)
In regards to bicycles, I have one made in the Netherlands, one in Germany, and one in Taiwan. As much as I absolutely love my Betty Foy in every way, part of me wishes that I saved my money longer to buy a made in the USA frame, like a Sweetpea or ANT.
How do you feel about this issue? Do you have any shopping rules to counter thoughtless consumerism?
If you have tips on favorite businesses that manufacture in the USA, please share in the comments!
Friday: red trench, cashmere sweater, Burberry skirt, tights, flats.
(Most everything I bought used, some on clearance.)
The photos reveal a consistency in my fall dressing: cashmere, wool, tights, and leather boots. I know I’ve said this many times before, but these materials are excellent for cold-weather cycling. There is no reason for me to wear technical clothing.
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? :-)
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!
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.
Welcome to October! It’s hard to believe that September is already over and fall is seriously here. The weather in Chicago is cooling down substantially and in response I pulled out the (sometimes fingerless) gloves, cashmere, and jeans.
This is a typical fall outfit, although for now the sweater comes off at a stop light early in the ride.
I’m happy for the change in seasons – in fact, October is my favorite month! How are you handling the transition?