Bike to Work, the Wardrobe Edition – May 25

What to wear, what to wear….
The never ending saga of the relationship between a woman and her wardrobe. Industries have built empires on this conundrum. Clothing, fashion magazines, diets, workouts, activewear, eternal youth, gender roles, the Kardashians… [screams in horror.]

Society has cultural standards for clothing. What one chooses to wear brings status, stereotypes, shaming, and a whole lot of assumptions. For years, I’ve battled choices between clothes, diet, and exercise. I’m heavy set. At this time in my life, I don’t want my body to be something that makes me miserable.

Sure, I’d love killer abs in case I ever run into that old boyfriend so he can think, “Damn, I missed something.” But honestly, I’m three years away from eligibility to live in a retirement community. I’ve birthed twins. My stomach skin is stretched. I cook and eat what I cook. I’m not filthy rich. I don’t want to buy clothes made by slave labor, or poorly constructed. I’m growing more comfortable in my own skin because I wear clothes that don’t hurt my body or my feelings.

All of this background matters when I’m thinking about what I wear. Every. Day. And now with biking to work, there’s a few more things to think about.

My bike doesn’t have a “feminine mount.” I chose a “man frame” when Steve and I picked out our wedding bikes 25 years ago because I wanted the option to hang gear from the raised frame. As I searched Pinterest for fashion ideas, I had to grab a few images to point out what’s wrong with them.

  1. If I see anyone taking their dog out for a walk like this, I’m calling the ASPCA. This is not safe for the animal who could at any time, run ahead and get caught in the wheels. The dog could also suddenly pull away from the bicyclist, and if she’s only got one hand on the bars, the fall is inevitable. She’s also not wearing a helmet, and the wind is going to blow that dress to an “avert your eyes” level. Just hope she’s not riding commando.
  2. For a “male mounting” bike with a skirt and a kid on the back, I’m wondering how she’s getting on the bike without kicking the child in the head. The sandals and the dress are cute. I’m wondering how she’s going to manage her hair from blowing into her face as she’s riding. Again, she’s not wearing a helmet and neither is the kid. Shame on you, fashion photographer for not putting a warning on this idea.
  3. There’s really nothing wrong with this outfit for most people. But the heels? Just thinking of walking and standing in them all day makes my knees ache. Plus, I’m not sure heels on a bike would make me feel more confident as a rider. If it might mess with stopping and starting, it’s not an option. What I like about this outfit, is that the pants are not floating in the bike chain. And the shirt is loose enough to let air through through he skin on a hot ride. The bag is also a great idea. But do you see what I don’t see? Yep – another helmet-less fashion model sending the wrong message.
  4. Now this is what I’m talking about. Sensible, stylish clothes and shoes, gorgeous naturally gray hair, and plenty of balanced storage for front or back transportation. This lovely woman still needs a helmet. I’m going to imagine it’s tucked into her front basket. She’s just discreetly mounted her bike, and is about to strap in on before she heads off the sidewalk and into traffic. Good woman!

There are multiple websites and Pinterest boards loaded with ideas. On the Who What Wear website, a post “The 19 Piece You Need for a Stylish Ride,” [emphasis, mine] lists six non-clothing items (basket, watch, sunglasses, hat, necklace, and a bag), three bike items (helmet, floral bike seat, and a handle bar bell) and ten clothing items; a few I wouldn’t dare put on my body shape. Of the items, maybe five could work for me. It’s this kind of research that will take some time to sort through for inspiration that fits a particular criteria for my needs.

I’m also committed to keeping the wardrobe capsule mentality for any potential new items. I may be visiting some vintage shops in the Lehigh Valley soon. Or maybe dig out the sewing machine for a project or two.

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