So Ladies…

…Let’s talk about fashion. Or not.

Because I’m not much of a fashionista. And never have been.

So Ladies

I have gotten a little better since then. But my life doesn’t revolve around clothes. I really enjoy looking looking like crap some days.

So Ladies

Or a bit dirty and grungy.

So Ladies

And some times I even dress up (and look like Lovely Bicycle on accident.)

So Ladies

However when I started biking I didn’t know what to do about clothes. Or bikes. Or anything. I just wanted to try it. I didn’t see anyone on a bike who looked like any version of me. As a newbie, this was all I really knew about cyclists:

Unexpected Types

You may have noted that neither of these figures appear to be women. And I knew I was not an athlete or a hipster. Or a man.

So when I came across a certain European street-style blog of stylishly dressed women riding bicycles I signed right up. I went and bought the Dutchiest bike I could find in Los Angeles (which was actually made in China) and a bunch of flouncy dresses from H&M and promptly started biking up and down Sunset Boulevard leaving a trail of bolts and washers behind me.

But as I got more confident about with bicycle commuting, I realized something bothered me about this bike sheek culture.

So Ladies

It was just another stereotype.

So I moved on. I agree about wearing ordinary clothes when I bike. But now I wear my ordinary clothes which don’t happen to be dresses or heels or terribly stylish most of the time– my biking does not revolve around fashion.

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59 Responses to “So Ladies…”

  • I love this post.

    I’m conflicted on the bicycle chic thing myself. I do love showing people that you can ride a bicycle in (a slightly modified version of) your everyday clothes, whether they’re fashionable or not. And most days I wear boring clothes, but there are times I pull out all the stops and dress up, heels and all, and I bike in that too. (It sure is easier for me to bicycle in heels than to walk in them.)

    But nobody should feel obligated to dress up to get on a bicycle–whether “dress up” means padded shorts and a jersey or a stylish dress and heels.

    And depending on where I’m going and the weather, I’ve been known to wear a nice dress and my ugly rain jacket, just like I’ve been known to wear hole-y jeans and my favorite swishy coat.

    I dunno. I guess my ideal is for people to stop worrying about it in any direction and just wear what they want!

    But I do LOVE the last comic. Best satire of him I’ve seen so far.

  • I really dislike the comments I get when people hear that I ride a bicycle. They assume it’s a beach cruiser. No, it isn’t. Then they guess that it’s a “fixie”. Wrong again. I have a road bike. I don’t have a basket that I carry flowers in for show. I don’t ride in skirts nor do I ride in heeled shoes, ever. I commute, and I don’t ride for attention. I wear what’s comfortable for me and whatever is appropriate for the weather. If women want to be glamorous on a bicycle, that’s their choice. Regardless, I hope many of us can change how people see women on bikes.

  • What, no stockings and garters under that dress? So un-chic!

  • Cycle Chic captures beautiful outfits and beautiful moments, all with the fashion angle. Fashion and people are the subject. It’s about fashion. Sartorialist.com is on foot specifically shooting fashionable pedestrians to spotlight personal style, but no one is complaining that he should shoot more plain clothes people. Also, yes, the majority of these outfits are, in fact, normal in Denmark and in most of Europe. I spent half a year photographing bikers in France, Spain, Germany, UK and I was amazed that 4 in 5 people had such great style. No effort, it’s just what’s in their closet. It was a different world of normal than in North America. I dare you to go tell the thousands of women wearing heels and men wearing suits in Denmark that they aren’t normal! No one from CC wil tell you how to dress–you may have just mistakenly got inspired by a European way of biking that doesn’t match the type of cycling available in your city. You’ll see that the Canadian or American or South American CC sites have fashion differences from the European ones, but they showcase the same idea: great, personal style.
    We are just celebrating cycling normalcy (ie, not sport biking) and couture in whichever city we are in–and every city is different. It’s just a photography blog about fashion and bikes–chill. I don’t let Sartorialist make me feel bad about not having a Prada suit–I just like the pictures. There are plenty of blogs that showcase regular folks. Plenty of blogs for everyone.

  • David’s last comment here is really bang on. The photographers at CCC do not have to work so hard to get the photos they do. It really is an accurate representation of what people wear there. No one is out there preening for the cameras. And photographers are not lurking in bushes like some creep. I realize there is some satire involved here but maybe there is something else going on…envy perhaps…no one pointing a camera your way? Anyway, if you don’t like cycle chic then why are you looking? Because I can guarantee you that those who like it and advocate it are not spending a minute on any road warrior websites. Just sayin!

  • Anonymous 9:14

    It’s worth pointing out to all the CCC apologists that CCC was originally known as “Copenhagen Girls on Bikes”. Hundreds of leg pictures, no faces. Just sayin…

    • To Anonymous: that may be; I didn’t know that. But, still, it has clearly taken a better direction since then, hasn’t it? Today. the site has a great selection of photos of both sexes of all ages. Today, the site has inspired a huge network of people featuring both sexes of all ages in many cities.

  • Hahaha.

    Dirty and grungy is/are hawt. But I think you know that.

    Well done.

  • Oh, yes! What to wear while biking and female (and Black with natural hair)? This is a question with an evolving spread of answers in my life. I learned quickly how not to wear skirts while biking (in all the wrong ways), and now I’m learning just how much fleece-lined spandex I can bear wearing at one time (not much). Throughout, I’ve kept a healthy collection of legwarmers -worn by me in all seasons.

    Thanks for bringing this up for conversation -and awesome cartoons. My favorite is the “I dare you not to stare” caption.

  • ” I dare you not to stare” hillarious!

  • Vocus Dwabe

    You are very unfair to Mr. Colville-Andersson in implying that he photographs attractive young women on bicycles without their consent (much). You ignore the risks that he runs every day in the service of the worldwide cycling community ; because I can assure you that most Danish women can throw quite a punch if they take exception to what you’re doing. In those latitudes they’ve been into gender equality ever since Viking times.

    I don’t think though that even if CCC is sometimes slightly noncey (look it up) there’s anything wrong in itself with trying to promote cycling as a means of transport perfectly compatible with looking OK – or at least not looking (as someone recently put it) “like a day-glo orange condom stuffed with horse chestnuts”. Some of it is a bit fanciful (sorry ladies, but in the real world floral print frocks don’t float airily, they either blow up over your waist or hang sullenly like a damp teacloth). But most of the examples it shows seem to be taken from real life rather than posed; and there are also quite a lot of shots of people doggedly toiling along in snowstorms. I’ve lived in Holland, and the photos do reflect the daily street reality pretty well even if they select the most eye-catching examples.

    What I’d like to see is more pictures of old people on bicycles. One of the features of the Dutch cycling landscape is the number of straight-backed, smartly dressed 80-year olds pedalling about on their daily errands.

    PS. Loved the drawings. Do you do it for a living?

  • What a wonderful blog! I stumbled across bikeyface today after doing my Craigslist and Ebay searches for the “holy grail” bike I’m dying to find out there. I am an art gallery manager and bicycle commuter in Texas who doesn’t fit into any established genre of cyclist.

    I enjoy your flowing, humorous illustrations and blog content. It made my day brighter when I found this blog!

  • Cycle Geek mocking Cycle Chic! We love it! Nevermind these facts:
    - most of the over 150 cycle chic blogs around the world are run by women
    - 57% of the members of the Cycle Chic facebook group are women
    - most of the cycle chic fashion shows we do around the world are focused on the female demographic.
    - high heels are worn by the majority of women in cities from Stockholm to Seville, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires. Indeed, 75% of Danish women say they wear high heels on a regular basis.

    But who cares about facts! Let’s just mock something we don’t understand! Let’s mock other cultures and manipulate the truth with cartoons!

    It’s rather interesting – and amusing – that this is just another classic example of history repeating itself. In the early days of Bicycle Culture 1.0 in the 1880s through to the early 1900s cycle geeks mocked those citizens who had embraced the bicycle and chose to ride them in their finest clothes.

    Cycling subcultures are still overly protective of their “club” and are keen to pee on fire hydrants in order to mark out their territory. But you what? Lesson #1 learned from History Repeating Itself: Mainstream cycling won the day and continued it’s reign through the 1950s. We’re returning to that again. So mock away! While you can.

  • This is the first bikeyface post I’ve ever read and it was quite amusing! Can’t wait to read more. Thanks!

  • Makka

    Ahem, 12 year marching band member/geek here. (Oh yes, all the way through college.)

    This is fantastic! Thank you for highlighting the reality that the RIGHT way is YOUR way, at your most comfortable, and in whatever way will encourage you to ride the most. I don’t enjoy being put in a box, or anyone telling me which box to fit in, especially not when bicycling.

    I especially enjoy that the baguette in the last drawing makes the bicycle look like a unicorn. :) Which to me says, for many of us, this will not be our preferred way of riding, but this style does work for some and that’s great!

  • ahahahahah! Aw, I love that Lovely Bicycle is on here, too! I <3 her as well. That last panel with Mr. you-know-who who "coined" bicycle chic had me laughing!

  • Kookaburra

    I’ve been looking through your archives, and I just found this one – I laughed out loud at the last panel, and then laughed even harder at the butthurt in the comments.

    Yeah, the CC blogs give me a voyeuristic vibe, especially the way the commentary is written. I ride in spandex when I’m training, when I’m commuting or running errands I just wear jeans and a t-shirt. I hate the idea that women absolutely must look like fashion plates no matter what we’re doing, and the CC blogs seemed to reinforce that.

  • Marion

    It’s not a stereotype. I’m Dutch, and people over here ride bikes as easily and thoughtlessly as Americans drive. Do Americans dress up when they take their cars grocery shopping? No. You step in with whatever it is you have on. Of course, you don’t go out in public with curlers in your hair or in clothes that you’ve worn for three weeks and which are smelly and dirty. People who smell and are dirty unfortunately exist (be they – fortunately – rare) – they are called ‘homeless-who-are-probably-mentally-ill’. They are very rare because usually the social system will care for these people. But it is – fortunately – very hard to get people into care if they absolutely refuse it, so yes, rat-nest-haired, stinky and dirty people do exist here in the Netherlands. But they don’t ride bikes either.

    Who does ride bikes? EVERYBODY. That includes grandma’s, pensioners, mum’s-with-small-kids, office workers in three piece suits, small kids, teenagers, young couples – EVERYBODY. And they ride in all seasons and all weathers.

    So yes, the 19 year old blond girls with the long hair and short skirts are for real. They really do ride and they don’t do so to be ‘chic’ (the Dutch would look at you as if you were crazy for suggesting this) but because they just happen to have to go somewhere and it just happens to be fine enough weather not to wear a woolly hat and layers of winterclothes.

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