cycling cycling fashion History

Bloomers and Rational Dress – Women’s Cycling Clothes

“Lucy Stone in Bloomers”, 1853 Wiki Commons

“The Sketch” warns lady cyclists to beware of giving way to a distressed and  fixed expression when learning to ride a bicycle. An exceedingly pretty woman has lost most of her good looks after some time of riding a cycle, because she attained the habit of making grimaces…

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent , June 22, 1896.

Yes, it’s official! Well, it was in 1896. Cyclng makes you ugly! Read more at Citycycling . If you missed this piece first time round, here it is again in the best cycling e-zine in a clothes(ish) themed issue.

So many knitters are also cyclists – not entirely sure why that is. Elderly man in the village once told me his friend’s party trick as a boy was to knit a sock whilst riding a bike.  This would have been nearly 80 years ago. But it tells us that knitting and cycling can co-exist (although I should add the usual Health n Safety codicil of “Don’t try this at home”, etc etc). Still, I’m assured it happened. Hope you enjoy the regular feast that is!

One of my favourite things in citycycling is a serialised story, ‘Uneasy Riders’:

“…UK in 2036, and Prime Minister Clarkson has banned all cycling. But a determined band still flits amongst the shadows, defying the law. However the Department for Transportation Policy has a plan to infiltrate this band…”

Imagine a future dystopia where the bike hating Jeremy Clarkson has become Prime Minister.Truly chilling. It could happen, you know.

You can search back issues to find the whole ‘Uneasy Riders’  story from the start.

One of my fave blogs, TwoNerdyHistoryGirls, have an interesting article re. cycling fashion, here.



Cannondale CX bike
Pashley Poppy – I know, I know. I’m a fashion victim…

.I will leave you with shots of my babies; one British, one American. I have more bikes than I am about to admit to, but only two are in a fit state to share with you here. The others are in various states of undress as they are ‘wips’ and  Frankenbikes.


4 replies on “Bloomers and Rational Dress – Women’s Cycling Clothes”

I’ve noticed the cycling / knitting link too, though not round here (Snowdonia) as it’s just too hilly for anything except the most determined cycling – you certainly couldn’t knit a sock as well! I’m baffled as to why – maybe there’s also a slight environmental/green element to both activities.

(I’m not sure how I feel about starting the week with the spectre of Prime Minister Clarkson hanging around in my brain…)


I’m not entirely sure why knitters are cyclists either except, I suspect, they already understand the journey is as interesting as the destination.

Great post, which I saw on Twitter via @textilehistorie


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