.photo courtesy derek parsons, north cotswold cycling club, 1937
“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.
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No-one believes ‘Cycling makes you ugly’, any more! Cycling is where the beautiful people are at!
Cycle chic defines itself as “where the bike lane meets the runway”. The motto of the Slow Bicycle Movement is: “It’s style, over speed”. This gives us the clue as to the close relationship between fashion and cycling.
Recent years have seen a boom in cycling, and in all things vintage fashion. In May, 2011, ‘Vogue Daily ’ ran a feature ‘How To Dress as A Summer Cyclist’, featuring super-model real-life cyclists, Lily Cole, and Agyness Deyn. The models both ride British-built, traditional Pashley bikes. No Lycra in sight.
In 2009, the London Tweed Run was born. The Tweed Run takes in London landmarks; participants ride vintage or vintage style bikes, wearing vintage or repro retro clothing and this year raised money for bikes4africa. The 2011 run was a raging success. Amongst the lucky few who managed to bag a ticket to take part, was actor Ewan McGregor. He turned up looking a proper dapper gent in a 1920’s grey and red golfing tank top, and tweeds, riding his Pashley Guv’nor bike with a teddy in the basket! Very ‘Brideshead’....
Ewan’s tank top was reminiscent of the one worn in the famous 1920’s portrait of the Prince of Wales, which ignited what knitting historian Richard Rutt called “a fashion explosion of Fair Isle sweaters” in the Jazz age.
‘Cycle chic’ or ‘Velo vogue’ has a fascinating history. And knitting was a huge part of that. It also played its part in the history of feminism.