Bird Brained

While I should be thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, or trying to get in a new year’s bike ride, as many of my neighboring bike friends are,  I am obsessing over shopping.

It’s been a bird-themed fashion holiday season – for some reason, everything I’ve acquired lately has had at least one bird on it. There’s the Boden sweater I’d wanted for ages, that I purchased with a gift card; the Macy’s sweater I got for Christmas (which is very similar, yet different); the Alex & Ani bracelet I bought myself after buying so many bracelets as Christmas gifts for others; and the Macy’s blouse I just bought yesterday while shopping with an out-of-town guest. Four items in about three weeks, all with birds.

Boden Heritage Hummingbird Sweater

Boden Heritage Hummingbird Sweater

Macy's Maison Jules Birds Sweater (they remind me of one of my favorite artists, Charley Harper)

Macy’s Maison Jules Birds Sweater (they remind me of one of my favorite artists, Charley Harper)

Alex & Ani swan bracelet

Alex & Ani swan bracelet (it signifies Grace-Partnership-Love and seemed like a good engagement present to myself)

Macy's Bird Print shirt (I don't like the silly knot in front and will most likely be modifying the hem soon)

Macy’s Bird Print shirt (I don’t like the silly knot in front and will most likely be modifying the hem soon)

This fine feathered haul will have to last me for a while, since I have to pay for a wedding and honeymoon in the next few months. But I realized I will be in Europe this summer,  and I will be able to do some great shopping there. I think I can restrain myself for the next six months, knowing I will have different opportunity to find some fun stuff. Yippee! (I can do this… I can not shop for six months…)





Fall Fashion Fantasies

It’s September, and you know what that means – the September Vogue!

September 2012 Vogue

Technically, this arrived on my doorstep (literally – it doesn’t fit in my tiny apartment mailbox) in August, but I haven’t had time until this week to peruse all 916 pages. I was surprised at the ads with bicycles in them – okay, only a few, but still, compared to a few years ago?

Longchamp has a 4-page ad featuring a tandem bike!

An ad for Target’s Kirna Zabete capsule collection

Between this, and the huge stack of catalogs that arrived this week, I’m obsessed with fall clothing.

My wish lists always fall into two categories, but this year I have a third. The first category is always the fantasy clothing, the stuff in the ads, pure design, something I would never wear even if I could afford it. Okay, I might wear it…

Haider Ackermann Fall Winter 2012

John Galliano Fall Winter 2012

Alexander McQueen Resort 2013


If it was Ralph Lauren, I would wear it. I’ve always loved his tweeds and country roots. His fall collection was is clearly inspired by “Downton Abbey,” and is totally the kind of stuff I love.

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012 (not Downton Abbey but I love this!)

The second category is stuff that is more in reach – J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Boden, Garnet Hill, Jack Wills, Lands End, Ann Taylor Loft. I love these companies, and make my wish list from them.

Boden (yep, with a bike!)

J. Crew Liberty of London Shirt

L L Bean Signature Camo Print Dress

Clearly I’m obsessed with dresses and skirts this fall! And tweed – I always want tweed blazers and the perfect corduroy pants. From this list, I zero in on the few things I consider Must Haves, and try to figure out how to work them into my existing wardrobe.

This fall I’m adding a new category – bicycle fashion! There are several things on this list, some practical, and some not. Practical means I’m already thinking about biking to work in really cold weather, so gloves, and a non-vented helmet. Not really practical are the new Merrells I want but can’t really justify… and the cute stuff at Terry, like the cute Sharrows sweatshirt.

Terry Sharrows Sweatshirt (this would be so much cuter if it was reflective!)

Regardless of what I end up getting, I always create a look board. I have a bulletin board where I cut out magazine and catalog images I like and pin up. It reminds me at the least that I can mix up what I have to create the looks I like. Like everyone else, I get stuck in a rut sometimes, so it’s good to have a reminder to shake things up!

My inspiration board – with athletic and travel images as well, it basically focuses everything I love

I’m sure that I will be sharing items from my lists in the future, as I agonize over which items I really truly want and need. What sort of things do you want for the fall?









My Bike Fashion Faux Pas

Okay, this probably is not a faux pas by anyone else’s standard, but clearly I’m more of a prude than I thought I was. I can’t help it – I stand by some old-fashioned values! Like undergarments should never be seen.

I took a top to work today that I haven’t worn in a long time. (It was raining when I left, so I took my entire wardrobe and showered and changed at work, in case you need to know). It’s a cute knit cowl neck top from New York & Company, nothing fancy, blue with a butterfly print. I don’t wear it often because it’s too big and the cowl drapes pretty low, and I feel like I’m constantly pulling it up. Whatever, not a huge issue.

Top in question is this cut, different print

That is, until I get on my bike to go to a client meeting. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I’d flash everyone within vision of the bike lane between my office and the client’s office! My upright bike puts me forward just enough… and it was breezy just enough… that I think it totally exposed my bra as the loose draped fabric blew around!  Eek! I’m sure that every guy really was staring down my shirt. Literally.

But this got me thinking – am I really a prude? I guess I do dress pretty conservative, especially for work. And I don’t believe that undergarments should be seen by the public. I always wear a slip if my skirt is unlined, a wrap dress, or in any other way see-thru. Perhaps this is a habit after years of working in theater, and trying so hard to make sure performers’ undergarments were not seen (unless they were part of the costume, of course).

I will never see this as acceptable fashion or style

But is it a problem that I don’t want to show too much chest/cleavage? Does anyone else worry about this? Should I start wearing low cut tops to force myself to be more comfortable with this? (I’m sure The Mechanic would approve!) I definitely would lean towards conservative in the office – after all, I think the whole “dress how you want to be treated” thing still applies in the office,  no matter what younger people might think. I’ve also heard it as “dress better than your boss” but I’ll be generous here. : )

This J. Crew Liberty of London shirt with tie and pencil skirt would be ideal office wear for me! Too conservative?

But on weekends and when I go out, maybe I need to start lowering the neckline a tad. But this Jack Wills cami seems too bare for me, although I doubt it would blow around too much on a bike. But if I crash, that’s alot of bare skin to scrape up, ow.

Jack Wills does cater to college kids….

But then I would need to replace all my crew neck tee shirts! Oy! What do I do?

So what is a good office-appropriate, bike-friendly top that isn’t too conservative, yet not too bare? I’m open to suggestions!

Oops! Back from flashing everyone on the street!



Fabric Shopping Online

The Mechanic is away for the weekend, and today was my compressed Friday off, so I dedicated the entire day to fashion, rather than transportation. Except for walking to the market, I haven’t gone anywhere – kind of  a treat!

I’m anxious to get started on my next bicycle fashion project, this Cynthia Rowley dress. I’m doing the sleeveless version. I love everything trimmed in piping or edged in contrasting trim, so I’m excited that this dress actually calls for piping in the seams! You might be able to guess where I’m going with this – yes, reflective piping! But I can’t decide what fabric to pick!

Cynthia Rowley Dress

I know what I want – blue or gray, since the piping is silvery; a small, non-directional pattern (or something that won’t look dumb if it’s cut in different directions); and sophisticated enough that I can wear it to meet clients. But since I’m limited to a small JoAnn Fabrics near me, or the internet, I’m having some trouble. If only I’d had this pattern when I was in New York!

I spent what seemed like hours trolling website for fabrics, and I’ve narrowed it down to three so far. But I can’t decide which I like the best.

Option 1 – Expressions Circles

I love this Expression Circles print because I love this sort of “bubbles” design, and anything with circles. I think it will work well with the shapes of the pattern pieces, and the trim should go well with the pale blue.

Option 2 – Imperial Medallions

Option 2, the Imperial Medallions, is the kind of print I really love – symmetrical, circles, and historic. It would look great with the trim, but I’m not sure if it would be too busy as a full dress. But I really love it.

Timeless Treasures

But I love the clouds print too. I really wanted something blue, since my bike skirt is black and white, but this is so great. I’m mildly obsessed with Shadowplay NYC and their NASA imagery fabric and clothing – if I could find a starscape fabric that isn’t too childish, I’d consider that.

Shadowplay NYC Retro Galaxy dress

I decided to think on it and feed my design brain by catching up on my fashion scrapbook.


As old-fashioned as it now is, thanks to Pinterest, I cut out pictures of my favorite things from fashion magazines, and collage them into books. I’ve been doing this since the mid-80s (oops, did I just age myself?!), and love to look through them over and over again, when I need inspiration. It’s funny how I always seem to like the same things.

I still can’t decide which fabric I like! I’ll probably cruise through JoAnn’s again, before I commit. So what do you think? Which print would you recommend?

Grown Up Sparkles

I have been avoiding writing a post about my bike skirt because I’ve been trying to get a nice evening shot to properly illustrate the cool reflective powers, but since that hasn’t happened, I’ll just do what I can. You’ll see it anyway.

So the final product looks like this:

And here’s the reflective version:

In order to coordinate the black grosgrain, I chose a black and white print along with black accents. The peacock feather print I purchased was not my first choice, but I think maybe it is more sophisticated than my original ideas.

I love the reflective trim – when it’s hanging in my bedroom, I get occasional flashes, depending on the light. I call it grown up sparkles.

Here is me modeling the skirt on Fauntleroy:

My Michelle Obama arms! (ha ha!)

It’s a full circle skirt, which I love, but after riding a few times, it’s probably too full. It’s hard to see my feet sometimes! But the reflective grosgrain trim is perfect because it is heavy enough to weigh down the hem, so no worries about it blowing up. (Not that it would matter, I always wear bloomers under my skirts. Always have, always will)

Now for the last point I wanted to make: the cost. This is why people shop at Target. I spent about $70 on the pattern, fabric, zipper, and thread, plus some stuff I didn’t use, like interfacing. Then I spent another $35 ordering enough reflective grosgrain trim to go around the hem, 4 yards each width. So that’s $105 in materials alone. It took me approximately 6 hours to cut out the pattern, then the fabric, then construct it. I estimate my hourly rate to be about $25, much less than what my union rate probably is now (it was about $28/hour when I left the wardrobe union). So that’s another $150. Added to the materials, this is a $255 skirt. Like I said – this is why I shop at Target.

That being said, I’m trying to decide what my next sewing project should be. A summer weight rain cape? Another skirt? A tailored jacket for fall? So many options….

Maybe I need to change this to “Tin Lizzie Originals”!





Sewing Project, Part 1

It’s been several years since I’ve pulled out the sewing machine and the serger, but I’ve publicly sworn to make a bicycling skirt to wear on Bike to Work Day, so I guess I’d better get to it!

Because I believe in bicycle-friendly clothing that can be worn in an office (business casual, not a casual office where everyone wears jeans every day), I’ve thought of several items that can cover both categories. Some of them are highly complicated, and I won’t be tackling any time soon. But a knee-length, half-circle skirt in a subtle print and color, with some coordinated trim that happens to be reflective, seems like an easy place to start.

I mentally designed something, then went to the local JoAnn Fabrics to buy what I needed. Alas, the print I wanted wasn’t in the store, so I bought something else. Fabric, the pattern (Vogue 8295), thread, a zipper, interfacing, and a fourth of the trim I need came to almost $70! That is more than I would pay for a ready-made skirt, and I haven’t even begun to calculate the time it takes me to make it. Today I had to order the rest of the trim, which was another $38 with shipping and tax – yikes! So my $100 (so far) skirt had better be cool when it is done! This is always the problem with sewing – whatever I’ve made frequently does not turn out the way it looks in my head.

I cut out the fabric at work tonight, because the work table in our resource area is the perfect cutting table – tall and wide.  The big boss walked past me on her way out and laughed – “I knew I’d find you here cutting something out one day!” At least she’s supportive!

Stay tuned – I only have a few days to get this skirt made. It seems fairly easy, but I know from experience that “easy” never is. But I really want to wear it on Bike to Work Day, so I have my work cut out for me. Literally.

The Arrival

Today was a day of bike fashion!

It all started with an early birthday present from my parents (yay Mom and Dad!). I loved that my mom knew, without us ever discussing it, that I liked this necklace.

Bicycle Necklace from Etsy

Bicycle Necklace from Etsy

I was wearing it when I met with some colleagues and the designers from GiveLoveCycle, and the designers immediately zoomed in on it. These two ladies have designed some great tote bags with the express purpose of holding bike helmets in stylish and professional ways (two different sizes, and both can be worn as backpacks, as well as carried as totes).



One of the women is a huge fan of Capital Bikeshare, but realized the biggest problem of bike sharing systems: helmets. What do you do with a helmet after you get to a meeting, or what if you didn’t plan on biking yet find yourself needing a CaBi with no helmet? Voila, you have one in your super-stylish bag!  The quality of the sample bags they showed us is really lovely, nice materials and hardware, and you can tell alot of thought has gone into the design. I was pleased to hear that they are having the bags made in Manhattan, by a company that works for Coach and other high-end companies. Having worked in the Garment District when I work in theatrical wardrobe, I know how so many businesses went down because they couldn’t afford the rents. Keeping the work there is important. But I digress. GiveLoveCycle doesn’t have a website yet but you can check out their Facebook page. Stay tuned, I know there will be more from me on GiveLoveCycle in the future!

But the most exciting news from today was getting my Merrell Evera MJ shoes. Created by Merrell specifically for biking, these comfortable heels are cute but I’m not 100% sold on the “biking” specifics the company promotes.

Here is their list:

• Cement construction provides lightweight durability
• Full gain leather and Lycra® upper
• Perforated pigskin lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Reflective detailing for a safe ride
• Comfort padding at strategic areas of the upper

• Pigskin covered Merrell Remember Me Foam™ memory foam footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Stability shank for efficient pedal push power
• Merrell CycleTread™ Technology offers rigid midfoot pedal power and flexible forefoot hiking performance
• Compression molded EVA footframe for stability and comfort
• Merrell Evera Sole / Sticky Rubber

Merrell Evera MJ

Merrell Evera MJ

Here is my list:

1. The reflective details “for a safe ride” are so minimal that you’d be lucky for anyone to see them. It’s just on the Velcro tab, that’s it. Not on the back of the shoe, nor anything bigger or more integrated into the design.

Reflective trim - the one small spot

2. The “stability shank” and Merrell CycleTread™ Technology which “offers rigid midfoot pedal power and flexible forefoot hiking performance,” means they expect you to hook your heel over the pedal.  This is a less efficient way of pedaling, because you simply aren’t using the full strength of your leg. At least I find that to be true. Besides, when your foot is in clip pedals, the straps I have on Fauntleroy, or clipless pedals, they all position the foot with the ball of the foot on the pedal.

Pedaling with the ball of the foot

3. Style-wise, I love this gray color, and ordered this style because the other style didn’t come in gray (or red either, not sure why). HOWEVER – the elastic on the top sort of screams “little old lady shoe”! Some of my colleagues gave me weird looks when I went to show off the shoes this afternoon, and I know why… I don’t know why Merrell went with this design, though.

Little old lady elastic

Okay, okay, I wore them home from work today and I really haven’t had a chance to play around with them more than that. I definitely appreciated the signature Merrell Sticky Sole, because my shoes stayed on the pedals properly; so many of my business shoes have slicker soles that slide right off the pedals, or would if I didn’t use the straps.

Love the Merrell Sticky Sole!

That being said, I’m pretty happy with them. I love the color, and they were very comfortable to walk around in. The heel is not too high, but still looks dressy/professional.  I’m sure I’ll get plenty of use out of them this summer. I may consider the Evera Band in black, too. But the jury is still out on how these as such great cycling heels.

I will be back in a few weeks with a report on how they’ve held up. In the meantime, I welcome other opinions on women’s heels and biking in them!