Let’s Talk #Reflective Fashion

Although I am always happy to talk about reflective bike fashion, a few things converged recently to prompt a post about reflective-ness. A New York Times article, new reflective clips from Bookman, and the Fall time change all mean more ways and reasons to be reflective!

The recent New York Times article, “Go Glam into the Night: For the Bike-to-Work Generation, a Move to Fashionable High Tech Clothing,” explored how bike clothing “grew up” and became “fashionable” by making office-friendly clothing reflective. The article called out a few companies I already adore, like Vespertine NYC and LFlect, others I am familiar with, including Fik:Reflectives and Betabrand, and introduced me to a fun new one, Henrichs (these capes are so adorable! And limited edition pink and glitter reflective ones? Where is my credit card?!).

The Henrichs Cape (Photo courtesy of the Henrichs website)

The Henrichs Cape (Photo courtesy of the Henrichs website)

Women’s fashion sports clothing companies such as Athleta and Lululemon are also adding reflective clothing to their lines. These pieces are made for runners, not cyclists, but there are obvious ways these can crossover. Look at how cool the “Light It Up” reflective skirt from Lululemon is, and the “Scuba Hoodie,” with it’s reflective hood! I love the idea of pulling this skirt over pants or leggings or jeans – not entirely work appropriate, but definitely for biking home from the gym, or a casual evening out. The “In a Flash” sweatshirt I can see wearing to work. Athleta offers a few pairs of running leggings with respectable amounts of reflective trim down the leg, and I can see pulling these on under skirts or dresses to bike home after dark. When we turn our clocks back this weekend, it will be darker earlier, but still not too cold to rule out the skirts, and then these would be perfect.

Lululemon Light It Up Skirt (photo courtesy of Lululemon website)

Lululemon Light It Up Skirt (photo courtesy of Lululemon website)

What I like about these garments is that these designers are finally realizing that gear worn outside, especially in the darker hours, should have a bit more reflectivity than just the token logo on a corner, or on the ankle. Here is an example of what I consider bad reflective trim – this adorable “Cyclocape” from Terry Bicycles has a single line of reflective trim down the center of the back. Although the unbroken line isn’t a bad idea, it doesn’t give any sense of how wide the wearer is, so how much room to give the cyclist, and what if if was covered by a backpack or bag strap?  (Don’t get me wrong, if someone wants to gift this to me, I’d happily test it out!) These black Terry “Metro Crop” pants have reflective trim inside the side slits, so they don’t offer much reflective-ness at all.

Terry Bicycles Cyclocape (photo courtesy of Terry Bicycles website)

Terry Bicycles Cyclocape (photo courtesy of Terry Bicycles website)

Title Nine has a decent collect of clothes with reflective trim, and although this “Slip’n Ride” commuter skirt is another example of questionable print choices, I like that the reflective trim is on the outside hem, right where you want to be visible to a vehicle.  REI’s Novara winter cycling pants have reflective stripes down the entire leg as well – just like my reflective pants!

I love the latest pants I made!

I love the latest pants I made!

I also point all of this out because Time is “falling back” this weekend, and it will be darker longer. Although I don’t believe that us wearing reflective clothing gives drivers license to NOT pay attention to cyclists (and pedestrians) on the road, I don’t think it hurts to be defensive about what we wear either. I wear a bright red coat partially because it shows up better in headlights than a solid black jacket would – the reflective Vespertine belt I wear with it simply helps.

Red coat, reflective trim on skirt, purse - hugging an owl in Copenhagen

Red coat, reflective trim on skirt, purse – hugging an owl in Copenhagen

It is easy to add reflective accessories, less expensive, and perhaps a bit more versatile to have something that can be moved from jacket to shirt to skirt, like the Bookman clips or the options from REI. Or there is always another route – Glimling is a Swedish-American company selling Scandinavian style reflectors that can be attached to purses, backpacks, coat zippers, or panniers. I have several and love them. They are so cute on my purses! Elisabeth, the owner, totally gets the importance of reflective-ness, and loves to share this somewhat staggering statistic – 70% of American pedestrian accidents happen after dark, while in Sweden, the number is much lower, 40%. Adults and children alike in that country wear reflectors – we saw them for sale in bookstores and dollar stores and in the airport when The Mechanic and I were in Denmark and Sweden, too. Check out her blog post with visibility tests.

Assorted reflectors on assorted bags - some I bought in Sweden, some are from Glimling

Assorted reflectors on assorted bags – some I bought in Sweden, some are from Glimling

So what am I saying here? Reflective clothing is going fashionable and mainstream for biking and running, yay! Designers are beginning to figure it out, and maybe by next winter, we’ll see even more. If buying reflective blazers and dresses is not your thing, or you can’t afford to (I know, the cool stuff is always so expensive!), consider accessories with a good amount of reflective coverage, and attach reflectors on strategic points.  The least it can do is make you a bit more visible!



At Long Last, the Colorblock Top!

My first sewing project of 2014 was my long-delayed project of 2013! I finally finished my reflective colorblock top! ColorBlock top reflective

Naturally, it was not easy to do – I never chose easy patterns, as my mother reminded me. Those corners were tricky to begin with, and then I added reflective piping, which is tricky itself. Never look too close, if you ever see me in this! If I didn’t like it so much, I’d be very embarrassed by the sad state of my sewing skills.

I altered the pattern a bit – it was supposed to be solid, and seamed, up the back, and the colorblocked part was supposed to be on the right front.

The original design.

The original design.

So I flipped it around and then mirrored that in the back. I feel that the reflectivity is more important in the back, and on the left side, hence the redesign.  Back Reflect

I wore it to work on Monday, but alas, it is still January, and still too cold to not wear a jacket, so I couldn’t get the full effect. That’s okay, we’ll have warmer weather in a few months. Until then, I’m just happy to wear it as a funky top.  front


Finishing this, however, means I am <gasp> project-less! What will I do next?! I’m not even sure, to be honest. I wish I was brave enough to try pants again, but the fit is such a problem when I have no one to help me. There’s always another skirt or dress. Or maybe it’s time to start things for an Etsy shop….

Just Bikey Thoughts

The Sea Gull Century behind me, I had looked forward to at last making my colorblocked sweatshirt, and duly set out in rainy weather to find fabric inspiration. Alas, inspiration was nowhere to be found. I found some options, just nothing I was in love with. So, no sewing project this weekend, sadly.

These two colors were close, but the fabric was too lighweight. Bummer.

These two colors were close, but the fabric was too lightweight. Bummer.

I made sourdough bread instead.

Yum, sourdough bread!

Yum, sourdough bread!

So instead of talking about me, I wanted to talk about some friends.

First of all, I need to share the new BikeArlington movie, “BikeSwell.” The Mechanic and I attended the premiere of this movie last week, on a very rainy Thursday (which did allow me to wear my new Cleverhood again!). “BikeSwell” is a 30-minute movie about how bicycling is picking up in Arlington County. It’s full of prominent people in the biking and walking movement here in Arlington as well as colleagues and people I admire. I admit to a “swell” of pride watching it – I’m part of this! Definitely watch the video. BA_Poster_vFinal

But even while I feel part of this bicycles-as-transportation movement here in Arlington, and even though I just completed by first century, I still don’t feel like a “cyclist.” Lady Fleur had a timely post on that topic today in her blogpost, “From Far and Wide, Ladies Ride, Ride, Ride!”  (This post made me wish I could bike with her and her gal pals – they always look like they are having so much fun!) It’s the group’s comments after the bike ride that I want to draw attention to – the discussion of what it means to be a “cyclist.”

Lady Fleur reports how opinions varied from “earning” the right to be called a “cyclist” after starting to wear a jersey, to not even wearing a jersey counts as being a cyclist. I thought this was interesting because now that I have that one century under my belt, I finally feel like a real “cyclist,” yet still don’t think of myself as a “cyclist” first and foremost. Nope, if you were to ask me, I would say that I am a designer, or a historian, or a stitcher, but not a cyclist. Maybe it’s because my primary bicycling function is my transportation cycling – I ride to work, I ride to Target, I ride to G Street Fabrics, I ride to JoAnn Fabrics. Although I have recently spent almost my entire weekend on my road bike, it was a short-term thing, and not something I’ll return to. (Well, not on that level. I am looking forward to a few regional half- and metric-centuries next summer.)

Nearing the finish line of the Sea Gull Century!

Nearing the finish line of the Sea Gull Century!

Maybe it has to do with time spent in the saddle? My daily commute is so short I hate to even admit I bike to work! Somehow, when I say that, it seems like it should be much more difficult and strenuous. And yet, that is exactly what we try to impress upon people – it doesn’t have to be hard, or challenging, or sweat-producing. It has to be easy, or you’ll never want to do it again. And we want it to be everyday, commonplace, no big deal, just jump on a bike and ride to the store. That’s the goal, to be like the Copenhageners, who don’t identify themselves as “bicyclists,” because it’s just something everyone does, every day. So maybe the goal is to not be a “cyclist,” after all. And yet…. there’s nothing special about being commonplace.

Commonplace people in Montreal

Commonplace people in Montreal

Oh dear. Such a mixed message! Does any other women have any other interpretations of “cyclists”?







Trying to Share the (Bike) Love

It’s been a weekend of sharing the bike love, or at least trying to. We found unexpected love in Denmark, and didn’t find love during the Bike DC event.

Yesterday was the EU Open House Day in Washington, DC, a day when all the embassies invite the public to visit their grounds, and learn about their countries and the work each one does in the United States.  I went last year, and the year before that I worked in the German Embassy for the German-American Heritage Museum. This year my goal was to hit embassies I hadn’t been to, and we prioritized the British, Belgian, Danish, Croatian, and Dutch embassies. We made it to all of them, plus an International Women’s Day festival at the Islamic Center of Washington! Given the amount of time we spent standing in line, this is actually pretty impressive.

In front of the Belgian Embassy

We were quite happy to eat our way through the British and Belgian embassies – bangers and free whiskey at the first, chocolate, beer, and waffles at the second! The Danish embassy had some lovely cheeses as well, but it had the best exhibits of all of them – bikes!

There was an entire wall full of photos of people on bicycles around Copenhagen (not from Copenhagen CycleChic, however), plus some information about how Denmark has become one of the leading green nations. Imagine this – 90% of all waste is recycled or used as fuel in “combined heating and electricity plants.” And 36% of the population of Copenhagen bikes to work!

The Greening of Denmark

The best part, however, was the “Share the (Bike) Love” photo shoot!

Photo Shoot!

It’s a promotion, of course, and a contest, to win a trip to Copenhagen, but I love that I ended up with a Share the Bike Love profile picture for Facebook and Twitter! It’s perfect.

Today, however, there was a bit less bike love going around. The Mechanic and I had signed up for the WABA Bike DC bike event, which was a 24-mile loop through DC and Arlington. Seemed like a good idea, except that it wasn’t…

I had heard that 7,000 people signed up for the event, and I don’t doubt the figures after seeing the crowds. There were the roadies, of course, and I was on Donner in my Bike Arlington jersey, so I too looked like a roadie. But it seemed like there were more recreational bikers out on the route, enjoying the beautiful weather, and having fun.


Here’s where the problem lay – there were so many people on bikes who were not paying attention, wobbling all over the roads, and doing clueless moves, that it made us more stressed to be around them. And there was no where to go! I was trying to be generous – after all, I WANT people to bike more, and this seems like a good way to encourage getting out on bikes. Tons of kids, even a mom and two daughters on a three-person bike (tri-dem?), and I think that is great, get kids riding at a young age. But when we got to the Iwo Jima part and had to get off and walk into a tight bottle neck (thanks to some unscheduled road work that cut off half the road, I heard), I gave up. My patience had worn thin, I wasn’t having fun, and the claustrophobia was setting in. We were happy to turn around and head back the way we saw other riders heading back.

Yep, even dogs were out for the event.

It turns out that by turning back we not only ended up in a bigger, undirected mess, but we also missed the 4 miles up to and around the Air Force Memorial, which would have been nice. We ended up losing the route, and were on surface streets, with a dozen or so other riders, I might add, with cars, directed I don’t know where by a “helpful” DC cop, and found the finish line only by looking up the address on the map. I would have been disappointed if I’d been having more fun, but it was sadly just frustrating. We both were cranky afterwards, especially The Mechanic. An unplanned trip to my new local farmers market and a long nap when we got back helped. But there wasn’t much bike love going around this afternoon! It’s unfortunate, since there was so much love going on yesterday.

This week, however, is Bike to Work Week, culminating in Bike to Work Day, then The Mechanic and I are headed to West Virginia for the CASA River half-century! I’m excited but anxious that I’m not in good enough shape for it. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Sharing the Bike Love, Danish Style