Reflective Thoughts for Fall

And….. it’s Fall! The temperatures have dropped, with a frost advisory overnight last night and chilly temps for the bike ride to work – overnight lows in the upper 30s! Besides digging out the warm bike gloves and the ear pads for my Nutcase helment, I’m happy to bring out my fabulous Dashing Tweeds reflective coat.

I love this coat so much – reflective tweed, OMG, which I bought in London in 2017 AND I think I did a really good job making this McCalls 7667 coat. It fits so well! I finished in this past February, wore it to New York, then haven’t had much chance to wear it again, let alone bike in it. So it’s very exciting to me.

On a slightly warmer day last week, I wore the dusty rose reflective duster I made from Simplicity 8055. I still can’t believe how perfectly the twill matched the red reflective fabric! It’s flat lined, so it has a bit of weight, but it’s not a *warm* jacket, nor is it meant to be. Perfect for over a long sleeved top when the weather peaks in the 60s. And how cool are the reflective “bubbles” on the cuffs?!?

I’ve also worn the reflective brocade Simplicity 8418 bomber jacket I mentioned last week. Lined with flannel-backed satin, it’s warm, even though it’s short. I don’t have any good recent pictures of it reflecting, so here’s two views from when I finished in March.

I need to focus more on reflective outerwear. I think that more should be done to encourage driver awareness, rather than focusing solely on what people walking and riding bikes wear, but I still want to make sure I am visible while I am out in the short, dark winter days. Since I refuse to just through a hi viz safety vest over my regular outfit, I focus instead on what “normal” looking clothes and accessories I can wear that are reflective and lighter colored. I’ve learned a few things along the way, so here are some tips and easy products to help.

Think about where you are going to most be seen while you are walking and biking.  Focus on your back, where you can’t see who is behind you – back, waist, hips, arms, shoulders, feet. Yes, 360* visibility is important, but you can *see* the cars in the front, whereas you can’t from behind you. So make that more visible.

  • Add reflective trim to cuffs, waists, ankles
  • Wear reflective belts – I’ve replaced the belt on my winter coat with one from Vespertine NYC. You can also order reflective grosgrain ribbon to sew or iron onto a webbing belt.
  • Consider painting shoes with reflective paint. Albedo 100 makes a spray paint in two versions – a non-permanent one for textiles, and a permanent one for wood and metal and so on. I tried the textile one on a pair of sneakers many years ago, and am considering doing the side walls of my winter boots.
  • Add reflective trim to gloves – the iron-on Dritz trim should work for this.
  • If you knit, consider reflective yarn for hats and gloves and socks. Red Heart seems to be the go-to brand for this – not the best quality but totally fun!
  • I am currently obsessed with Finnish company Moiko on Instagram – boy do I want their reflective floral heart mittens!!!!
  • Add a fun reflective button from Reflective Society – I know, I said focus on the back, and this is something to wear on the front, but I love her buttons so much! Check out the reflective lace pockets on the jeans, though – hm, total idea….
  • Also in the reflective accessory line, check out Firefly Reflectors. I love my reflective tassels and the adorable soft reflectors, but also check out their stickers and pins. So. Much. Fun. I hadn’t seen their new soft tassels yet – I think one of those will find its way to me this winter… (OMG, this one has *eyes*!!! I need this.)

So there are a handful of ideas to get you started. It’s much easier to be fashionable and visible than you might think, especially if you aren’t a seamstress like me. There’s always a shop on Etsy or elsewhere on the Internet to help you find the perfect reflective pieces, so you are stylish and seen. Warm, well, I can’t help you much there….

A bunch of my reflective accessories reflecting – even shoe laces!

 

 

My DIY Reflective Shoes Experiement

Wednesday, April 6, was National Walking Day, an event promoted by the American Heart Association, and a day that my office promoted to our communities. It was also a good day to wear my new sneakers* – my DIY reflective sneakers!

Reflective Shoes 3I ordered a small (2.3oz net weight) can of Albedo 100 Reflective Spray, after the company liked one of my (many) reflective posts on Instagram. A Swedish product, made in the USA, “designed with nordic conditions in mind” – the possibilities seemed endless with reflective spray paint!!! Oh the things I was planning in my head.

But first I wanted to test it out on something I didn’t really care about, just in case. I hunted around for a pair of fun yet cheap sneakers that I’d want to actually wear – as I’m not a fan of sports shoes, I wasn’t interested in an investment. I found a cute pair at Payless Shoe Source that fit the bill, but of course, not only did they not have my size in the store, they were not available anywhere anymore! Gah! Then I found this really great Addidas pair on clearance in Macy’s – see, the Ballston Mall does have some good finds! (Sidenote: the Ballston Common Mall is generally known around town as a miserable, sad excuse for a mall, and we are all eager for Ballston Quarter, coming in the far future.)

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

I took them outside to spray them. The directions on the can Said to shake vigorously for “at least 1 minute” and to repeat during the application. As it is a clear product, it was hard to see what I’d sprayed, except for the white rubber part on the right shoe where I started. I was surprised when I ran out of spray paint shortly after starting the left shoe! I don’t know if I over-sprayed the left shoe, or if this small can is just not enough for two shoes.

Spraying the shoes - see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

Spraying the shoes – see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

So here are the results:

Can you tell how the first shoe I sprayed, the right shoe, is nicely covered, but the left shoe is not? Bummer! Especially since I prefer the majority of my reflectivity to be on my left side, aka, the car side. I feel a bit lopsided, too, but I guess no one can really tell. Also, since this spray paint is intended for fabrics, it clearly doesn’t work well on the rubber, as it is scratching and peeling off. The product apparently washes away, and I tried to wear them in the rain recently, but I can’t tell that it washed off. I guess if I sprayed a jacket and then washed it, I would notice. However, given how little I purchased and covered one shoe with, I can’t imagine trying to re-reflective something all the time.

I’m not as happy with this experiment as I’d hoped I be, but that’s partially user error, I think. I doubt I’ll try this again, but you never know. Maybe it would be fun on spectator shoes, where I wouldn’t try to cover the entire shoe.

Naturally, I love these shoes because I love anything reflective, and I really love the shoes anyway. I know I’ll wear them regardless! But then I found these gorgeous Nike cherry blossom shoes and now I really, really, really love these more… They could be reflective, right? Like the Capital Bikeshare #BikeinBloom!

Nike Cherry Blossom Shoes

Serious lust…

 

*Seriously, what is the appropriate current term for these shoes? I grew up calling them tennis shoes, and I refuse to call them “runners,” but what *are* they?!