Lady cyclists’ dress in 1893

Lady cyclists’ dress

 Has any Englishwoman who is fond of cycling the courage to ride a ‘safety’ bicycle in the costume which is popular amongst ladies in Paris? Any fine afternoon on the Bois de Boulogne may be seen a number of girls dressed in a style which records the old ‘bloomer’ attire, but is vastly more becoming, and riding bicycles with perfect ease and grace. Many of these performers have been taught in a school near the Champs Elysée, where the number of feminine pupils is constantly growing. Relieved from the restraints of ordinary skirts, they have none of that awkwardness which is inevitable to a woman who rides a bicycle in the conventional drapery. There is nothing in the Parisian dress to which the most fastidious critic could take exception save on the ground which would commend itself to Mrs, Lynn Lynton, who considers it shocking for girls to engage in any of the pastimes formerly monopolised by men. As society in this country has not declared it to be an intolerable outrage on good morals for a woman to take healthful exercise on a bicycle, the question for most people simply concerns the most suitable costume for that pastime. The most ingenious arrangement of the most decorously abbreviated skirt cannot in the nature of things be as comfortable to the cyclist as the modified Zoauve dress which may be seen in Paris. The skirt, however managed, has neither the practical advantages nor the agreeable appearance of its rival. Undoubtedly it would need some courage on the part of an Englishwoman to apparel herself in the fashion which has become natural enough abroad. But if the experiment were made it would probably have an immediate success. Moreover, it would go far to settle the vexed question of dress reform for women. It would seem absurd to fight about the divided skirt when that problem was so easily and gracefully solved on a bicycle. The usages which have hitherto compelled women to burden themselves with a mass of clinging drapery can be changed, not by agitation, but by some really bold and striking object lesson in combined convenience and grace. Women who had worn a special and admirable costume for cycling would be indisposed to submit to the tyranny of superabundant petticoats. Moreover, it is quite certain that reform conducted on this line would have the prompt and enthusiastic support of the mere man.

  (The Star,(Saint Peter Port, England), November 02, 1893; pg. [1]; Issue 131)

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