Will Manners writes a fascinating and very enjoyable blog at ‘The Victorian Cyclist’. Here he discusses the negative attitudes that male cyclists faced in regard to their mode of dress during the late Nineteenth Century in Britain. It is a fascinating addition to the much more widely discussed issue of contemporary women’s cycling dress and the Rational Dress Movement.
For the many middle-class men who took to cycling in the 1890s, before they mounted their bicycles they were faced with a new and troubling dilemma. How should they dress for their cycling excursions? For middle-class male cyclists, retaining a ‘respectable’ and ‘dignified’ appearance on their bicycles was of great importance, and central to this were the clothes they cycled in. ‘Respectable’ attire needed to be ‘tasteful’ and as such could not reveal ‘unseemly’ parts of your anatomy; arms and legs needed to be safely hidden under layers of clothing. However, your Sunday best was not designed for exercise and physical exertion. As one writer in the cycling press put it,
‘When a person becomes transformed from an ordinary citizen to an enthusiastic cyclist, the question of clothing assumes a different aspect. Ignoring the Scriptural admonition, he begins to grow solicitous as to wherewith he shall be clothed. He recognises, as…
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by Mike Dash
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