Something Unique in Cycling Suits…

One finds the most unique things when doing fashion research and today is no exception. In my study of 1890s fashions, I came across this interesting extant example of a cycling suit:

Cycling Suit, 1890s; FIDM Museum

When I first viewed this, I thought I was looking at something from the late 1960s or early 1970s…the flower-pattern fabric just simply screams that era. πŸ™‚ This is something that we’ve never seen before. We’ve examined quite a few 1890s era cycling suits, both in person and through photo research, but never have we seen this sort of a fabric used. As a rule, fabrics were usually solids or some sort of a pattern, similar to what one would have found in men’s sack suit It certainly makes you wonder- was this a one-off or simply a variant that never took off in popularity? We’d definitely would like to know more…It certainly makes a bold statement and must have turned heads when it was worn. Unfortunately, a online search of the FIDM Museum collection turned up nothing so we’ll have to employ other research methods. Stay tuned for more…this is certainly an interesting puzzle and we’d like to know more.

2014 LA Tweed Ride


A little something from the past…we definitely need to get the bikes refurbished and do it again- it’s been too long. πŸ™‚


LA Tweed Ride wrap-up: If our 1890s sisters can ride for ten miles in 90 degree heat, up hill and dale for ten miles on a forty pound steel frame bicycle with a dubious braking system and huge wheels, properly corseted and dressed, then so can I…and I did. Of course I didn’t have to go home and milk the cows and feed the masses, I got to rest with a book and a movie!

Karin_Tweed Ride 2014 1890s Cycling Suit

Yesterday wasn’t a race, it was to prove a point. Exercise, polite manners, and dressing well can exist in LA. I didn’t finish first, but somewhere in the middle. The only swear words I heard ALL day were from me, (sorry, Dad) and that was when I didn’t think I would make it up one of those hills and was being passed up by those youngsters in their aluminum 30 speed bikes! πŸ™‚

Outerwear For The 1890s…

ca. 1890’s, [cabinet card, portrait of a woman with a camera] sooo glad we don't have to wear all this any more


ately, it seems that outerwear has been on my mind, especially after yesterday’s post. πŸ™‚ Although the weather here in Southern California has been unseasonably warm, it’s post-Labor Day and Fall is coming- I just feel it- and hence my looking forward. In the course of writing my post on 1880s outerwear, I came across some illustrations of the jacket styles that were coming into vogue during the 1890s, especially in view of the trend towards cycling suits and similar practical garments that developed in response to the shifting position of women.

1890s Jacket Styles 1890

Fashion Plate, Winter 1890

Jackets are interesting in that while they’re obviously meant as outerwear against the elements, they also seem to act as a sort of “over-bodice” for dresses and in some fashion illustrations, it’s hard to tell if they jackets or bodices. It’s an interesting conundrum, to say the least. While this style developed during the 1880s, jackets became especially pronounced during the 1890s, being commercially produced in a wide variety of styles as pictured below:

Womens' Jackets 1899 - 1900

Short jackets were especially useful for women engaging in outdoor activities such as cycling as can be seen from these examples:

Cycling Jacket 1898 - 1900

Cycling Jacket, c. 1898-1900; Rrijksmuseum BK-1973-402)


But jackets were not just limited to activewear, but they could also be high-fashion as with this example from the House of Worth:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket, Worth, 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.75)

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Style-wise, jackets reflected the prevailing styles to include in this case, leg-of-mutton sleeves. Here’s are some pictures of the jacket being worn as part of a total outfit:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

And, just to show the range of design/style possibilities, here’s another example from an unknown source:

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket, c. 1890s; North Dakota State University Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection (1986.07.55)

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Rear View

Although a specific date is not given, I would estimate that this jacket was made in the late 1890s, probably 1898-1900. The tailoring is exquisite and the appliques and embroidery are spectacular, if not a bit over-the-top, and style treatment on the front is simply amazing, especially since it creates the illusion that there are is a separate vest and jacket (they’re actually all one unit). It’s too bad that there’s no known picture of this jacket being worn as part of a complete outfit.

The previous two examples are quite elaborate with detail but simpler versions did exist and they would definitely make a perfect addition to almost any 1890s day outfit- it’s something that’s not seen being recreated these days.