To properly prep for DC’s 2nd Tweed ride we have updated the article Eric Brewer, the singularly sharp dressed “Dissident Display” man, and organizer/ringleader of it all did for us last time around (with addendums and photos from last year’s magical times) of sartorial advice with you, fair readers. Enjoy-ed.
FIRST OFF: DON’T BE AFRAID! Some folks are unnecessarily intimidated at the thought of putting just a little bit of effort into it. It would be great for you all to approach a style guide with the same kind of wit and charm people love you for!
- Jeans are okay.
- Everyone has a retro cap.
- There is a disproportionate amount of appropriate sweaters at H&M or Urban Outfitters, trust us.
- A sweater vest could get you a kiss. A tweed vest could get you laid. Pulling off the bowtie look is as easy as buying one and wearing it. It’s not as tricky as it looks!
- Dust off those oxfords. Don’t have a single pair. Shame on you! It’s is D.C. after all.
SECONDLY! Sensibility, originality and elegance should be the prevailing thoughts when one is searching for suitable attire for DC’s first Tweed Ride. The sudden announcement of a tweed ride has left many folk ill-prepared yet hopeful. Unlike our counterparts in London, there is not a surplus of quality tweed or stockpiles of knickers in the District.
Don’t panic, fellow wheelmen and wheelwomen!
Sorting out proper gear could be easier than you think…
If you find yourself in a thrift store staring at half a dozen tweed blazers priced for the economically under-privilaged, be careful. If you are thinking to yourself, “It’s tweed. It’s cheap. If I find one that fit’s me, I’m set!” Not so fast. The jacket you think fits you probably doesn’t. If it hangs off your shoulders leave it for somebody bigger than you. This occasion calls for fit, above all else. Showing up looking like a hobo in tweed that is too big and smells musty is not going to help you win the heart of any discerning quaintrelle!
If you are having difficulty fashioning yourself a dandy, I would recommend a basic button-up shirt, bow-tie, knit cotton or wool tie, a thin v-neck argyle sweater or simple cardigan and some nice fall season slacks as staples. Add a tweed derby or stingy brimmed hat and you’ve got a look. If you are lucky or resourceful, you might wardrobe yourself in tweed vests and knickers with over the knee knicker or argyle socks. If you are worried about ruining your slacks in your bicycle’s drive train, considering folding the right pant leg of your slacks over and securing them with a leather strap. Simple cuffs could come lose, get caught in your bike chain or even worse, look very unsightly.
You are probably more likely than men to have a pair of knickers at your fingertips and if you wear a dress while riding a step-through bicycle you will probably get an approving nod from the gents. BUT a few of us year-round dandies will not be so easily impressed. A tight fitting contemporary styled skirt won’t flatter your figure while peddling a bike and, more importantly, won’t be fuctional or fun. I imagine the ladies woudl look quite smart in knickers or pleated wool skirts. Embrace the vintage feminine aesthetic with frilly or puffy shouldered tops or form flattering sport coats.
This ride is retro-themed and not for the retrogressive. I’m not inclined to discourage ladies who lean towards a modern look. As long as you understand that modern does not have to be boring or drab, you’ll end up in the right direction. Consider donning the kind of accessories you might normally avoid in a city of worker drones programmed to avoid personal adornment. Flaunt vintage or vintage-inspired hats, feathers, gloves, broaches and bags. Modern and pre-modern fashions offer a wealth of timeless style. If it’s post-modern, it should reference the past in all the right ways!
While turn of the century photographs may have been printed in black and white or sepia tones, the dandies and quaintrelles didn’t avoid color (especially when dye came to the forefront in the late-19th century). The Tweed Ride doesn’t necessarily mean neutrals — the tweed ride doesn’t call for brown, black or gray exclusively — focus on the fit and style as wheelwomen!
For inspiration prior to the Tweed Ride, consider the pre-auto American era when people viewed bicycles as a dignified mode of transportation or the European perspective of the bicycle as a tool worthy of more than sport and play. Now take that perspective and combine it with the sense of pride people took in appearing elegant during leisure activities. It’s okay to appear as if you put extra effort into combining just the right elements for your look and your intent is to impress. That’s precisely the point. Contemporary urban sartorial nonchalance has no place here. We mean to promote a stylistic sensibility and dignity that predates the notion of status through overt commercial branding. A tweed ride is perfect in that it references a point in time where even in leisurely pursuits people placed an emphasis on looking their best and took pride in the effort of well chosen personal details of their attire.
The 2nd annual DC Tweed Ride is this Sunday. Visit: http://dandiesandquaintrelles.com/ to register and get more tips and details.