A friend of ours has convinced us that we need to go to the Quad Cities Tweed Ride this year. It’s lots of fun, she said. It’s super laid back, she said.
I looked at photos from the website. They’re looking pretty seriously tweed. In most cases, they’re looking pretty seriously vintage and tweed in their attire. Yes, I realize they pick out the best-looking riders for photo opportunities to show off on the website, as the roommate reminded me, but I’ve been down the vintage costume path before and what it taught me is that there is a hierarchy to acceptance based on the perceived accuracy and beauty of your attire.
The roommate will be pretty easy to outfit. She’s tall and lean and looks fabulous in menswear. We’ve already sourced tweed knickers for her and a potential source for a vintage style wool jersey that she wants anyway. A newsboy cap and kneesocks and she’ll be too gorgeously tweed.
Me? I know I don’t have much (okay, any) budget for costuming, so I need to start building from what I already have.
Turns out, a toss of the closet yielded a not horrible starting point. I have a lovely A-line midi-length charcoal wool skirt with sky blue and tan plaid that’s very classic and could work with either the 1940s or 1950s as style inspiration.
I also have a black wool jacket with denim patches on the elbow. It has a more modern menswear vibe, so I don’t normally wear it with my skirt, but I think it will work with the skirt if I add a jacket cinch clip to the back to better define the waist. It would work with knickers if I decide to try to go that route.
I can wear either my white linen shirt or my white button up blouse and the overall look will be timeless blend in. My gut says that the blouse will work better because it’s got princess seaming which will give the illusion of being more tailored and body conscious.
Let’s leave off for a moment that I don’t have a step through frame bike and that I’ll need to practice mounting and dismounting in a ladylike way with this skirt. We’ll get back to that because I already have to do a modified tilt mount to get on my bike in the first place because of my hip. It just doesn’t move certain ways anymore. (Thanks, arthritis!) We’re going to pretend this is all just going to work for purposes of discussion.
That leaves the matter of accessories. I think I still have a pair of black leather Isotoner gloves that I can wear. If not, I’ll put “crochet gloves” on my list of things to do. Hat or head scarf for wearing when I’m not in my helmet also needs to happen, but that’s actually pretty trivial for me to find.
Where I’m really falling down is shoes. Normally I wear knee boots with this skirt and call it a day, but if I’m going for a more vintage look (as appropriate for a Tweed Ride), a pair of spectator pumps would probably be prettiest, if a little lousy to ride in. If I can find a lightweight twinset or sweater to replace the jacket, I could easily wear my a pair of coordinating crew socks and my loafers, like this picture. That’s currently a higher probability option.
The crazy part of me says “You have yarn. Knit a fair isle vest to go over your white blouse.” I call that part of me crazy because I’ve never managed to make a sweater I like for myself. Making something like this in the timeframe I have seems crazy pants, but if I did, I’d probably want to go completely crazy pants and make a Great Horn-rimmed vest.
Alternately, I need to find shorts like this picture from Life Magazine. That’s probably not a “find” option. It’s probably a “make” option, which is its own expense. Fabric. Pattern. Muslin. Time. Time. Also, it wants a short sleeved blouse, so I’d probably have to make that, too. More time.
Otherwise, I may have to search for a pair of larger men’s charcoal tweed pants at thrift to remake into knickers. If I get lucky and find the right pants to refashion, that solves both my shoes and my “how do I mount my bike” problems. It’s my preferred option. My jacket would work. I could wear a cute cloche for a hat. It would be super comfortable. It’s also my closest to least likely to happen option. I just never get that lucky thrifting.
If I could find a proper ’49er style jacket or pattern in my size, I’d throw it all out and start from there. I’d know my beloved loafers would be exactly the right thing to wear and I’d pair it with jeans and casual gloves and a 40’s style hairdo. That’s a total pipe dream. Pendleton still makes the ’49er in my size once in a blue moon, but I’ll have better luck if I track down a pattern with similar features and make one for myself and that’s well beyond my sewing ability.