Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cycle Chic Envy

Sometimes I'm forced to face facts and one of those facts is that despite giving it a go, I'm generally not earth's most fashionable person. I live out of hiking sandals and workout clothes, which is completely fine with the dress code at my job. Roughly half my clothes are made of space-age technical fabrics, and generally speaking, that's how I like it. I wear makeup when I have a reason to, and my hair alternates between "hot mess resembling a lion's mane," "some form of braid," and "ponytail." I carry a backpack, not a purse. However, many of the blogs I read are largely dedicated to street style and as they call it, cycling for real people.

As someone who likes their stretchy fabrics, sometimes it's easy to feel very left out in the barrage of cyclists who seem to continually portray themselves in a fabulous dress with nary a hair out of place. We never see these people after 40 minutes cycling across the city in 100 degree heat, sweating through their clothes. But that's generally my reality when I'm on my bike - in an Austin summer it's nearly impossible to stay looking put together just standing around outside, let alone while moving.

And don't get me started on the bicycles. Endless $1000+ imported fancy schmancy, custom built jazzy looking ladylike machines. A bike for every occasion, fully appointed for maximum style and comfort. I look at these bikes and feel the green monster smacking me upside the back of the head with an adorable purse.

Maybe I missed a lesson somewhere. How to do your makeup so it stays in place no matter what. Where to make room in my budget for fabulous clothes, trips to coffee shops, and shopping at charmingly quaint book shops. How to find a gorgeous dress that's simultaneously bike-rideable, comfortable, and magically looks perfect whether it's 100 degrees, or 65 and pouring rain. Where I can import a Danish city bike and also pay rent for the month.

But here's the thing - like everything else on the internet, people don't post themselves at their worst. No one shows off the day they looked awful. No one tells you they saved up for 6 months to afford that bike because it was important to them. So when I get this envy of these endlessly chic people it's important to take a step back and remember that an image doesn't come close to telling the whole truth of someone's life. It's equally important to remember that all the gorgeous frosting in the world doesn't necessarily make the cupcakes underneath it delicious, and that a delicious cupcake may not have been made by the world's finest decorator. Comparing your life in all it's reality to the highlights of someone else's without the lowlights that provide context is a recipe for envy. Now, just to remember that.


  1. I love your writing. I love reading cycle chic blogs too. I think they have their place in motivating non-cyclers. If the style looks good, than maybe someone might just try riding. But I here you when you point out that it's not easy to look good when It's 100 F and you ride 10 miles to get to work. In our heatwave here in Vermont, I ride to work, and have to take a shower. Fortunately, It's fine at my work place. For others, they may not choose to ride because there'd be no place to clean up. Long live the sweaty bike rider!

    1. Darlin, I'm from Texas. The hot weather equivalent of a Minnesota winter. You just sort of stop expecting people to look non-sweaty.