Friday, February 1, 2013

Latest In Bicycling Costumes for Women (1895)

From a long Los Angeles Herald article from August 4, 1895.

Bicycle Suits for Women 1895
Illustration that accompanies the article

SHE DESIGNS BICYCLE SUITS - That is How a Chicago Woman Is Coining Wealth - SHE IS AN ARTIST IN THIS - Tells Fair Bicycle Riders the Kind of Clothes They Ought to Wear. Says Bloomers Will Soon Be the Street Costume.
This article is quite long, so I will only reproduce some of the text here - the full text is available in the online digitized version.
A clever little woman on the West Side is proving herself a benefactress of womankind and, at the same time, earning a good living. Her name is Helen Waters. She designs bicycle costumes for women, says the Chicago Times-Herald, Mrs. Waters is a petite young woman with big brown eyes and a "wide, kind smile." She is extremely brisk and energetic, and possesses some original ideas as to the proper garb for women who ride. She is a member of the Illinois Cycling club, and is a skillful and rapid rider, although she does not aspire to record-breaking honors.

. . . . .

"Do you mean to say that bloomers will be worn us a street costume next summer?"

"I don't wish to be too hopeful, but things look that way to me. I, for one, will be glad if it is so. A woman who has once worn bloomers dislikes to put on skirts. I know it from my own experience and that of others. As you see, I wear them about the office all the time and have even ventured to wear them on the street cars to and from my home. However, occasions arise when 'discretion is the better part of valor,' and then off go bloomers and on goes the skirt. I hope you won't laugh at me when I say I find the skirt uncomfortable."
This kind of cycling human interest story was common during the high years of the cycling craze in the 1890s. The article is about a woman in Chicago but was published in Los Angeles, likely published in numerous cities through some then-publication network for these kinds of not-very-time-sensitive stories. This particular story had two different elements of interest - the subject's changing of women's attire and her financial success, earning a "good living."

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