Bicycle Togs — Travel Diary

With the availability of bicycle rentals in so many cities, travelers have the option of getting some exercise while seeing the sights from a different vantage point. Here in Chicago, Paris-style Divvy bike racks are popping up all over the city, and not just along the lakefront. I’m not talking about you hard-core folks who go to Provence on bicycling tours, but with soft-core city cycling comes the need for soft-core bicycle clothing and gear, and that’s where we’re traveling today.

Looks like Paris, doesn't it? But it's Chicago!

Looks like Paris, doesn’t it? But it’s Chicago!

As a middle-aged woman, the last thing I want to do is wear skin-tight bike shorts around town while sightseeing or going into a restaurant. I was thrilled when a friend referred me to Terry — the “original women’s bicycling store.” At Terry, I found the perfect solution to my dilemma, the padded bike skort.

Terry's Flare Skort is the perfect solution to bicycling in cities.

Terry’s Flare Skort is the perfect solution to bicycling in cities.

I own this skort in the print and in black. It has a padded bike short underneath with leg bands that are not too tight, and the skirt has two large hip pockets where I put my iPhone and use the Map My Ride app when riding around town. It comes in plus sizes and is comfortable enough to walk around in, even with the padded seat. It hits me just above the knee at my 5′ 2″ height, and is a respectful length. Normally I wash my bike gear in my washing machine, but this week I washed it in the bathtub (as I usually wash clothing while traveling). The padding took two days to dry, so be aware of that, but I probably could have squeezed out more water with towels. It will fold up into a small ball in the corner of your suitcase and come out looking brand new.

All over Europe, we have seen women commuting on bikes, dressed in their work clothes. I don’t know if they are wearing bike shorts underneath their dresses, but they could do that as well. With a simple bike short liner under your dress, you can pedal in comfort and modesty even in your cute sundress!

GotMyReservations -- Shopping by Bicycle

With a basket and my bicycle togs, I can get my exercise and my errands done.

I also picked up an old Vera Bradley small backpack at a garage sale this summer, and was really excited about it. It’s lightweight and breathes, so even if I actually carry it on my back, it’s comfortable. It’s big enough to put my wallet and my camera in it, leaving my removable basket for library books, groceries, or goodies from the farmers’ market. It’s a win-win, both at home and while traveling, but I would choose a more sedate pattern to use in Paris :).

Next time you are packing for a trip, try taking along a bike skort. Worst case scenario is that you will use it as a cute skirt…

I’m linked up today to Wanderlust Wednesday at Time Travel Plans,   The Tablescaper for “Oh, The Places I’ve Been”, Travel Photo Monday” at Travel Photo Discovery, and “Travel Photo Thursday” at Budget Travelers Sandbox, so stop by and get some more inspiration for your travel bucket list!


The Great Bra Adventure — Or the Great Divide Between the Sexes

I’ve had this story swimming around in my brain for a couple of months since our return from France, so when Mama Kat‘s “Bra” prompt was posted, I jumped at it. For the men among my readers — you have NO IDEA how difficult it can be to do something as simple as buying a foundation garment.

The great bra adventure — we ladies have all done it.

Capturing our girls and depositing them into the most flattering and hopefully sexy undergarment we can afford. Finding the right bra is right up there with trying on swimsuits, but since I no longer care about swimsuits, the great bra adventure was my most traumatic experience in recent times.

I remember the exact minute when I had finally dieted my way to a 36C — a lovely size where I could find cute and sexy little pieces of lace and elastic in which to deposit my girls. Unfortunately, the way I got to be a 36 C was to “eat” nothing but coffee for most of my day. Not such a good idea in the long run of life, and not one that lasted very long.

Many years and many pounds later, I’m a 44 DD. I’m living up to what my father called my “sturdy German girl” heritage. I can’t believe I’m actually putting this down for all to see, but I’m going there — right now.

It was time to bite the bullet.

I needed some new bras for our upcoming vacation; I decided that I could not leave my worn bras with frayed elastic out to dry in hotel rooms. I got all excited about going to a local lingerie store called Betty Schwartz — she’s a legend in the Chicagoland area. I “may have” thought I was going to encounter the ladies and the stock featured in Double Divas, but I was dead wrong. I walked into the store for a fitting, was surrounded by ordinary white, beige, and black lingerie and a MAN! No beautiful lacy underwire bras, no corsets, no garter belts, and no Molly and Cynthia. Remember when Ven on Project Runway was so dismissive of the plus-size woman he had to dress? I was not going to put my girls out on display for a salesman, even if he works in a lingerie shop. Thank goodness he called for reinforcements and a woman came out of the back room to fit me.

The story started badly and ended even worse.

There was only one bra in the store that fit me, and not a single black bra for me to even try on. I bought the bra, and ordered another one to be delivered to my house in time for the vacation. I wore it the next day, and found that the underwires in the center poke out when I sit down, thus creating a third “girl.” Could it get any worse? Well, maybe.

I went to every plus-size store in town and several department stores, all the while knowing that some security person was laughing hysterically while watching me try on ten bras at each of these dressing rooms with no luck. Finally, at Torrid I bought an underwire bra that practically could stand up and tap dance on its own. It definitely did good things for the look of my girls, but I would need to buy all new clothes in order to accommodate the padding plus underwire, and I’m pretty sure I might attract some undesirable attention. After wearing it at home, it became clear that I would need a smaller size in this bra. After actually thinking that I had a winner, I had to go back to Torrid to return the sucker.

Now we’re at day four in the great bra adventure and I’m leaving for vacation really soon.

Rethinking my choices, I decided to go to Penney’s and resort to the old lady’s comfort bra, the Playtex 18 Hour 4088. It has a band around my ribcage that doesn’t cut off my circulation. Check. It has thicker straps so that my shoulders don’t get any deeper grooves than they already have. Check. And it doesn’t have underwires that poke me under the arms or stick out like a third breast. Check. And they had three of them in pretty beige and white lace. I was sold.

But wait. I wear black all the time and I needed black bras for this trip and STILL didn’t have a new one. So now, to add insult to injury, I had to go online to order two more in black and hope that they would arrive in time for my vacation. I found them at and had them in time for the trip, saved once again by internet shopping.

The ladies I traveled with for this vacation were discussing among themselves what they would pack and what their husbands would need. What a relief it would be to pack like a man — underwear, socks, chinos, button-down shirts, and a couple of pairs of shoes. No concerns about whether one’s underwear is black or white or whether the leopard print bra will show through. No concerns about whether to bring a skirt or not, and if you do, what shoes will you wear with it? They don’t have the packing dilemma that women have when preparing to go on vacation. And I’ll bet that it’s a rare man who has to bare his “appendage” in a public dressing room to see if it fits in his boxers. I’m just sayin’ . . .

Fast forward to our homecoming from France. The bras worked well, even the one with the pokey underwire, and all was well in bra-land — until I remembered that I had paid IN ADVANCE for the underwire bra that I ordered from Betty Schwartz. Not only did it not arrive in time for the trip, it never arrived at all. I couldn’t find the receipt in my stack of papers that accumulated from the trip, but decided to call anyway, and the same guy answered. He told me that they don’t store their special orders by customer name, they store them by the manufacturer of the bra. I didn’t know the manufacturer (since I was on my cell phone), so he couldn’t look to see if the BRA I PAID FOR was even in the shop.

The next day I got a call from a lovely young woman telling me that the black bra I had ordered was in the other location of Betty Schwartz and she asked me if I wanted to come in and try it on. Now we are about six weeks out from my original visit and she’s not talking about the bra I PAID FOR! I told her the whole sad story and she found my original bra — it was in the wrong location and they had never called me or sent it out. Finally, I found someone who provided customer service and she sent the second pokey bra out in the mail. It arrived and I thought I was finally done with Betty Schwartz.

Then they called me again… wondering if I wanted to come in to try on that damn black bra.

I was polite. I really was.

Thanks to Mama Kat for allowing me to get this story off my literal and figurative chest. I’m guessing that my “bra” story is going to be only one of many. It was cathartic, but now everyone is going to know my bra size. Oh, well — my girls can’t hide in real life, so there’s no point in worrying about hiding them online.

I guess the old adage holds true, even in the virtual world. If you’ve got ’em, flaunt ’em!

Be sure to stop by Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop and make some new friends!

What to Wear Wednesday: Travel Edition — On the Plane

I’ve been struggling with the dilemma of packing light for most of my life.

And yes, I know that should actually be lightly, the adverb rather than the adjective. I am being colloquial. 🙂

I’ve been following a fabulous blogger at Fifty Not Frumpy, and she posts inspiring outfits every day.  Since I’m a visual learner — I’ll bet that doesn’t come as any surprise to you — I decided to create some collections of my own to help me pack. If you click into the collection, you will be directed to my page at Polyvore, where you can find specifics about each of the items in the collection.

Travel Edition: On the Plane

Each piece in this collection will be used later in your travel, but will also be comfortable on the plane. Since overseas travel often requires me to arrive in the morning, I don’t want to look like I’m wearing my pajamas when I get to my hotel.  This collection of knits will travel well and will look fresh until you have time to change your clothes.

 Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain


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