As a subscriber to the New York Times, I remember breezing through this article about the Dutch bicycle and fashion a few weeks ago and mostly forgetting about it. But not quite. Something gnawed at me about its pretentiousness and the accompanying spread of fashion-forward pictures of young men astride machines wearing suits and ties until I finally looked it back up online and gave it a more thorough going-over.
The writer wrote stuff like this:
The great downturn may have its first real status symbol.
That symbol being the bicycle — but not just any bicycle, the so-called Dutch bicycle… one sold by this Seattle-based company:
This new It object is the glossy black Dutch bicycle, its design unchanged since World War II. Increasingly imported to the United States and starting to be seen on the streets of New York (and in the windows of at least one clothing store), it appears to have everything a good craze needs. That includes a hefty price tag â€” usually between $1,000 and $2,000 â€” and a charming back story about how the bikes have been an indispensable part of the picturesque Dutch cityscape for decades.
Then the writer asks:
Can the bicycle, the urban answer to the wild mustang, slow down and put fenders on? Can the urban cyclist, he of the ragtag renegade clothes or shiny spandex, grow up and put on a tie?
To which I ask: can the NYT just stuff a cashmere sock in its piehole and shut the hell up? No, apparently, it can’t because in a sidebar headlined “How City Bikers Look Sharp” the paper drops this style judgment on its readers:
But with the bike long considered the conveyance of the nerd with a helmet (see â€œThe 40-Year-Old Virginâ€) or off-the-grid, fixed-gear maniacs, there hasnâ€™t been one good style model for the man who simply wants to look like a cool, well-dressed grown-up on a bicycle.
Cool, well-dressed grown up? Before I could ask what the hell that meaninglessness meant, I had ventured into the photo gallery where I met this young gent below (click to slightly enlarge), who apparently is that very style model and who’s sporting the following ensemble, valued at more than $3,100 — not including bicycle:
Cotton blazer, $249, and vest, $119, gingham shirt, $250; Black Fleece silk tie, $150; Phineas Cole khaki pants, $394; Common Projects perforated leather sneakers, $360; the Elder Statesman cashmere summer cap, $235; watch with PVD case and blue rubber strap, $1,345; bicycle, $950.
Just for the sake of comparison as one of those “ragtag renegades,” here’s what I typically wear: convertible hiking pants, $29 (or bike knickers, $65); cotton or poly short-sleeved tee, $10 – 17; leather belt, $17;Â sunglasses, $54; bike shoes, $39; ankle socks, $4; watch, $149; helmet, $35; bike gloves, $9; backpack (containing work slacks, $25, and work shirt (various) $15-$30), $35;Â bicycle, $350.
Keeping in mind this is a fashion article and thereby entirely disconnected from any sort of reality, I should just shut my own indignation down and let the NYT have its fictional frictional factional fun. But the uncredited writer of the sidebar had to go and pigeonhole me as nerd or a maniac because I don’t ride what’s been declared trendy and because I opt not to look like a total fashion victim dandy tool when I’m out there cranking my way across Jefferson Boulevard, alongside Ballona Creek or across Melrose.
I suppose this outfit would be great if all one is doing after waking up at noon is going from one’s Tribeca flat to the coffeehouse a couple blocks up for several hours before going back to the flat all the while one’s trust fund percolates as repeated voicemails are ignored from one’s dad wanting to know if you’re gay, if you have any spare xtc laying around you don’t need, and why you’re tormenting your mother by not coming up to Connecticut either of the last two weekends since her last lipo and/or suicide attempt. Beep!
But in the real world, where my 30 mile commutes often leave me with bugs in my hair and a nice layer of sandpapery road grit clinging to the shins of my pants, such fashion fallacies do not survive those trips.
And the thought of rolling in a necktie?