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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fancy Pants: Fancy Bicyclist, Part 5

If you've seen me (or "photos" of me) from the past few years, you might have notice that I am partial to a style of pants called "knickers"*. You know, the type of pants that go down past the knee, but not by much. Worn by olden-timed newsboys.  They are sometimes derisively called "shants".  Some people hate 'em, but obviously I like them.  To each their own.
Yeah, that's me back in the day.
I like them because they seem so practical for bicycling.  No rolling of pants legs or using clips, because knickers won't get caught in the chain.** Plus, they show off socks (or bare calves if the weather is nice.)  I like socks!

My "traditional" method of knickerization was to find a pair of thrift store pants and either cut them myself for the punk rock look, or get it hemmed.  And this is where Skye Blue comes into the picture.  I did a trade with her: I create illustrations for her seamstress biz-ness, she sews for me.  I started to bring her my pants for alterations.

The problem is I'm hard on pants.  Simple alterations became more complicated repair jobs, as I would return a pair of pants again and again to get them patched.  So one day last year she says: Why don't I just make you a pair of pants?

Make me pants?  Sure!

I don't think I've ever had a specific item of clothing specifically made for me, beside an odd knit hat or scarf.  Pants! That are mine and mine alone! Unique! 

It didn't hurt that Skye was looking at making some bicycle-specific pants.  I just happened to be the perfect guinea pig.

I gave her the specifications on what I thought would be my ideal bike knickers.  Heavy duty wool, of course.  Ample pockets. Reinforced crotch and butt patches.  And straps around the cuffs so I can wear them loose or tight.

It took several months, but I got my pair of pants.  And they turned out great!  These pants became my primary pants for all occasions.  I wore them up until summer, as above 60-65F they're a little warm.  I put them through much abuse, including my Eastern Oregon Bike Tour.  I've had to bring them back a couple times, but overall they've held up.

To top it off, Skye finished up my second pair of knickers!  These are lighter weight than my first pair (yet still wool), so I can wear them in warmer weather.  And they are in a herringbone pattern, which not only looks classy (and hides dirt well), but will come in handy for the upcoming Tweed Ride!

And now I'm in deep fancy territory.  Two pairs of custom made pants?  How will I ever be able to buy regular pants again?

*Sometimes in other places (the UK) referred to as "plus fours" since they extend four inches below the knee. So I've been told.
**Yeah, yeah, I know. If bicycles came equipped with chain guards, this wouldn't even happen.  But last I checked Portland still had a long way to go before it resembled Amsterdam. (Though in the eyes of a cultural conservative, we are Amsterdam.)

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