16 May 2011

Reinventing the Wheel

I want to be a wild and crazy crone. I want to wear beautiful fabrics in rich textures and color my mouse-and-grey hair some shade not found in nature or, rather, found in nature but not in hair. I want to embarrass my daughter.

But I haven't done any of these things. I have a deeply, deeply rooted sense that I am not allowed to. My therapist and I have spent years discussing where this inhibition comes from and why I find it so hard to flout, ever since my previous therapist was strangled by her husband (but that's a very different story--or maybe not.) There is literally no one to tell me what I am and am not allowed to do (unless we are talking about driving the wrong way on the freeway or robbing a bank, which we're not), but I'm hedged about with limitations imposed on myself.

I'm tired of holding up the bars of my own cage.

The only kind of crazy thing I do is bicycle. I often commute to and from work by cycle and subway, and occasionally go on binges where I cycle miles and miles and miles on city streets around my home. A few of my colleagues admire me but most of them think I'm nuts.

So. I want to use my crazy cycling evil twin persona to try to pry my goodie-two-shoes persona out of her rut or cage or whatever she's in. And I'm starting by dressing more appropriately for running riding riot in the streets. The other day I wore this dress over my cycling knickers (as in capri-length lycra pants, not undies) to work:

IMG 0024

I probably looked awful, but I felt great! (Oh, by the way, say hello to my new old craigslist dress form--I call her Craig.) So I decided to copy this dress to make a cycling wardrobe.

Step one: try to make a pattern from the dress. I didn't get pictures of this, but I tried to lay the dress flat and trace around it on pattern paper. Then I made a muslin from the pattern:

IMG 0025IMG 0026
Two of them, actually. The thing looked all right on Craig, but she has no arms--when I moved mine the top was very constricting. Experimenting with the muslin just confused me--the top became less confining when I pinched fabric out across the shoulders, which should have made the armscye smaller?

What to do?
Stay tuned for part 2.


  1. .... and it ate my comment. what i said was,


    sorry. but you totally rock.


    er. sorry again. but blue hair would be fun, right?

    (armscye has to be closer to the body to allow movement, yes?)

  2. OMG, do all of us women of a certain age have the same damn conversation with our respective therapists???? It is nice to know I'm not the only one having it.... I have often considered dying my hair purple; don't have any daughters to embarrass, my sisters will have to do... No advice on the fitting issue...major kudo's on all the bike riding!!!

  3. Go for it! To hell with everyone else and I second the vote for blue hair. Ooh, or purple!

    Good luck with the outfits, I'm afraid I don't know how to fix armhole problems either, let us know how you do fix it.

  4. I love what you are trying to do and have been through the same journey myself. Not sure how old you are but when I turned 60 it seemed to get a whole lot easier to be and dress as ME!

    What about some wild and crazy knit tops out of the new 2-way stretch fabrics for longish tops to go over those cycling knickers! Keep posting, I think you are great.

  5. i have faith in you, girl, you will come out from under the bucket and you WILL SHINE in your own way!

  6. I have gone the purple-red route myself. I am a Customer Facing Employee and would just as soon keep the job a few more years until the health insurance perk kicks in. So unless your daughter cycles with you in the morning and would be embarassed, I'd say go for it!

  7. Forget the therapist -- you ARE allowed to! And you've chosen to go about it the best way possible: Start small and work it out as you go. Blue hair can follow, if you want it to.

    If you CAN get away with it, and still stay employed, more power to you! And if not, hey, just lay the groundwork for retirement. I can't think of any better use for "mature" years than finding out who your evil twin is!

    Your previous therapist's husband strangled her??? Now *that's* a good reason to stay in therapy! But not to continue to wear drab clothes you don't care about.

  8. I'm all for bright orange-pink hair, but exciting clothes are also good! I look forward to seeing your emerging crazy person (and note daughters feel obliged to be critical)

  9. Smaller armholes give you more movement. I know, it doesn't sound right, but it is. I love your idea of sewing biking clothes. I'm saving my $$ to buy a bike. I may just start riding to work too.

  10. i have warned my husband that when i hit a certain age, i WILL be manic panic'ing my hair dark green and i don;t what anyone thinks about it. i LOVE that you bike everywhere!! it gives me hope that i can keep that up my whole life....this means if you can do it, then i shouldn't get lazy and segway/drive/etc....oh except skateboard, i could skate if i wanted! i plan on being the cool, weird grandmother (or older aunt, whichever life brings) and i'll thrive on embarrassing my daughters/sons/nieces/nephews. but my oma did whatever she wanted, raised a lot of ladylike hell and was the sort of lady described as a "pistol". in short, she was my and is my hero. my mom is a very close second.

    for the record, i wear 1930s silk tap pants under my dresses and skirts when i'm riding to work :) i figure i need to start now if i'm gonna be half as awesome as all my heroines.