great pic of woman in actionBikes & Bloomers is a research project about the bike, bloomer and female cyclist in late nineteenth century Britain.

Victorians enthusiastically took to the bicycle. Yet women had to deal with many social, political and material challenges to their freedom of movement. Cycling in everyday dress was dangerous as it caught in the wheels. But it wasn’t always safer to dress like a cyclist, as onlookers could hurl abuse and stone! 

Parts of society were threatened by this visual symbol of women carving out new feminine modes of mobility in public space – some saw this as interfering with their ‘natural role’ at home.

This research explores how some cyclists creatively protested against restrictive ideas of how a woman should act and move in public through their clothing, designing convertible costumes that enabled the wearer to change when needed.

The interdisciplinary team led by Dr Kat Jungnickel explores how the bike, bloomer (and attending ideas of Rational Dress) and the suffrage movement in late C19th Britain helped women carve out new gendered forms of mobile citizenship.

Cycle wear did not exist at this time, so enthusiastic women had to make it themselves.

Some women not only designed but also patented their inventions.

Drawing on archival research and following the instructions provided by these inventors we have made a collection of Victorian convertible cycling garments.


Research questions:

What kinds of cycle wear designs were emerging during this period?
What social issues did they reflect and resist?

What can we learn from making and wearing these garments?

Why does cycle wear (still) matter?



To contact the team:

Email k [dot] jungnickel[at]gold[dot]ac[dot]uk

or use the contact form