For quite a while, I’ve wanted to take photos of stylish cyclists, but the problem with trying to do cycling street style is that, well, cyclists tend to be on the move. As I was walking home wearing Mira one day, I saw a well-dressed man walking with a pink Brompton and a black Brooks saddle. Fortunately, he agreed to be photographed and gave me his card. It turns out that I’d encountered Lorenz Potocnik, a local author, city planner, and politician.
Lorenz was happy to answer a couple of questions about his bike and personal style. While in London about twelve years ago, he purchased his Brompton, choosing pink simply because he likes the color. His girlfriend at the time bought one first, as she was unable to walk long distances. He also purchased one and fell in love with the bike.
Lorenz explained that he doesn’t like to drive cars and that: “This folding bike totally changed my habits and lifestyle, as I take it everywhere.” He brings it with him when he travels, whether by train, car, or plane. A well-traveled bicycle, it has been to Paris, Milan, New York, and Boston.
Cycling also impacts his clothing choices. He said that pants need to be tough, a sentiment which any cyclist can understand. He prefers not to wear spandex, but wants his clothes to be both functional and elegant. He has a jacket (pictured here) that he purchased in Berlin, which both suits his personal style and is waterproof.
As someone who has studied clothing, I enjoy having a nice wardrobe and enjoy being “put together.” While living in Minnesota, I slowly acquired a good collection of clothes, purchased mostly on sale or second hand. Having a baby shifted my priorities away from my own clothes, partially because initially nothing fit or was functional for my stage of life. I have a well dressed baby, but I’m making do for myself until next spring when I will buy a few wardrobe items that I love. Maybe I’ll even be able to get a sewing machine and get back into sewing by making toddler clothes, but that’s probably wildly optimistic.
Before moving to Austria, I sorted through everything I had held onto (too much!) and narrowed down my wardrobe to clothes that currently fit, would probably fit in the next few months, and a few things I just loved and couldn’t let go of. This left me with rather full suitcases, but surprisingly little to wear in warm weather.
Most Austrian apartments don’t have closets, so one needs to buy free-standing wardrobes. Thus far we have purchased one relatively small wardrobe for a large apartment, as well as a dresser that contains baby stuff. Matt and I share this wardrobe and everything else is under the bed in garment bags.
I do not have space for an extensive collection of clothing, nor is it financially prudent to purchase many new clothes all at once. Most importantly, I want to make do with fewer items of clothing and build a collection that mixes and matches, largely for ethical reasons. My style is pretty consistent over time and I want to buy only what I love in order to be less wasteful.
So, last spring I bought a few things, only one of which– a shirt from the Austrian brand Gloriette– is really high quality. I usually buy neither very cheap, nor very expensive clothes. Okay, at this point I occasionally buy very cheap and never buy very expensive clothes. Obviously, cheap and expensive are very relative terms.
I’ve never had such a small rotation of clothes before and it would have been fine, except the quality has been a disappointment. Most of my clothes simply can’t withstand being worn (and washed) so often! Long term there are a number of different solutions to this problem, including making my own clothes again and making time to do proper repairs. However, it is disappointing to purchase a cotton dress that retailed for over $100, only to have stitches come out three months later. I fixed the problem by hand as best as I could in two minutes, but so much clothing is made to fall apart, leading many people to constantly shop for new, equally shoddy quality clothes. And how many people going to bother to fix a $15 dress they purchased new?
Purchasing second hand is another option, especially in the US. Unfortunately, I have not yet found any stores similar to Goodwill and the only consignment store I visited was asking 30€ for a cardigan that cost maybe 50€ new.
The consumption of poor quality clothes is a systemic problem, and only a small number of people can afford to purchase very high quality clothing new. Americans on average spend a much smaller proportion of their income on clothing than they did in the early to mid twentieth century, yet they own much more clothing. For now, I’ll try to wash my clothes only when needed and be as careful as I can with what I buy.
We’re starting to settle in to our life in Austria, but so far we have done very little to discover Linz because there has been so much to take care of. Our apartment is still only marginally functional and very echoey because we have wood floors but haven’t gotten around to getting rugs. I’m sure our cat looks forward to have some rugs to destroy.
The most exploring I’ve done has been during errands, but I am getting a better sense of the city. I mostly travel by foot, sometimes by public transit, and only very occasionally by bicycle. Getting set up to ride with the baby is becoming a priority because she’s big enough to safely transport now. It’s entirely bike path from our apartment to her daycare and from her daycare to my intensive German class, so I wish we were set up now. Unfortunately, my only operational bike is my fat bike.
We did make it to Wels to watch the end of the Tour of Austria. We enjoyed exploring Wels with a friend I made in German class and watching colorful, blurry cyclists fly by to the finish. There’s something to be said for watching professional cyclists on hill stages: you can actually see them. Still, I was happy that we made a successful excursion with the baby, who even took a decent nap in her stroller (napping is probably a subject that only interests her parents).
We’ve been dealing with a lot of thrilling paperwork. If you decide to move to another country, take the amount of paperwork you’d imagine there’d be, double it. Then imagine how long you think you’ll need to take care of it and quadruple that. In Austria, offices have very limited hours, which is probably a good thing overall, but is massively frustrating when also caring for a baby. Thank goodness for 3.40€/ hour daycare.
The more German I learn, the easier everything becomes. I’m currently taking a three week 20 hour a week class, and my German is improving daily. My speech is sometimes incoherent, frequently grammatically incorrect, and almost always ineloquent, but I usually am able to communicate and understand well enough to get through daily life. Many people here are most comfortable in the local dialect, but happily, the Volkshochschule (community college) offers a very affordable course on understanding dialect. My plan is to spend the fall taking intensive courses. That way, it will be easier to make friends and will have a better chance at finding a job as early as possible next year.