Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Women's Wednesdays - Silk Tunic Review

After much begging and pleading, Laura is going to start contributing every Wednesday, giving a female perspective on gear/touring, etc., So, for you female readers, I hope you find these helpful and insightful (rather than my constant oggling of handlebar bags :)

It’s January in Southern California, which naturally means that it’s 80 degrees outside. Strange, yes, but it means I get to dig out one of my new favorite riding shirts… the Indian silk tunic.

Last fall, we took a ride up to Little India (aka Artesia, CA), and I took the opportunity to browse some shops for a shirt or two. I figured that folks in India are used to hot, humid weather, so surely their traditional fashion must be designed to withstand these conditions. In this small little shop, I worked with a very friendly saleswoman who pulled a whole pile of shirts for me to try on. I ended up walking out with two of them, the green one above and it’s bright blue cousin, because they were only $15 each.

Now, I don’t think the print on this shirt could possibly be any busier. But, the more I wear it, the more I’m convinced that I’m onto something. Silk is one of those magical natural fibers that breathes well and keeps you cool when it’s hot out. And because this shirt is a tunic style, it fits really loose, allowing the wind to flutter its way through and provide some nice natural air conditioning while you ride. And the fact that it covers my shoulders means that I don’t turn into a lobster while I’m riding. Plus, it’s actually a relatively flattering and almost-stylish look, provided you don’t mind standing out in a crowd.

All of this is to say that, sometimes, non-traditional and not-meant-to-be-technical gear can work just as well as the expensive stuff. :)

Unfortunately, the very nature of how I purchased this shirt means that I can’t put up a link here so that you can go buy your own. If you happen to live near a Little India enclave, or if you happen to be fortunate enough to travel to the real India, then by all means hunt one out. Otherwise, might I suggest thinking about other cultures who live with a lot of heat and humidity? Perhaps there’s an Indonesian shop near you or a Moroccan stall at the local farmer’s market.


Anonymous said...

My husband reads the blog and he saved this post for me...what a great idea! We live in Pasadena so I know what you mean about hot, it never occurred to me to try silk. I'm going to head down to Artesia in the next few weeks and try them on, I love the cut and the patterns too so it's great on all fronts.

Laura Crawford said...

Awesome! I'd love to know what you think when you get a shirt of your own. One thing I've noticed that makes silk not quite as amazing as wool is that (if you sweat in it) you have to wash it more frequently to keep it from smelling. Also, it's really easy to get attacked by static cling, but I've heard that rinsing with a little bit of vinegar after you wash will help. Enjoy!

2whls3spds said...

Not a woman here...but I like silks and linens for the cool crisp feel. We live in a colder climate than SoCal. Silks are the long underwear of choice in the in between seasons. Linens in the hot, sultry summer weather. FWIW my bride feels the same way.


ubrayj02 said...

Regarding smelling funky - use a tiny smidgen of Baking Soda in your armpits to get rid of that odor by making the chemical balance in your 'pits hurt the bacteria that make them smell.

I ride heavily, and all I smell like is sweat these days.