The sisters Mary and Sarah Pease registered this patent application for an ‘improved skirt, available also as a cape for Lady Cyclists’.
In the late 19th century the bicycle became a popular mode of transport for many Victorians, as it allowed people to travel where they wanted, when they wanted. For women especially, the bicycle gave them a renewed sense of freedom and many joined cycling clubs such as the Lady Cyclists’ Association.
Many members, however, expressed that their clothing was impractical for their pastime. The typical attire of the time - tight corsets and long, layered skirts – caused serious safety concerns. The skirts would flap in the wind, ride up over their knees and get caught in the bicycles’ spokes and pedals.
The Pease sisters remark in their application that ‘the rational dress … adopted by lady cyclists’ leave a lady’s ‘lower garments and figure … too much exposed’. Their design for a skirt that doubles as a cape aimed to provide women with the option to cover up their riding trousers, or knickerbockers, after they dismount.