Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Etymology of Vélocouture

So what exactly is vélocouture? The word itself is a portmanteau, a combination of vélo (a French word meaning 'bike'), and couture -- French for 'fashion', as in the phrase haute couture (high fashion).

Now in French this would be vélo couture, not vélocouture. But as this is a word, not a phrase, I'm gonna go with vélocouture. Maybe it will stick...then the French will lose sleep every night knowing that the word for bike fashion is American in origin and, to add insult to injury, that American word is the bastard child of two French words.

So where did the word come from? According to those in the know, the word was first coined by Patrick Barber and is used as a moniker for his Flickr group - photos of fashionably dressed cyclists doing their thing in cities the world over. Patrick also has a blog by the same name. The blog is essentially a distillation of photos from the Flickr group (a 'best of', so to speak). Patrick defines vélocouture thusly: "Vélocouture is the practice of bicycling in stylish, everyday clothes."

I tend to use vélocouture as a synonym for 'urban cycle chic' (which I can assure you does not include spandex), but Righteous (re)Style puts it this way: "Looking good while saving the world." Now what could possibly be wrong with that?

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