What to wear when wintering with the Dutch?
December 3, 2009 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Gift Filter: Sister is moving to Maastricht for an internship, and needs appropriate outerwear that's bicycle-friendly.

So my sister's moving to Maastricht in January, and will be getting around by bicycle. Neither of us really know what to expect - she's thinking wetter than what she experienced in the UK, but perhaps less cold.

I'd like to get her some new outerwear for the wintertime (Jacket, pants, gloves) that are reasonably fashionable, but also bicycle-friendly, as that will be her primary means of transportation. Pants could be either straight pants, or overpants. Functionality is important.

I was initially thinking something hiking-gear-like, but I think she'd prefer to blend in with the locals. Her style is also somewhat muted, a bright orange shell isn't really her speed. She's also handicapped by an older brother who's a complete fashion dunce when it comes to women's clothing.

Suggestions, MeFites? Help my sister enter the Netherlands in style!
posted by swngnmonk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone will be mostly cycling in whatever they wear to their jobs/schools/shopping trips.

I'm not sure how to compare the weather to the UK. The traditional wisdom is that the weather in the UK is a lot wetter than in the NL. She can expect some snow.

People with long pants riding a bike with no chain guard will often have a clip around their ankles to prevent grease stains or catching pant-legs on the chain. For wet weather or snow, it's worthwhile to invest in a rain suit. Helmets will be rare for non-sports cycling, but head trauma is not uncommon in cycling accidents, so this might be a good place to compromise on style and risk being branded a tourist, in trade for some safety.

Also, she wants gloves that do not prevent her from operating the brakes, gears or the bell.
posted by HFSH at 9:14 AM on December 3, 2009

Blending in with the locals means wearing normal clothes - the Europeans generally don't wear technical gear for their everyday commuting. What would she normally wear for walking in the park on a cold wintery day? She should wear that. Check out Copenhagen Cycle Chic (posts tagged bicycling in winter) for pics of normal people riding bikes. London Cycle Chic has clothing reviews and an online shop. Maybe this or this would be a nice gift.
posted by hibbersk at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you buy waterproof or water resistant pants or jackets, make sure they're breathable. (Not standard street gear.)
posted by availablelight at 11:35 AM on December 3, 2009

I'd get her some stylish boots that are on the high side. Very warm and just below her knee. Looking at hibbersk's links it looked like that was a standard item. If she doesn't have nice thermal bottoms, that might be another idea. I live in the Rocky Mountains, which are not especially wet but quite cold. My favorite winter accessories are my leather gloves. They are not very thick, so I can still use my hands but they keep me very warm. You also might want to get her some long wrist warmers to go over her gloves and up into the sleeves of her coat. Most coats and gloves leave a gap.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:49 AM on December 3, 2009

She will probably not feel much of a difference between UK weather and Dutch weather.

Not to worry about any fashion police, by the way: it is felt in many parts of Europe that the Dutch don't really possess much style or fashion sense. "Somewhat muted" is how I'd describe the average Dutch persons clothing. You'll see a lot of fleece, a lot of GoreTex, and a lot of Thinsulate gloves, mostly in dark colours.

Bever is the best known outdoor chain in the Netherlands, so their assortment should be somewhat representative. Link to a page with biking clothes.
posted by NekulturnY at 12:14 PM on December 3, 2009

It's pricy, but stuff from Arc'teryx is excellent.
posted by long at 12:30 PM on December 3, 2009

slightly left of field ... but ... there are "girl seats" for bicycles ... but you don't see them much ... but perhaps she would appreciate that. They are more rounded rather than triangled.
posted by jannw at 5:00 PM on December 3, 2009

I happen to be obsessed with this very topic at the moment! In a word, I would recommend wool, particularly merino wool -- it's breathable, it doesn't retain smells if she sweats, it's great for layering and it's very cozy. Having been to The Netherlands a few times in winter, i can confirm that it is just as cold as the UK, so here are some things I'd recommend:

Merino fingerless arm warmers: if she's riding a dutch-style bike her arms will probably be extended, and her wrists could get quite cold!

Icebreaker Camisole: this will be handy to wear under anything she has on and will help her keep warm.

Handlebar Covers: slightly more whimsical but still practical - you'll see a variety of examples of these on the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog.

Rain Cape: pretty essential for cycling in the north!

Merino Legwarmers: if she likes to wear skirts and tights, these will help keep her legs warm! Or, get her these wool leggings - if she wears jeans and it is particularly cold, she can wear them underneath.

Cowl -- more neck-y than a scarf, and easier to pull up on her face if she's cycling straight into the wind.

I also agree that high stylish boots would be a wonderful present!
posted by ukdanae at 1:30 AM on December 4, 2009

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