Cars and Fashion Through the Ages

Since the automobile revolution happened in 1908 with Ford’s Model T, cars have changed the way we live, revved up our imaginations, and driven fashion forward — literally. From dust coats and fur coats to gloves, scarves, and shoes, over the years, the automobile has become synonymous with style. In honor of this timeless love affair, we’ve compiled this brief history of how cars and fashion have influenced each other through the ages.

Eat my dust coat

Early open-air cars may have allowed drivers to enjoy the freedom of the open road, but they also left motorists vulnerable to the elements. Dirt, rain, wind, and mud assailed drivers and their passengers until the dust coat (aka car coat) made its fashionable debut. The specialized coat was designed to fit over clothes, and generally came with large pockets for maps, gloves, goggles, and other travel accoutrements.

Today’s cars may be miles ahead in technology and functionality, but the car coat still continues to inspire fashion. Look for it on this year’s runway or in your closet — you might already have a car-inspired coat hanging there.

Fur for Elise

Before the widespread availability of closed cab automobiles in the 1920s, driving in colder climates and seasons was a chilly experience. To ward against the cold, the fashion industry warmed up clothing by using fur. (Yes, PETA, we know!) Fur-trimmed collars and cuffs, coats, hats, stoles, muffs, and snuggery became all the rage, much to the chagrin of minks, sables, raccoons, and the occasional chinchilla.

But before you gasp, know that faux fur was on the scene as early as 1929. Since then, it has adorned the rich and famous and is even making a big comeback this season.

Henry Ford, meet Coco Chanel

For women the 1920s was a time of increased mobility and independence (hooray for women’s suffrage). Having driven trucks, cranes, motorcycles, and cars in World War I, women found it hard to relinquish the wheel. They took to the road like never before — and demanded that their clothing reflect their progressively active and mobile lifestyles.

So, goodbye bulky dresses, hello flappers and Coco Chanel. Famous for getting rid of the corset and unbinding women’s fashion, Chanel responded to (or perhaps was inspired by) Ford’s Model T designed for the Everyman. Her now-timeless little black dress, created to be the “uniform of every woman,” was dubbed Chanel’s “Ford” for its affordability, versatility, and durability.

High heels & high octane

Happily, the love affair between cars and fashion isn’t one sided. Carrie Bradshaw would be happy to know that shoes have inspired car enthusiasts all over the world. The result of the union between high heels and high octane: What else but shoes you can drive?

Naturally, automakers hip to the timeless appeal of sleek high heels haven’t missed a step. Concept stilettos inspired by Lamborghini, Opel and other hot cars have been used in promotional campaigns (and are coveted by fashionistas and car lovers everywhere).

It’s Fiesta time

Style and automobiles may be synonymous to many, but to Ford’s new campaign for the 2011 Fiesta, they’re a fiery combination. To highlight the Fiesta’s hip, stylish, and bold new features, Ford fused fashion with color in its advertising campaign “Inspired by Color.” The campaign cast real-life people with unique styles to create a homologous link between the fun, colorful, and efficient car and the exciting world of fashion.

Bicycle Safety: Tips for Drivers from a Cyclist

Not since the late 1800s have so many bicycles been on the roads. Early on, bicycling was a trend, a novelty for the upper classes, and about as sporty as a tea party. But bikes have come a long way since then and so has bicycle safety. The recent riding resurgence has no doubt been sparked by a growing awareness of the many health, environmental, and financial benefits of riding a bike.

But while modern cyclists have traded in jaunty caps for high-tech helmets and Grand Canyon-sized potholes for smooth, paved streets, the dangers are still what they were in the good old days, which is to say significant.

With more and more cars on the road as well, it’s not always easy to know who has the right of way and who should (simply put) get out of the way. With this in mind, we put together a few quick tips for finding harmony with bikes on the increasingly crowded (and sometimes chaotic) streets.

Understand cycling laws.

Knowing how the rules of the road apply to cyclists will give you greater road-sharing confidence. Like cars, bicycles are considered proper vehicles in most cities and states. That means cyclists are required to adhere to many of the same laws as drivers. They should stop at red lights and stop signs (though some states have exclusions to the latter), and they should communicate their intentions through the use of hand signals.

Most importantly, it also means that they’re allowed use of the full lane when it’s unsafe to ride on the right side. Low shoulders, parked delivery vehicles, unsafe road conditions, and open car doors are instances in which they might be forced to use the full lane. And like any coupe or sedan, bicycles are not permitted to ride on the sidewalk.

So if you encounter a bike in your lane, be cautious and patient and understand that the rider has a right to be there and is probably navigating around a potential hazard.

Think safety.

Keep in mind that your car is much heavier and more powerful than a bicycle, and where you have seatbelts and airbags, cyclists only have chunks of plastic strapped to their heads! To avoid accidentally hitting someone on a bike, it’s important to brush up on a few safety tips.

Let’s start with right turns. Bike lanes are on the right side of the lane, and even if there isn’t one there, that’s where cyclists are required to ride. When making a right turn, in addition to using your turn signal, it’s essential to double-check your rearview mirror and back window before turning. Cyclists move fast and are sometimes hard to see. If you turn into their trajectory, bam! Bad news for everyone involved.

The second-most-likely time that your car might injure a cyclist is when you open your door to get out. The driver-side door swings into the part of the road where cyclists are riding and has sharp angles and a large flat surface that can cause serious injuries. A rider coming toward you may not realize you’re in the car and about to get out, so, remember to check your rear window and open your door slowly. .

Think safety (again).

ALWAYS be extra careful when passing a cyclist, and when driving at night, keep an eye out for those reflectors and blinking lights! If you have an accident with a bicycle, you should follow the same procedures that you would if you were in an accident with a car. Take a few minutes to give the cyclist your insurance information and to exchange contact info.

And share! There’s plenty of road to go around. We hope this post gives you a better understanding of why cyclists sometimes weave or dart into your path. Chances are they’re just trying to keep themselves safe. So share your lane, use caution, and remember to be patient. With nearly 3 million miles of paved roads in the U.S., there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Drive/pedal safely out there!

Related post

Bike lanes: What are the rules, exactly?

7 Tips for Safe Driving (and 1 Really Good Discount)

Last week, we shared 5 tips for staying safe on the road during hurricane season. This week (completely free of charge, of course), we bring you 7 tips for safe driving all the time — rain or shine.

In addition to being highly recommended for a long, healthy life, safe driving also comes with numerous financial benefits. First of all, if you consider the fact that car accidents in the U.S. total roughly $164.2 billion, which equals $1,051 per person … well, just consider that fact.

But it’s not just accidents that are enormously expensive. Add in the cost of tickets, driving school, and insurance premium increases associated with less-than-stellar behavior behind the wheel, and it’s easy to see that safe driving pays.

And now, with our new Claim-Free discount — which offers customers up to 20% in savings if they’re currently insured and haven’t been in an accident or filed a claim in the past 5 years — being a good driver pays more than ever. (It’s one of the biggest discounts we offer.)

Here are 7 easy tips for being a long-living, money-saving, discount-getting safe driver:

  1. Drive slowly and keep a healthy distance from the car in front of you. Wet surfaces require 2-to-10-times more stopping distance than dry ones. You can determine if you’re following too closely to other cars by using the 3-second rule. Like this: “One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand.” Easy, no?
  2. Ditch the Jimmy Choos and flip-flops and drive in loafers or sneakers. Forget fashion! It’s far easier (and safer) to drive with the right footwear. Keep a pair of driving shoes in the car and change into them before you hit the road. And just think of all the shoes you can buy with the money you save by being a good driver.
  3. Always keep a pair of shades handy. The sun can be blinding, especially during peak summer months, and can seriously impair your ability to see what’s happening around you. Most sunglasses will help, but for driving, your best bet is polarized lenses that cut glare while offering superb color rendition and depth perception. (And, for best results, don’t get jealous, either.)
  4. Keep your cool. Though there are a lot of things that might raise your blood pressure — your job, your relationship, your mom (!!) — none of them are worth risking a road rage incident. Learn how to avoid the madness.
  5. Wear your seatbelt. Many states have checkpoints and special patrols (especially around the holidays) to help monitor and enforce seatbelt usage. But regardless of whether or not you encounter a checkpoint, always buckle up: It could save your life.
  6. Avoid distractions and keep your eyes on the road. More than 90% of Americans own a cell phone, and 500,000 people were injured in accidents involving distracted driving in 2008. Coincidence? Not likely.
  7. Don’t drink and drive. In 2008, almost 1/3 of traffic fatalities in the U.S. were the result of crashes involving alcohol. Stay sober on the road, and don’t be a (dead) statistic.

By following these safe driving pointers, you could remain accident- and claim-free, and qualify for a significant discount on your car insurance.

Keep in mind, however, that auto insurance discounts vary from state to state, and this is just one of many that we offer. Be sure to check out your state’s discount page to see which are available in your neck of the woods.

And hey, drive safe!