The thing is, I do feel that walking has had an impact on my fashion credentials. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change the fact that I walk everywhere, the amazing effect it's had on my life is more than worth it. But I do sometimes find myself thinking I'd really like to wear my leather jacket and carry a handbag (as I do at the weekends) instead of sporting a waterproof and a rucksack. Just because I like walking and want to walk a lot, doesn't mean I don't want to look fashionable and feminine.
I don't notice this so much on days when I'm just walking to work and then walking straight home again. It's more when I walk to work and then go out for dinner or pop to the shops in the evening. Then I end up wondering around places like Covent Garden with my backpack on, feeling conspicuous.
Perhaps it's a confidence thing and I shouldn't be bothered by it, but I can't help feeling it'd be nice to look a bit more fashionable when traipsing round the capital. The thing is, I need to carry a backpack, as walking 6 miles with a handbag just isn't feasible twice a day, 5 days a week. Similarly, I'm pretty sure I'd either get too hot or too cold in a leather jacket.
I'm not as worried about shoes - I manage ok with finding fashionable shoes that are also comfortable (thanks to Fitflop, Timberland and such like) - plus, it's easier to fit a spare pair of shoes in your bag when needed. But you can hardly carry an entire additional outfit around at all times without considerable hassle.
You'd be surprised at how much things like this affect people's decisions to take up walking. My sister refuses to walk too far as she doesn't want to carry a backpack around (what can I say, she really loves her handbags).
What I'd really like is if gear manufacturers would consider us urban walkers more. Perhaps produce some city-friendly backpacks for example, that are simultaneously comfortable but also not really ugly. Well cut waterproofs in more fashionable colours and styles (whilst still being effective) would also be particularly welcome!
My other major issue is keeping my hair and make up under control, especially when it's windy and/or raining...yes I went there, this really has got girly now. It's true though. Men don't have either of these issues (unless they have very long hair). My hair is pretty long and by the time I get to work it's usually looking pretty blown about. A compact hairbrush is certainly a must at all times.
Similarly make up can suffer in a variety of ways - rain being a particular issue. And my skin generally has taken quite a battering from the elements. The bitter temperatures this winter have been particularly harsh on it. Good moisturisers and skincare have been the order of the day.
So why walk?
I realise I may not sound like I'm trying to sell walking here. That's obviously not my intention, but sometimes it's just good to get these sort of things out there. I'm sure I can't be the only one who wants to enjoy walking and look good at the same time.
The thing is, it's thanks to walking that I now feel confident walking around in a leather jacket and skinny jeans at the weekend. If I hadn't lost all the weight through walking I wouldn't have the ability to go into a shop and buy size 8/10 clothes....it's something I never dreamed would happen to me to be honest.
It's quite ironic really. Walking has enabled me to wear what I want and feel confident in it, but it also means that I don't always get to wear what I want for practical reasons. It's made me feel a million times better about myself, but also occasionally leaves me feeling self conscious (like when I'm walking through central London on a Friday night past girls dolled up for a night out and I'm in a waterproof with a rucksack and trainers on).
Come on gear makers - grant my wish and get some urban walking stuff out there. I'm sure it'd help convince more people to take it up. The last thing people want when they're trying to start exercising is to feel self conscious. Some small changes to styles could make all the difference!