Category Archives: Events

OcTieBer 2014

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Richmond dancer and organizer of Jammin' on the James Andy Nishida has my favorite look from day one - so sharp!

Richmond dancer and organizer of Jammin’ on the James Andy Nishida has my favorite look from day one – so sharp!

Just a reminder that OcTieBer begins today – “a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear worn in a traditional style.” The invitation to participate extends to everyone and I would encourage you to embrace your personal style as it extends to neckwear, as the challenge has forced me to be creative and embrace the fun of incorporating ties and scarves into my regular (lazy, everyday) wardrobe. The result is elevation of personal style and fun. If you’d like to participate (or enjoy watching), join the Facebook group and here are the instructions from the group:

“1. Wear a collared shirt and tie each day (be it a long tie, bow tie, ascot, cravat, bolo, western double string tie or any other traditional neckwear that expresses your personal style). Preferably your outfit will be paired with a jacket, sweater, vest or other accessories that suggest why you’ve chosen that day’s tie.

2. Upload your image of finely attired “dudeness” [or “ladyness,” “quaintrelleness,” etc.] wearing said outfit with an optional description of the designer, type of knot, fabric, etc. to the Facebook group.”

3. Share the love by encouraging your friends to admire your statement of personal style.”

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ADSVA Gatsby Afternoon Picnic 2014 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Swing dancers Brittany and Brian enjoy some gourmet popsicles at the Gatsby Picnic

Swing dancers Brittany Darst and Brian Fennessy enjoy some gourmet popsicles at the Gatsby Picnic

A few weeks ago I attended the third annual Art Deco Society of Virginia Gatsby Afternoon Picnic in Richmond, Virginia. I have seen this event grow from “let’s all meet in a park at the same time” to an organized event at the historic Wilton House Museum, with live music, vintage vendors, an on-site barber, food trucks, photo booth, contests, media coverage, shuttles, parking attendants, an MC, and even an alcohol sponsor. I was happy to see some familiar faces amongst the vendors and pleasantly surprised to find vintage vendors that were new to me.

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Let’s start on one end of the line and move to the other – first in the lineup was Chatterblossom, who has become my own personal vintage millinery Philip Treacy. The gorgeous millinery was on display, as well as lovely jewels, flapper headbands, and a nice selection of menswear accessories. If only women’s dress shirts didn’t button from the opposite side, a tie clip with vintage microphone would have certainly left with me!

Another standby for me, Raleigh Vintage, was present with a drool-worthy display of Art Deco era goods and jewels. This display was on the heels of another festival in Raleigh the previous day, but the busy bees at Raleigh Vintage persevered and were present in force. I am seriously in love with all of the jewelry in their display, can I just take the silver tray full of necklaces home with me? Also, lots of event-appropriate cotton frocks in lovely prints, embroidery, and all things just-so.

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Machine Dance Vintage and Brooksy shared a lovely space together, complimenting a rack of MDV vintage dresses and goods with Brooksy’s hand-crafted 1920’s hats and headbands. I have long been a fan of MDV’s Etsy shop and it was good to see some of these great vintage pieces in person. I have also been following and eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-launched Brooksy line of hats, created by ADSVA president Olivia Lloyd. The construction of these hats and the attention to detail is as impeccable as Ms. Lloyd’s vintage wardrobe. I am holding out for Myrna Loy’s pixie hat!

My husband’s family lives in Virginia Beach, which has many great thrift stores, but I was unaware of VB Vintage – no brick and mortar shop, but certainly an impressive enough of a display that I was kicking myself for not knowing about them before now. Their Etsy shop doesn’t even come close to displaying the number of goods they had on hand at the Gatsby picnic, which means there’s even more to come – also, the benefit of being on location for these trunk shows! Lots of great accessories, knick knacks, and a few stellar pieces of clothing from the era.

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Monkey Shynes was up next, with a small selection of 78 rpm records and assorted vintage memorabilia and crafts.

Finally, on the other end of vendor’s row was MA’s Mad House of Adornment, another Etsy vendor with great feathered headpieces and eclectic jewelry. I am particularly fond of feathered headpieces made from feathers with curled ends – the effect is really stunning and the result is that they tend to lay so nicely in whatever configuration I have seen them in. I was also amused by the Scarlett O’Hara necklace – the movie came out in 1939, so we’ll humor the reference.

Check out the photos below – enjoy!

Assorted flapper headbands from Chatterblossom

Assorted flapper headbands from Chatterblossom

A selection of tie clips from Chatterblossom

A selection of tie clips from Chatterblossom

The lovely Jaye Ferrone shows off an adorable dress from Raleigh Vintage

The lovely Jaye Ferrone shows off an adorable dress from Raleigh Vintage

Art Deco jewels and things at Raleigh Vintage

Art Deco jewels and things at Raleigh Vintage

An adorable 1920's sailor top from Raleigh Vintage

An adorable 1920’s sailor top from Raleigh Vintage

A gorgeous green cape from Machine Dance Vintage

A gorgeous green cape from Machine Dance Vintage

An ice blue confection at Machine Dance Vintage

An ice blue confection at Machine Dance Vintage

I love a novelty print!  This rayon beauty is still available in the Machine Dance Vintage Etsy shop!

I love a novelty print! This rayon beauty is still available in the Machine Dance Vintage Etsy shop!

1920's goodness from Machine Dance Vintage, with Brooksy hats peeking out from behind

1920’s goodness from Machine Dance Vintage, with Brooksy hats peeking out from behind

Dual cloches from Brooksy

Dual cloches from Brooksy

Flapper headbands for your sporty 20's looks, at Brooksy

Flapper headbands for your sporty 20’s looks, at Brooksy

VB Vintage selection of bangles

VB Vintage selection of bangles

Pretty vintage accessories from VB Vintage

Pretty vintage accessories from VB Vintage

A lovely vintage robe from VB Vintage

A lovely vintage robe from VB Vintage

78s at Monkey Shynes

78s at Monkey Shynes

Feather curls at MA's Mad House of Adornment

Feather curls at MA’s Mad House of Adornment

Jewelry by MA's Mad House of Adornment - don't you want a Scarlett O'Hara pendant to smirk at everyone for you?

Jewelry by MA’s Mad House of Adornment – don’t you want a Scarlett O’Hara pendant to smirk at everyone for you?

ILHC 2014 – Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Get your ILHC tees here!

Get your ILHC tees here!

I was excited to see some new vendor faces and an old favorite return to the International Lindy Hop Championships this year. Particularly, with a focus on menswear – it is so easy for women to find good dance clothing, but most of our vendors (who are mostly women themselves) cater to women. This year, the men and women had some great vendors to choose from, from pieces you could take home to custom-made garments to order.

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Did I mention my love for Chloe Hong? After her stint at All Balboa Weekend, I was suprised (read: elated) to see her back in the U.S. after such a short time. Not only did she clean up on the dance floor, she set up shop at ILHC to take custom orders for her wonderful selection of women’s skirts and classic men’s suiting. Just going through her fabric swatches makes me happy! If you have never considered ordering something custom and you find yourself at an event with Chloe Hong, I would recommend at least looking into ordering a custom piece – she can get your measurements in person and has lots of experience dressing dancers for a range of movement (she counts Bobby White, Thomas Blacharz, Pontus Persson, Laura Keat, Jeremy Otth, and Juan Villafane as customers, and I could go on…)

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Returning for another year (have they been at ILHC every year?) is Forties Forward, with an array of lovely hair blooms, feathers, and accessories. One can never have too many hair accoutrements and I was also pleased to see that Forties Forward shared their table with A Woopie! Handmade Bowties (another menswear vendor!), which had a nice array of ties and even included some adorable instructions on how to tie the ties! I always need a little help when I tie my ties, so an adorable instruction card on my vanity beats, say, that YouTube tutorial I have to pull up every time I do this…

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Perhaps the most impressive display belonged to Brown & Williams Clothiers, who specialize in vintage British menswear – yes, they import and they curate a stellar collection, a portion of which was on display at ILHC. I wish could sport the amazing jackets, sweaters, and trousers I spotted in their booth (none of them small enough!) – a seriously delicious collection for anyone who digs British style, collegiate style, boating, and especially tweed. If you are interested in checking out some of their stock, it looks like the best way to purchase is through their Etsy site – that green and white crested blazer *drool*…

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Then there was this mysterious banner for Behind the Beat – Clothes that Match Your Rhythm and a link to a website that says it is launching July 7 (checks calendar…still no). Upon further inspection, a Facebook page yields evidence of graphic tee shirts and hoodies, so I guess we will stay tuned? Stay tuned.

And that’s all, folks, check out the goods below – happy shopping and happy dancing at ILHC!

Collar options - FROMChloeHong

Collar options – FROMChloeHong

Chloe does casual

Chloe does casual

An array of sample jackets at FROMChloeHong

An array of sample jackets at FROMChloeHong

The fabulous Chloe skirts - look at those colors!

The fabulous Chloe skirts – look at those colors!

Trouser detail at FROMChloeHong

Trouser detail at FROMChloeHong

Some softness from Forties Forward

Some softness from Forties Forward

Some signature blooms from Forties Forward

Some signature blooms from Forties Forward

What a cute name for ties!

What a cute name for ties!

A selection of A Whoopie! ties

A selection of A Woopie! ties

Adorable tie instructions

Adorable tie instructions

Belt back jacket spotted at Brown & Williams - definitely a good sign

Belt back jacket spotted at Brown & Williams – definitely a good sign

Red vest, for a more formal look - at Brown & Williams

Red vest, for a more formal look – at Brown & Williams

This striped jacket would be a great attention-grabber in a competition - at Brown & Williams

This striped jacket would be a great attention-grabber in a competition – at Brown & Williams

Lots of interesting details on this vest, especially the button lapels - at Brown & Williams

Lots of interesting details on this vest, especially the button lapels – at Brown & Williams

ILHC 2014 – Trend Report

ilhc-logo

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This year’s International Lindy Hop Championships were a little topsy turvy for me – instead of competing and commentating on the Balboa Strictly competition and ILHC trends for Yehoodi’s broadcast, I was DJ’ing the Balboa competitions and singing with Jonathan Stout‘s bands. I ALMOST thought I wouldn’t have time to gather information for a blog post, but then I found myself going “OK, I have 5 minutes before sound check, let me just run over here…” So, you see, I have a post for you after all – two, even. :D

Let’s start with trends! Here’s what I saw this year:

They actually looked better styled by the dancers at ILHC - tuck in shirt of your choice, hem to ankle length, add Keds and optional belt and/or head scarf.

They actually looked better styled by the dancers at ILHC – tuck in shirt of your choice, hem to ankle length, add Keds and optional belt and/or head scarf.

- Women’s high waisted pants with tapered leg, optional pleat – if they had gotten them at the GAP, it would be a new era of khakis swing because these pants were everywhere. I counted at least 10 pairs on follows in one of the Lindy Hop prelims heats, plus scattered sightings elsewhere. NYC dancer Jessica Miltenberger reported that American Apparel was a prime source here, offering said pant in a recent sale for a great price and versatile colors. It looked like a casual scene in a 1950’s technicolor film, with all the tucked in shirts, high waisted pants, and skinny belts…but that’s probably a different GAP commercial…

- Men’s suits in non-traditional colors – I saw lovely shades of deep burgundy, purple, and different blues, all elegantly done and tastefully accessorized, but with that extra pop that makes you notice them – which is exactly what you want in a dance competition, to be noticed.

- Stockings with detail on the lower thigh – yes, Jo Hoffberg has been doing this for years, but this year people must have Googled hard enough to find all her elegant stocking sources. The beauty of the lower thigh detail is that you don’t have to wear a super short or flyaway skirt to see all that glorious detail, and it emphasized swivels in a really cool and different way.

- Men’s purple dress shirts – were rampant! Light, medium, dark, all the shades. See also coordinating follower outfits.

- Remy Kouakou Kouame & Vincenzo Fesi – holy mother of *insert expletives of joy*, those white suits…all their ensembles from the weekend, really, but their powers combine in this magnificent routine for sartorial and jazz dance sublimity.

Vendor report coming soon – stay tuned!

Jazz Age Lawn Party Vendors 2014

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Squat Charleston FTW!

Squat Charleston FTW!

This year’s Jazz Age Lawn Party in August was one of my favorites for several reasons – 1) I have the routine down for this event in terms of logistics and getting around NYC, 2) I know a lot of the regular attendees after attending for several years and some new friends made an appearance at the lawn party, making for a very lovely social event, and 3) I freakin’ won the Charleston contest! Always a favorite are the vendors who set up their wares on Governor’s Island – this year, the lawn party vendors really outdid themselves. There were old favorites, as well as some new vendors – here we go!

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I was excited to see a booth for Gretchen Fenston, Milliner, because Gretchen is one of the stars of the Jazz Age Lawn Party – as long as I’ve been attending the lawn party, Gretchen has taught the beginner Charleston and Peabody lessons with Roddy Caravella and, aside from that, she herself is a main attraction of style, elegance, and superbly coordinated and whimsically crafted millinery. Seriously, her hats are just impeccable, matching her ensemble with period aplomb and her own take on the Art Deco era. Her booth had several hats and headpieces for sale, along with a lookbook of her designs. *drool* If you are interested in a custom piece, I hear she takes orders…

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Just down the line the Goorin Bros. had their impeccable line of hats, for ladies and gents, set up, with even more lids for sale. I have always been impressed with their hats and friends who own said hats speak highly of this company. They had a fantastic selection of summer hats, perfect for the lawn party, from straw fedoras to linen caps to summer cloches. Goorin Bros. has a great retail website, so if you missed the lawn party you can always place your order online!

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Next up was Wildfell Hall Vintage, which had an exquisite collection of Art Deco era clothing and accessories, and some other choice vintage pieces. My partner in lawn party crime, Raleigh dancer Elizabeth Tietgen found an amazing purple floral early 30’s dress that had already been restored, seam by seam, and new snaps put in the side with reinforcement. It looked incredible and she’ll save at least what she paid for the dress having it repaired or reinforced – what a find! I saw at least 3 things I couldn’t live without, but were not in my size…*sigh* Gorgeous, gorgeous things.

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One difficult thing to come by for the lawn party are vintage sunglasses, because you can’t always dance with your parasol and maybe your cloche brim just isn’t deep enough – Belle Pagaille came to the rescue with some of the most kick-ass sunglasses I have ever seen, all with a vintage bent, though some of them verged on ultra-modern, or even steam punk. The company designs the glasses themselves, which I thought was great, so you are getting these lenses from the design source, not a reseller.

Needless to say, excellent shades were acquired by both myself and Elizabeth. :)

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Outfitter of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, the Prohibition Clothing Company is certainly a staple of the lawn party, offering some of the best looking reproduction menswear I have seen. I was particularly excited this year because they have launched their women’s line of clothing, which includes a trumpet skirt with killer seaming and a pair of tweed knickers that were whispering to me to bring them home. The tailoring on everything was killing me, just impeccable. After seeing this display, I’m ready for OcTieBer!

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Next to the general admission tent is, perhaps, the largest lawn party vendor, Dora Marra, which had so many blooming and feathered headpieces in every imaginable color and configuration it was almost overwhelming. This was definitely the go-to place for a bit of whimsy to stick on your head to augment your lawn party outfit. They were simply swamped, so I didn’t get a really good look at everything, but thankfully they have an Etsy store where you can take your time and browse the vast collection.

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Noble Savage Vintage had another lovely display and some real Art Deco era garments that were selling like hot cakes. I glanced at some black 1920’s Mary Janes and a lovely bejeweled Art Deco pin, but then my eyes met a pair of woven mesh 1930’s heels and it was all over. “What size are these?” “7.” MY SIZE. I tried not to hyperventilate while I tried them on, but I held it together for the most part and squee’d a little bit during the check out. As you can tell, Noble Savage was my favorite of the day, LOL.

Check out more of the lawn party vendor goodies below! Ciao!

A page out of Gretchen's look book and a lovely hand mirror.

A page out of Gretchen’s look book and a lovely hand mirror.

A lovely flapper headpieces on sale at Gretchen Fenston's booth.

A lovely flapper headpieces on sale at Gretchen Fenston’s booth.

Looking into the Goorin Bros. booth

Looking into the Goorin Bros. booth

Goorin Bros. cloches

Goorin Bros. cloches

Goorin Bros. caps

Goorin Bros. caps

Elizabeth holds up a gorgeous specimen

Elizabeth holds up a gorgeous specimen at Wildfell Hall Vintage

THE purple dress

THE purple dress

A lovely array of accessories at Wildfelll Hall Vintage

A lovely array of accessories at Wildfelll Hall Vintage

Elizabeth's sweet shades from Belle Pagaille

Elizabeth’s sweet shades from Belle Pagaille

A selection of the Belle Pagaille offerings

A selection of the Belle Pagaille offerings

Hers and his, at the Prohibition Clothing Company

Hers and his, at the Prohibition Clothing Company

Ladies' knickers, ready to wear!

Ladies’ knickers, ready to wear!

If you've ever wanted to put a bird's nest on your head....don't lie!  At Dora Marra

If you’ve ever wanted to put a bird’s nest on your head….don’t lie!

Flapper basics at Dora Marra

Flapper basics at Dora Marra

Elizabeth shows off a cute 30's cotton dress from Noble Savage Vintage

Elizabeth shows off a cute 30’s cotton dress from Noble Savage Vintage

More floral loveliness at Noble Savage Vintage

More floral loveliness at Noble Savage Vintage

Field Trip: Hip Wa Zee and Gentleman’s Closet, Columbia, SC

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I attended the first ever Southeast Summer Brawl two weekends ago, a weekend of competitions for the Southeast held in Columbia, SC.  Having never been to Columbia, I was curious to know about vintage shopping there, as the South is notoriously bad for having vintage clothing (poor, rural us, right?), but then Columbia is the capital and just maybe there was something – organizer Nathan Clinebelle tipped me off to two places, a vintage clothing and costume shop called Hip Wa Zee and the Gentleman’s Closet, a store that sells consignment menswear and some new items.  My companions for this outing were Winston-Salem dancer Anna Bryant and my ABW shopping companion and newly outfitted Skyler Hinkel.

Hip Wa Zee proved to be a successful outing – the front of the store is a mix of vintage clothing and reproduction clothing and the back of the store is entirely rental clothing and costumes.  The store was cheery and organized and, while it lacked a large section of swing-era vintage clothing, the offerings it did have were swell.  Definitely a good place to stop in if you are going through or stopping in to visit Columbia!  I particularly enjoyed the selection of beautiful slips in an array of colors, as well as a gorgeous rayon print suit with a floating overskirt/long peplum and puffed sleeves.  Anna left with two gorgeous slips, Skyler with two ties, and I with a 50’s sundress and matching bolero, as well as a late 30’s tie.  We also ran into Clemson, SC dancer Ben White, who left with a sweet vintage sweater vest.

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Gentleman’s Closet was a consignment store full of menswear basics – shirts, suits, slacks, socks (new, not used), braces, belts, ties, shoes, just about everything you’d need to put together a wardrobe.  They also had the largest selection of seersucker suit colors I had ever seen (all new suits, pristine, in plastic dry cleaning bags), which I understand were in stock for Carolina Cup, a horse race held in Camden, SC – purple, yellow, orange, colors I have never seen made into a suit and I LIVE IN THE SOUTH.  We found Skyler a pair of brown oxford street shoes to go with his ABW clothes and newly acquired three piece navy pinstripe suit – can’t wear those Remix oxfords out in the street!

Enjoy the photos and be sure to stop in Columbia if you are in the South – these two stores are also in a very hip area of town, with fun restaurants and delicious coffee!

Seriously, THIS - but seriously, it was tiny.  We so wished it fit Anna, but sometimes we leave things on the rack when they are snug...

Seriously, THIS – but seriously, it was tiny.

Ben White: another Adam Speen achievement unlocked - one dancer at a time!

Another Adam Speen achievement unlocked – one dancer at a time!

Skyler's finds for the day at Hip Wa Zee

Skyler’s finds for the day at Hip Wa Zee

My sweet bolero and sundress...

My sweet bolero and sundress…

A viable suit option

A viable suit option

This is part of the costume section - I kind of like the idea of pairing these fluffy animal heads with vintage prom dresses, hehehehe

This is part of the costume section – I kind of like the idea of pairing these fluffy animal heads with vintage prom dresses, hehehehe

Men's accessories overflowing from the racks at the Gentleman's Closet.

Men’s accessories overflowing from the racks at the Gentleman’s Closet.

Skyler's shoe acquisition for the day

Skyler’s shoe acquisition for the day

So much seersucker, I couldn't fit it all in the frame!

So much seersucker, I couldn’t fit it all in the frame!

All Balboa Weekend 2014 Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Lots of new merch at ABW this year, including this comfy dress.

Lots of new merch at ABW this year, including this comfy dress.

I think it’s safe to say that All Balboa Weekend has the best vendor setup for any event in the United States. With veteran vendors and a few new ones, this year was a good year to bring a little extra to spend at ABW.

The crown jewel at ABW is always Remix Vintage Shoes, who makes their only swing dance event stop here – you can try on that new style you spotted on the website, get that pair of Balboas you’ve been eyeing on any number of Bal follows, and this year they even took pre-orders so that you could be sure to get the style, color, and size of your choice and have them held for you at the booth until you pick them up. Owner Philip Heath was always helping someone with a pair, either giving advice or giving an opinion after they try them on, and he was at the booth until the wee hours of the morning. The demand is so high for these shoes that he pays to ship them from California and flys himself to Cleveland, hundreds of pairs just waiting for the right foot to take them home. Philip also told me that Remix was also working on revamping the website, so that’s good news for everyone!

The accessories display from The Cleveland Shop.

The accessories display from The Cleveland Shop.

Making their return to ABW were the ladies of Flower Child, a vintage store in Cleveland that has many contributors, and The Cleveland Shop, which had a nice selection of 20’s through 40’s. The ladies set up an impressive display of menswear, womenswear, accessories, shoes, jewelry, sewing notions, and Flower Child even had a large display of hats that would be appropriate for the Saturday night theme “A Night at the Races.” It was a race to get down there at get the goods at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday when the vendors opened, before it got picked over. Thankfully, the Flower Child and Cleveland shop ladies would replenish some of the supplies throughout the weekend, which I love about them – you never know what they are going to bring back the next day, and don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for because they may bring back that very thing!

ChatterBlossom's colorful display - vintage millinery to the left

Chatterblossom’s colorful display

On the new vendor front is a vendor who is near and dear to me here in North Carolina, ChatterBlossom (aka Jamie Sturdevant) who runs a fantastic Etsy shop for her handmade blooms and jewelry, as well as vintage accessories. What sets Chatterblossom apart are the vintage millinery blooms she uses to make some of her hair pieces – the colors are so RIGHT, especially when you see the color wave across the hall on the Flower Child clothing racks, you just KNOW that these blooms are vintage. I know she did well because her supplies of vintage flowers were dwindling by the end of the event.

Chloe and her team at the samples table.

Chloe and her team at the samples table.

Finally, we have FROMChloehong, who has taken the swing fashion world by storm, first with her trumpet skirts (MY storm), then with reproduction Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers jackets that she produced and took orders for especially for Frankie 100, then with her stellar showing of tailored menswear at the Frankie 100 fashion show. Chloe was on hand with sample skirts and menswear for people to try on for custom orders – there were so many more styles and colors available than I’ve seen on her Facebook page, and swatch books of fabrics that I just wanted to hold and touch and flip through to marvel at the options. I can tell you that we are just scratching the surface on what Chloe Hong is capable of accomplishing!

And that’s a wrap! Cheers to you, shoppers, for continuing to support these businesses and All Balboa Weekend!

Goodies from The Cleveland Shop on display.

Goodies from The Cleveland Shop on display.

Flower Child's end of the hallway display.

Flower Child’s end of the hallway display.

A dapper Gene Kelly-inspired look by FROMChloehong.

A dapper Gene Kelly-inspired look by FROMChloehong.

A popular pullover from the merch table - very collegiate.

A popular pullover from the merch table – very collegiate.

Building a Swing Wardrobe at All Balboa Weekend

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The first finds of the day at Sweet Lorain - tie clip and tie.

The first finds of the day at Sweet Lorain – tie clip and tie.

One of the reasons I enjoy All Balboa Weekend so much is the vintage shopping and vendors at the event. This event is like no other because Remix Vintage Shoes comes here (and doesn’t travel to other swing events), there are multiple fantastic vintage stores and some of them set up as vendors at the hotel, and there are new international vendors every year that may only come for one year, but you get that critical chance to try things on, figure out what size you wear, and file that away for future online ordering (Heyday!, Retrospec’d, Bettie Page Clothing, FromChloehong, etc.). It offers the unique opportunity to have all of these things in one place, which would otherwise only be available on the internet.

When I travel I always come up on Wednesday night so I can have Thursday day to go shopping at the vintage stores in Cleveland. My travel companion this go around was Skyler Hinkel, a 20 year old dancer from Raleigh who has become a staple of our scene in the past couple of years and has recently begun traveling a lot more to dance events. I asked him if he wanted to go shopping with me and he asked me how much money he would need to budget to get an outfit and a new pair of dance shoes (good question to ask!). He told me he wanted to spend some money on clothing for dance events and, at the time, he only owned two pairs of dress pants and one dress shirt.

Our mission was clear and there was no time to waste – building 1 or 2 outfits of vintage/thrifted clothing is something usually done over time, not in one day. We started out at Sweet Lorain, my favorite Cleveland vintage shop, and were there when they opened at noon, along with a number of European Balboa dancers who also collect vintage clothing. I headed to the racks in the back with the 30’s and 40’s clothing and directed Skyler to the men’s section, figuring he would either sink or swim. I made my rounds with the other ladies, tried everything on, narrowed my choices, and headed over to the men’s section to see how Skyler was doing.

It can be overwhelming being in a store like Sweet Lorain, even for me, with wall to wall clothing, furniture, and knick-knacks – Skyler was definitely feeling overwhelmed. I started digging with him, with some occasional input by Andreas Olsson and Rich Werden, but ultimately everything he tried on was too large. I was astounded because I thought for sure we’d find some great 34/36 jackets that no one else could fit into, but most everything was firmly in the 40/42 size range. The myth that vintage clothing is only for tiny people has been disproved once again! We left the store with a tie and a tie clip for Skyler, nowhere close to an outfit, but at least able to accessorize the outfit he already owned.

Our next stop was Chelsea’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes, which was a bust for me last year, but has an astounding three tiered warehouse full of clothing, almost half of it menswear. Since menswear has changed very little since the 1930’s, almost anything we could find here would be great – anything that fit, at this point, would work and if we could find natural fibers that would be a bonus. Rich joined us again for this search and, between the three of us, we touched every single suit jacket and sportcoat in that place. NO SMALL FEAT. It definitely helped that Chelsea’s had tags on each of the sleeves, noting the size and price, whereas none of the clothing was labeled by size in Sweet Lorain. Neither store had things grouped by size, so there was no choice but to dig.

Rich's action back!

Rich’s action back!

I’ll back up and say that the first thing I saw in the men’s section was a light tan/ivory belt back jacket, so when Rich walked in I asked if he had seen it. Upon retrieval, we discovered that it was his size – how serendipitous! But what are the chances we could find one for Skyler? Luck was on our side and we found a similar jacket, a 70’s does 30’s belt back jacket for Skyler, as well!

In the entire place there were only 3 jackets that came close to fitting Skyler, one slate blue double breasted kids jacket, a white cotton dinner jacket, and the belt back jacket. We set these aside and kept digging. Next up were pants, which yielded only two pairs that fit – a pair of tuxedo pants and a pair of gray and blue wool plaid trousers. Given our jacket discoveries, either could work, so we set those aside and continued, though by this point the digging had lost some steam.

I took a mental break to check in on Rich and his fiance, Alisa Szatrowski, who had made her way through the limited selection of swing era garments. Half of vintage shopping with others is waiting for the discard pile, and I found a great cream 40’s dress with red soutache detail that hadn’t worked for her, but worked for me. Energized by the find, I returned to the Skyler search and we went through the vest rack together. We culled a wool sweater vest from this search and now had the beginnings of a wardrobe.

Sweater vest found - Adam Speen achievement unlocked

Sweater vest found – Adam Speen achievement unlocked

While it would be nice to be able to buy everything that fits us at vintage stores, practically speaking few of us make that kind of money. We decided that the belt back jacket would be more versatile, even though it was going to be a warmer jacket than the cotton dinner jacket. Thus, the tuxedo pants, were out and we headed to the checkout with (subtle) plaid wool pants, the belt back jacket, and the sweater vest. Not a bad day at the dig.

On our way to the checkout we quickly sifted through the ties and found a perfect match for the vest. Total damage for these four items (jacket, pants, vest, and tie): $40.00.

Two belt backs in one day - unprecedented!

Two belt backs in one day – unprecedented!

We headed back to the hotel, feeling good about the day’s purchases, and started planning the outfits; however, the critical component of white dress shirts for both outfits was missing, so we pulled over to a strip mall and found two white dress shirts in Target. Now, the only thing missing was a pair of pants to go with the sweater vest, and, if found, Skyler would have two complete outfits.

I was hopeful that Skyler would find something at one of the vendor’s booths. The vendors opened at 5:00 p.m. and we were there just minutes before. While there were some great trousers there, none of them were the right size. We talked to the ladies at the Flower Child booth and they said they would look in their inventory overnight. Later that evening, Chloe Hong’s booth opened up and, while they didn’t have any pants to sell off the rack, they did have sample sizes and I encouraged Skyler to try a pair on to see if they had his size and if he liked the trousers. He definitely liked Chloe’s pants the best out of all the trousers he tried on that day, so there was the option to increase his wardrobe by another pair of pants, even if he had to wait for them. We must always be forward thinking about our shopping!

Shopping at Remix's booth!

Shopping at Remix’s booth!

Last, but not least, Skyler had budgeted for a pair of Remix Vintage Shoes leather-soled shoes. Their men’s cap toe is a beautiful shoe and, due to the constraint in inventory they can bring to ABW, they only had one pair in his size – thankfully, they were brown and white, which would look great with the navy-hued items, like the vest and the ties.

We are waiting to find out if there is another pair of pants in store for Skyler…stay tuned!

Lindy Focus – Fashion Trailblazer

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Still recovering and playing catch up from Lindy Focus…and still unpacking…but there are more vendor reports to be had! Until then, I’ll leave you with this superlative I picked up – thanks to everyone who voted! :D

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Sparkles Done Right at Lindy Focus

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Adding to the dance and music bliss at Lindy Focus is the particular attention I see many people giving to their ensembles for the evening dances, even more so in years past. While most people save their sparkles for New Year’s Eve, I’m seeing the sparkles come out even earlier this year. I’d like to give a shout out to Anna Bryant and Caitlin Farthing not only for making the finals in the intermediate jack and jill, but also for selecting really stellar competition dresses that were vibrantly colored, swishy in the skirt, and sparkled in a way that drew attention without getting in the way of dancing (as beads and sequins are not so kind to leaders’ hands). Check out Caitlin at 3:28 in the video below, with a sequined collar, and Anna at 4:08 with a rhinestone (?) detail on the front of her dress. The video does not capture how much these two were twinkling in the lights! If I had been a better reporter, I would have gotten a photo of them together, but there’s like 1,000 people here so it’s hard to find everyone. :)

Lindy Focus 2013!

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This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Just a quick note amidst the amazing chaos to tell you that exciting things are going on at Lindy Focus – there’s going to be another wonderful Nicole Lenzen fashion show, the LF tee shirts are selling out as of the first official day of camp, the consignment shop goes up today for dancers to consign their dance duds (plus glitter tap shoes!), and the myriad vendors that round out our little micro-economy here at the happiest place on earth. Reports soon!

Eastern Balboa Championships 2013 – 10th Anniversary

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This weekend is the 10th and final Eastern Balboa Championships – I am sad to see it go, but have so many great memories from this event. I’ve worked with the organizers to bring in some great vendors and this year I am very excited about our local vendor offerings! Stay tuned for a report, but I do hope to see some of you this weekend!

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OcTieBer 2013

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The only thing better than OcTieBer is a Christmas with bow ties under the tree.

The only thing better than OcTieBer is a Christmas with bow ties under the tree.

Just a gentle reminder that OcTieBer starts tomorrow – if you are a gent or lady with a super collection of fashionable neckwear or you aspire to be, perhaps participating in OcTieBer is for you – a chance to cultivate excellent ensembles, highlighting neckwear, each day for the month of October. How do you participate? It’s easy – from the OcTieBer Facebook group:

“With the arrival of fall, men (and a few fashionably adventurous women) of style and good taste will once again bond together to demonstrate their embrace of dapper design and finely tailored fabrics.

In short, a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear worn in a traditional style.

How to participate? It’s simple:

1. Wear a collared shirt and tie each day (be it a long tie, bow tie, ascot, cravat, bolo, western double string tie or any other traditional neckwear that expresses your personal style). Preferably your outfit will be paired with a jacket, sweater, vest or other accessories that suggest why you’ve chosen that day’s tie.

2. Find the folder with the appropriate date under “Photos” and upload your image of finely attired “dudeness” wearing said outfit with an optional description of the designer, type of knot, fabric, etc.

3. Share the love by encouraging your friends to admire your statement of personal style.”

Ladies may obviously take liberties with the collared shirt requirement. :)

Happy OcTieBer!

ILHC 2013 Vendor and Style Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Forties Forward at ILHC

Forties Forward at ILHC

The International Lindy Hop Championships proved to be a truly inspiring event this year, with performances by top dancers, of course, but there was also an electricity, a sense of community, and mutual love and understanding that seemed to permeate the room. Am I getting on a hippie tangent? Maybe. But I shared some pretty awesome moments with hundreds of my fellow dancers.

My ONLY disappointment this year was the vendor area. I used the word “vendor” (singular) in the title because, aside from the ILHC tee shirts, I only saw one vendor table set up, which was the always charming Forties Forward, with their bevy of hair blooms and accessories. They were the bright spot in an otherwise empty hotel hallway/foyer.

I think the vendor area is important for a few reasons:
– Dancers get products they need
– Dancers can try things on
– Foreign dancers can buy things without having to pay for shipping
– We want to support businesses that cater to our specific needs/wants
– Many of the vendors are dancers themselves, so we like to invest in this micro-economy of dance events

I’m sure there are more. For whatever reason, I hope that the decline in vendor attendance is not permanent.

That said, I hate to leave a post like this, so I’m going to share with you some of the trends I noticed this year at ILHC, some of which I reported during my commentary on Yehoodi’s ILHC broadcast:

Head bands/scarves – the hair flower has reigned supreme for a long time as the hair accessory of choice for swing dancers. This year I saw many more things encircling dancers’ heads (including things with hair flowers attached), as well as creative use of colorful scarves. My favorite was Baltimore dancer Brandi Ferrebee using a head scarf as a snood to cover her curl set during prelims so that her set would be fresh (and dry!) for the dance that night.

The fabulous Anne Williams models a pencil skirt with a slit on the front left leg.

The fabulous Anne Williams models a pencil skirt with a slit on the front left leg.

Skirts with a front slit – the skirt slit or vent can be an essential if you aren’t wearing a full skirt. A larger slit or opening can increase your range of motion, which is always helpful in Lindy Hop. The options ranged from the sexy offset front slit to A-line skirts to tulip skirts to a pieced/sectioned skirt that managed to have an awesome slit and twirl at the same time. The effect was functional and lovely, though add a bit of caution when securing or selecting one of these skirts – that slit can migrate, either from side-to-side or up the seam. Give it a test run and make sure the top of the slit is sewn securely or reinforced to prevent splitting.

Double breasted suits – I saw several gentlemen in competition looking very sharp and put-together with their buttoned-up double breasted suits. Certainly, giving men more clothing alternatives for competitions is an excellent thing.

TweedRamona Staffeld and Todd Yannacone set the tweed tone with their matching plaid suits – Ramona’s a vest and skirt combo, while Todd’s was a three piece suit. They looked so sharp and were able to use pieces from this uniform for several competitions. I noticed other competitors in tweed-looking fabrics ranging from an oatmeal fleck to large plaids. The effect was definitely classy, with a nod to fall.

Sequin bloomers – ladies, your sequin bloomers were fabulous and timely, because ILHC is the time to sparkle. :)

International Lindy Hop Championships 2013

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As always, I am very excited to be attending the International Lindy Hop Championships in Washington, DC – this year I will reprise my role as guest commentator on Yehoodi’s live stream broadcast of the Open Balboa competition (in HD!) and look forward to seeing all the wonderfully creative competition outfits and pairings the competitors put together. I will also be on hand to report about all the wonderful vendors at ILHC and I am hopeful for a few new faces this year in the vendor area.

See you there or see you online!