Category Archives: Vests

Two Spring Sales: Prohibition Clothing Company and A Vintage Sole

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Two spring sales worth posting about! First, the Original Prohibition Clothing Company is offering a great sale dubbed the “Spring Made-to-Measure Event” – with a focus on spring/summer weight fabrics (hello, tropical weight woolens and linens), the following price cuts:

Unconstructed Jackets were $348, now $298
Full-Rise Trousers were $188, now $159
Fine Cotton Shirts were $88, now $75

Prices valid through March 31st, 2014. There are so many “3 season” suits and heavy suits out there, it seems that for dancing that the most practical splurge would be for a summer suit, no? If you don’t like ironing or wrinkling, my vote is for the tropical weight wool. Remember, wool is a natural fiber that breathes…

Buy these $78 early 1950's wedges and get 15% off with the Benzie code at 5% goes to a food bank!

Buy these $78 early 1950′s wedges and get 15% off with the Benzie code and 5% goes to a food bank!

Next, a wonderful sale from the I-can’t-believe-this-is-a-thing retailer A Vintage Sole, selling dead stock/never worn vintage shoes – here are the details:

“Enter ‘Benzie’ in the discount box at checkout and receive 15% OFF your entire order. By doing so, you’ll be lending a very helpful hand to those in real need.

When you use the Benzie code, we will donte 5% of your order to the Benzie Food Partners, our local all volunteer food bank.

Visit aVintageSole.com to learn more about our $hop-$ave-$upport program and the huge impact your purchase will make for those in Benzie County, Michigan.”

Buy some vintage shoes, help those in need!

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Winter Action Backs

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This, the coldest winter I’ve experienced in my life living in North Carolina, just won’t go away – Mother Nature teased us with 60 degrees today, followed by a forecast of snow tomorrow. Since I’m still digging around for more woolens to wear, here are a couple of cozy Norfolk/action back jackets on eBay for the gents to bundle up with until these winter storms pass:

Seriously gorgeous brown wool with colored flecks jacket, dated November 19, 1941, bidding around $100 right now...

Seriously gorgeous brown wool with colored flecks jacket, dated November 19, 1941, bidding around $100 right now…

This blue action back is part of a three piece suit and the jacket is double breasted

This blue action back is part of a three piece suit and the jacket is double breasted

Richard’s Fabulous Finds – Vintage Men’s Clothing and Accessories

1940's suit and expertly paired accessories

1940′s double breasted suit and expertly paired accessories

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I ran across Richard’s Fabulous Finds on the OcTieBer group on Facebook – he had posted a few suits of interest, so I bit. Clicking through to his Etsy page, I was struck by the presentation – everything looked cool, wearable, and pulled together. On closer inspection, it wasn’t just the goods, it was the presentation. A model (perhaps Richard himself?) had on most of the suits, and each suit was fully presented, with shirt, necktie, pocket square, possibly a boutonniere, so that the suit wasn’t JUST a suit, you could see it as an ensemble. I know a lot of men struggle with color and pairings and Richard has done the work for you, at least for starters. Here’s what I’m loving from his Etsy shop:

Tweedy hat

Tweedy hat

Three piece plaid suit - 70's, but nobody has to know... ;)

Three piece plaid suit – 70′s, but nobody has to know… ;)

Vintage yin-yang pocket square

Vintage yin-yang pocket square

Belt-back blazer

Belt-back blazer

Vecona Vintage

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Embroidery on a sailor collar

Embroidery on a sailor collar

I have another tip on a German reproduction/vintage inspired clothing source, thanks to Florian Kremers, who messaged me to tell me about Vecona Vintage. From the website:

“Inspired by the fashion of the 1920ies to 40ies Vecona Vintage combines former glamour with the wear comfort of modern textiles. High class materials and accurate craftsmanship make every item become a very personal piece of fashion history you´ll take much pleasure in for sure…Vecona Vintage garments are hand-made high quality products. Every single step is executed professional and accurate by a highly qualified and experienced master tailoress.”

As an added bonus: “The high quality materials not only feel great further they are easy to clean so that you don´t have to get them dry cleaned after every dance. You can wash your new treasures in your washing machine at 30°C.”

Vecona Vintage really shines with its menswear and women’s separates. The menswear selection boasts traditional pants and vest combos, along with knickers and work pants for a more casual-but-not-quite-as-casual-as-modern-jeans look. The women’s collection features a selection of high waisted trousers, pencil skirts, 1920′s-style dresses, and some lovely blouses. Here’s what I’m digging:

Rusty Dusty work pants

Rusty Dusty work pants

Lacy Daisy blouse in mint

Lacy Daisy blouse in mint

Casablanca linen vest and pants

Casablanca linen vest and pants

Marlene pants in red

Marlene pants in red

Darcy Clothing

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

about-us

This menswear resource tip is from Christine Hall of the Decophile group on Facebook – Darcy Clothing, previously The Vintage Shirt Company, has expanded from shirts to include a much broader range of reproduction menswear and accessories from the 18th century to the early 20th century. This is a huge span of time, but there are plenty of 20th century goodies from this UK company to place in your closet.

From the website:

“The clothing is largely made specially for us and is taken directly from original garments. The shapes and fabrics are uncompromisingly genuine. We only ever use natural fibres in any pre C20th garments. The construction methods however take advantage of modern mass production techniques which means that we can supply costume designers with the authenticity they require at an affordable price.”

Here’s what I’m loving from their collection:

Spearpoint Collar Shirt

Spearpoint Collar Shirt

Working men's striped braces, available in 11 colors

Working men’s striped braces, available in 11 colors

Military ties - for your Buck Privates tribute routine

Military ties – for your Buck Privates tribute routine

Fair Isle socks - like stripes, but subdued...but more intricate...

Fair Isle socks – like stripes, but subdued…but more intricate…

Replica ollar pin, if you'd like to get your Boardwalk Empire on

Replica collar pin, if you’d like to get your Boardwalk Empire on

Cricket trousers - "perfect for any period cricketing attire"

Cricket trousers – “perfect for any period cricketing attire”

Cotton Work Jacket - a nice summer weight jacket option

Cotton Work Jacket – a nice summer weight jacket option

ViNSiNN

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Laura Keat's dress, the "Savoy Ballroom Kleid" - Laura has it in red, but I love the teal.  I CAN HAZ?

Laura Keat’s dress, the “Savoy Ballroom Kleid” – Laura has it in red, but I love the teal. I CAN HAZ?

This shop comes to you courtesy of Laura Keat, who posted a photo album on Facebook detailing the sources of her most-asked-about items of clothing. I recognized all of her sources except for one – ViNSiNN. A Google search led me to a website written entirely in German. Not easily deterred*, I used Google translator so I could browse their shop and tell you about it…in English.

The founders of this retail site are Marina Fischer, Peter Bieniossek, and Lucy Flournoy, all swing dancers with a passion for the vintage aesthetic that comes with the dancing. Marina details her frustrations with attempts to locate vintage clothing, mostly sourced from America, and dealing with shipping, taxes, customs, and the waiting, only to find out that after such a great effort the garment wouldn’t work after all. Then came the resourceful idea to start a shop of vintage-inspired garments to sell in Germany. I am a firm believer in “if it doesn’t exist, you create it” and Marina picked up the ball and ran with it, along with business partner Peter, who shared similar frustrations, and Lucy Flournoy, whose paragraph did not translate well in the Google translator…but I can attest to Lucy’s sense of style, as I observed it when she was going to college in North Carolina and dancing at regional events.

Great socks!

Great socks!

This is definitely a store with the dancer in mind – as I browse through all the lovely dress, top, and skirt options, I notice lots of great modern takes on familiar vintage shapes, lovely details, lots of color, but the overarching theme is that all of these are dressing I wouldn’t hesitate to dance in. There are some great basics for men, even a pair of knickers. And the socks page is divine!

Now I have the reverse problem as Marina and Peter – how to get these items (reasonably) from Germany to the US? Anyone coming to ILHC? ;) Faves listed below.

*I once used Babelfish to translate an entire transaction over the phone, in real time, into Spanish so I could order custom tango shoes from Columbia from a salesperson who spoke no English.

How About a Second Mate? Dress - also available in a romper, what the what?!

How About a Second Mate? Dress – also available in a romper, what the what?!

Anything Goes vest and...

Anything Goes vest and…

...matching knickers!

…matching knickers!

Splanky Shorts

Splanky Shorts

Lots of great caps to choose from...

Lots of great caps to choose from…

Twelve Bar Blues skirt, also available in black

Twelve Bar Blues skirt, also available in black

Each pair of socks is named after an illustrious swing dance instructor - shown here, the "Nick socken"

Each pair of socks is named after an illustrious swing dance instructor – shown here, the “Nick socken”

All Balboa Weekend 2013 Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

If you are a good girl and save your pennies, the Cleveland fairy will bring you vintage on All Balboa Eve.

If you are a good girl and save your pennies, the Cleveland fairy will bring you vintage and repro on All Balboa Eve.

Still basking in the afterglow of All Balboa Weekend, the Balboa Mecca that occurs every year in Cleveland, Ohio. It is a hub for so many things I love – good dancing, good music, good vintage shopping, good company, and good cupcakes. I left with a full heart and a shopping bag full of goodies – it was like Christmas!

My first stop in Cleveland, per usual, was Sweet Lorain, the vintage department store where I seem to have the most luck finding things in my size. I was greeted at the door by the owner, Redwin Lewis, who remembered me from years past (and possibly phone orders – yes, you can call them back if you decide later that you really want/need something you saw, even 6 months later the item may still be there!) and we chatted about high school reunions and all the films (THE film being Captain America) shopping at his store. I was on a mission for a full slip with some sweet details and Sweet Lorain did not disappoint, with two full racks to choose from.

Dad's pitcher - my favorite find in Cleveland

Dad’s pitcher – my favorite find in Cleveland

On a personal note, I was ecstatic to find a red plastic beverage pitcher at Sweet Lorain, perhaps circa 40′s/50′s, that I have been seeking for the past decade or so – when I was in undergrad I picked up a plastic yellow pitcher from Target that looked vintage, with some sweet Deco detail on it. I probably paid less than $10 for it. My dad saw it in my apartment and was immediately drawn to it, asking where I got it, and how much it cost. I told him that I had purchased it at Target several months ago and that it was out of stock. He was crestfallen – my grandmother had owned one during his childhood and he had always thought it was a great design, with a lid that opens when you tilt it and closes when it’s upright. Flash forward to ABW 2013, I was chatting with Redwin in the housewares section and my eye caught a flash of red in that distinct shape. It was the pitcher! I text messaged my dad a photo of it and he confirmed that he wanted it. Done! I look forward to “reuniting” my dad with his childhood pitcher this coming weekend. :)

Thus Spake Zarathustra

Thus Spake Zarathustra…at Chelsea Costumes

My next stop was Chelsea Costumes, which I had somehow managed to miss on all prior visits to Cleveland. The sheer volume of square footage packed literally floor to ceiling was overwhelming in a way that only a disorganized Goodwill warehouse of great magnitude could rival. The racks were three tiers high, with the top two racks reachable by rolling staircases located on each aisle. Adding to the library feel of the place, the ends of the racks were labeled by decade range. I searched in vain for the early vintage clothing and had to ask where it was located – at the end of one of the 1950′s racks was a single rack with 1940′s clothing. I found a couple of items I liked, but they had fatal flaws (fading, shredding, etc.). I’d say it’s definitely worth a look, especially if you are into later decades, and it’s an absolute must if you are looking for menswear – I saw just about every size, shape, color, item, and a range of seasonal weights, with a massive selection. You do have to be a digger to make this worthwhile, but the prices are good and worth the dig.

Back at the hotel, ABW had an array of vendors, some new, some old, that filled up the hallway in front of the ballroom. The first vendor was The Cleveland Shop, with an array of clothing and accessories for men and women. Favorites included some divine shoes, a burgundy silk 1930′s gown, and every dress that went on the mannequin and immediately sold.

Next up was the ABW merchandise, which featured some cool shirts with stripes, a henley, and a girly slouchy tee with cool sleeve detail. This year also saw the return of the ABW shoe bag – I do love a shoe bag!

New style!!!

New style!!!

Moving down the hallway, the next vendor was the ever-popular Re-mix Vintage Shoes, with owner Philip Heath on hand to help all the men and women eager to try on their shoes. This year, they took advance requests from people for specific shoes and sizes, so if you wanted a guaranteed shot at trying on a certain pair in your size, you got that chance. I took advantage of this for my husband, who is sort of between sizes and needed another pair of oxfords. It also resulted in Re-mix bringing a number of pairs of wedges, which have never made it out to ABW, since we mostly dance “the Balboa” in heels. ;)

Romper, umbrella, and THE belts at Bettie Page Clothing

Romper, umbrella, and THE belts at Bettie Page Clothing

Bettie Page Clothing made its debut as a vendor this year, spearheaded by the lovely Shannon Butler, who is now the manager of the Bettie Page store at the Mall of America in Minnepolis, MN. Shannon brought another innovative way to make sure everyone got to try on the clothing and get the sizes they need – she kept a stock of the dresses, shirts, and skirts she brought as try-ons and once you decided what you wanted, she called the Mall of America store, placed your order, and it was shipped to you (sometimes that day!) free of charge. In addition to all the adorable clothing, she brought these great adjustable belts that are the perfect dress belt, for when that vintage dress comes without a belt or maybe you lost the belt or want to add a belt…regardless, good, skinny dress belts are hard to come by and these babies are only $10 and come in several handy colors.

Flower Child took up about half the hallway, with a wonderful display that moved from housewares and accessories, to jewelry, to several large racks of clothing at the end of the hall. Because Flower Child is made up of several vendors, there were a range of prices in the shop, and they definitely had the larges selection. Favorites included a 1940′s gold bathing suit, rayon Asian print pajamas, and an adorable dress with strawberry ribbon trim that came home with me.

Still obsessing over Dancestore.com's mesh and leather wingtip

Still obsessing over Dancestore.com’s mesh and leather wingtip

Finally, Dancestore.com made an appearance with most of their line of shoes. I liked that they had a set of “try-on” pairs that you could put on and take for a spin during one dance. It helps you decide, cuts down on wear and tear of new pairs, and also gives you an idea of how they will feel once they are broken in. Great idea!

This year was probably the best year for vendors yet – many of the vendors are veterans at this point, they know their audience, and they only bring the best stuff as it pertains to swing dancers. I am elated that they continue to come out, year after year.

Here are my photos from the weekend – enjoy!

Collar detail *swoon*

Collar detail at Sweet Lorain *swoon*

Velvet collar detail at Sweet Lorain

Velvet collar detail at Sweet Lorain

Love this Jack and the Beanstalk novelty print - at Sweet Lorain

Love this Jack and the Beanstalk novelty print – at Sweet Lorain

Menswear knits in shades of brown, at Sweet Lorain

Menswear knits in shades of brown, at Sweet Lorain

This photo does not do justice to the awesomeness of these sheer cutouts - at Sweet Lorain

This photo does not do justice to the awesomeness of these sheer cutouts – at Sweet Lorain

Oxfords at Sweet Lorain

Oxfords at Sweet Lorain

The entrance to Chelsea Costumes

The entrance to Chelsea Costumes

Brain...shuts...down...

Brain…shuts…down…

Navigation system at Chelsea Costumes

Navigation system at Chelsea Costumes

Lovely dress at Chelsea Costumes

Lovely dress at Chelsea Costumes

Collar detail at Chelsea Costumes

Collar detail at Chelsea Costumes

The view from the top of one of the rolling staircases at Chelsea Costumes

The view from the top of one of the rolling staircases at Chelsea Costumes

Select menswear items from The Cleveland Shop

Select menswear items from The Cleveland Shop

Cool cotton print dress from The Cleveland Shop

Cool cotton print dress from The Cleveland Shop

Tri-strap! From Re-mix Vintage Shoes

Tri-strap! From Re-mix Vintage Shoes

Did you know these come in GREEN?

Did you know these came in GREEN?

A lovely display from Flower Child

A lovely display from Flower Child

Gold bathing suit FTW - courtesy of Flower Child

Gold bathing suit FTW – courtesy of Flower Child

Love all of this - at Flower Child

Love all of this – at Flower Child

Suit jacket peplum made of petals! At Flower Child

Suit jacket peplum made of petals! At Flower Child

Pajamas! At Flower Child

Pajamas! At Flower Child

Lots of good knits this year - this from Flower Child

Lots of good knits this year – this from Flower Child

This Bettie Page blouse went home with many a gal

This Bettie Page blouse went home with many a gal

Lovely dresses from Bettie Page Clothing

Lovely dresses from Bettie Page Clothing

Gatsby Collections

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

From the Brooks Brothers Great Gatsby Collection

From the Brooks Brothers Great Gatsby Collection

With the pomp and fanfare given to Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming film rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” comes the opportunity for various merchants to cash in *ahem* I mean present collections of Gatsby era inspired clothing, rugs, shoes, flooring, you name it. It’s one of those things that sort of elicits a collective groan and, at the same time, a hope – a groan for the fad, the hyped up eBay prices for 20′s clothing, the assumption that you are part of the fad even though you’ve been an Art Deco lover for years; a hope that some really beautiful items will come of this that may not be plentiful in their vintage form.

I’d love to have a complete list of all the collections for 2013 that have been inspired by the movie – please feel free to submit your own! In the interim, here’s what I’ve been able to dig up:

(I’ll have to make an exception to my maximum price rule with this post, but Gatsby is all about luxury and what we can’t have, no?)

Brooks Brothers – there are several threads on Facebook criticizing the collection for its modern cuts, uniform hat sizing, and other elements that would either not be period appropriate or luxurious enough to warrant the cost. Yet, with a retailer as large and established as Brooks Brothers, one can always hope for knockoffs.

I would wear this EVERY DAY if I owned it.

I would wear this EVERY DAY if I owned it.

Tiffany & Co. – some simply stunning pieces with, what I would consider, an appropriate mix of modern and Art Deco elements. Anyone with an extra $200,000 in their bank account can purchase one of the gorgeous headpieces… *drool*

Armstrong Hardwood Floors – I’m no wood floor expert, so I’m looking for a tie-in to the Gatsby era…perhaps inspired by hardwood flooring stains of the 1920′s? I do know that Tudor architecture was popular during the 1920′s, so their Oak – Tudor Brown makes sense. The rest, I’m not sure…

Rhapsody Rug by Catherine Martin

Rhapsody Rug by Catherine Martin

Sue Wong – designer Sue Wong debuted her Fall 2013 collection inspired by the Great Gatsby. The collection is not on her website and I’m having a hard time finding photos of the actual collection, rather than the celebrity attendees. From the scant photos, it looks to be a modern interpretation.

Catherine Martin Rugs – this is probably my favorite, these Art Deco rugs are just divine, pieces of art themselves.

We can keep going…I’m happy to add to the list, if you have others!

1930′s and 40′s Suiting on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

All of a sudden, there was an influx of men’s 1930′s suits on eBay, including some lovely summer weight suits. Let’s get started:

Linen suit with belt back

Linen suit with belt back, size 36, starting bid $49.99

Palm Beach suit, size 40, bidding at $9.00

Palm Beach suit, size 40, bidding at $9.00

Another size 40 belt back suit, with accompanying cigar from that era?  Gross...LOL

Another size 40 belt back suit, with accompanying cigar from that era? Gross…LOL

Summer belt back suit, size 38, bidding at $86.00

Summer belt back suit, size 38, bidding at $86.00

1936 three-piece suit, size 38, bidding at $168.01

1936 three-piece suit, size 38, bidding at $168.01

Navy tux, size 42, Buy it Now for $135.00

Navy tux, size 42, Buy it Now for $135.00

Hillsborough Formalwear Outlet

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

My outlet tux!  Photo courtesy of Bonnie Stanley Photography.

My outlet tux! Photo courtesy of Bonnie Stanley Photography.

I had heard rumors about the Hillsborough Formalwear Outlet in Hillsborough, NC long before I actually went there – mostly people who had purchased a hat from their collection, but they spoke of a giant warehouse full of tuxedos, for rent or for purchase, at very reasonable prices. When Raleigh’s Vaudevillain Revue decided to go 20′s/30′s for a show, I decided it was time for me to pull a Dietrich for my performance and get a tux of my own.

The Deal: jacket, pants, shirt, vest or cummerbund, bow tie, studs, and cufflinks for just over $100 (including tax). You take it home, it’s all yours, everything you need but the socks and shoes.

How do they do it? When formalwear retailers and renters liquidate their stock, this place buys the goods. You are purchasing sometimes new, sometimes previously rented, goods. They have a wide selection of tuxedo styles – from tailcoats to modern jackets, every imaginable color of vest. If they don’t have it in the main warehouse/shop, they have a few other warehouses to draw from, including one that is almost entirely full of polyester 70′s tuxes with ruffled shirts – imagine the color combinations (*laugh*cry*shudder*)! All this to say that they probably have a tux that will work for you and your needs.

The customer service was fantastic – someone was essentially assigned to me and helped me painstakingly put together a men’s tux for my not-a-man’s body. I was elated with the result and the price – I’ve put together Halloween costumes with fewer pieces that cost more than this.

I was really hoping that they would be open the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve – people need tuxes for NYE, right? – and with Lindy Focus that week, people could fly into RDU and hit the warehouse on the way to Asheville. Alas, they will not be open that week, so my plans for directing you to them for this year’s LF have been foiled. However, this is a family-owned business, so perhaps if enough of you emailed them we could convince them to open for a day, or take appointments? Just a thought. Perhaps you can hit them up on the way back to RDU and pick up one for next year…

Field Trip: Amalgamated Classic Clothing and Dry Goods, Alexandria, VA

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I have anticipated checking out Alexandria’s Amalgamated Classic Clothing and Dry Goods since April, when I heard of its opening shortly prior to DCLX and the wonders that awaited me – rumors that the owners have a warehouse where items are pulled for Hollywood movies, that the inventory has real swing era stuff, GOOD stuff, and I was salivating. As I ditched the Saturday afternoon DCLX dance to head over to Alexandria I got a text message from Bill Speidel that the shop was closed. Oh, the disappointment!

Thankfully, I had already planned to attend the International Lindy Hop Championships in August, so I knew I’d get a second chance. I messaged the store’s Facebook page a few days prior to the event to make sure that they would be open and should I send my measuremnets. The answers were yes and yes, and I was elated.

I planned to go on Friday of ILHC and at the Thursday night dance I met Beth Midavaine, who had also planned to take a trip to Amalgamated with Bill Speidel, but Bill had bailed on her, so it seemed that fate would have it that we go shopping together. We headed to Amalgamated the next day with Jason Sager and arrived at the store at noon on the dot. The store was closed. I was frantic. We went next door to a knick knack store owner, who didn’t know why the shop wasn’t open. As we regrouped on the sidewalk, the door opened to Amalgamated and it was, after all, open for business. *phew!*

It took us three hours to get through everything in the store and try on the rack of clothes that Beth and I accumulated through our collective digging through the store. The store itself is small is square footage, but packed with everything good – there was no small rack where the few swing era items were delegated – the entire store was pre-1960′s, so 100% of their inventory was everything that you would want to see in a vintage store. It was glorious! The men’s section rivaled the women’s section in size and magnificence (who has an entire rack devoted to two tone Ricky Ricardo jackets?) and a men’s shoe section that took up an entire table, and included children’s shoes (tiny leather and mesh oxfords!). Owner Shelley White took us through boxes in the back room filled with delicate 1920′s beaded dresses, there were racks of glorious dresses and gowns, plus some very practical items that would be perfect for dancing. The women’s shoes had a good selection of larger women’s sizes, which was great for Beth, who picked up a pair of fantastic 1940′s heels.

I don’t think words or photos will do this place justice, so you’ll just have to go and see for yourself. Until then, check out some of our finds below:

The more choice men’s shoes behind glass.

The more choice women’s shoes behind glass – if you wear a size 5, those green t-straps could be yours!

On closer inspection, the print on this adorable 1940′s suit with giant lucite buttons features winged puppies! Does it get any cuter than freakin’ winged puppies???

Love this green 50′s dress, with a white scalloped stripe across the upper torso to draw the eye up and GIANT POCKETS.

Tie rack includes dead stock ties as well as used vintage ties.

Men’s shoes…

…and more men’s shoes…

Wide leg high waist women’s pants with adorable trim.

Ricky in purples

Ricky in brown and white

A shirt Jason considered…

Beth in a snappy hat

Jason snuggles with a vintage cat pillow.

A school spirited hat

A 1920′s beaded dress in my favorite color.

My find of the day – a 1930′s day dress in green. I’m holding the back because it will have to be taken in a bit, but I can’t pass up a green 30′s dress…

Beth’s find of the day – a gorgeous 1940′s gown with floral appliques and overlays

Love this Asian-inspired shape in a cotton leaf print.

Just about died when this almost-but-didn’t-quite fit

Gorgeous embroidery on this peach 1920′s day dress

A men’s vignette in the store

Another display at Amalgamated

Are You a Fearless Follow or a Solid Sender?

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Wear it proud!

At last August’s Jazz Age Lawn Party I happened upon a booth for the upstart men’s clothing company The Original Prohibition Clothing Company and reported on some of the most beautifully tailored men’s clothing I have seen in person. The company’s owner and designer, Corey Miller, sent me an email last week to let me know that the website was now open for business and that their offerings are expanding and continue to expand (including expanding into women’s dandy-wear – paging Sam Carroll…)

While I don’t talk a lot about tee shirts on this blog, it’s a fact that most dancers wear tee shirts dancing most of the time, especially men. Corey has noted this and when he “looked around at most of the dance tee shirts, they identified your love for dance, but the shirts themselves weren’t lovely.” I like the way this man thinks – to add to the small pool of Lindy Hop merchandise available to us, TOPCC is now offering two tees – one for “Fearless Follows” and another for the “Solid Sender.” The design on the tees is certainly lovely, with vintage styling and iconic silhouettes. Now that I am the proud owner of a Fearless Follow tee, I can attest to the fact that this is one of the softest tee shirts I own – it will be a delight to wear!

Solid!

While you’re at TOPCC website, you should absolutely look around – there are fabulous things here, too fabulous, really. I pretty much want to buy everything here for my husband to wear! Impeccable jackets, Hollywood trousers, wonderful vests, variations on the collared shirt, newsboy caps, and even men’s ties in a Tommy gun pattern (to continue the theme – cheeky).

And thanks to Corey for designing with the swing dance community in mind – a rare thing, indeed!

A preview of the impeccable tailoring that awaits you inside The Original Prohibition Clothing Company website…

30′s and 40′s Menswear on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It’s rare that anything in vintage menswear shows up in multiples on eBay, but I kept coming across good things at good prices, so here’s a selection of menswear goods from eBay this week:

1930′s to early 40′s German “Stresemann” Suit means it’s business time – size 36 or 38, starting bid $10

Another great 30′s/40′s German suit, size 36 or 38, starting bid at $10

Double breasted navy 1940′s suit, about a size 42, bidding at $36

Velvet 1940′s jacket – swanky

I do love a tuxedo with a silk faille lapel…

All Balboa Weekend 2012 Vendors/Field Trip: Vintage Stores in Cleveland, OH

The store front of Deering Vintage

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I have returned from the land of Balboa milk and honey, with tired feet, a warm heart, and a bag of vintage goodies in tow. The All Balboa Weekend organizers did another stellar job with the event this year and it remains my favorite swing dance event. Of course, the shopping helps… ;)

I usually do separate posts for event vendors and my “field trips” to a city’s brick-and-mortar stores, but was no way to separate the vendors from the stores because, in several cases, they were the same. I’ll run through the shopping activities chronologically:

My partners in crime for this round of shopping were Elizabeth Tietgen (she of the aqua velvet 30′s gown and other blue accoutrements from last year) and Molly McGowan (her first trip to ABW and first big vintage shopping endeavor). After a lunch of delicious crepes, we visited Deering Vintage first because they were not represented in the ABW vendor lineup and so I did not blow all of my money at Suite Lorain, as in past years, and actually make it to another store. Deering Vintage had a few swing era items, but was mostly filled with quality goods from later decades and tons of fantastic accessories, like purses and gloves. Elizabeth found a fantastic black and red velvet 40′s ice skater-ish dress (which she took home) and Molly found a gorgeous 1930′s tea dress, which we decided was not the most-dancer friendly dress and that we would keep looking. We also ran into Valerie Bissig and Stefan Deuber, who were also making the vintage store rounds, and I started to get really excited about the weekend and all the international dancers!

The magnetic pull was too strong, so we drove to Sweet Lorain, the vintage department store, for some shopping. There are some real heartbreakers there, in the form of gorgeous dresses suffering from fading, but there were some new gems in the midst as well. Favorites were a late teens/early 20′s dress that was screaming at me to take it home and dress up as someone from Downton Abbey for Halloween, a velvet gown with Art Deco burnouts on the sleeves, some purple canvas 1940′s platforms, and Molly’s navy blue 1940′s dress with matching bolero – win!

We pressed on, to Flower Child next, which appeared to be mostly furniture on the main level, and had vendor booths with clothing, records, knick-knacks, and other furniture downstairs. There were racks upon racks of polyester and, aside from a few slips, we deduced that the good stuff was already in the hallway at ABW (and we were right!). Nevertheless, an interesting space with some really good furniture pieces on display.

Our last stop before heading back to the hotel was The Cleveland Shop. At the front of the store when we walked in was an empty rack where all the swing era clothing used to be and we had to laugh because we all knew where it went. Still, it was nice to see the location and know where it is, for future reference. There were a couple of items left behind, namely a mint condition 1920′s beaver fur coat that was too small for my shoulders and a pair of silk tap pants that came home with me (my first purchase of the day, if you can believe it).

Side note: We were apparently right across the street from another treasure trove, Chelsea Costumes, and didn’t know it. Next year!

Back at the hotel, we began shopping immediately. The Flower Child vendors grabbed the prime spot at the top of the hallway, where you round the corner to go to the ballroom. These ladies get the most dedicated award, for being there the whole time and for bringing in new clothing and items daily. There were too many good things to name – gorgeous beaded and velvet 1920′s dresses, 40′s cocktail dresses, 30′s tea and house dresses, men’s military, sweaters, ties, hats, fabric, notions, you name it, Flower Child had a piece of it.

Next up in the hallway was Re-mix Vintage Shoes, where many would linger, ponder, and eventually part with their hard-earned cash for a fabulous pair of handmade leather reproduction heels. I didn’t notice any new models this year, but there were a few new colors available in the Emily t-strap and some new metallics in the Anita shoe. So much love for these shoes!

The Cleveland Shop set up almost across from Re-Mix and had a nice variety of clothing for ladies and gents, as well as some accessories and choice footwear. This is where I found my sole dress purchase of the weekend! I heard that The Cleveland Shop did so well at ABW, they are interested in attending the Eastern Balboa Championships this year as a vendor. Cleveland, North Carolina will certainly welcome you with open arms if you bring your vintage goods to our fair state…

Shannon Sheldon’s Bombshell Baubles were back this year, in all their petal and feather glory. Shannon added some new handmade items, like aprons, make-up bags in adorable fabrics, and hair flowers made of fabric and buttons. Of note, there were a lot of blue flowers in the collection, which is a color that is both hard to find and, if you do find it, hard to find in a GOOD blue. I made sure to pick up a blue hair bloom for myself.

My Heinies grabbed a fair chunk of the vendor space to house all the lovely bloomers and Carol Fraser’s army of hot dance shoes. I spotted a number of these fabulous heels making their debut on the dance floor this past weekend. I stocked up on fancy hosiery while I was there and picked up some hair accessories that sparkle! As at ILHC, My Heinies paired up with Model J Vintage to offer a selection of vintage and vintage-inspired clothing.

Finally, Sweet Lorain set up a display case of rare gems (like 1920′s beaded bags and Art Deco jewels) at the end of the hallway, and I briefly saw a rack of clothing nearby, but did not see that they were present the way most of the other vendors were. Hence, the lack of reporting. Don’t worry, Sweet Lorain, I still love you!

And…that’s a wrap! I look forward to next year’s vendors and vintage shopping at ABW!

Molly’s find at Deering Vintage

Green guayabera at Deering Vintage

Bakelite bangles at Deering Vintage

Molly and her lovely dress with matching bolero from Sweet Lorain

Burnout velvet! at Sweet Lorain

The Downton Abbey dress at Sweet Lorain – I’ve already been yelled at today by my local vintage store owner for leaving it in the store after it fit me, lol

Purple 40′s slingbacks at Sweet Lorain

This was the creepiest thing at Sweet Lorain – can you guess what helpful household item it is supposed to be?

Flower Child’s men’s accessories at ABW

A selection of red goodies from Flower Child

Hotttt 1930′s shoes from The Cleveland Shop

David Lee, holding up one of many knit shirts I saw gents walk away with this past weekend from the vintage vendors

A letter sweater, possibly from my alma mater? at The Cleveland Shop

The My Heinies Army

Get your foxy legs at the My Heinies table

Lady Dandy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Another article featured on Yehoodi - enjoy!

In light of recent online discussions about gender roles in Lindy Hop and the recent Amendment/abomination passed this month in my home state, I decided to take up a suggestion made by Sam Carroll that I do a post on women dressing in menswear or dandy garb for dancing. Specifically,

“For my own sake, I’m interested in outfits which cater to the curvy woman’s body, but which are using traditionally ‘male’ items – eg jackets, waistcoats, trousers, hats, cravats, etc. Not women’s clothes, but men’s clothes for women. Or men’s clothes tailored for a woman’s body. Most of the ‘female dandy’ stuff I see about features ridiculously skinny, flat-chested women without hips. That’s not me, I’m not interested in that stuff. But it’s hard to find alternatives.”

I think this is a really cool concept, one that could be practical for dancing socially, traveling, or in performance where a female could be leading and/or want to fit into a particular role in the ensemble.

When Sam posed this question, a few things popped into my head:

- Like vintage clothing for men, the actual vintage options will be limited, but with ladies’ narrower shoulders it could open up more jacket options.

- Accessories are the key. Like many gents I know who dress in vintage or in vintage style, many of the main pieces they wear are regular menswear or reproductions and the accessories, which have usually survived and are more plentiful, take their outfit to the next level. It’s all in the details.

- Finding pants is going to be really hard. As someone who has pretty much given up on finding pants, it could be even harder for me to make a recommendation.

- Like any good dandy, you will need a tailor.

- Women’s clothing retailers offer some dandified options, if you know where to look.

So let’s break this down into the man uniform. Menswear is generally comprised of pants, shirt, jacket and/or vest, socks, shoes, belt or suspenders (but not both). Accessories could be a tie, a cravat, a tie clip, cufflinks, hat, cap, watch, lapel pin, etc. I’ll try to hit on most of these pieces and recommend ideas for sources (because that’s what we’re all about here – where the @#&* do I find it?):

PANTS

Gonna get this one out of the way. Men’s pants are not made for women’s bodies and vice versa, but this doesn’t mean that men and women are made of one shape, or that men’s pants won’t ever fit. One of my favorite pairs of pants in college was a pair of men’s pants and I purchased a tuxedo for myself last year and didn’t have much trouble with the pants (although they cut a wee bit tight across the hips, more so than I am used to feeling). They fit me a hell of a lot better than these skinny jeans that are in style right now (which make me look like a linebacker) and give the illusion and drape of a proper pair of men’s trousers, in spite of the hip area.

My next suggestion is to find men’s pants that fit in the hips and have them tailored to fit your shape. This may not work for all men’s pants, but I believe it’s a viable option. Most nice men’s pants are cut to be tailored and taken in or let out.

Plaid knickers may be adventurous, but this pair of khaki knickers could be the basis for a great lady dandy summer outfit with fantastic socks!

There is always the option to have them made, which is my favorite because they are guaranteed to be made for your shape, in the fabric you like, and can be tailored to look like men’s pants. You can also have more options, like a higher waist to give it a more vintage look. Also, with the higher waist pant, it’s more likely to be a flattering cut for the female figure. I’m thinking specifically about the 13 button sailor pants the U.S. Navy used to issue as part of a uniform – those pants are universally flattering on just about every human I’ve seen wear them.

Finally, in rare instances (so rare that I can’t really point to a consistent source), I have come across wide or straight leg trousers in women’s stores that do sort of have a nod to menswear. The cut will be most important in this case, because womenswear is so squirrely and the cut may not be tailored enough to be truly dandy. Then, there is this sort of hybrid that is golf knickers, which are definitely more traditionally male, but also sporting female, and are made in women’s sizes at golfknickers.com (I would rock the Stewart plaid pair in a hot minute!).

SHIRT

I think most men’s shirts have comparable women’s shirts (tees, polos, button-downs). Sadly, I think a lot of modifications that retailers have made to women’s dress shirts to make them more…girly (?) have not worked out for the best. I am a lawyer IRL, so I deal with a lot of button-down shirts to wear under suits for court. I get miffed when I see that retailers have modified the neckline to show more cleavage – with that silly angle exposing more of the upper chest and removing the buttons so you no longer get to decide where your top button is located. Forget about wearing a neck scarf or a tie with it. And is it too much trouble to put a button across the peak of the bosom, instead of spanning it and causing a gap that must be safety pinned, lest your co-workers catch a glimpse of your bra? But I digress.

The shirt is just the beginning – add high waist trousers, tie or cravat, and a boater

I have found a few good basics for button-down shirts. My favorite is Banana Republic because the fit is usually really good (efficient, professional) and they have nice variations on classic menswear for women, without sacrificing buttons or adding excess cleavage. It’s also one of the few places I’ve found women’s shirts with French cuffs for cufflinks – bliss! They even have a line of non-iron shirts, which is the only kind of shirts my husband will buy, but that I haven’t seen made available that often for comparable women’s shirts. A scan of the BR line shows some great dandy options for summer – long sleeve basics, a safari shirt with rolled up sleeves, and a fantastic long sleeve button-down in blue or pink with contrast white collar and cuffs!

I think it is important to buy shirts made for women, if at all possible. Generally, our shoulders are narrower and we need darts to highlight our feminine shape and streamline our look. Being a dandy is about looking tailored, not frumpy, and I think men’s shirts are just too much of an adjustment in shape when there are options available that do not require alterations or custom-made garments.

I am also not above shopping in the little boy’s section for shirts…which sometimes works out well. :)

JACKET/VEST

Ralph Lauren striped jacket with insignia

Things start to get easier here. I’ve seen more women’s vests in recent history and there are always menswear-inspired jackets available. The key here is to mind your colors and materials – obviously, a pink boucle jacket is going to scream femme, but a linen, stripe, or tweed would be more along the lines of a dandy. I’d also experiment with vintage menswear and men’s vests, as there may be potential for tailoring them to fit, or with vests, cinching them if they are adjustable in the back. Again, the key is tailoring, keeping lines clean, and sticking to menswear basics.

SHOES

This becomes a wee bit more difficult because Dancestore.com isn’t making men’s Aris Allens in smaller sizes anymore – finding menswear-inspired shoes is fairly simple, but finding leather soles is not. This is where the ladies with the larger feet have an advantage. I went through great difficulty to find boy’s size 5 black patent leather oxford ballroom shoes to go with my tuxedo (and the size chart was so off that I had to send them back 3 times for an exchange). That said, there are some boy’s ballroom shoes out there in basic black oxfords.

Rachel Antonoff’s take on the classic loafer, for Bass

While I can’t vouch for the danceability of all the soles (there’s always the option of having things sueded), G. H. Bass has some great shoes right now for women that are a sort of twist on classic men’s shoes. I’m loving the Rachel Antonoff collection, which has things like clear/black patent wingtips, saddles shoes in lots of two tone color combos, and loafers with complimentary plaid panels. The Bass American Classics line for women almost looks like a collection of men’s shoes, with basic colors in loafers (tassled and penny; BONUS: leather sole) and saddle shoes.

SOCKS

This is where the fun starts. You could go with the traditional conception of matching your socks to your trousers, but one of the things I love about our male Lindy Hop counterparts is their fearless socks. So long as it matches your ensemble, feel free to experiment with stripes, argyle, prints, and color. This might be a good place to inject your femininity or sense of humor

Dapper gents on a tie worn by a dapper lady? Hehehe

ACCESSORIES

Belt, suspenders, tie, cravat, tie clip, cufflinks, hat, cap, watch, lapel pin…this is where there are comparable women’s products (belt, watch), or adjustable (suspenders), or we have unisex sizing (hats, caps), or it’s one size fits all (tie, cravat, cufflinks, pins, etc. I’m actually thinking vintage 30′s and 40′s ties might work even better on women because they are shorter than modern ties. This is where you have very few limits – go forth to the men’s section and conquer!

As with creating any look or ensemble, it’s important to do your research – look for inspirational photographs of men and women in menswear, or women in pants from the swing era. Pants were definitely not the norm and I think you will find that women took a lot of inspiration from the men when they embraced pants.

I hope this was helpful in some small way – please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or product recommendations for other burgeoning lady dandies!