Candy Cane Dress

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

How adorable is this 1930′s bias cut red and white striped dress? Seriously adorable and festive, lightweight for dancing, bias cut for movement, matching belt and capelet, what more could a girl ask for in a holiday dress? :D

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Korea Balboa Weekend Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Like all great Balboa events, it appears that Korea Balboa Weekend has a dance shoe vendor, Balboa Sin, with the added bonus that you can order these shoes from their event website. I’d love to hear from some of the Korean dancers how they like the shoes. It looks like you can custom order your heel height, which is my favorite customization, since I like my heels in the 2 inch range. I am pretty much in love with all of the offerings on the website, but here are some of my super faves:

Red Mary Janes!

Green suede t-straps *drool*

Love this cheerful blue – similar to Remix’s Emily blue, but in a different style

These glorious t-straps get their own photo spread

What Are You Wearing New Year’s Eve?

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The question at the forefront of my mind today (after a trip to the mall where there is an overabundance of sequins and glitter) is what will I wear on New Year’s Eve at Lindy Focus? Something that twirls, something that sparkles, something like…this Striking Gold dress from ModCloth! But…it’s not available in my size. Still, it’s a good dress, someone should sparkle in it (in red or gold), no? ;) For me – the search continues!

Mint Julep Jazz Band Kickstarter

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

While I have your attention with yesterday’s post, I’ll make a shameless plug for my band, the Mint Julep Jazz Band, and the Kickstarter we are running through December 30 to fund our first CD! We’d love to have you as a backer in exchange for copies of the CD, dance shoe bags, and other fabulous rewards, but the best reason of of all – we make music you can swing out to!

You can get more information about the band in general at our website, or visit Swing DJ Resources for a post about the band, its relationship to the swing dance community, and the Kickstarter campaign.

We would also encourage you to talk to Kate Hedin, David Rehm, Chad Skeeters, Abigail Browning, Chelsea Lee, Breanna Perry, Corey Manke, Shana Worel, and Rob Moreland about why they backed our Kickstarter and ask anyone who attended EBC this year what they thought of the Friday night band. This disc is gonna swing, I promise! :D

Body Odor at Dance Events

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I am sad to report this, but the biggest offense at this year’s Eastern Balboa Championships was body odor. Numerous people made unsolicited comments about the ripe smell of mostly gentlemen, but also some ladies, who were taking classes (with the exception of the Masters class, but by then you have probably mastered many things, including your body odor at dance events).

This can be a very sensitive topic for people, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to be aware of your smell at dances because it can make for an unpleasant experience for others around you and, in turn, can make for an unpleasant night of dancing for you when others react or pretend not to react to your smell.

This all has little to do with shopping, but there are some things you can do, things that you can purchase, and things that you can wear that can make a difference in your odor throughout the night. We are all sweating out there on the dance floor, it’s inevitable that the room we dance in will end up smelling like a locker room when we are done; however, it’s when your personal smell overpowers the general musk of the room that there is a need to address the issue.

It is important to take both preventative and continuing measures to ensure that you remain a viable partner throughout the dance or dance event.

Ask yourself, do I smell?

As soon as I smell something I immediately assume it’s me. I’m the closest person to me, shouldn’t I be able to smell myself? Do an armpit check. DO IT. I have, on occasion, forgotten to wear deodorant. It happens. I always keep deodorant in my purse, so I run to the bathroom and apply/reapply liberally. I also sometimes ask a close friend to tell me if I smell. He/she will be honest about your odor because this is an important question.

This cat is making stink face because he senses your odor from across the dance floor.

Bathe

Yes, showering takes time away from workshops/hanging out/meals/dances/late night, but if you have sweated and are sitting in that sweat for a period of 24 hours at an event, chances are you probably smell a little. It’s natural. This is where you consider that others around you may not want to smell you. If you are at home with your BFF playing video games and eating Cheetos all weekend, you probably don’t have to bathe, but then that friend probably isn’t touching you or getting in your personal space. You are dancing with friends and strangers at an event in very close proximity, especially at Balboa events. Please be considerate, take a moment to check your funk level (sniff or ask a friend), and do try to take a bath at least once per 24 hour period. Even a bird bath can help.

Deodorant is your friend

Please wear deodorant. Reapply if necessary.

Change shirts/clothes

If you have worn the same pair of pants all weekend, that may be the source of the smell. Most dancers who have been doing this for a while know that they will need to bring at least one outfit per day, if not more, and most leads know that they will need several changes of shirts throughout the dance. It’s not just about the dampness, it’s also about the smell. You may also want to consider a bird bath for the armpits (and dry them afterwards) with paper towels in the bathroom between shirt changes to wipe away the bacteria, and/or perhaps check at that point to see if you should reapply deodorant.

Diet

You are what you eat and you may smell like what you ate for dinner – try to eat more fruits and veggies and try to eat less meats and greasy food. Avoid onions and garlic – they can affect your breath and your odor, a double whammy. Also, stay hydrated!

Perfumes

This goes to the other end of the spectrum – the overpowering smells aren’t always body odor, so please be mindful of how potent your perfume is at dance events. Most of the female complaints I heard at EBC were perfume-related. If you are using bath products that smell nice and are using deodorant, this is probably enough smelly goodness that you won’t need a perfume. If you are trying to mask the odor, perhaps it’s time to reapply the deo or take a bath.

Clothing Choices

Wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe, i.e. natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk, wool – yes, wool).

While I am certain this is not a comprehensive list, I am hopeful that it is a start – let’s do try to make an effort to keep our personal odor to a minimal level so that we can all enjoy the dance.

EBC 2012 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Merch upgrade: the Mint Julep Jazz Band was selling logo shoe bags and buttons at EBC and Creations by Crawford decided to take the buttons to the next level – available as a pin or hair flower.

The 9th annual Eastern Balboa Championships was another rousing success, with perhaps even more shenanigans, planned and unplanned, than usual. A highlight of the weekend was dressing in tweeds for the mock English hunt, led by Bobby White, where the tweeded and costumed EBC gentry gave organizer Chris Owens a sporting head start before we unleashed the Nerf guns on him. Perhaps the best part of the weekend for me was performing with my band, the Mint Julep Jazz Band, for the Friday night dance, receiving rave reviews for our performance, and launching a Kickstarter for our first CD. :)

Molly McGowan picked up the wonderful 1940′s dress on the right from Raleigh Vintage, and I had ideas that Adam Speen might like this sweater vest.

The vendors were out again this year, but in spite of not having a shoe vendor, the vendor area certainly looked full. Raleigh Vintage was back with their fabulous trunk show of 1920′s, 1930′s, and 1940′s clothing, as well as a full rack of tweed for some last-minute-pre-hunt shopping. Some of my favorite pieces from the collection are shown below, and I managed to do some Christmas shopping for my husband, as well. My favorite purchase for him was a 1933 World’s Fair tie clip and Raleigh Vintage had a set of three of them, in blue, white, and black. They also had some excellent ladies’ jewelry this time, bakelite, Art Deco necklaces, and clever pins. There was a hilarious pin with maracas and a plaque that said “Hasta Manana” that I loved – but what do you wear with this? I am pondering…

Red beauties from The Cleveland Shop

Following the success of their booth at All Balboa Weekend, The Cleveland Shop made the long journey to North Carolina with an impressive display of vintage dresses, separates, menswear, shoes, hats, and other vintage sundries. I especially appreciate that they brought books on vintage make-up and hair, which can be a chore to figure out without a tutorial. Favorites included the red shoes pictured at left, tons of wonderful rayon floral 30′s and 40′s dresses, and a plaid suit that I would wear loud and proud if I were a dude. I do hope their trip down here was fruitful and that they will return to us next year from the land of vintage with even more goodies.

Last, but certainly not least, Sharon Crawford of Creations by Crawford is the hardest working vendor at these events – most of her creations are custom made for you, during the weekend, and are sometimes being made for a dance that night. Sharon’s vendor table is also a social hub, so you can enjoy the warm, friendly conversation as she creates wonderful pieces made from vintage jewelry, feathers, ribbon, and other tiny pretty things. I’m willing to say that Sharon gets a lot of business from men, as well, and can create the perfect boutonniere to go with any jacket or ensemble.

Don’t miss out on the 10th anniversary party next year, the celebration is going to be huge and full of pranks, I’m sure!

Usually, one of Sharon’s creations begins with a piece of jewelry…

Ms. Crawford and her workstation

One of the books on vintage makeup at The Cleveland Shop’s table

I love the smocking on this dress from The Cleveland Shop

Plaid!

My GAWD the shoes – at Raleigh Vintage

Raleigh Vintage’s table of gentlemanly accoutrements

The jewelry case at Raleigh Vintage’s ladies’ table

This dead stock tie came with a matching pocket square!

Beautiful beading on this 1940′s dress

I do love a Peter Pan collar – at Raleigh Vintage

I REALLY wanted this dress, and it really didn’t have a zipper, snaps, or any way to get into the dress other than over the head – someone smaller than me should come crawl in and enjoy. :)

Another lovely green item, this time for the gents, from Raleigh Vintage.

Dress with matching necklace – how often does that happen? At Raleigh Vintage.

Jitterbuggin Sale Now Through Saturday!

Time to stock up on some fabulous reproduction garments, hand-made in Portland, Oregon by one of our own!

Eastern Balboa Championships 2012

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It’s that time of year again, where it’s time for me to hop in my car and drive 30 minutes to the next town over for one of the best Balboa events in the world, the Eastern Balboa Championships! This year will be particularly busy, with vendor reporting, DJ’ing, and my band, the Mint Julep Jazz Band, is playing the Friday night dance (and launching a Kickstarter for our first CD!) – so many things! All the things! While there is no shoe vendor this year, we will see a return of Raleigh Vintage‘s 1920′s through 1940′s trunk show and rumor is that The Cleveland Shop is coming all the way from, well, Cleveland to set up shop! A little ABW at EBC is always welcome. :) Au revior! See you in a few days.

Cabiria: Vintage Style in Sizes 12-24

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Flaminia dress in a cherry print

I can thank milliner Joei Reed for directing me to this gem – Cabiria‘s tagline is “whimsical, sensual style in sizes 12-24,” but I think the word vintage should be thrown in there because so many of these designs take inspiration from 1940′s and 1950′s styles.

This brand is brand spanking new – according to their website, the line launched on October 22, 2012, with an e-store for presales and wholesale and their lookbook, which is a part of their fundraising through Kickstarter. That’s right, this company is still in its infancy and, with your support, these dresses could make their way to you faster and possibly at retail locations and boutiques if the company’s Kickstarter is successful – it looks like they are really close! Here’s the skinny from the Kickstarter campaign:

“The $8,000 is to pay for grading (sizing up and down) costs for each pattern, factory production fees (higher here in the US than abroad, but so important to keep skilled jobs local), shipping costs, website development, and marketing to let the buyers know about our SS13 line. Part of this is to produce the garments to place in independent plus size and boutiques and online retailers, and part will be to produce additional stock for our own e-store direct to the customer.”

Here’s what I’m loving (available for pre-order) from their Spring/Summer 2013 line – silk blends, cotton blends, prints – YESPLS:

*Note that there are additional fabrics/swatches available for each dress.

Francesca dress in a feather print

Flaminia dress in a tropical print

Anna shirtdress in robin’s egg blue print

Guiseppina dress in a butterfly print

How To Thrift, Part 2

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I have been solicited to write a follow-up post addressing some more specific questions about how I, personally, thrift shop – the questions come from Rebecca Brightly and Matthew Glassman, so thank you for your interest! I will try to address each question individually, so here we go…

Do you make up a game plan?

There are three reasons I would go to a thrift store – two involve a plan and one does not. One would be if I were looking for something specific – in my last trip it was an ivory blouse. In these cases the game plan is easy, go to the rack at the store where the item may be, scan the rack for colors and textures, and move on if the store doesn’t have what you need.

Another reason that I would head to the thrift stores would be if I am looking for pieces of a costume. The game plan here is more nebulous because often the thrifting can become part of the creative process. You may find something that could be altered to make what you need, or something that is similar to what you need but that could jog your creativity into thinking of a better or different way to make what you need. The plan of attack depends on what you are seeking and you may need to visit multiple sections in the store. Also, never eliminate possibilities based on gender or even age. The kids section has serious prop potential.

Finally, I do go to the thrift store for fun from time to time. I usually go when I have a companion, but sometimes I go because I need some retail therapy and I’m low on cash. Sometimes I hear about a friend’s really great find at a certain store and I have to go check it out for myself. On these occasions there is rarely a game plan, I just go and scan the racks for colors and textures I enjoy. I often wander around aimlessly at the beginning of my visit to the store because I’m looking for something to catch my eye. I’m not a digger, which is why it is often better for me to go thrifting with a companion because I can be a lazy shopper.

Where to begin?

How do you cope with feeling overwhelmed?

I do often get overwhelmed in thrift stores because I am a very Type A organized person and seeing racks upon racks of mismatched clothing sends my senses into overload. The sales people usually can’t keep up with the inventory, so asking them for help is an act of futility. My saving grace is when they organize the clothing by color because I immediately head to the green section. If there is no color-code, I seek my comfort zones – housewares and shoes. Both of these sections, by their very nature, do not fit into tight racks where each individual item is rightnexttoeachother. There’s some clarity and some room for the items to breathe in these two sections. If I am hesitant about digging, I know I can go to these sections and see everything without having to touch anything (usually, unless there are boxes to dig through). Once I have made friends with one or both of these sections, I start to feel more comfortable in my surroundings and have usually been in the store long enough to have something else catch my eye, or I’ll think of something I’d like to look for once my brain has calmed from the overload, or I go seek out my companion and see what he/she has found, then go from there. I have gone into thrift stores that are just so full of junk that it’s not worth it to dig. It’s better to leave at that point.

Do you give yourself a time limit?

If I am in a local thrift store I usually do not give myself a time limit. If I am traveling, there is usually a time limit and a certain number of stores on the agenda, so time must be used more wisely.

Do you bail if you’re not finding anything after a certain time?

Yes! I am a lazy and impatient shopper, so if I am not finding things that catch my eye I will leave.

Do you wander?

I am definitely a wanderer. I’d like to say I was more diligent and would start at one rack and work my way through the store, but that seems to require so much effort. I admire these people – my mother is one of these people. I will wander through a thrift store 3 or 4 times sometimes before I will touch anything. I like to take everything in before I commit to an area. I also find that in taking multiple looks at an area of a store you will see things on the 2nd and 3rd go around that you missed on the first.

You can never have too many kitchen clocks.

What specific kinds of items do you look for?

Sometimes the aforementioned costumes or a specific item, but if I am just going for fun I tend to look for vintage, shoes, kitchen items, and work-appropriate clothing. Vintage can be a long shot in thrift stores, but I have found some great vintage coats on the rack. Shoes can be hit or miss, but I’ve found some great 1970′s Nike tennis shoes for my everyday wardrobe, tap shoes when I needed those for a class, and clearly found some awesome turquoise glitter dance heels in my last run. Some stores I know even get unused shoes – a local thrift store here got some great low heeled character shoes in gold and silver that were fantastic (but not in my size). I have lots of yellow 1950′s kitchen paraphernalia in my kitchen, so I am always on the lookout to add to my collection of yellow accoutrements. Work appropriate clothing can be had, occasionally, and I find that these items are better cared-for than a lot of the other clothes in the store. Oh, and vinyl – if there are records, I’m going through the stack.

How much do you compromise on fit, color, and quality?

I always try to find things in the best possible condition, but the cheaper the item is, the more willing I am to try to salvage it. I’m pretty picky on fit and quality – if I can’t fix it myself based on my sewing skills and a bottle of Shout, I will probably leave it. I’m a little more flexible on color. If it’s not a color I usually wear, I may decide that the price is worth the risk and, in this way, I am pushing my own boundaries, which can be a good thing. If it works out, I have done well – if it fails, I didn’t break the bank.

How much you should spend on a second-hand item (and what is too much)?

I assess things similarly to the way I do vintage clothing, only my maximum price is probably $20 instead of $200. Unless it’s Prada or some other quality brand, or an actual vintage item, I try to keep things as inexpensive as possible. A safe average cost per item is $5.00 – some things will be more, some will be less, and this may vary depending on your location or the type of thrift store.

Men’s Wingtip Tennis Shoes at Aldo

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

On those rare occasions that I set foot in our local mall, I sometimes see things that catch my eye, like these wingtip and tweed tennis shoes in the Aldo window display. For those who may be hesitant to give up their sueded sneaks for a pair of hard soled shoes, perhaps these could be a dressier alternative? $70.00, available in black and brown.

My Heinies Fire Sale

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This just in from Facebook, via the My Heinies page: “Time to empty out old inventory and prepare for new inventory for next year! EVERYTHING IS MARKED 50% OFF! Sizes, styles and colors are limited! If the price is $0.00, then we are out of that item!!!! Get them while supplies last!”

Go to www.myheinies.com to stock up on some new bloomers!

How To Thrift

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The loot from my thrifting expedition with Bill – plaid skirt with bias side panels, Stewart plaid wool tie, brown dress belt, belt back jacket, and turquoise glitter dance shoes, all of this for $10.50. My cat Guinevere approves.

On Saturday I embarked on a thrifting expedition with swing DJ Bill Speidel – anyone who is Facebook friends with Bill will have noticed that over the past few months Bill has been racking up some serious finds at various Virginia thrift stores, including English tweed jackets, designer ties, and a giant box full of Trafalgar braces. I know I’m not the only one salivating over his finds and Bill was generous enough to take me around to his Hampton Roads haunts.

This reminded me of my childhood shopping trips with my mom, many of which involved thrift stores and consignment shops – The Snob in Winston-Salem, the Salvation Army in Greenville, and Second Fling in Goldsboro, NC come to mind. Mom was diligent and found some great things over the years, like two Yohji Yamamoto suits and a pair of signature Ferragamo heels, things she would not have been able to afford off the rack, but could use second-hand (and sometimes never worn, with the tags still on – she is the master of finding things with the tags still on). She definitely taught me some good lessons about how to find good shops, how to assess the items in the shops, and how much you should spend on a second-hand item (and what is too much).

A lonely Brooks Brothers suit in a Norfolk thrift store

In my opinion, thrifting can be even more fruitful for guys, simply because menswear hasn’t changed a lot over the past century. For example, it is very easy for me to tell which women’s suits were made in the 1980′s (screaming electric color giant button trim shoulder padded mess), but it’s not as easy with menswear at first glance. Much of the dress clothing that ends up in thrift stores is still in great or very wearable condition, as most men do not have to wear a suit every day – these were special occasion or church clothing for most people, so your odds of finding items in good condition are high. Bill found two Brooks Brothers suits on our trip, that were still there from one of his previous trips – $40 would get some lucky gent a mint condition Brooks Brothers suit, they just have to go to Norfolk and get it.

Also, you can get really nice things for minimal investment, so if you happen to rip something dancing or continuously sweat through it, the possibility that it may be ruined hurts a little less at the bank.

Here are a few tips I like to keep in mind about thrifting more effectively:

GO EARLY

Like yard sales on Saturday morning, the earliest bird gets all the good worms. It may also be that instead of earlier in the day you should go earlier in the week – find out what day(s) they put out new inventory and be there on that day.

GO OFTEN

If you are serious about getting some really good pieces you can’t just go once a year and expect your wardrobe to materialize. Often may be variable, depending on the quality of the store and the turnover rate of items in the store, but it could be once a week, once a month, or once a season, depending on your needs or your commitment to thrifty shopping.

CHECK LABELS

I’m not usually one for brand labels when I am purchasing new clothes, but they can come in handy in the thrift store when you are gauging the quality and durability of a garment. It’s also important to check the other tags, such as the material and cleaning instructions. Sometimes the garment will have a country of origin tag, which is especially nice if you come across a nice tweed and find out that it was, in fact, made in England.

CHECK FOR FLAWS

Like vintage clothing, these garments were pre-owned and may have stains, rips, holes, or other flaws. It’s important to give a garment the once-over in the store to determine if they exist, the extent, and if the issues are repairable.

DON’T EXPECT A COMPLETE OUTFIT

This kind of shopping is piecemeal – you may find one wardrobe item you love and nothing to go with it. If you can’t think of anything you have to match it or aren’t compelled to build an outfit around it, then it might be best to resist the impulse buy, even if it only costs $5.00.

LOOK FOR ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTS

Even the thrift stores have sales and there may be certain days of the week or month where everything is marked down even further. Some stores mark items down based on how long an item has been in the store. It’s good to know the store’s policies on their sales and, if it’s a certain day of the week, refer to my comments about getting there early…

DON’T GET OVERWHELMED

Some stores are so big or so crowded with what appears to be a bunch of junk that it can be truly overwhelming, especially for someone who is a lazy shopper like me (I usually go up and ask the store clerks if they have what I am looking for – this is generally not effective in thrift stores). If the store groups by color, that’s half the battle, just go to your favorite colors. If it’s a jumble, scan for colors and texture you love – you don’t have to pull every garment through the rack to see if it works.

Happy thrifting!

Remix Deco in Multiple Sizes on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Someone is selling their inventory of Remix Vintage Shoes Deco model of shoe on eBay, multiple colors, multiple sizes – is it too good to be true? The price is about $50 less than you’d pay regularly (once you factor in shipping) and every little bit helps. I’ve messaged the seller to see how we choose the color or know what colors in the sizes listed are in stock, but haven’t heard back from her – will post an update here when I do!

Leluxe Nouveau Tabard on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Because it’s never too early to start shopping for Halloween, New Year’s Eve, or a Gatsby-themed event, this Leluxe Clothing Nouveau Tabard on eBay is just begging to be picked up by some smart flapper – with the bidding only at $75.00, this $329.99 dress (YES you read that right, three hundred twenty-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents) is a crazy steal! Fits a wide range of sizes, those beads just seem to hug in all the right places. Auction ends October 5!