Large Holiday Clutch at Target

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I went into Target tonight to get ingredients for chili and, as I strolled by the accessories, I noticed a large sparkly holiday clutch and thought, “Wow, I bet I could fit a pair of dance shoes in there.” So I took one home with me and found out I was right! I’m not a big fan of collecting purses (usually one purse fulfills 99% of my bag lady/lady bag needs) but sometimes I need an upgrade and I find myself with two bags – a shiny, tiny purse that fits some cards and a tube of lipstick and a separate dance shoe bag in some state of disrepair or dirty. THIS purse is the solution.

Even if I decide not to put dance shoes inside, it could carry a full size wallet, phone, toiletries, meds, grocery bags, etc. I usually stuff in my purse, or if you are out in a pair of 4 inch heels for a night on the town, it could carry your emergency flats. Yay, function! Now, if we could just get them to put pockets in more dresses and pairs of pants…

Available in purple, black/silver, silver, and bronze. $18.00 or $22.99.

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Tightsplease

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Fancy legwear has definitely been a trend in the Lindy Hop community for the past few years and it makes sense – we are paying a lot of attention to movement and embellishing that is one way to get someone to look at your legs. I was contacted by the UK legwear retailer, Tightsplease, about reviewing their site and product and I am happy to report that all is well in the UK for quality hosiery.

I tried a pair of the Tightsplease brand’s Jive Stockings, which proved to be highly durable. I didn’t dance in them, but I did brave a Christmas party with a shooting contest, a parade, hot glue gun crafts, small children, and runway walking on a gravel driveway. They’ve made it through the wash on the delicate cycle and are ready to go again. This is saying a lot for these hose because I am the destroyer of all panty hose that are not, essentially, medical grade support hose. I destroyed a different pair last night on the first wear by simply attending a concert and sitting in a chair for 2 hours. Riddle me that.

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I was very excited to see that they carry what they are calling Charleston stockings, which look like the silk stockings of old, but probably aren’t silk, based on the price tag. I am hopeful for the latter because silk stockings tend to get droopy around the ankles mid-way through the night and I’d love for modern technology to have improved on that, but maintain that same rich, silky look. Ella wasn’t kidding when she sang about silk shiny stockings – they are really shiny!

The website also lists the denier for most of the hosiery, which I find extremely helpful as the hosiery Godzilla. If there’s two pairs that look the same, you can be sure I’ll go for the one with the higher denier number.

Here are some of my favorites from this lovely site:

Side bow suspender tights - sassy without the garter belt

Side bow suspender tights – sassy without the garter belt

Chicago tights - more shiny stuff!

Chicago tights – more shiny stuff!

Freakin' gorgeous hold ups with peacock feather detail

Freakin’ gorgeous hold ups with peacock feather detail

80 denier tights in 7 colors - hoping 80 denier means Godzilla-proof...

80 denier tights in 7 colors – hoping 80 denier means Godzilla-proof…

Dogstooth tights

Dogstooth tights

H&M Goes Deco

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’m still trolling the internet for a Lindy Focus New Year’s Eve dress and came across two great dresses for aspiring flappers at H&M’s amazing prices. Choose between this lovely contrast beaded black dress with Art Deco lines ($49.95) or the slightly more edgy black dress with Deco detailing around the neckline ($14.95).

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Discussion on Men’s Swing Dance Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I am often curious about men’s footwear, specifically for Lindy Hop and Balboa. You see everything from sneakers to wingtips, but the options for shoes made specifically for dancing are drastically more limited than women’s options. My friend Matt Mitchell from Austin, Texas posed this question on Facebook: “Looking to retire the Aris Allens. What shoes would you recommend? Nick, David, Jeremy, Mickey, and any other lead?” I’d like to know the answer to this myself!

Pronto Uomo Brown Center-Seam Dress Shoe | Men's Wearhouse

Jon Tigert chimed in first with his endorsement for Pronto Uomo brown leather oxfords, adding that “they are mostly a clothes company, but the shoes hold up great and are super comfortable.” A quick search of the internets revealed very little in the way of offerings for purchase, but if you are looking for tuxedo shoes for this year’s Lindy Focus, their patent leather tuxedo shoes are available at Men’s Wearhouse. A search of eBay shows that there are a lot of these shoes being sold used, which translates into savings for you.

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Nick Williams‘ shoe of choice has been discontinued, Nordstrom brand loafers, but Jeremy Otth posted a link to a pair of loafers from Nordstrom that could fit the bill. Nick says that this particular loafer is different in terms of design, so his search for a new favorite dance shoe continues. David Lee adds that he is wearing the new Nordstrom loafers, which were a little hard on his feet until he bought inserts, and they are now great.

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Andreas Olsson favors these sweet Moreschi Italian loafers, acknowledging that they are pricey, but that they are very comfortable and extremely durable. He’s still wearing the pair he bought in 2006.

In terms of general brand recommendations, Carl Nelson recommends Florsheim because they fit his feet well. Jason Swihart* perfers Allen Edmonds, but adds that “any quality men’s shoes with a flexible, not-too-heavy leather sole (if the heel is rubber, you can have it replaced)” is good. Jeremy says that Stacy Adams shoes are good if you like a thicker sole, but he prefers the Nordstrom loafer so he can “feel the floor.”

Other general tips:

- Buy shoes that fit your feet.
– Shoe trees and leather treatment can help make shoes fit you better.
– Vintage shoes are a viable option, especially if you have narrow feet.
– If you find a pair of shoes you like and they aren’t leather on the bottom or on the heel, you can always find a cobbler and have them soled in leather or suede.

I found this discussion very useful and broadening in terms of knowning what options are available to men. It appears that classic men’s shoe makers/retailers are the most viable options outside of the Aris Allen brand. Thanks to all who participated in this conversation for your feedback and the results of your trials and errors.

* Mr. Swihart appears on the Lindy Shopper blog with the permission of his legal counsel.

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

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.