Tag Archives: dancing

Pedag Heel Grips

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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A few months ago, I started looking for a solution to the blisters I get from shoes when I dance – not every shoe, but some of my faves that I didn’t want to get rid of because I would start the night just fine, then end the night with blisters without even realizing it until I took my shoes off. I have a bit of a narrow heel, so it tends to slide out of shoes. I’ve also been buying more European shoes lately, and the are not always offered in half sizes (37.5 here), so I end up with a slightly larger shoe to make sure it fits (38). However I looked at it – slightly larger shoes, stretched over the course of a dance, or rubbing blisters for whatever reason – I had a problem.

After some digging online, I came across the Pedag heel grips on Amazon.com – stick-on suede leather heel grips with a padded ridge to grip your heel. The number of reviews numbered over 200 and were overwhelmingly positive and detailed. I would recommend reading the reviews to see if your particular foot and/or shoe might benefit – I have Haglund’s deformity and the more I read, the more I realized that this was the product that would keep those shoes from rubbing once and for all.

And, thankfully, I was right – it doesn’t work for every problem shoe, but it has worked for all the dance shoes I have tried and a few pairs of non-dancing pumps. It provided just the right amount of space-filler to prevent the friction and I can control the placement to avoid or assist my Haglund’s bump. The suede works well as a gripping material and I have not had trouble with the adhesive not sticking to the shoes. No more blisters, yay!

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Military Uniform Shirt Stays

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

One of the most annoying things about wearing shirts tucked in while we dance is that they tend to come untucked while we dance (one of the main reasons you will see me in dresses v. pants/skirts). One solution is to wear things untucked, but not every shirt was meant to be worn untucked and sometimes we want to look a little more polished. Aside from tucking things into your underwear (which isn’t foolproof), what other options do we have to keep our shirts tucked in?

For example...

For example…

I was scanning my Facebook news feed a few weeks ago and noticed that Philadelphia dancer and instructor Sascha Newberg had posted about military shirt stays as a possible solution. If you are not familiar with stays, they are elastic bands that attach on one end to your shirt tail and on the other end to your pants. They serve the dual purpose of keeping your shirt tucked in and your socks pulled up. If you are going for military precision, some sloppy shirts and droopy socks aren’t going to cut it.

I remember seeing these for the first time when my friend Joanna went to the U.S. Naval Academy. I commented on how impeccable she looked in her white uniform, how everything was just so, and she pulled up her pants leg to show me the stays. She said they took a little getting used to, that certain “spring” in her step, but after a while they just became part of the uniform.

What say ye? Shall we add a spring to our Lindy Hop steps? In the name of keeping shirts tucked in!

What’s Old is New: Groovie Movie

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I’ve been meaning to seek out the items for this post for a couple of years and Memorial Day seems like a good time to share – following my last What’s Old is New featuring outfits from A Day at the Races, I’d like to look at some of the costuming choices in Groovie Movie and note where you may find similar items in modern times to hone your 1940′s-inspired dance pieces. As this was a film made during World War II and the film features some the male dancers at the end wearing military uniforms, this appears to an excellent film to highlight, in the spirit of Memorial Day. Jitterbugs, veterans, and those who served our nation with honor – we salute you!

I’m going to focus on some of the followers’ outfits at the end of the film because some of the earlier outfits were more…to prove a point or to further the narrative. :) For military garb, that’s a bit of a can of worms. Visit your local army/navy surplus for inspiration, talk to your grandpa, or delve into the potentially very expensive (and very specific) hobby of collecting vintage uniforms.

Onward, ladies!

Jitterbuggin has a great jumper/pinafore that's similar to the one Irene Thomas is wearing in the clip.

Jitterbuggin has a great jumper/pinafore that’s similar to the one Irene Thomas is wearing in the clip.

A jumper similar to the one worn by Kay Vaughn (Smith) in the clip, courtesy of Time Machine Vintage on Etsy - adorbs!

A jumper similar to the one worn by Kay Vaughn (Smith) in the clip, courtesy of Time Machine Vintage on Etsy – adorbs!

Jitterbuggin has Irene's number - this blouse style is so close.  The cat print is great, but you could probably convince Kim to make you a white one to complete your Groovie Movie look. :)

Jitterbuggin has Irene’s number – this blouse style is so close. The cat print is great, but you could probably convince Kim to make you a white one to complete your Groovie Movie look. :)

And it looks like Time Machine Vintage has Kay's number - Kay's shirt is a little harder to discern, but it looks like a button-down with some sort of tie at the neck.  Request in white sans lace for your Groovie Movie homage.

And it looks like Time Machine Vintage has Kay’s number – Kay’s shirt is a little harder to discern, but it looks like a button-down with some sort of tie at the neck. Request in white sans lace for your Groovie Movie homage.

This bow looks like it's about the right size. :)  Courtesy of Whispy Love on Etsy.

This bow looks like it’s about the right size. :) Courtesy of Whispy Love on Etsy.

Jean Veloz's fitted V-neck shirt with ruching on the front is the most difficult - I still can't find a good reproduction, or even a pattern I feel comfortable identifying as "close."  In terms of closeness, this pattern is about as close as I could get.  Find a seamstress friend or Etsy seller for hire and get to work.

Jean Veloz’s fitted V-neck shirt with ruching on the front is the most difficult – I still can’t find a good reproduction, or even a pattern I feel comfortable identifying as “close.” In terms of closeness, this pattern is about as close as I could get. Find a seamstress friend or Etsy seller for hire and get to work.

I've looked at the blurry image of Jean's brooch on her blouse long enough that I'm fairly certain it's a flower (though witch on a broomstick was a close second) - search eBay for "1940 flower brooch" and the options are plentiful!

I’ve looked at the blurry image of Jean’s brooch on her blouse long enough that I’m fairly certain it’s a flower (though witch on a broomstick was a close second) – search eBay for “1940 flower brooch” and the options are plentiful!

Trashy Diva's gathered mini skirt looks like the junior version of their high waisted 1940's skirt - perfect for the Groovie Movie look, as Jean's skirt was definitely above the knee.  Available in teal, purple, green, red, and black

Trashy Diva’s gathered mini skirt looks like the junior version of their high waisted 1940′s skirt – perfect for the Groovie Movie look, as Jean’s skirt was definitely above the knee. Available in teal, purple, green, red, and black

Wedges for everyone!  Get yours before Dancestore.com discontinues them - available in the sale section, in black and brown.

Wedges for everyone! Get yours before Dancestore.com discontinues them – available in the sale section, in black and brown.

I couldn't find ankle tie wedges, so these ankle straps will have to do - from Cruisin Australia.

I couldn’t find ankle tie wedges, so these ankle straps will have to do – from Cruisin Australia.

Thinx: Smart Underwear

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I often write about undergarment options for coverage when we wear skirts, but what about what we wear under our bloomers or our pants? What about the material? What about all that gross sweating we do? Where dudes bring multiple shirts to a dance weekend, I bring multiple pairs of underwear because there’s nothing worse that sitting around or dancing in a puddle of your own sweat (along those lines, there’s nothing better than putting on a fresh pair of underwear after you’ve danced, especially between a main dance and late night – file that under my body odor commentary).

Cotton breathes, but it also soaks everything up. Synthetics can be icky in terms of odor and I usually don’t like they way the feel against my skin. Can we get some technology in here to engineer us some undies?

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Montreal dancer Alisha Ruiss sent me a link to this great Indiegogo campaign for Thinx: Change Your Underwear, “where technology and fashion intersect to solve a global problem.” How is this underwear smart? You can check out the diagram to the right, and then listen when I tell you that it

1) Is leak/stain-resistant, anti-microbial, moisture-wicking and lasts for several years

2) Acts as back-up to traditional methods of leakage prevention during your period (but will not replace these during heavier days – they are working on creating this style next!)

3) Completely replaces liners on light days

Thank you for the different coverage options!

Thank you for the different coverage options!

Whaaaaaa?! So this is obviously super practical in real life, and in your dance life having that bit of extra protection there for potential leakage (because we move around a lot, just like athletes, and we sometimes lose track of time…) or just sweat absorption could make the world of difference in your comfort at a dance, on any day of the year.

They had a previously successful Kickstarter campaign, but due to the nature of Kickstarter they were not able to raise money for a cause, which is the intersection of this project.

From the Indiegogo page:

For more information on AFRIpads, visit afripads.com

For more information on AFRIpads, visit afripads.com

“Beyond our own desire for the smartest underwear for our drawer, we found out that there was an even bigger problem for girls and women in the developing world.

Girls in the developing world are missing up to a week of school per month and using unimaginable things to manage their monthly cycle like twigs, leaves, newspaper, plastic bags or dirty rags. In Africa alone, 67 million girls have dropped out entirely which overwhelmingly leads to early marriage, pregnancy and a greater difficulty in raising themselves out of poverty.

THINX is part of the solution. For every pair of THINX you buy, you help fund the production of a 7-pad washable kit for a woman or girl in the developing world via our partnership with AFRIpads. This kit helps create local jobs and empower the economy while also helping keep girls in school during that time of the month.”

Can you imagine what these girls have to give up? I know I can’t – and I’ll remember this every time I take my ability to leave the house during my period for granted.

I am excited that smarter solutions are being developed, with women all over the world in mind. Looking forward to seeing more from this company.

Johnston & Murphey Holbrook Linen Cap Toe

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

BEHOLD! I give you this glorious new shoe from Johnston & Murphey – the Holbrook Linen Cap Toe! I can’t think of many other shoes more worthy of a linen or seersucker suit. Gents, this is one snappy shoe.

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Assaulted by Breasts

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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As the trombone player stared into the distance, waiting for the next set to begin on New Year’s Eve at Lindy Focus XI, the trumpet player next to him prodded “Are you looking at what I’m looking at?” The trombone player followed the trumpet player’s gaze to the row of dancers lining the front of the stage and saw a girl who had come out of her dress on the top, exposing most or all of a breast.

While some guys would be delighted at this sight, and agree that this is awesome, in actuality it becomes an issue because something very private has become very public. And when something very private has a very public reaction that could be detected, that brings out even more issues. Yes, guys, I know you want to see attractive women at dances; however, the consensus has generally been that most guys don’t want to be a horn dog at dances, distracted by so much cleavage or full boobage that it becomes ogling and/or pushes them into creepy territory. Generally, guys who want to respect boundaries are going to be uncomfortable being pulled between instinct and decorum and are probably just less likely to dance with a potential wardrobe malfunction.

When the girls are in full display, or perhaps spilling out of one’s top or dress, the movement of Lindy Hop could turn pulse into a full trampoline bounce. I have seen this and been intimidated by watching someone dance like this. It is at that point that the dance becomes something else entirely for those within view – bystanders find themselves watching a car falling off the precipice of a cliff rather than watching an enjoyable aesthetic. It’s the apprehension that makes it so distracting for me – consider that the scope of the apprehension can go further than your dance partner.

For Lindy Focus, this was probably more of an issue on New Year’s Eve (as retailers notoriously only offer sparkle in cleavage-friendly shapes), but I did notice other things throughout the event, like sheer shirts over darkly contrasting bras (camisole, anyone?) and ill-fitting strapless dresses that looked as though the top were Hoover Dam about to burst from a flood of chest. Much of this goes back to buying clothes that fit you well (but not tightly – there is a distinction), but also shapes and necklines that are complimentary to your shape. If you have a smaller chest, you can get away with showing more skin – this is an inversely proportional relationship. Likewise, the larger your chest is, the less skin you can get away with showing, because there is more of it. I am all for cleavage, but proportion, fit, and security are certainly factors to consider.

Another consideration, for the burgeoning nudists among us, were the children present at Lindy Focus. I almost tripped over sleeping children near the stage on a couple of nights, but there were also children running around at the main dances. Let’s try not to scar these kids for life.

The trombone player in the story is my husband and I really don’t want to come home and hear stories like this. Thus, when you are dressing yourself for an event, consider the fit of your clothing, the risk of certain necklines, the athleticism of swing dancing in general, and the proportionate amount of cleavage that will be attractive without becoming a nuisance to you or to others.

EDITED: To add that this post has sparked an extensive discussion in our online Lindy Hop community – Dogpossum sets forth a timeline of the discussion (relevant blog responses and social media) mid-way through her blog post, if you’d like to follow and/or join the ensuing discussion as of February 8, 2013.

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!

Book Review: The Beginner Dancer’s Survival Guide by Rebecca Brightly

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

My friend Rebecca Brightly, formerly of Durham, now of Seattle, has written a book – The Beginner Dancer’s Survival Guide – incorporating essays from her popular Dance World Takeover blog and some new material to finish her thoughts on helping new dancers navigate their fears, community norms, and just about anything an experienced dancer may have forgotten or takes for granted. If I can, I like to dig into what I am writing about, and Rebecca was kind enough to send me an advance copy of her new book so I could read for myself.

A scan of the table of contents shows a broad range of topics, from what to do at your first lesson to a bit of Lindy Hop history for those who may not know the name Frankie Manning.

I found myself reading this and taking a trip down memory lane – all those times in the early years when I threw myself into a dip and I saw the fear in my lead’s bulging eyes as he braced himself for potential ground impact (Rebecca says: NEVER throw yourself into a dip). There are also some topics Rebecca discusses that I wished the more advanced dancers would also take up, like respecting the venue by cleaning up your mess (cups, kleenex, *AHEM*). There are other things that may never change that Rebecca covers in her book, like getting everyone to clap after every song the band plays in a night. Still, these things should be said; with the Survival Guide, perhaps Rebecca can guide a new generation of dancers through the maze of social norms so that they come out polished and relatively unscathed.

I appreciate the format of the book, the questions, the lists, and the recaps. When you are digesting a new topic it’s good to go over the main points what have been discussed. The only other book I have read in a similar format is a book on domestic violence (for work) and I still remember the main points outlined at the end of each chapter, which is so helpful when meeting with a potential client who may be in a DV situation. Thus, this format is particularly helpful when you need to think on your feet, be it at work or at a dance, to remind yourself of all the helpful material you just read. I imagine a mini-cartoon Rebecca sitting on my shoulder at a dance, reminding me to throw my cup away at the end of the night. Thanks, Rebecca!

Some of the absolutes listed in the book are the product of a seasoned dancer who knows the norms and opinions of the upper-level dancers. Does this mean that you should take everything said in the Survival Guide at face value? Perhaps not, but I believe Rebecca uses strong language to get her point across concerning her preferences. For example, to never do the pretzel – the pretzel is a pain in the butt, should probably not be a move that newer dancers should aspire to execute, but who knows when the pretzel renaissance may occur? I shudder to think, but stranger things have happened. Keep an open mind, embrace Rebecca’s sense of humor, and perhaps you may never have to learn what the pretzel is or how to maneuver it.

Rebecca also digs in the to the psychological aspects of newness to dancing, which I think is so important. If you don’t have a mentor, let Rebecca be your personal cheerleader – you can do it!

I won’t reveal anything else about the Survival Guide because you should check it out on your own. While this book is targeted at newer dancers, I think some not-so-new dancers could benefit from reading it as well. Or perhaps you know someone new in your community who is just getting started, but may have some trepidation about this whole dancing thing? This book could be a great gift, one that could make a difference.

You can purchase your own copy of Rebecca’s book on at Dance World Takeover for $6.95. If this is something you plan on sharing, Rebecca is offering a “Giver’s Edition” for $19.95, which allows you to share it with up to 10 people.

Cutouts, Insets, and Embroidery

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This is such a hot little 1940′s dress and manages, at the same time, to be really beautiful – the shape and the black satin make it foxy, while the amazing floral cutouts with pink insets soften the look, tied together by tone on tone embroidery. Delicious! Auction ends tomorrow, someone snap this beauty up!

Trashy Diva: Mad for Plaid

Pontchartrain Beach Set – giant pockets and flower buttons FTW

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I felt compelled to update you on the latest offerings from Trashy Diva, per my usual obsession, but also because my Scottish ancestry won’t let me ignore a good plaid dress. These plaids are bright and cheerful, in playful 1950′s silhouettes. I am particularly fond of the two piece beach set – if you are going to show your midriff, this is the way to do it, without the possibility of your underpants/thong creeping into the picture. Enjoy!

Annette Dress in red, black, and white plaid; also available in pink, purple and white plaid and in pink, white, and turquoise plaid.

Streetcar Dress in brown plaid – also available in the black, white, and red plaid.

Crimson Gardenia

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I am always so happy when one of our own embarks on a business venture that is an outgrowth of the love of Lindy Hop and vintage culture. Australian dancer Denise Cox has just launched an online store selling 1930′s, 40′s, and 50′s-inspired clothing called Crimson Gardenia, with distribution in Australia for the moment, and plans of expanding to other corners of the globe and possibly a brick-and-mortar store. I met Denise two years ago at the Balboa Experiment, who traveled with a contingent of well-dressed Aussies, and I have been delighted to follow her process of getting this business off the ground via Facebook. I believe I participated in a survey at some point (market research!) and it is so exciting to see the final product launch!

The Grable Top – I need this top in every color for work, for dancing, for everything…

It looks like Denise is off to a fine start, with some great coats, tops, and that awesome Retrolite jewelry from Classic Hardware. Definitely keep your eye on this website – Denise blogs about the creation of her business and an amazing government program that helped her realize her dream on her Crimson Gardenia blog and it’s a great story! I wonder if we have comparable programs like this in the U.S….? My hat’s off to you, Denise, keep me posted on your endeavors!

Snakeskin Oxfords

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Ever since my grandmother told me about dancing a hole through the sole of her red snakeskin pumps in one night of dancing during WWII, I have been pining for a pair of my own. While these are neither pumps nor red in color, this pair of snakeskin (or “python” as the seller lists) 1930′s oxfords is a pretty awesome curiosity (although, with the slight platform, would you place them as 1940′s?). The condition is remarkable and so is the pattern and the way the pattern is placed on the shoe.

I also love hearing about companies that are still in business from the swing era, with this pair originating overseas:

“This is an extraordinary find – a pair of vintage 1930s real python skin shoes, made by the famous bespoke Hong Kong shoemakers Kow Hoo. The company opened in Shanghai in 1928, and moved to Hong Kong in 1946. They still make bespoke, handmade shoes today – the last firm to do so in Hong Kong: www.kowhoo.com/hk

Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

You can thank Dandy Wellington for the tip on this book, “Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion,” a sort of in-depth primer on dressing for men. I think this topic is not discussed as often as say…sports or hunting, but it is, nevertheless, an important aspect of manhood – would James Bond be as awesome in jeans and a tee shirt? Maybe, but then he wouldn’t be James Bond.

As I do not have a copy of this primer, I will rely on some other reviews to give you an idea of the contents of this book:

“Part tutorial, part celebratory, GENTLEMAN covers all men’s fashion issues, literally from head to toe. From styles of underwear and the joy of custom-made suits to stuff I don’t even think about much less own like umbrellaas and handkerchiefs, the book schools you on all you need to know about becoming a sharp-dressed man.” – Rod Lott

“If a 360-page guidebook to pajamas (Page 334), English suits (92-101) and walking canes (260) is not your idea of beach reading, stop right here. But if men’s-wear minutiae tickle your fancy — the anatomy of a waxed-cotton hunting coat, anyone? — slip the new, second edition of Bernhard Roetzel’s “Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion” into your valise (251). The illustrated volume teaches you everything necessary to fashion yourself into a bona fide fop, from your made-to-measure underwear (42) to your Falcon pipe (239).” – Jonathan S. Paul

“This book is very classic, from the cover, to the photos, to the sections on bowlers and top hats. If you want to know the proper ways to wear certain clothing, where to wear it, and the history of why its worn that way, then Gentleman is the book for you. Written with a focus on the English Gentleman this book is a sort of staple or all-inclusive guide that will last you a lifetime.” – The Urban Gentleman

This book is also Dandy Wellington approved – it all sounds good to me!

Tap Pants and Pettipants

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’m always on the lookout for dancing undergarment solutions. Like the effect of My Heinies, it’s always nice to see a bit of color under a twirly skirt (and that things are covered), and it’s also nice to see a bit of a slip, or in the case of my new acquisition, a little satin and/or lace with full coverage.

I picked up a pair of 1930′s tap pants at All Balboa Weekend and am in heaven. They just don’t make the lace like they used to and the overall effect with the high waist, comfortable leg opening, and the peach silk and lace combo is very elegant. I could wear them under just about any dress, but where I found them particularly useful was under very short dresses, like those that you may pick up from Forever 21 that are just at mid-thigh (or higher, if your legs are longer than mine). I have had trouble with slips and short dresses because, at some point, the dresses are just so short that the slip becomes a liability, either sticking out the bottom when you are standing or peeking out when you sit down. I couldn’t go without because any good Southern girl wouldn’t be seen in a dress that showed the outline of her legs and getting a shorter slip would be an exercise in futility. The tap pants worked like a champ. Where I generally despise shorts because they ride up when I sit down, the tap pants rode up enough to not stick out from under the dress when I sat down and were still comfortable because of the silk. There’s all this going for the tap pants, plus the twirl factor will be lovely!

I started seeking out other forms of tap pants and there are also pettipants, although pettipants may also refer to longer versions of the slip pant. I found the Wikipedia entry on pettipants quite amusing:

“When pettipants were fashionable, they were usually worn under skirts, dresses, culottes, or walking shorts for modesty or comfort. However, they are not considered a modern or popular style; currently they are most likely to be worn by square dancers or persons involved in historical reenactment. Unlike other types of underwear, pettipants will not ride up and eliminate hot-weather chafing.”

Well, then. Like the petticoat’s evolution into the slip, the pettipants have also evolved (although the square dancer and reenactment versions still exist). When you search for pettipants online, something akin to the 1930′s tap pants appears in the search results. The modern tap pants I found are a bit scantier, but there are some potential candidates for dancewear. Here’s what I’m thinking may work:

Pettipants on eBay, available in multiple sizes and basic colors – white, tan, ivory, black

More low rise, but check out the lovely lace detail. Available in blue, tan, pink, and off white.

1930′s tap pants with scallop detail

From the 1940′s, another peachy pair, with slits in the front – for high kicks?

Dead stock, vintage – on a model, so you can see about where they would fall when wearing them

This pair from the 60′s is crazy, but the bows! I could see someone creative pulling them off.

A little pink pair of pettipants

Scallops are adorable!

A bit pricier, but quite fab!

A plainer option, if lace isn’t your bag

The bargain pair on Amazon, $6 – available in white, black, tan, and sand

I do love a button detail – this pair is from What Katie Did

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…