Tag Archives: swing dance

Rago Style 919 – Bloomer Brief with a Little Lace

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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In the never-ending quest for full coverage swing dance undergarments and bloomers, I have come across many athletic options and, for a short time, we had some fun My Heinies, but for the most part finding something feminine in the undergarment department that would meet the athletic requirements of the dance limited my options to tap pants. ModCloth, in the infinite wisdom of its buyers, unearthed what they call the “Properly Layered Undies,” which is Rago Style 919 – a full coverage brief in a sateen finish with just a touch of lace at the top of the leg. Just the RIGHT about of lace in the right place. Order from ModCloth (which has been sold out twice and restocked twice since I started watching these) or from another Rago distributor – don’t be scared of the intense looking shapewear on the Rago site, these undies just have enough shape to hold everything in place, no more than that, no miracles, just a solid pair of full coverage undies. Available in white, black, beige, pink, mocha black, or red.

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Swing Dancers Sew-along

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Los Angeles swing dancer, instructor, and blogger Beth Grover, who also happens to be an expert sewer and pattern maker, posed this question on Facebook this week: “How many dancers would be interested in a Facebook sew-along group?” She went on to clarify that it would be a place to share and encourage, and work on a quarterly sewing project, then share the fruits of your labor with the group. The overwhelming response was yes, so Beth proceeded to create the Swing Dancers Sew-along Facebook group.

Like several of the others who chimed in, I definitely need motivation to complete sewing tasks. Most of mine are mending-related (the story of vintage clothing ownership + swing dancing), but I do have one sewing project that has been sitting on my desk for 6 months. I’m sure as I watch other people’s sewing projects unfold it will make me want to get my butt in gear.

Beth set the first quarterly project, Summer 2014 Sew-along, to be completed by September 5, just in time to have something new for Camp Hollywood. Even if you don’t pick something to make, perhaps you’ll be inspired by what you see and join in on a different quarterly challenge. Already people have posted patterns they picked up at a Butterick pattern sale, soliciting advice on cute dress patterns, and seeking guidance on how to finish a circle skirt. You don’t have to go it alone – join us!

SwingGene’s Folding Hand Fans

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Novel use of duck tape - also available in fabric options

Novel use of duck tape – also available in fabric options

“Keeping cool even when your swingouts are on fire” is the motto of SwingGene’s Folding Hand Fans, the brainchild of Albuquerque dancer Amber Templeton, who came up with her own fan design after watching the slow demise of a hinged fan over the course of three larger swing dance events. Your average fan was not made to withstand being thrown into a dance bag, possibly kicked/shuffled/stepped on at a dance, shaken vigorously and then perhaps tossed hastily aside as someone asks you to dance, then maybe living in your dance bag, which may then live in your hot car with your stinky dance shoes…you get the idea. Really beautiful fans tend to be fragile and the robust lifestyle of a Lindy Hopper calls for something more.

Amber uses fabric or duck tape as the main material for the fan, with a more traditional wooden structure to make it collapsible. This is a pretty novel use of duck tape, in my opinion, and I’ve seen some pretty sweet colors and pattern available for options. Fabric offers nearly endless options – from the Etsy site: “I have some ambitious goals for the future on how to really customize, embellish, and trick out the fans. For now though I just really want to make each customer the perfect custom fan. There are so many cool designs and patterns I feel like everyone should have the fan that they dream about.”

So what you see is just a sample – feel free to contact Amber for your custom, durable swing dance fan!

It's like she understands us...

It’s like she understands us…

All Balboa Weekend 2014 Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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

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

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

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

The accessories display from The Cleveland Shop.

The accessories display from The Cleveland Shop.

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

ChatterBlossom's colorful display - vintage millinery to the left

Chatterblossom’s colorful display

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

Chloe and her team at the samples table.

Chloe and her team at the samples table.

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

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

Goodies from The Cleveland Shop on display.

Goodies from The Cleveland Shop on display.

Flower Child's end of the hallway display.

Flower Child’s end of the hallway display.

A dapper Gene Kelly-inspired look by FROMChloehong.

A dapper Gene Kelly-inspired look by FROMChloehong.

A popular pullover from the merch table - very collegiate.

A popular pullover from the merch table – very collegiate.

Building a Swing Wardrobe at All Balboa Weekend

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rich's action back!

Rich’s action back!

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

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

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

Sweater vest found - Adam Speen achievement unlocked

Sweater vest found – Adam Speen achievement unlocked

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

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

Two belt backs in one day - unprecedented!

Two belt backs in one day – unprecedented!

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

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

Shopping at Remix's booth!

Shopping at Remix’s booth!

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

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

Freddie’s of Pinewood: 40′s and 50′s Jeans and Casualwear for Men and Women

Classic men's jeans - high waist, straight leg, cuff or hem.  Looks good to me!

Classic men’s jeans – high waist, straight leg, cuff or hem. Looks good to me!

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Freddie’s of Pinewood lately, usually coming up in conversations about vintage or reproduction jeans. This UK-based company has taken a practical approach to dressing vintage, providing reproduction clothing you’d mostly wear just out and about, rather than getting gussied up – lots of great separates, shirts, jackets, and denim. While I generally dislike denim, I understand that most of you live in jeans – perhaps Freddie’s could be a gateway to a more vintage, casual look? There are a lot of versatile pieces on this site, to either dress up or dress down (or both), so take a gander!

Here’s what I’m loving on the website:

High waisted denim with buttons down the side, just the way I like 'em!

High waisted denim with buttons down the side, just the way I like ‘em!

Lovelovelove a men's knit pullover

Lovelovelove a men’s knit pullover

"Saddle" sweater - can I please have one of these in every color?

“Saddle” sweater – can I please have one of these in every color?

Because dudes need this classic stripe tee shirt X 3 to make it through a dance

Because dudes need this classic stripe tee shirt X 3 to make it through a dance

These red denim capri pants are super sassy!

These red denim capri pants are super sassy!

A Peach of a Dress

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’m presently in adoration of this 1940′s dress with the most adorable peach printed fabric, as such that I will now be on the lookout for adorable peach printed fabric so that I may have one of my own! The bidding is at $20 for those of you with a 26 inch waist…

$_57

Emmy – Your Vintage-Inspired Wardrobe from Sweden

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Can I live in a world where I can wear this sailboat playsuit all the time?

Can I live in a world where I can wear this sailboat playsuit all the time?

On a tip from DJ Kristy Milliken, I checked out Emmy, a Swedish company making vintage-inspired clothing – what I found was a really noteworthy clothing company, and here is why:

1. Their pieces really bridge the gap – you could mix and match a lot of these pieces with modern pieces or vintage pieces and they wouldn’t look out of place. Versatility is so important in a wardrobe.

2. Their pieces go together – they have sweaters to match the dresses/shirts/skirts, versatile basics, and coordinating colors. You could actually put together a mini-wardrobe just from their pieces and not be wanting for casual, dressy, beach, work, and so on.

I see a lot of repro and vintage-inspired clothing companies going for gold with their dresses (which is great, but not 100% of the time – what if I decide to go glamping?) and sort of half-heartedly offering a few separates or the other odd piece. There is definitely a trend away from this and I am hopeful that there is a demand out there, because I know I am wanting more and more to incorporate vintage and vintage-inspired clothing into my everyday life, not just my dancing or singing life.

So how did Emmy get to this point of versatility and so many different garments? With a focus on “feminine, well-fitted garments that embrace and enhance the female shape,” with a goal of suiting all body types and ages and a focus on quality to create garments that can be worn year after year.

Emmy has done a great job with their adorable and practical collections – here are some of my favorites from their Spring/Summer 2014 line:

Ahoy!  Sailor pants - come in black and two shades of blue/denim, also available in shorts, capris, and a skirt - something for everyone!

Ahoy! Sailor pants – come in black and two shades of blue/denim, also available in shorts, capris, and a skirt – something for everyone!

Cropped (or rather the right length?) cable knit cardigan - available in red, navy, pink, and green

Cropped (or rather the right length?) cable knit cardigan – available in red, navy, pink, and green

This knit top ALL DAY

This knit top ALL DAY

For those days when you are washing your romper, you can settle for this adorable sailboat blouse.

For those days when you are washing your romper, you can settle for this adorable sailboat blouse.

Why, yes, they also do dresses... ;)

Why, yes, they also do dresses… ;)

Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers Reproduction Jacket

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The original!

The original!

As if FROMChloehong had not already reached the pinnacle of awesomeness by producing and selling superior trumpet skirts, she has upped the ante by creating a reproduction of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers’ letterman style jacket. I couldn’t find a lot of information about the original jacket except for the black and white photo posted here and a video clip from 1940 linked to by Bobby White on his Swungover blog, showing the jacket and noting that the logo on the back was the same logo on the shirts Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers wear in “Keep Punching” (aka the Big Apple clip). This jacket is a pretty big undertaking and Chloe’s results are fantastic, with great attention to detail.

If you would like to purchase one of these jackets, Chloe will begin taking orders on May 23, 2014 with more details forthcoming at the FROMChloehong Facebook page. What a conversation starter this jacket must be, with the wearer instantly becoming an ambassador of Lindy Hop in a very public and visual way. I can’t wait to see one of these in person!

EDITED to add that the order form is up! Click here to order. Chloe is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Frankie Manning Foundation and, if you get your order in by April 30, you can pick up your jacket at Frankie 100!

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FROMChloeHong Pleated Skirt

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Chloe Hong, she of the superior trumpet skirts, has introduced a new dance-friendly skirt to her clothing line – a skirt with three mirrored parallel pleats, starting in seams at the top, and separating into pleats toward the bottom of the skirt. I would love to see how this spins! Available in 3 juicy colors – teal, red, and purple.

Details from Chloe’s Facebook page (last time I checked her website was still under development – don’t let communication via Facebook deter you from ordering from her! PayPal all your monies to her for fabulous skirts.):

Like the trumpet skirt, the pleated skirt also features a built-in slip that comes to just below your bum.

Like the trumpet skirt, the pleated skirt also features a built-in slip that comes to just below your bum.

* Color : dark purple / green / pale red

* Size : S (55) : waist(25.5~26inch/ 65cm), hip (36inch/91cm)
M (66) : waist(27~27.5inch/ 69.5cm), hip (38inch/99cm)
(I don’t see L and XL, but I know she has these sizes in the trumpet skirt, always good to ask)

* Length : 23 inch (59cm)

* Fabric : Polyester, Spandex

* price : $57

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

Lindy Hop Tees

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Every once in a while a really clever Lindy Hop tee shirt will show up in my newsfeed, and I marvel that anyone is making money on tees independent of a dance event, but then again we are a clever bunch. It stands to reason that we should also have clever tees to advertise our cleverness. A quick search of the Internets reveals that there are even more Lindy Hop tees and cotton apparel than I imagined. Here are some highlights (and if there are other tees you love, feel free to post them in the comments):

Abraham Lincoln is ambidancetrous - from IllustriousStudio on Etsy

Abraham Lincoln is ambidancetrous – from IllustriousStudio on Etsy

Evolutionary theory of Lindy Hop - at Zazzle.com

Evolutionary theory of Lindy Hop – at Zazzle.com

Variation on a theme and conversation starter - from lindyshirts.com

Variation on a theme and conversation starter – from lindyshirts.com

I like the simplicity of the Art Deco style in this design - from spreadshirt.com

I like the simplicity of the Art Deco style in this design – from spreadshirt.com

Comic book adventure variation on a classic photo - from plenty-hot.com

Comic book adventure variation on a classic photo – from plenty-hot.com

For your next impromptu live music outing - from redbubble.com

For your next impromptu live music outing – from redbubble.com

A definitive ruling on the style wars - from zazzle.co.uk

A definitive ruling on the style wars – from zazzle.co.uk

And I'll leave you with this bit of bliss - from DC's Jam Cellar

And I’ll leave you with this bit of bliss – from DC’s Jam Cellar

Trashy Diva Dots Are Back!

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Here's the Louise top...now, am I feeling sporty or dressy today... ;)

Here’s the Louise top…now, am I feeling sporty or dressy today… ;)

I’m delighted to report that Trashy Diva’s peppy blue and white polka dots have returned, both in familiar and new incarnations to enhance the adorableness of your wardrobe. I had almost given up hope that TD would give me more rayon prints in 40′s silhouettes, but I don’t know why I ever doubted. Check out their website for the full collection, featuring some of their classic dress designs, but my favorites from the new items are the separates – seriously, an adorable blouse with a peplum to pair with either a swishy skirt or high waisted shorts? YSPLS!

Fab Gabs Shoe Influx

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Etsy vintage seller Fab Gabs recently posted a number of amazing vintage shoes in a range of sizes. Check out her Etsy page for the full story, but here are my faves:

The only time I've ever wished for a larger foot - woven 50's heels, size 8/8.5

The only time I’ve ever wished for a larger foot – woven 50′s heels, size 8/8.5

Stars!  1940's slingbacks, 7.5N

Stars! 1940′s slingbacks, 7.5N

1930's burgundy heels, size 8AA

1930′s burgundy heels, size 8AA

1930's t-straps, size 4.5 - I know you tiny feet girls are out there and you want something more than a Mary Jane!  There's another pair of satin wedding shoes in this size from the 30's...

1930′s t-straps, size 4.5 – I know you tiny feet girls are out there and you want something more than a Mary Jane! There’s another pair of satin wedding shoes in this size from the 30′s…

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