Emmy Spring/Summer 2021 Collection

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

They really deserve a standing ovation. I’ve been following Sweden based clothing company Emmy for several years after their high quality winter cardigans came on my radar and have picked up a couple of pieces from each twice yearly collection since then, but the Spring/Summer 2021 collection took my breath away. Timely titled “Homebound Holiday,” it’s far from leggings and tees – it feels more like a collection of hope, for all sorts of occasions and things I want to do outside of my home and look fabulous doing it.

The collection takes inspiration from so many early 20th century sources, from Edwardian day wear to 1940s sportswear. If you like mixing and matching eras, this is a fab collection. The color coordination is superb – there are so many capsule wardrobes that could be put together from the collection with the purchase of a few pieces to mix and match to create multiple outfits. Also, part of Emmy’s philosophy is that all of their collections will coordinate with past collections so that you are building a wardrobe rather than starting over with new color schemes each season, so if you’re thinking about jumping in, I can assure you that the water is fine.

I am perhaps most excited about the bottoms in this collection, which can be difficult for summer plus dancing. If you are not a skirts person, I would highly encourage you to take a jaunt to the Emmy pants and shorts page and behold the summer weight fabrics in colors and neutrals. The Hayworth Holiday shorts are beyond adorable, and if, like me, you struggle with thigh circumference with shorts, the adorable pleats in the front look like leg liberation. I can’t resist a romper, so of course there are four to choose from. The addition of belt loops to the romper is brilliant to accommodate a variety of waist sizes and to give the option of a cinch when you need it and taco room when you don’t. There are three styles of trousers to accommodate styling preferences, two that can be paired with braces (that you can also buy on the website). Finally, there are adorable overalls in two neutrals and two candy colors that make me smile.

I could go on and on about everything, but I need to trust that you will go and see for yourself. I believe there’s something for everyone in this collection and look forward to wearing my pieces in the future for work, dancing, play, hanging out, visiting, exploring – everything we haven’t been able to do in the past year.

Cousin Jack Menswear

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I don’t know what is going on in the UK, but they are acing the vintage reproduction market in almost all ways. Enter Cousin Jack Menswear, adding to the ranks of promising vintage offerings and showing the practical side of looking good. For example, pictured on the main page of their website is a pair of trousers with a fishtail back, espousing that said trousers “can be worn for cycling, jogging, fishing, hop skotch [but not scotch? I’ll defer, LOL], or even turning up a new spindle for that staircase.” While I don’t believe anyone is going to run a 10K in these trousers, I do like the idea that if you needed to break into a trot to chase a pet or maybe spend a couple of hours swinging out, that you would be secure in the breathability and range of motion of said trousers.

The collection is set up to be mini-capsule wardrobes, which I like because of the practicality – it’s easy to pick a suit, maybe a couple of waistcoats and shirts, a pair of braces, and a sweater vest and mix and match all of these pieces to create different looks. If you’re feeling extra fancy, indulge in a pair of plus fours and coordinating socks (thank you for putting these together) or a classic pair of striped pajamas. From the website:

“The idea was to create a collection of heritage inspired ‘looks’ that would appeal to many men rather than one style that would only appeal to one group.”

While not local to me, I love their emphasis on sourcing and manufacturing locally: “We manufacture either on site or in specially selected factories in the EU – where we are confident of the essential ethical standards. Our fabrics are selected from quality EU or UK based suppliers such as Abraham Moons in Leeds and Brisbane Moss in Todmorden.”

Cousin Jack is a spinoff of The House of Foxy, one of my favorite current brands, so I would wager that the garments are high quality, which is my experience with the multiple HOF garments I own.

If anyone has experience with this brand, please feel free to chime in and leave a comment below!

Spring 2021 Shoe Digest

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’m going to start with a note of remorse about the loss of Slide & Swing, a swing dance shoe company with a beautiful lineup of shoes for everyone and a casualty of the COVID 19 pandemic. If you have not already, please wander to their corner of the web and check out the remaining inventory, perhaps pick up a pair and give a little to someone who is losing their business and trying to recoup costs. Cheers to all the beautiful shoes you’ve created, Slide & Swing.

In spite of a pandemic (or perhaps coming into the business as the world slid into a pandemic), there are even more swing dance shoe companies that have popped up on my radar in the last year or so. Let’s have a scan of the new offerings.

@comfydance_shoes on Instagram is offering swing dance and street shoes handmade in Mexico. It looks like they are offering two styles right now, one pair of ankle boots and one pair of low heeled t-strap shoes, both in an array of color options. Instructions are to DM for more information and that’s all the information I have!

Boun’Shoes on Facebook (aka @bounceshoes_swingdance on Instagram) are based in Italy, crafting “perfect” heel heights for a balanced and comfortable shoe. From the Facebook page:

“Boun’Shoes started their small production of vintage-style dance shoes in January 2016 thanks to the collaboration of Fiammetta, a Roman Lindy Hopper, and a family of handcraft shoemakers based in Marche, Italy. They have been manufacturing shoes for three generations in the most famous shoemaking district in Italy. In 2019 Martina joined Fiammetta and launched the shop online.”

Unfortunately, the link to the website isn’t working on either Facebook or Instagram, so it’s probably best to reach out by private message/direct message. There are lots of lovely photos on their Facebook page, showing a variety of t-straps, Mary Janes, oxfords, and boots.

Swing Love shoes are made in Hội An, Vietnam, inspired by owner Châu’s search for swing dance shoes to fit her irregular feet and her fear of ordering shoes online only to have them not fit when they arrive. Taking advantage of the existing shoe making industry in Vietnam, Châu went on a journey find her perfect pair, with much trial and tribulation, and at the end of 2018, after finishing this journey, her friends suggested she should manufacture and sell the shoes she created. Châu spent two years learning everything she needed to know to launch this endeavor and the shoes are a showcase of Hội An’s shoemaker’s craftsmanship and Châu’s design ideas.

Swing Love is offering three styles – two oxfords (Savoy and Doo-Bee-Da) and one t-strap (Suzy-Q), all flats/low heel for those of you I know who are always on the lookout for flat dance shoes. Shoe color is customizable, just email them at hello@swing-love.com with your ideas.

That’s all for now – as we see the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, I hope you’ll consider your dance shoe needs and wants. Maybe it’s time to start breaking in a pair now so that you’ll be ready when we can dance again. 

1920s Reproduction Dresses on LaVieDelight on Etsy

This deep red dress could be accessorized for day, evening, summer, holiday, winter, basically anything

For some reason, the 1920s is the most difficult for finding good reproductions. Perhaps it’s a combination of post-1920s Hollywood changing [ruining] the popular conception of what people wore or that the silhouette of the garments, once considered liberating, are taken to look unflattering by today’s standards. As someone who owns real 1920s clothing and good reproductions, I can attest that these garments are comfortable and, if the fit and fabric are good, they can be very flattering. The irony to all of this is that modern pop culture seems to love the 1920s, calling on the decade to provide themes for weddings and parties, leaving the participants/invitees scratching their heads and saying, “What do I wear for this?” Add to this the fact that swing dancers often learn a heavy dose of 1920s based dances, form dance troupes that perform 1920s-inspired dances, and may get called upon to perform, either as a performance group or as individual/social dancers to add to the ambiance of an event. At this point, I’d say a seasoned jazz dancer should have at least one serviceable and passable 1920s styled outfit in their closet for just these occasions.

I’ve blogged in the past about beaded reproduction 1920s dresses, but beads and sequins are not good for social dancing, as they tend to cut into your partner’s hands at touch points. Beads, sequins, and fringe are all well and great, but they aren’t the ONLY options for evening wear (and they certainly weren’t day wear) – so what do we wear?

One possible answer is to purchase a dress from Etsy seller LaVieDelight, who specializes in 1920s style dresses, bags, coats, and coordinating hats for a variety of occasions, all offering a number of styles, colors, and fabrics that are evocative of the decade. The company is based on Bangkok, Thailand and offers some standard sizing guidelines that appear to end on the small end of the sizing range, but they are really making each garment custom for the wearer and offer customization up to a 48 inch bust at the price listed, with the option of a greater than 48 inch bust at some additional charge. There are no additional fees for customization and the turnaround time is between 7 and 10 days (plus shipping time, presumably).

I really like the idea of LaVieDelight’s dresses for dance performances because they come in an array of colors, but also can be solid so that you can add things like hats/headdresses, jewelry, gloves, and other inspired accessories either to make it signature to your look. It’s the 1920s equivalent of buying that little black dress and making it the go-to in your closet depending on what you add to it – although, take heed, the 1920s loved color and I would encourage you to embrace a color other than black for your LaVieDelight dress, particularly if you are planning on making this dress your day AND evening 1920s dress.

OK, OK, I know this isn’t basic, but y’all know this SPEAKS to me
This slate gray with floral detail and pink trim is another option that would read day/night or warm/cool weather depending on accessories.
Prints can also be versatile! This is another year-round dress IMO – click through to see that they’ve photographed it with white accessories in one photo and black accessories in another.

Shuffle ‘n Swing – A Lindy Hop Game

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Lindy Hoppers like to draw things out of hats – maybe it’s a contest partner, maybe it’s an ice-breaker, maybe it’s a pop quiz, but what if this evolved into something more? That’s what happened with Ron Smits, an instructor in the Netherlands and founder of Key Town Swing, who evolved a draw from a hat game in his Lindy Hop classes into a full-fledged card game and learning tool.

Ron ran a successful Kickstarter to bring this game to life, here’s what he says about the game:

“In our classes, we tend to see the dance not as a sequence of moves, but as a series of movements and techniques. All moves can be deconstructed into smaller building blocks, most of which fit together in many different ways. This deconstruction led to a number of Positions and Movements, which make up the two base decks of Shuffle ‘n Swing…To help us build a single move, we draw two Position cards (yellow) and three Movement cards (green). The objective is to work your way from one Position to the next, using all drawn Movement cards…Of course, no game is complete without extra challenges. Draw Styling cards (purple) to add flavour and attitude to your moves, jazz things up with Solo Steps (blue), or increase the difficulty for yourself through Handicaps (red). The cherry on top is our Follower Hijacks deck (orange)! These cards are the followers’ little secret. The deck contains ten cards with various ideas for a follower to surprise the leader during their dance. Taking control, redirecting the leader or deciding to hijack the dance by putting in as little effort as possible, and more…”

You can read more about how the game would work on the Kickstarter page, but I love that this would work with a one-on-one situation as well as for a large group class. Part of Shuffle ‘n Swing’s mission is to encourage and support dancers at all levels and to honor and and continue Lindy Hop’s legacy through diversity and inclusion. The deck is a rainbow, the cards use gender neutral language, and the characters are designed to be equally dark and light skinned with simple outlines of features and clothing. You can also opt in for a Frankie Manning card and all proceeds from that card go to the Frankie Manning Foundation‘s Black Lindy Hoppers Fund.

I’ve caught Shuffle ‘n Swing at a sort of odd time, where the Kickstarter has wrapped, but they are still setting up their website. If you’d like to order a deck, have questions, or want to reach out, you can send an email to info@keytownswing.nl, message via Instagram @shuffleNswing, or contact through the Kickstarter page. The basic deck is €25, XXL deck is €35, VIP Signature deck is €50, and the Frankie Manning card is €10.

Enjoy this game now or add to your post-pandemic stockpile – the end is in sight, can’t wait to dance with you all again!

ILHC 2020 Virtual Fashion Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It didn’t occur to me that I might be able to write an International Lindy Hop Championships fashion report this year, but there was enough chatter about wardrobe in the chat that I couldn’t help myself and I started taking notes on a post-it as I watched the competition unfold on my laptop. Two things that I believe have had an obvious impact on what people wear at ILHC – obviously the pandemic, as evidenced by some participants wearing masks in their routines and dancing on a variety of surfaces (grass, concrete, tile, carpet), and the move from August to November, which notes changes like sleeve length, fabrics, and color palette. I particularly loved Ukraine’s Curly Girly Trio for their cozy outfits and fall colors.

Tap dancer Cora La Redd’s sleeves are the GOAT, here with
Noble Sissle’s Orchestra in 1933

Speaking of sleeves, the star of ILHC this year was sleeves – specifically long sleeves, flowing and billowing, drawing attention to and highlighting movement, while simultaneously practically facilitating movement with their shape that allows a wider range of movement than, say, a standard modern woman’s dress shirt. This is a beautiful choice for all of these reasons and it’s a period-appropriate choice for the swing era, also for all of these reasons – we see performers from the 1930s and 1940s wearing these shirts for reasons beyond style…but also style.

Another trend involves drawing the attention of the eye – white. Wearing white, particularly against a darker backdrop, tends to draw the eye toward the white, which is advantageous, say, when you are wearing white shoes and doing some incredible footwork. We saw a number of dancers sporting white Adidas sneakers, which can be credited to Skye Humphries’ influence, but also saw a number of white suits. An entire team of them, in fact – Italy’s Milano Swing Team showing us all how it’s done with incredible tailoring and double breasted jackets, perhaps a nod to Remy Kouakou Kouame and Vincenzo Fesi’s routine from 2014. See also, followers’ sleeves…

Along those lines, I saw a few dancers drawing attention with a pop of yellow or chartreuse on a shoe, shirt, or skirt, which has a similar effect. Who doesn’t need a little pop of sunshine and joyful color as we head into a fairly quarantined winter? I loved Yuyu Yeonjeong You’s yellow blouse (also with the signature sleeves, in the Advanced Solo Jazz and Charleston finals) against a plain white backdrop and also loved that several Lithuanian dancers used a room with a yellow/chatreuse backdrop, which reverse highlighted the neutral tones worn by Pamela Gaizutyte and Tadas Vasiliauskas in the Invitational Classic Lindy Hop division.

Building on all of the above – sleeves, white, and yellow – we’re going to add a skater punk aesthetic to the mix. As many of us came to swing through the punk/ska scene and also lived through the baggy pants of the groove era, seeing Sakarias Larsson come onto the screen with Frida Segerdahl and then completely throw down in the Invitational Classic Lindy Hop division was a cheer-inducing moment. Note that his choice of attire isn’t haphazard just-rolled-out-of-bed skater punk, it’s Lindy Hop because of his choices – white Converse All-Stars to draw your eye; loose light colored trousers rolled up for efficiency of movement; a loose, but not ill-fitting yellow shirt (again, drawing attention), and a black knit cap that coordinates with with his socks and keeps his hair out of his face. This is how you do it, folks. I’m calling it a trend because we also saw Barcelona dancer Aurelien Darbellay sporting a similar aesthetic and, also, throwing down. Note Frida in the signature blouse, with a ruffle detail – all the shirts are slightly different and these details prevent this trend from becoming repetitive.

I’ll end with a note about the medium – i.e. video, which has essentially thrust many of us into the role of amateur filmmakers, with considerations like lighting, backdrop, angles, everything that goes into creating a cinematic experience all an added challenge in presenting the competition videos. You don’t need a drone or a crew to get good results, but you do need to be thoughtful in some of your choices. One of my favorite videos from ILHC was from Argentina, with dancers Eugenia Diaco and Santiago Arana creating a single visual backdrop that was geometric and dynamic, with contrasting and abstract clothing (a nod to Groovie Movie?), a checkerboard floor, a band of black highlighting upper leg/lower torso movement, and a skyline in the far background. They didn’t make the cut for the screen cap of the video for the Open Classic Lindy Hop Finals (Grace Babbes and Kevin Nguyen ARE adorable), but you can find them at the 16:32 mark.

Holiday Gift Guide 2020

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The gift wrap that’s a preview of things inside?

This is a unique year for gift giving – what do you buy the Lindy Hopper in your life when there’s no (or almost no) Lindy Hop because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe you’re hopeful that we’ll get back to this soon and that pair of dance shoes is still on your wishlist. Maybe you’ve taken up a new/old hobby and you want things for that. Maybe you’re in need of any sort of injection of joy in your life. Maybe you need to get your booty moving in 2021, with or without this pandemic. Whatever your desires, I present some swing-related suggestions that may bring you joy and, perhaps, help others and bring joy to the community:

PRIVATE LESSONS

In my experience, the pandemic has made people more accessible than ever before, with potentially more flexible/free time to spend teaching via Zoom or other digital platforms to connect. The sky (or perhaps time zones?) is the limit! How fun/funny would it be to wrap up a photo of an instructor or set of instructors and have someone open this package on Christmas Day? As someone who has received private lessons as gift before, I promise it is a welcome gift at any stage in your dancing. Also, to connect with someone…anyone…Bueller?

SWING DANCE SHOES

We aren’t wearing out our shoes, but maybe this will give you time to break them in at your house and avoid those first dance blisters, troubleshoot any insoles you may need, or just wear them because you feel good in them. Some dance shoes are also great street shoes; for those that aren’t, you’ve got more time to wear them around your house. Need some ideas? There’s a search by category function on this blog – select “shoes” – I’ve written a decade’s worth of blog posts about all (am I missing any??) the swing dance shoe brands you may patronize this holiday season.

SWING MUSIC

This one is obviously near and dear to me in many respects. I am both a producer of music and an avid music collector. I usually have both going on at the same time! For those of us who aren’t able to dance with a partner during the pandemic, getting new music has been a lifeline, a way to keep things fresh, inspiring, and joyful. I like mixing things up, something old, something new – consider a Mosaic Records box set (because there was a time when this company was in danger of folding) with its impeccable liner notes (a book, really – check out eBay for out of print sets, too!) or dig into some modern swing bands who definitely could use some holiday music sales to brighten their season, as well. ILHC made it easy for me by compiling a list of modern swing bands, which provided all the music for Virtual ILHC 2020, and I believe it doubles handily as a holiday wishlist and beyond for adding new music to a loved one’s (or, let’s be real, your) music collection.

ARTISTS

Lindy Hop face mask by
SewingInTraffic

Go to Etsy and search for “Lindy Hop” and see what comes up – there’s a wealth of artists and craftspeople who are inspired by this dance and create wonderful gifts that are personalized to our niche hobby/lifestyle/obsession. I usually do this for my gift giving guide every year and pick out a handful of things to share and it’s one of my favorite things to blog about. Our community is so creative, we love this dance and the love comes through in both our movement and other creative endeavors, visual artists, and even face masks.

EVENTS

When I was in grad school I would always ask for Lindy Focus as my Christmas present. It was a lot of change to drop for someone subsisting on student loans and I never regretted that decision or felt like I was missing anything – if anything, the Lindy Focus FOMO would have been intense! There are some wonderful virtual events that have happened over the course of this pandemic, some of which have also doubled as fundraisers. Consider buying an event pass for your loved one, maybe watch it together, and as a bonus give a donation in someone’s name to an organization that is putting resources in the hands of people in our community who need it most.

A SONG

Along those lines, you could literally buy a song for your favorite Lindy Hopper – the California Balboa Classic is funding recordings of brand new swing music as part of their event and efforts to keep musicians employed. You could have the gratitude of so many people and bring joy to others, while having your name associated with a song forever. Check out this great list of tunes – one of these could be a gift for an individual, or maybe your community can come together and sponsor a song, a gift to the event, the musicians, and some community togetherness and love.

Cheers and happy holidays – see you on the other side!

Garb of Ages – A Website Dedicated to Buying and Selling Vintage

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I will always love the experience of shopping at brick and mortar vintage stores the most, but online vintage shopping has opened up a world of opportunity and access. In the beginning the hot spot was eBay, then the launch of Etsy seemed to take over the vintage market. With Etsy changing their policies in ways that didn’t work for vintage sellers, I’ve seen people migrate to Facebook groups, Instagram sales, and some establishing their own websites. What about the casual seller or someone who needs to offload a few pieces? There wasn’t a single go-to place for buying/selling vintage clothing.

With all of this in mind, longtime vintage clothing collector and seller Laura Hipshire launched Garb of Ages, a website dedicated to the buying and selling of vintage clothing and accessories. The format looks similar to selling on Poshmark, where you create a listing and potential buyers can search, like, make an offer, or buy the item as listed. The listings are only for items made before the year 2000, to keep things truly vintage and distinguish from other consignment websites.

The fees look reasonable: Buyers pay a $1.95 fee for sales under $20 and 15% of total sales over $20. Sellers pay $.25 cents to PayPal when purchase is confirmed.

This all looks fairly straightforward – let’s give it a go, shall we? I’ll be exploring the listings and adding items of my own in the coming weeks that are left from my @lindyshopperscloset Instagram sales under the user name lindyshopperscloset. It looks like they are still getting started, but I’m excited to see where this website goes!

New-to-Me Swing Dance Shoe Brands Digest for 2020

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It is uncanny how many swing dance shoe companies have popped up in the past 5 or so years, to the point that I apparently can’t keep up with them on this blog and I’ve fallen behind on sharing this information. With the search for the perfect dance shoes always in motion, let’s add some more options to the buffet, shall we? In no particular order…

VOLARE LUXURY DANCE SHOES

*insert the dulcet tones of Dean Martin*

I believe I found this brand on Instagram, maybe even one of those rare targeted ads they show that is actually relevant to my interests. I can gather from Facebook and Instagram that the company is based in Detroit, Michigan, that you place orders online, and they have four t-strap models in several colors that come with 3 heel height options, as low as 1 inch for dancers looking for a flatter shoe. Otherwise, I suppose you’ll have to email them for more information! Check out their Facebook and Instagram for a multitude of lovely photos and options and below is a primer on how to purchase/initiate contact.

COMFY DANCE SHOES

This is another Instagram find, @comfydance_shoes, featuring a boot and a t-strap dance shoe, available in some unique and versatile colors, all made in Mexico. I found even less information readily available, so hit that message button and send these dance shoe makers your questions if you find that these shoes strike your fancy.

ALL HEELS ON DUTY

All Heels on Duty is marketing to the WWII reenactment scene, but I know a solid-for-dancing heeled Oxford is on a lot of people’s wishlists since Dancestore stopped making their classic heeled oxfords. I haven’t purchased a pair, but as soon as I get another WWII themed gig, I’m going to need a brown pair and this company is a top contender – they appear to be faithful reproductions of 1940s service oxfords, with leather uppers and hard leather soles. Intriguing to me, the interiors are lined with sheepskin and are lightly padded, which would make these a welcome dance-friendly upgrade from some of my original 1940s oxfords. With a heel height of 1.5 inches, this is basically the perfect height for a weekly dance, moving equally between Balboa and Lindy Hop. Available in 6 colors (pictured below), all great neutrals. They also have the service pumps, but I find pumps difficult for dancing, so my focus here is on their oxfords.

If anyone has experience with any of the shoe brand in this blog post, feel from to share your feedback with us by leaving a comment below – cheers!

Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers Sticker Pack

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I have always loved stickers – I’ve collected them, put them on notebooks, adorned mail and packages, and put a healthy dose of them on band storage/instrument cases and the back of my car.  Thus, in one of my periodic Lindy Hop Etsy searches, I was delighted to discover that an artist had made a sticker pack of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers – not just the logo, but the artist’s drawings of the faces of the dancers themselves!

Dancers included:
• Two version of Frankie Manning
• Norma Miller
• Al Minns
• Billy Ricker
• Willa Mae Ricker
• Ann Johnson

Now you have to decide where to put them…so many options, but so many things to stick with stickers!

Clicking through, I see the shop is VectorPixels, which is owned by dancer and dance photographer Sammi Kunz, who I see at events with camera in hand and an infectious smile.  A pleasant surprise, but not too surprised for someone I know to be creative!  You may also find something else in the shop to take home and stick on something you love – lots of fun art, words, and pixels.

Dynamic Duo: Golden Levee Vintage and Crescent Pennant Co.

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It cannot be overstated the impact COVID-19 has had on all aspects of our swing dance community and, while our old way of life seems distant at the moment, I see friends and colleagues finding new ways to both support themselves and endear them to us.  New Orleans based swing dance instructor Mia Goldsmith Halloran and jazz trombonist Charlie Halloran are two of my favorite people – I have been an ardent admirer of Mia’s dancing for so many years and Charlie is an incredible and versatile musician with whom both my husband and I have enjoyed sharing the stage – and I watched them on social media as they, like so many friends, figured out their next steps.

They did an adorable series of YouTube music videos (Quarantunes) and Charlie’s trombone duet with his neighbor from their respective porches went viral.  Then I saw Charlie had gotten a sewing machine, which has become one of the central pieces of my pandemic activities, and cheered him on.  Then Mia messaged me that she was starting an online vintage clothing business and we discussed logistics.

As is common with people with excellent taste, both of them have already excelled in their offerings.

Mia launched Golden Levee Vintage last month as an Instagram-based shop at @goldenleveevintage – I know Mia has collected vintage clothing for a long time and, like anyone who has, you likely have enough vintage to open up a de facto shop.  Beyond that, it looks that she may have been collecting in earnest to start a vintage shop, which has been a dream of hers.  Mia’s initial offerings in the past two months have been an excellent mix of 1940s through 1990s vintage, with a distinctly wonderful Mia viewpoint – even the later vintage has the nod to a prior era (hello, 90s tropical rayon does 40s dress I missed out on because I am SLOW) and everything is cheerful, embracing color.  If Mia’s shop was a mood board, it would evoke words like tropical, comfort, dance-friendly, lounge, elegant, fun, light, color, whimsical, basically an aspirational wardrobe for my fantasy life in New Orleans.  Follow her and watch for more goodness!

Charlie and his new sewing machine created Crescent Pennant Co. (@crescentpennantco), with handmade pennants in classic style featuring mostly New Orleans locations.  This might seem like a hyper-local focus to some, but since New Orleans is the cradle of jazz, the locations have meaning to a wider audience – particularly if you know what it means to miss New Orleans.  My absolute favorite pennant he’s created thus far is for Armstrong’s Secret 9, Louis Armstrong’s baseball team.  Within weeks of launch, local boutiques were already buzzing and he’s been working hard to fill orders and create new custom designs.

Follow these two Instagram accounts for more goodness in the future – cheers!

 

Applejacks Update

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I can’t imagine how much work goes into starting a dance shoe company, but add a pandemic layer of difficulty and it goes into the realm of incomprehensible.  Applejacks‘ proprietor Jenna Applegarth and her regular teaching partner Jon Tigert have been having weekly live Facebook chats and, luckily, the day I was able to tune in Jenna had an update on her line of shoes.  Two important updates:

1) The Greenwood is finally here!  The prototype has been photographed and passed around, salivated over, and loved in advance as Jenna worked on launching this shoe for what seemed like an eternity, but quality is paramount and I trusted that Jenna would bring us this shoe when it was ready for dancer consumption.  It’s one of those shoes that has wide appeal – low heel for comfort, t-straps for security, darling cutouts, and cheerful two-tone colors (pink/burgundy, teal/hot pink, yellow/royal blue).  Note that the Greenwood is named for the thriving black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was the epicenter of the Tulsa race riots (made known to contemporary pop culture in the incredible Watchmen series on HBO – highly recommended).

2) The Eldorado is a dance boot based on a pair of boots Jon owns (owned? danced to extinction?) – how incredible to fall in love with a shoe and be able to replicate it after it is no longer available?  It really is a dream and I’m eager to hear reviews of the Eldorado, as it looks solid, comfortable, a shoe you can really live in.  Available in brown, burgundy, and dark blue.

I believe Jenna discussed this in the Facebook live session, but all of these shoes are intended to double as street shoes, which is what the original Lindy Hoppers and Balboa dancers did – they wore their street shoes for dancing.  Obviously, you can save your shoes and they will last longer, but if you really love the comfort and look, what are you saving them for?  I’ve been wearing my Re-mix shoes as street shoes for years and, unless you’re coming out of the rain, it all works out in the end.  With dancing pretty far on the horizon for those of us who don’t have a dance partner in our household/safe circle, it helps to know that you can enjoy these shoes now and not be sad about saving them for a future dance event.  Missing all of you terribly!

JJ Suspenders – Dual Use Braces and Suspenders for All Trousers

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Every so often a company reaches out to me for a product review and it’s usually not a good fit for my blog, but when I saw JJ Suspenders pop up in my inbox I was intrigued.  Then I went to the website and there were loads of lovely braces and I thought, “Is this a mistake? Or is this marketing?”

As a lurker in several menswear groups on Facebook, the distinction between braces and suspenders was a critical one, it meant needing buttons sewn in your trousers versus simply clipping them on; it also meant a level are sartorial in-the-know-ness (you may call it snobbery) about the type of person who wears one over the other.  While I prefer a set of braces because I’ve watched my husband struggle with his clip-ons for tuxedo gigs (both to put them on and have them stay on) and I’m particular enough to want that added level of security/not wanting a hassle,  I know that the thought of sewing buttons into one’s trousers (or paying someone to do it), for some, is like that extra thing that’s not worth someone’s time, effort, and resources.  I understand that not everyone shares my priority for absolute security in trousers being held up by elastic straps.  I’m not at the level of wearing both braces and a belt, though, so I’m still within reason.

BUT I DIGRESS, back to the lovely package that arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago.  JJ Suspenders was very patient with me, because I already owned most of the colors I wanted and they were out of the burgundy, they waited until they got some more burgundy pairs in stock, notified me, and shipped me the pair.  As I opened the box, I was confused again – there were both clips AND leather attachments on the ends of the straps.  First thought, surely no one is THIS paranoid (takes a breath, looks closer); second thought, this is genius, they are delivering both so that you can choose and simply remove the type of trouser attachment you don’t want at the moment, with the option to reattach if/when you do, via a sturdy snap.  This means they can be worn with all of your trousers, at any time.

The packaging and extras are all so thoughtful – a small sewing kit with buttons (perhaps to immediately encourage non-sewers to pull up a YouTube video on how to accomplish the sewing of braces buttons onto trousers – the question of where do the buttons come from seems to be novel to my husband, so I’m glad they’ve eliminated this hurdle); two extra sets of suspender clips; and a lovely canvas bag to put it all in.

While I usually prefer a wider elastic, I opted for the narrower braces this go around and was pleasantly surprised at their sturdiness and quality.  The attachments are leather and the snaps sturdy.  I wore these all day with great comfort and would say these are a win for me.  I look forward to wearing them more this fall when I have more fall colored clothing items to coordinate.

The website has a large selection – from leather in seven colors to solids, stripes, tweeds, and a few patterns, I believe this to be a great resource for people who may be embarking on their first pair of suspenders/braces and for seasoned braces veterans.  The prices are on par with quality braces makers, like Trafalgar.  Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure I know of another quality brand of braces maker – and the lack of quality options was the impetus for JJ Suspenders coming into existence.  From their website:

“It started in 2014 when founders Jackson and Josh were shopping for suspenders to wear at a friend’s wedding and after visiting dozens of shops all they could find were a handful of generic, outdated and overpriced suspenders. When looking for alternatives online, they quickly found that about 90% of the suspenders on the market were low quality and mass-produced by the same factory. The only suspenders that met Jackson and Josh’s quality standards were from a very old company in England. But with this came high shipping costs, outdated designs, and poor customer service.”

My communications with JJ Suspenders have been exemplary – my contact, Misha Inglis, has been professional, courteous, and friendly and I am delighted that they found me and reached out to me out of the blue.  It is clear they are striving for quality and I appreciate and applaud their mission to provide quality braces and suspenders – both, actually, at the same time.

P.S. Yes, that is my 1964 Vespa 90 kitted to a 129 cc engine. I’ve enjoyed riding it more during the pandemic, since other hobbies have been on the back burner.

Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural Improvisation

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I remember in 2015 hearing about a book called Fashion and Jazz and thinking, “Obviously, I am the target audience for this book,” and purchased it immediately.  However, I don’t know that you particularly need a deep knowledge of fashion to appreciate what the author has to say and the stories he conveys in this book.  Alphonso McClendon‘s “Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural Improvisation” is a deeper look into the social and political implications of dress and jazz, including race, class, and gender.  These performers were jazz innovators, pop stars, and style icons who continue to inspire people (like me) even today and it’s worth taking a look at why and how they got there through the lens of fashion.

McClendon is a professor at Drexel University, with extensive experience in what I would call the nuts and bolts of the fashion industry, but it is clear from his bio, even beyond this book, that the intersection of fashion and jazz (and topics emanating from that intersection) are a passion outside of his work in today’s fashion industry.  Of personal interest to me, he has an undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, so now I’m curious as to any other ties he may have to my home state.

And, yes, you get an entire chapter on Billie Holiday (“Beyond the Gardenia”), one of jazz’s penultimate style icons, as well as coverage of Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, and he touches on so many others.  The entire book is 150 pages long, so one could devour it in a single afternoon and I would say that’s an afternoon well spent.

Harlem Candle Company

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

 

 

 

We are living in historic times and I want to make it clear that black lives matter – I have been posting on my other platforms, but then I remembered that I also have this blog, so I would be remiss if I did not make it abundantly clear that I support racial justice and dismantling systematic racism, across all of my platforms of speech.  A blog about swing dance clothing, shoes, and other things swing dancers may be interested in purchasing doesn’t seem like a likely candidate for addressing any sort of critical issues, but many people have written about how important what we wear is (historically and now) and how we spend our money affects perceptions and economics.

I was reminded this week of the Harlem Candle Company by dancer Lindsay Kelly, who posted her cocktail in a glass imprinted with E. Simms Campbell’s iconic 1932 nightclub map of Harlem (as some of you may know about #quarantini consumption throughout the pandemic).  I thought, how lovely, because you can enjoy the candle, then you can enjoy the glass, so you’ve doubled your enjoyment of this lovely gold embossed vessel featuring the Home of Happy Feet and so many other iconic locations within this map that were integral to this dance and this music that we love.

The company, owned by Teri Johnson, a woman with a resume that makes you want to pack your bags and go on a travel adventure with her, is based in New York and the candles are “inspired by the richness of Harlem…like music, the top, middle, and base notes of each Harlem candle tells a story while taking you on an olfactory journey through time and place. Drawing on inspiration from legends like Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, the subtle scents and soft glows from Harlem candles instantly enhance your space while creating a sense of comfort and luxury.”  I love that Teri draws inspiration for the scents from the very things that inspire us to dance.

I can’t help but think of one of Dawn Hampton’s signatures quotes – “the light is on” – and all sorts of things that came to mind when writing about candles involving light, the black lives matter movement, and supporting black artists and businesses.  I’ll spare you my soup of thoughts at the moment, but take inspiration where you may right now – we have a lot of work to do.