I’m feeling what Bloody Edith is putting down. Specializing in reproductions of the 1930s through the 1950s, Bloody Edith has distinguished itself from other reproduction brands by offering pieces (lots of great separates) that I haven’t seen in colors that I also haven’t necessarily seen and everything looks lovely and wearable. Based in Milan, Italy, their website is mostly in Italian, so I’ll stick to the Etsy page for links to purchase.
From the Philosophy section of their website:
“Each garment is designed and hand made by crossing a taste for the past to the advantage of a new item. In the roman tailoring shop are born dresses with floral theme stealing the colors of Hawaii, high-waisted trousers with a characteristic cuff that remind us of the big screen’s divas, screwed jackets and animalier shirts. This is not a simple reproduction of the Forties and Fifties fashion, but a unique replica of the trends that have left an indelible mark in the history of costume, to return to woman the pleasure of a single item, freeing her from the trends imposed by a market fashion plagued by the products in series.”
I like this idea of trends leaving a mark on history – as we all know, nothing is ever new in fashion, as it constantly draws references from the past. I also like the idea of being free of trends. Style blogs often preach basics, but basics are informed by personal style, body shape, the needs of the wearer, and beyond. Basic never has to be boring if it’s something you reach for in your closet over and over.
Of particular note are the excellent knits – knitwear used to be completely evasive and that has been slowly changing in the reproduction business, but is still not quite there as compared to other clothing items offered. I prefer natural fibers and was delighted to see knits in cotton and wool.
My only complaint is the size range – I am a very average size, even smaller than the actual average size woman in the US, and I clicked on several bottoms and probably won’t fit into the largest size. The 1950s jeans offered are not commensurate with actual 1950s jeans I own, which have a generous waist/hip ratio to accommodate a number of different hip measurements. I am assuming this is a modern accommodation, since the majority is so used to wearing tight denim, which I shall never understand.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Lindy Shopper’s Closet Episode 6 is up and I’m talking about the Art Deco Ocean Queen ensemble I wore for NYE 2017 at Lindy Focus. This is probably the last episode for the foreseeable future – I am an essential employee and have been working mostly from home, but on top of my city re-opening in two weeks (and going back to my office full-time), I find that I am way more busy than I anticipated. Family law is booming (my day job) and I have enough engagement with music-related projects that producing these videos is no longer in the cards. I hope you enjoyed these, I have enjoyed making them, if only to be able to talk to myself in my guest room about clothing and shoes that I love.
With the pandemic in full effect along with the accompanying isolation and cancellation of all activities, I was thinking of ways to use my time away from dancing and singing and stay connected. Thinking about how we are all essentially broadcasting communications via the Internet from our homes – our personal and intimate spaces – and how these are our reference and existence points for the time being, I thought about sharing more of my personal space with all of you. I am often asked by visitors to my home to see my closet, so it seemed that was the natural place to go for a first episode and for the title of this web series.
I have other ideas for episodes, but I want to see how this first episode is received, so we shall see. I am also open to suggestions for episode topics and garments/shoes you might like to discuss, feel free to post them in the video comments on YouTube.
Also, please click SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel for episode updates and to help with monetization of my YouTube account – please and thank you!
Maybe you haven’t met Kendra Dandy at a swing dance event, maybe you’ve seen her – she likes to dance near the band and has mad solo jazz skills, is usually carrying a fan emblazoned with the word SHADE and has loads of style to match. I watched her from the stage at a few events and figured that she must be the coolest person in the room. When she accepted my friend request and I began seeing her posts in my feed, that suspicion was confirmed – she’s got the sharpest memes, excellent taste in cocktails, and is an incredible graphic designer who has teamed up with companies like Vans, Anthropologie, Estee Lauder, Coach, and companies selling products in Australia and South Korea that my grabby little American hands can’t reach.
This week the California Balboa Classic made the announcement that is has teamed up with Kendra for a very special project – from Cal Bal’s Facebook post:
“The community of dancers who come to CalBal represent an incredible range of talents from fiction authors, to medical professionals, to mechanical engineers. One of those people is Kendra Dandy . Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve probably seen her at a swing dance event, and it turns out that Kendra is a successful illustrator and designer with a career designing surfaces for international brands and her own shop at https://theebouffants.com/.
We want CalBal to be a showcase for talent in the Balboa community, and we love her work, so we asked Kendra if she would be willing to design something for CalBal2020. And she agreed!
We will have other merchandise, too, but the CalBal2020 scarf is an opportunity to take home a unique work of art to remind you of your time at CalBal2020.”
I was excited to see this partnership, as I love supporting visual artists in our community, and I also love the addition of this luxe merchandise item that is still practical within our community. A silk kerchief could be tied around the neck, worn in the hair, or worn as a pocket square; that 32 inch scarf opens up even more options, perhaps a belt or head wrap (to cover a wet set or not). Maybe you blot your sweat with silk kerchiefs, no judgment here!
This product release coincides with my very first Cal Bal, I’ll be attending as a DJ in 2020 – looking forward to that California vibe Kendra depicted in her scarf design, warmth, sun, palm trees, dancing shoes, and some cocktails!
As we embark on this rather abbreviated holiday season, we have even less time to get our act together and buy thoughtful gifts for the swing dancers in our lives. Here are some tidbits and links that may help you out, but also, gift cards for retailers that sell dance shoes are always at the top of my want list! I’m highlighting visual artists this year because there is so much fun art being created, inspired by our dance art.
As I clicked purchase on my third Daniel bag by ItalicHome, I thought to myself, “Maybe others would want to know about this bag?” At first glance, perhaps there’s nothing remarkable about this bag, other than it meets all of the criteria for a certain type of travel bag. Then I remembered all of you reading this blog, with similar needs and interests, so it’s high time ItalicHome got a post.
Let’s go back to 2015 – I had been attending the Jazz Age Lawn Party in New York for a few years at this point and was struggling with some of the logistics of attending an event that is both city and country at the same time. A good portion of this is dust management. After trashing a pair of Re-mix shoes in the mud in a previous year, I learned quickly not to wear nice shoes; likewise, to wear flats and washable garments because each at at JALP was a long, sweaty, dirty day of dancing and picnicking on the ground. I needed a bag that was also washable, durable, that could carry my necessities (wallet, phone, food for the day, a water bottle, extra pair of shoes, etc), and that looked like it would fit in with my 1920’s clothing. Vintage bag searches gave me the idea to look for canvas bags, and an Etsy search came up with ItalicHome’s page and the Daniel bag.
The original Daniel bag is made of cotton canvas, grommets, rope, paraffin and beeswax (the latter two optional) – very simple, no crazy modern zippers, and the more I read about it, the more I thought it would fit the bill. I messaged the shop owner, Colin Evan Pritchett, about the conditions under which I would be using the bag and we decided to go with un-waxed canvas, lest the wax melt all over a picnic blanket on a hot summer’s day.
Having a backpack was perfect for me, as I have struggled with back problems for the past decade and this was lightweight and evenly distributed the weight. I could roll it down to be small and stick it in my suitcase or my carry-on. It didn’t take up much space on the metro. When I arrived, I could throw it on the ground and not worry about it getting dirty, as I selected the caramel color and knew that the dirt would wash out easily. The bag is lined, so with a double layer of fabric, the contents did not get dirty. I sweated on the rope, which is a very soft rope to the touch, and it was OK. When I got home, it washed easily in my washer on the delicates setting with only minor shrinkage, and I folded it up for the next adventure.
It was such a success that I thought about getting another bag in a different color immediately following my return from JALP – ItalicHome tends toward neutrals and I really wanted something in green. Within a month I found a green canvas with rainbow arrows print that I fell in love with and messaged Colin about doing a custom bag in the arrow canvas. He was wonderful to work with and delivered his signature bag in a color scheme that goes with most of my wardrobe.
If you’ve seen me at an event in the last few years, you’ve probably seen this arrow bag. When I fly, I travel with a book bag and either a SkyRoll or Away suitcase – logistically, a purse doesn’t really fit into this scheme for me and I don’t always want to carry my book bag (which is a Girl Scout’s trove of air travel “just in case” items) to every destination in between flights on my gig travel. The Daniel bag fills that purse gap, but, again, is big enough for a change of shoes and a water bottle, in addition to my purse contents. Maybe you have bigger feet than me and this is the perfect heavy duty shoe bag.
The Daniel bag (and many other ItalicHome products) come in caramel, navy, black, gray, burgundy, natural and moss green. You can mix things up a bit, and select the top of the bag to be any of these colors and have a two-tone bag. You can select either natural or black rope. Or you can pull a Lindy Shopper and work out a custom order in a canvas print that you source and send to Colin.
Is it just a drawstring back pack? Maybe. But it’s exactly the draw string back pack I needed.
So many people love fall – while I dislike the idea of temperatures plummeting toward winter, I do love the sights and flavors of fall, particularly those involving Halloween – you may have noticed that I love to dress up and a costume is, for me, dressing up to the fullest! I happened upon Kitschy Witch Designs earlier this year and essentially everything on this website is what I imagine as lovely and fun imagery around the Halloween season, taking inspiration from literature (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Wizard of Oz), pop culture (Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride), and vintage notions of magic (fortune tellers, magicians, and the hallows eve itself).
Kitschy Witch Designs features the fabric, clothing, bag, and jewelry designs of artist and entrepreneur Stephanie Buscema, whose designs are fun, whimsical, and vintage-inspired. From the website:
“My mission is to create unique collections of items you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Items are made in small limited edition batches, with our custom fabrics and clothing being printed and sewn here in the USA.
All art, textiles and designs are created by me in my home studio with real paints, paper and pencils, using traditional image making methods to create just about everything you’ll find here. Carefully curated and of course, made with the utmost love and care, KWD is most definitely my passion project. My hopes are you’ll find a few things here that will make you smile and bring a little magic into your life!”
I am absolutely smitten with the latest collection inspired by the Wizard of Oz – once you’ve been Dorothy in a community theater production of the musical, you basically never need to let that go (is what I am telling myself). If 1950’s silhouettes are not your bag, there are plenty of other items on the website with more universal appeal – totes, clutches, makeup bags, scarves, jewelry, and sunglasses – which can be used year-round. I know for some people Halloween is a state of mind and I think Kitschy Witch expands upon that to glorious effect.
This past weekend I experienced my first international gig performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Jeju Swing Camp in South Korea. In spite of a typhoon imposing itself upon the event, the organizers and dancers persevered and an incredible time was had by all and the sun came out for the last day of the event so that we could have an epic beach party with four bands and dancing on the sand. Following the event, several of the musicians would spend part of a day in Seoul waiting for our flights to various locations – my number one request was that I be able to visit Chloe Hong’s shop, FROMChloeHong.
Over lunch with MG Chris Jung and Scully Heejin Kim, Scully made arrangements with Chloe for me to come by the shop. I found out later that Chloe’s shop is by appointment only and that I was able to get in, perhaps, even before people who live in Seoul could get an appointment! Scully is my new hero, clearly. ❤
I traveled with reed man Keenan McKenzie on all the legs of this journey and he joined me at Chloe’s shop, with a mission to obtain one of Chloe’s legendary trumpet skirts for his wife, swing DJ and dancer Allison Meeks. Scully arranged for a cab to take us to Chloe’s shop and we ended up walking into some sort of laundry facility by accident and probably amusing several Korean women with our confusion and language barrier. Around the corner and up a short flight of stairs we found the shop.
Upon Keenan’s recommendation, the soundtrack to my entrance into Chloe’s shop is Gene Wilder’s rendition of “Pure Imagination,” feel free to cue that up for the rest of this post. Keenan also snapped the photo of me going into the shop, a pleasant surprise!
I often muse about Chloe’s excellent taste – you only get a glimpse of it at the events in the US, with a sampling of the shoes, ready to wear women’s clothing, and custom menswear pieces. Stepping into her shop was personal, an affirmation of her love of vintage style and decor, quality garments and fabrics, personalized goods, and Lindy Hop. Ella Fitzgerald’s dulcet tones greeted me as I walked through the custom painted gold door. The shop was on the smaller side, yet spacious feeling, furnished with early to mid-20th century furniture, vintage haberdashery items, and artwork, including various vintage-inspired Lindy Hop event posters. The chevron stripe wood floor gleamed. A teddy bear sporting one of the reproduction Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers jackets sent me over the edge. Bolts of beautiful fabrics, racks of sample menswear garments with exquisite details, rows of sample shoes to try on, a rack of Chloe’s staple women’s items, and vintage and vintage-inspired accessories completed the offerings in Chloe’s shop. I would also characterize the space a hybrid shop and studio – there was a room to the side I could see through glass that was clearly a sewing workroom. Most of the space functions as a custom menswear studio, where one would come in to be fitted for garments, view and try on sample garments and fabrics, select various cuffs and collars on display that could also be tried on, and once an ensemble was completed or conceived, select carefully curated accessories – vintage ties, Trafalgar braces, vintage cufflinks, tie cips, tie bars, caps, etc. – to complete the look.
The front portion of the shop was dedicated to Chloe’s dance shoe line, both women’s and men’s shoes. The shoes samples could be purchased if the color and size you needed were in the sample stock, but otherwise the shoes were made to order. I purchased my first pair of Chloe’s dance shoes last year at ILHC and they have become my favorite dance shoe, so I made plans to purchase two more pairs in colors I wear most often for dancing. A few weeks ago I had come to the realization that my 1930’s gold shoes were more of a deeper, bolder gold than most modern gold shoes and, of course, Chloe had the perfect leather sample to make just such a shoe so I can now have a dedicated pair for dancing. Does one have a conversation about 1930’s gold leather characteristics with just anyone? My heart sings for Chloe…
Back to our mission, we located a trumpet skirt for Allison – I imagine Chloe’s skirts are in such demand, as there was a limited selection, so don’t feel slighted if you’ve tried to order online only to find out she is out of stock. Everyone wants this skirt! There will be more coming soon, I understand, as well as some lovely trousers that look like they will lay perfectly, move well, and be as durable as the trumpet skirts.
It must be impossible to go into Chloe’s shop and NOT order menswear, so Keenan decided it would be a good idea to order a couple of dress shirts and to get measured in case another purchase may be viable in the future. It was such fun picking out fabrics from the lovely samples, selecting collars, cuffs, embroidery, and details for the shirts. Chloe was a wonderful collaborator, discussing options, allowing for opinions, and making suggestions. The turnaround was predicted to be fast for custom garments, about 3 weeks for the shirts.
While Chloe was working with Keenan, I essentially floated around her shop, absorbing all of her good taste and beautiful things, giving me life and energy and joy. I spotted a cap hanging on the wall I had been seeking for years – black and white tweed with a rainbow fleck. Into the bag it went!
As I finish this post, I realize that Chloe has been on my radar since 2013 and I have known her since shortly after that, seeing her at least annually at dance events in the US. It was thrilling to be able to visit her on her home turf, to visit the bustling city of Seoul that she calls home, and to glimpse into her daily life at her shop/studio. If you find yourself in Seoul, I would highly recommend setting up an appointment and making your way to her shop – it felt like a home away from home.
The Triangle dancers are in a flurry preparing for the inaugural Bull City Swingout (July 12-14, 2019) and we are so excited to share with you all the lovely things our area has to offer – doing my part here and sharing all of my local vintage clothing and jewelry haunts. While the event is walkable within downtown Durham, North Carolina, if you want the full vintage shopping experience, you will need to venture out in a car – however, there are two vintage stores in the downtown area, so even if you don’t have a car you won’t miss out. I’ll start with the stores closest to the event and work our way (distance-wise) out from there.
213 W. Main St. (2 blocks from the Durham Armory)
Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Dolly’s is a vintage clothing store and gift shop, offering both men’s and women’s clothing in addition to some fun Durham merch, cute gifts, and some downtown necessities (i.e. umbrellas in case you forgot yours, socks for jurors who get cold at the courthouse). Most of the clothing will be 1950’s-1980’s, but there are a few Art Deco gems hanging around – there’s a brown crepe and sequin evening gown and matching bolero from the 1930’s in there right now that better go home with someone! Dolly’s is only two blocks away from my office and is my haven when I need a cheerful place to be during a lunch break – say hi to Larisa Harrison, the owner, or maybe local artist Anna Wallace will be working that day. This is also where I take most of my vintage clothing that no longer fits.
GIBSON GIRL VINTAGE
1001 W. Chapel Hill St.
Open 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (closed on Mondays, open ’til 8 p.m. on Thursdays)
Owner Sara Spissu opened Gibson Girl Vintage a few months ago and she’s already got a full shop with more inventory coming in all the time – every time I go in, there’s new things to see, which is all very exciting. Gibson Girl has both men’s and women’s clothing, as well as a good bit of furniture and housewares. Like Dolly’s, it will mostly be 1950’s-1980’s clothing, with a sprinkling of earlier clothing – there’s a lovely yellow lace 1930’s dress and some hawt black 1940’s pumps (size 7.5) in there right now that I wish fit me! It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Durham Armory – if you decide to take that hike, there are some other great things within this block of the city, like the Durham Co-op Market, Grub (a yummy restaurant), and a Joe Van Gogh coffee shop.
CARLISLE & LINNY VINTAGE JEWELRY
112 S. Churton St.
Tuesday – Friday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday – Monday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
If you like vintage jewelry, Carlisle & Linny is the stuff dreams are made of, stocking Victorian through 1970’s jewelry, and not in a token way – there are so many Art Deco pieces that I spent about two hours in the store the first time I went, mulling over the pieces I should buy. I am fairly indecisive, particularly when there are so many lovely things…regardless, this tiny shop is packed to the gills and there’s even more in the back. If you are looking for something specific, reach out to owner Lindsley Bown ahead of time to see if she might have something – her inventory is deep, jewelry is small, so it takes some effort to find things. This shop is about a 17 minute drive from the Durham Armory and downtown Hillsborough is adorable – there are several good restaurants and a wonderful chocolate shop, Matthew’s Chocolates, within a couple of blocks of the shop.
If you attended the Eastern Balboa Championships, you may already be familiar with Raleigh Vintage, as they were our wonderful lobby vintage vendors who saved all their good swing era stuff all year for our selection. You can also get a nice selection of their inventory on their website, but obviously nothing beats going in person and being able to try things on. This shop is a 30-35 minute drive from the Armory and can be a little hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for – the entrance is down a ramp, between a shop and a parking lot, look for a door and a Raleigh Vintage sign at the bottom of the ramp. Once you’re inside, it doesn’t even feel like you are in a basement, the space is a light and airy salon with a selection of Victorian through 1970’s clothing and accessories that reflects the excellent taste of the owners, Andi Shelton and Isaac Panzarella. It’s also a few doors down from my favorite Triangle bakery, The Cupcake Shoppe.
FATHER & SON ANTIQUES
302 S. West St.
Monday – Saturday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Father & Son is a Raleigh institution, predating any of the aforementioned shops and was one of those places before the downtown area started revitalizing that was an admirable and crowded mix of excellent junk, vintage clothing, and awesome furniture. They have moved to a location that is less crowded and less dank and it is just not the same and my heart will always belong at that old location. Father & Son tends to be better for menswear than women’s clothing, but it’s still worth a trip, particularly if you love mid-century furniture – they always have a beautiful selection and furniture makes up about half the store. This shop is also about a 30-35 minute drive from the Durham Armory.