So many of you have asked me to profile individuals on Lindy Shopper and, while I think that is a lot of fun, I wanted Lindy Shopper to remain focused on retail sources and helpful ideas – however, when I combine powers with Yehoodi, anything is possible. 🙂 Yehoodi pitched the idea of me interviewing fashionable Lindy Hoppers at the International Lindy Hop Championships and I thought it was a great idea, to approach people who catch my eye on the floor about what they are wearing, why they are wearing it, where they got it, and their personal dance clothing and shoe preferences. Due to some technical difficulties, this was delayed and released this past Monday by Yehoodi, but here it is! Enjoy!
(turn on closed captioning if you have difficulty hearing – the DJ’ed music was louder than we anticipated)
A couple of weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit St. Louis, Missouri and perform at the Nevermore Jazz Ball with Michael Gamble and his Rhythm Serenaders. I was particularly eager to visit St. Louis because there are some very dear dance friends in my life who moved there after living with or near me in North Carolina and I heard there was amazing vintage clothing there – knowing that St. Louis had a lot of money/industry during my sought-after clothing periods and seeing the amazing wardrobe of Miss Jubilee in photographs online, I was beyond excited to take my first trip to this Midwest city.
I picked Saturday of Nevermore to embark on my shopping adventure, meeting up with Athena Moon and Lian Tarhay for a quick stop at The Vintage Haberdashery and then brunch at Rooster. The Vintage Haberdashery is part vintage store, part costume shop and had a small, but respectable selection of pre-WWII clothing and some great 1920’s reproduction beaded gowns glistening from the rafters. The store was well-organized with lots of quality items, and a particularly nice display of shoes and hats. I spotted a bunch of great 40’s day and cocktail dresses, some 1940’s oxfords, and a nice selection of menswear, both dress and sportswear items. Definitely worth a stop!
After brunch, we went to Cherokee Street to take in the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, which happened to include a vintage shop as a venue and be down the street from another vintage shop – bliss! Imagine shopping in a stacked vintage clothing store with a live hot jazz band playing just outside on the back patio, and you could take a break, dance, shop, dance, shop – that was my experience at Retro 101. Seriously, a luxury! Retro 101 had so many special pieces, I can’t even articulate everything, delicious sheer 1930’s dresses, beautiful rayon print 1940’s dresses, wonderful gowns, hats, gloves, leather, and a case of amazing bakelite! Feathers! Beading! I didn’t even get to the menswear, but I spotted some usual suspects with great garments and accessories in hand, so I know there was good stuff!
Finally, we visited Ruth’s Vintage Clothing, a little shop on the corner just a few blocks from Retro 101. Almost as soon as we stepped into the store, we heard the second line start up outside and ran back out to see the parade. At this point I’m thinking St. Louis and this event definitely have really unique offerings for the dance community – dancers joined in, people were drawn out of shops and restaurants to watch, adding to the magnetic and magical SOMETHING in the air that made this event distinctive, local, and inviting. We went back into Ruth’s, which had a few 1940’s dresses and some great accessories, including an Art Deco belt buckle and brooch set that combined distinctive rhinestone angled shapes with early plastic (bakelite or celluloid, not sure) flowers blooming from the stones – VERY tempting, can we create a dress or gown around this?
We followed the second line back down to Retro 101, took another gander (so much to take in!), then ended up at Melt for a cider and to hear Mike Faltesek and Chloe Feoranzo play their last set of the day. An all around very satisfying day of shopping in a wonderful city!
Now in its fifth year, OcTieBer is “a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear worn in a traditional style” – in reality, it is much more than the sum of this description: it is the encouragement of people of all walks, creeds, and genders to embrace classic style (or modern twists on classic style); it highlights accessories that we don’t often consider in our modern lives, unless you happen to be a lawyer or just really like wearing neck scarves or ascots; it encourages you to dig deep into your closet and pull out those neglected ties or challenges regular tie wearers to create new ensembles and be inspired by others; it may cause people to notice you in positive ways; it creates a sense of camaraderie within the OcTieBer Facebook group where novice and even professional dressers can share their creativity and efforts for the day or every day of October.
OcTieBer IS inspiring. The challenge is to wear neckwear every day for the month of October, but even if you only join us for a couple of days, I invite you to join us for the fun of dressing, learning from and being inspired by others, and being supported in your endeavors by a wonderful group of people.
1. Wear a collared shirt and tie each day (be it a long tie, bow tie, ascot, cravat, bolo, western double string tie or any other traditional neckwear that expresses your personal style). Preferably your outfit will be paired with a jacket, sweater, vest or other accessories that suggest why you’ve chosen that day’s tie.
2. Upload an image of your fine outfit with an optional description of the designer, type of knot, fabric, etc.
3. Share the love by encouraging your friends to admire your statement of personal style.”
All Balboa Weekend celebrated its 15th Anniversary this year and I celebrated my 9th anniversary of attending ABW. This Balboa homecoming/family reunion is one that I look forward to every year for the friends, the amazing dancing, and the wonderful vintage shopping that is available in Cleveland. This year, my report will combine shopping inside and outside the hotel, since some brick and mortar stores set up booths at ABW and other remain in their brick edifices. All are worthy of mention and this year’s shops and vendors did not disappoint!
My partner in crime this year was Berkeley, California dancer Alisa Szatrowski – I’ll give an honorable mention to Jack Flaps, a wonderful brunchy place she discovered and where we fortified ourselves before a day of vintage shopping.
Our first stop is my always first stop, Sweet Lorain, and the owner Redwin Lewis welcomed us with open arms and escorted us back to the 30’s and 40’s area, where he showed us they had pulled additional racks of 30’s and 40’s clothing out just for ABW. *squee!* Soon, Alisa and I were lost in a jungle of clothing, amongst the close and very full racks, calling out to each other as if we were playing Marco Polo to try to find each other to show off choice garments. Sweet Lorain did not disappoint and Alisa and I soon had a dressing room full of things to try on, with another helpful employee pulling additional garments based on our selections. Seriously, an A+ for customer service. We both left with some wonderful pieces and warm fuzzy feelings about everything at Sweet Lorain.
Next stop was Chelsea’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes, which is an impressive warehouse full of clothing, and particularly has a large selection of menswear, which I wrote about more in-depth last year. We ran into dancer and DJ Bill Speidel and we did a quick run through the menswear, as I’m always shopping for certain dudes and the hubs. I left Chelsea’s empty-handed, but Alisa had great luck with late 30’s/early 40’s dresses in velvet and faille – dreamy!
The vendor market at ABW opens at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday and we were there even a little before that, with anxious vintage lovers already hovering over the booths.
The first booth you come to is Re-Mix Vintage Shoes and this booth was abuzz all weekend, with ladies buying shoes, trying on many more, and ogling the beautiful wares. The big hit this year was a new style, Gabriele, which is a low heeled 1930’s shoe with a t-strap, an alternative to the Balboa Style, with a slightly different shape and different colors. I would love to hear some reviews from the ladies who bought them and wore them this weekend – I did see Valerie Salstrom try them on the first day and then didn’t take them off as she continued to set up for the event!
Next in the line of vendors was Flower Child, which is comprised of several individual vendors that make up part of the brick and mortar store, and which takes up most of the hallway. They are always good about bringing in new inventory every day, taking requests, and having a nice selection of clothing, accessories, and some novelty items and knickknacks from the swing era. My favorite ABW find for this year came from Flower Child’s booth, a fully functional scales brooch, perfect for me as both a Libra and a lawyer – for serious, the scales have tiny chains and you could actually put things in the bowls and the scales would tip, SO COOL.
New to the vendor list this year was Sugar Shakers, the handiwork of Joanna Kassoulides Thibault, who got her start stitching chorus girl costumes for a troupe of the same name in Toronto and decided, after accumulating a wardrobe of costumes, that she would sell some of these versatile pieces. I love a good trumpet skirt and Joanna had a nice sampler of trumpet skirts, polka dot wrap blouses, bakelite-inspired earrings, as well as sharing a table with her husband Mike Thibault‘s handmade earrings and Vintage Jazz Art prints.
Next in the vendor lineup is ChatterBlossom, aka Jamie Sturdevant, who is local to me, but for ABW everyone can see her amazing handiwork up close, with flowers and headpieces made from vintage millinery flowers and jewelry made from vintage buttons. Seeing in person is even better, as I noted people running to their rooms for garments, trying to match a bloom to a dress, and (I know I’m a broken record on this, but) the colors in the vintage flowers are just so right for vintage clothing, for obvious reasons, and they are so much more exquisitely detailed than most modern artificial flowers I have seen. Jamie does custom pieces, too, so you can find the perfect bloom for that one of a kind vintage dress.
Holding down the end of the hallway was The Cleveland Shop, which had a nice selection of men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry. The owner would also bring in new items daily, and even brought in some divine tropical rayon fabric one day, that was gone before it could hit the market (I can’t wait to see that blouse, Jamie!). Oh, to have a warehouse full of endless vintage things to sell!
Each year the vendors at ABW are one of the things I look forward to most about the event and I truly appreciate the effort the vendors put into setting up, displaying, being there to sell, breaking it all down, and sometimes traveling great distances – I think Philip Heath, the owner of Re-mix Vintage Shoes, wins this year by flying in and shipping shoes from California, though past ABWs venders have flown in from as far away as the UK and Australia. We love that you do it and we’ll keep buying all the beautiful things. 🙂
Here are some more photos of all the lovely things:
Just a reminder that OcTieBer begins today – “a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear worn in a traditional style.” The invitation to participate extends to everyone and I would encourage you to embrace your personal style as it extends to neckwear, as the challenge has forced me to be creative and embrace the fun of incorporating ties and scarves into my regular (lazy, everyday) wardrobe. The result is elevation of personal style and fun. If you’d like to participate (or enjoy watching), join the Facebook group and here are the instructions from the group:
“1. Wear a collared shirt and tie each day (be it a long tie, bow tie, ascot, cravat, bolo, western double string tie or any other traditional neckwear that expresses your personal style). Preferably your outfit will be paired with a jacket, sweater, vest or other accessories that suggest why you’ve chosen that day’s tie.
2. Upload your image of finely attired “dudeness” [or “ladyness,” “quaintrelleness,” etc.] wearing said outfit with an optional description of the designer, type of knot, fabric, etc. to the Facebook group.”
3. Share the love by encouraging your friends to admire your statement of personal style.”
A few weeks ago I attended the third annual Art Deco Society of Virginia Gatsby Afternoon Picnic in Richmond, Virginia. I have seen this event grow from “let’s all meet in a park at the same time” to an organized event at the historic Wilton House Museum, with live music, vintage vendors, an on-site barber, food trucks, photo booth, contests, media coverage, shuttles, parking attendants, an MC, and even an alcohol sponsor. I was happy to see some familiar faces amongst the vendors and pleasantly surprised to find vintage vendors that were new to me.
Let’s start on one end of the line and move to the other – first in the lineup was Chatterblossom, who has become my own personal vintage millinery Philip Treacy. The gorgeous millinery was on display, as well as lovely jewels, flapper headbands, and a nice selection of menswear accessories. If only women’s dress shirts didn’t button from the opposite side, a tie clip with vintage microphone would have certainly left with me!
Another standby for me, Raleigh Vintage, was present with a drool-worthy display of Art Deco era goods and jewels. This display was on the heels of another festival in Raleigh the previous day, but the busy bees at Raleigh Vintage persevered and were present in force. I am seriously in love with all of the jewelry in their display, can I just take the silver tray full of necklaces home with me? Also, lots of event-appropriate cotton frocks in lovely prints, embroidery, and all things just-so.
Machine Dance Vintage and Brooksy shared a lovely space together, complimenting a rack of MDV vintage dresses and goods with Brooksy’s hand-crafted 1920’s hats and headbands. I have long been a fan of MDV’s Etsy shop and it was good to see some of these great vintage pieces in person. I have also been following and eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-launched Brooksy line of hats, created by ADSVA president Olivia Lloyd. The construction of these hats and the attention to detail is as impeccable as Ms. Lloyd’s vintage wardrobe. I am holding out for Myrna Loy’s pixie hat!
My husband’s family lives in Virginia Beach, which has many great thrift stores, but I was unaware of VB Vintage – no brick and mortar shop, but certainly an impressive enough of a display that I was kicking myself for not knowing about them before now. Their Etsy shop doesn’t even come close to displaying the number of goods they had on hand at the Gatsby picnic, which means there’s even more to come – also, the benefit of being on location for these trunk shows! Lots of great accessories, knick knacks, and a few stellar pieces of clothing from the era.
Monkey Shynes was up next, with a small selection of 78 rpm records and assorted vintage memorabilia and crafts.
Finally, on the other end of vendor’s row was MA’s Mad House of Adornment, another Etsy vendor with great feathered headpieces and eclectic jewelry. I am particularly fond of feathered headpieces made from feathers with curled ends – the effect is really stunning and the result is that they tend to lay so nicely in whatever configuration I have seen them in. I was also amused by the Scarlett O’Hara necklace – the movie came out in 1939, so we’ll humor the reference.
I was excited to see some new vendor faces and an old favorite return to the International Lindy Hop Championships this year. Particularly, with a focus on menswear – it is so easy for women to find good dance clothing, but most of our vendors (who are mostly women themselves) cater to women. This year, the men and women had some great vendors to choose from, from pieces you could take home to custom-made garments to order.
Did I mention my love for Chloe Hong? After her stint at All Balboa Weekend, I was suprised (read: elated) to see her back in the U.S. after such a short time. Not only did she clean up on the dance floor, she set up shop at ILHC to take custom orders for her wonderful selection of women’s skirts and classic men’s suiting. Just going through her fabric swatches makes me happy! If you have never considered ordering something custom and you find yourself at an event with Chloe Hong, I would recommend at least looking into ordering a custom piece – she can get your measurements in person and has lots of experience dressing dancers for a range of movement (she counts Bobby White, Thomas Blacharz, Pontus Persson, Laura Keat, Jeremy Otth, and Juan Villafane as customers, and I could go on…)
Returning for another year (have they been at ILHC every year?) is Forties Forward, with an array of lovely hair blooms, feathers, and accessories. One can never have too many hair accoutrements and I was also pleased to see that Forties Forward shared their table with A Woopie! Handmade Bowties (another menswear vendor!), which had a nice array of ties and even included some adorable instructions on how to tie the ties! I always need a little help when I tie my ties, so an adorable instruction card on my vanity beats, say, that YouTube tutorial I have to pull up every time I do this…
Perhaps the most impressive display belonged to Brown & Williams Clothiers, who specialize in vintage British menswear – yes, they import and they curate a stellar collection, a portion of which was on display at ILHC. I wish could sport the amazing jackets, sweaters, and trousers I spotted in their booth (none of them small enough!) – a seriously delicious collection for anyone who digs British style, collegiate style, boating, and especially tweed. If you are interested in checking out some of their stock, it looks like the best way to purchase is through their Etsy site – that green and white crested blazer *drool*…
This year’s International Lindy Hop Championships were a little topsy turvy for me – instead of competing and commentating on the Balboa Strictly competition and ILHC trends for Yehoodi’s broadcast, I was DJ’ing the Balboa competitions and singing with Jonathan Stout‘s bands. I ALMOST thought I wouldn’t have time to gather information for a blog post, but then I found myself going “OK, I have 5 minutes before sound check, let me just run over here…” So, you see, I have a post for you after all – two, even. 😀
Let’s start with trends! Here’s what I saw this year:
– Women’s high waisted pants with tapered leg, optional pleat – if they had gotten them at the GAP, it would be a new era of khakis swing because these pants were everywhere. I counted at least 10 pairs on follows in one of the Lindy Hop prelims heats, plus scattered sightings elsewhere. NYC dancer Jessica Miltenberger reported that American Apparel was a prime source here, offering said pant in a recent sale for a great price and versatile colors. It looked like a casual scene in a 1950’s technicolor film, with all the tucked in shirts, high waisted pants, and skinny belts…but that’s probably a different GAP commercial…
– Men’s suits in non-traditional colors – I saw lovely shades of deep burgundy, purple, and different blues, all elegantly done and tastefully accessorized, but with that extra pop that makes you notice them – which is exactly what you want in a dance competition, to be noticed.
– Stockings with detail on the lower thigh – yes, Jo Hoffberg has been doing this for years, but this year people must have Googled hard enough to find all her elegant stocking sources. The beauty of the lower thigh detail is that you don’t have to wear a super short or flyaway skirt to see all that glorious detail, and it emphasized swivels in a really cool and different way.
– Men’s purple dress shirts – were rampant! Light, medium, dark, all the shades. See also coordinating follower outfits.
– Remy Kouakou Kouame & Vincenzo Fesi – holy mother of *insert expletives of joy*, those white suits…all their ensembles from the weekend, really, but their powers combine in this magnificent routine for sartorial and jazz dance sublimity.
This year’s Jazz Age Lawn Party in August was one of my favorites for several reasons – 1) I have the routine down for this event in terms of logistics and getting around NYC, 2) I know a lot of the regular attendees after attending for several years and some new friends made an appearance at the lawn party, making for a very lovely social event, and 3) I freakin’ won the Charleston contest! Always a favorite are the vendors who set up their wares on Governor’s Island – this year, the lawn party vendors really outdid themselves. There were old favorites, as well as some new vendors – here we go!
I was excited to see a booth for Gretchen Fenston, Milliner, because Gretchen is one of the stars of the Jazz Age Lawn Party – as long as I’ve been attending the lawn party, Gretchen has taught the beginner Charleston and Peabody lessons with Roddy Caravella and, aside from that, she herself is a main attraction of style, elegance, and superbly coordinated and whimsically crafted millinery. Seriously, her hats are just impeccable, matching her ensemble with period aplomb and her own take on the Art Deco era. Her booth had several hats and headpieces for sale, along with a lookbook of her designs. *drool* If you are interested in a custom piece, I hear she takes orders…
Just down the line the Goorin Bros. had their impeccable line of hats, for ladies and gents, set up, with even more lids for sale. I have always been impressed with their hats and friends who own said hats speak highly of this company. They had a fantastic selection of summer hats, perfect for the lawn party, from straw fedoras to linen caps to summer cloches. Goorin Bros. has a great retail website, so if you missed the lawn party you can always place your order online!
Next up was Wildfell Hall Vintage, which had an exquisite collection of Art Deco era clothing and accessories, and some other choice vintage pieces. My partner in lawn party crime, Raleigh dancer Elizabeth Tietgen found an amazing purple floral early 30’s dress that had already been restored, seam by seam, and new snaps put in the side with reinforcement. It looked incredible and she’ll save at least what she paid for the dress having it repaired or reinforced – what a find! I saw at least 3 things I couldn’t live without, but were not in my size…*sigh* Gorgeous, gorgeous things.
One difficult thing to come by for the lawn party are vintage sunglasses, because you can’t always dance with your parasol and maybe your cloche brim just isn’t deep enough – Belle Pagaille came to the rescue with some of the most kick-ass sunglasses I have ever seen, all with a vintage bent, though some of them verged on ultra-modern, or even steam punk. The company designs the glasses themselves, which I thought was great, so you are getting these lenses from the design source, not a reseller.
Outfitter of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, the Prohibition Clothing Company is certainly a staple of the lawn party, offering some of the best looking reproduction menswear I have seen. I was particularly excited this year because they have launched their women’s line of clothing, which includes a trumpet skirt with killer seaming and a pair of tweed knickers that were whispering to me to bring them home. The tailoring on everything was killing me, just impeccable. After seeing this display, I’m ready for OcTieBer!
Next to the general admission tent is, perhaps, the largest lawn party vendor, Dora Marra, which had so many blooming and feathered headpieces in every imaginable color and configuration it was almost overwhelming. This was definitely the go-to place for a bit of whimsy to stick on your head to augment your lawn party outfit. They were simply swamped, so I didn’t get a really good look at everything, but thankfully they have an Etsy store where you can take your time and browse the vast collection.
Noble Savage Vintage had another lovely display and some real Art Deco era garments that were selling like hot cakes. I glanced at some black 1920’s Mary Janes and a lovely bejeweled Art Deco pin, but then my eyes met a pair of woven mesh 1930’s heels and it was all over. “What size are these?” “7.” MY SIZE. I tried not to hyperventilate while I tried them on, but I held it together for the most part and squee’d a little bit during the check out. As you can tell, Noble Savage was my favorite of the day, LOL.
Check out more of the lawn party vendor goodies below! Ciao!
I attended the first ever Southeast Summer Brawl two weekends ago, a weekend of competitions for the Southeast held in Columbia, SC. Having never been to Columbia, I was curious to know about vintage shopping there, as the South is notoriously bad for having vintage clothing (poor, rural us, right?), but then Columbia is the capital and just maybe there was something – organizer Nathan Clinebelle tipped me off to two places, a vintage clothing and costume shop called Hip Wa Zee and the Gentleman’s Closet, a store that sells consignment menswear and some new items. My companions for this outing were Winston-Salem dancer Anna Bryant and my ABW shopping companion and newly outfitted Skyler Hinkel.
Hip Wa Zee proved to be a successful outing – the front of the store is a mix of vintage clothing and reproduction clothing and the back of the store is entirely rental clothing and costumes. The store was cheery and organized and, while it lacked a large section of swing-era vintage clothing, the offerings it did have were swell. Definitely a good place to stop in if you are going through or stopping in to visit Columbia! I particularly enjoyed the selection of beautiful slips in an array of colors, as well as a gorgeous rayon print suit with a floating overskirt/long peplum and puffed sleeves. Anna left with two gorgeous slips, Skyler with two ties, and I with a 50’s sundress and matching bolero, as well as a late 30’s tie. We also ran into Clemson, SC dancer Ben White, who left with a sweet vintage sweater vest.
Gentleman’s Closet was a consignment store full of menswear basics – shirts, suits, slacks, socks (new, not used), braces, belts, ties, shoes, just about everything you’d need to put together a wardrobe. They also had the largest selection of seersucker suit colors I had ever seen (all new suits, pristine, in plastic dry cleaning bags), which I understand were in stock for Carolina Cup, a horse race held in Camden, SC – purple, yellow, orange, colors I have never seen made into a suit and I LIVE IN THE SOUTH. We found Skyler a pair of brown oxford street shoes to go with his ABW clothes and newly acquired three piece navy pinstripe suit – can’t wear those Remix oxfords out in the street!
Enjoy the photos and be sure to stop in Columbia if you are in the South – these two stores are also in a very hip area of town, with fun restaurants and delicious coffee!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Still recovering and playing catch up from Lindy Focus…and still unpacking…but there are more vendor reports to be had! Until then, I’ll leave you with this superlative I picked up – thanks to everyone who voted! 😀
Adding to the dance and music bliss at Lindy Focus is the particular attention I see many people giving to their ensembles for the evening dances, even more so in years past. While most people save their sparkles for New Year’s Eve, I’m seeing the sparkles come out even earlier this year. I’d like to give a shout out to Anna Bryant and Caitlin Farthing not only for making the finals in the intermediate jack and jill, but also for selecting really stellar competition dresses that were vibrantly colored, swishy in the skirt, and sparkled in a way that drew attention without getting in the way of dancing (as beads and sequins are not so kind to leaders’ hands). Check out Caitlin at 3:28 in the video below, with a sequined collar, and Anna at 4:08 with a rhinestone (?) detail on the front of her dress. The video does not capture how much these two were twinkling in the lights! If I had been a better reporter, I would have gotten a photo of them together, but there’s like 1,000 people here so it’s hard to find everyone. 🙂
Just a quick note amidst the amazing chaos to tell you that exciting things are going on at Lindy Focus – there’s going to be another wonderful Nicole Lenzen fashion show, the LF tee shirts are selling out as of the first official day of camp, the consignment shop goes up today for dancers to consign their dance duds (plus glitter tap shoes!), and the myriad vendors that round out our little micro-economy here at the happiest place on earth. Reports soon!