With the pomp and fanfare given to Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming film rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” comes the opportunity for various merchants to cash in *ahem* I mean present collections of Gatsby era inspired clothing, rugs, shoes, flooring, you name it. It’s one of those things that sort of elicits a collective groan and, at the same time, a hope – a groan for the fad, the hyped up eBay prices for 20’s clothing, the assumption that you are part of the fad even though you’ve been an Art Deco lover for years; a hope that some really beautiful items will come of this that may not be plentiful in their vintage form.
I’d love to have a complete list of all the collections for 2013 that have been inspired by the movie – please feel free to submit your own! In the interim, here’s what I’ve been able to dig up:
(I’ll have to make an exception to my maximum price rule with this post, but Gatsby is all about luxury and what we can’t have, no?)
Brooks Brothers – there are several threads on Facebook criticizing the collection for its modern cuts, uniform hat sizing, and other elements that would either not be period appropriate or luxurious enough to warrant the cost. Yet, with a retailer as large and established as Brooks Brothers, one can always hope for knockoffs.
Tiffany & Co. – some simply stunning pieces with, what I would consider, an appropriate mix of modern and Art Deco elements. Anyone with an extra $200,000 in their bank account can purchase one of the gorgeous headpieces… *drool*
Armstrong Hardwood Floors – I’m no wood floor expert, so I’m looking for a tie-in to the Gatsby era…perhaps inspired by hardwood flooring stains of the 1920’s? I do know that Tudor architecture was popular during the 1920’s, so their Oak – Tudor Brown makes sense. The rest, I’m not sure…
Sue Wong – designer Sue Wong debuted her Fall 2013 collection inspired by the Great Gatsby. The collection is not on her website and I’m having a hard time finding photos of the actual collection, rather than the celebrity attendees. From the scant photos, it looks to be a modern interpretation.
Catherine Martin Rugs – this is probably my favorite, these Art Deco rugs are just divine, pieces of art themselves.
We can keep going…I’m happy to add to the list, if you have others!
The 9th annual Eastern Balboa Championships was another rousing success, with perhaps even more shenanigans, planned and unplanned, than usual. A highlight of the weekend was dressing in tweeds for the mock English hunt, led by Bobby White, where the tweeded and costumed EBC gentry gave organizer Chris Owens a sporting head start before we unleashed the Nerf guns on him. Perhaps the best part of the weekend for me was performing with my band, the Mint Julep Jazz Band, for the Friday night dance, receiving rave reviews for our performance, and launching a Kickstarter for our first CD. 🙂
The vendors were out again this year, but in spite of not having a shoe vendor, the vendor area certainly looked full. Raleigh Vintage was back with their fabulous trunk show of 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s clothing, as well as a full rack of tweed for some last-minute-pre-hunt shopping. Some of my favorite pieces from the collection are shown below, and I managed to do some Christmas shopping for my husband, as well. My favorite purchase for him was a 1933 World’s Fair tie clip and Raleigh Vintage had a set of three of them, in blue, white, and black. They also had some excellent ladies’ jewelry this time, bakelite, Art Deco necklaces, and clever pins. There was a hilarious pin with maracas and a plaque that said “Hasta Manana” that I loved – but what do you wear with this? I am pondering…
Following the success of their booth at All Balboa Weekend, The Cleveland Shop made the long journey to North Carolina with an impressive display of vintage dresses, separates, menswear, shoes, hats, and other vintage sundries. I especially appreciate that they brought books on vintage make-up and hair, which can be a chore to figure out without a tutorial. Favorites included the red shoes pictured at left, tons of wonderful rayon floral 30’s and 40’s dresses, and a plaid suit that I would wear loud and proud if I were a dude. I do hope their trip down here was fruitful and that they will return to us next year from the land of vintage with even more goodies.
Last, but certainly not least, Sharon Crawford of Creations by Crawford is the hardest working vendor at these events – most of her creations are custom made for you, during the weekend, and are sometimes being made for a dance that night. Sharon’s vendor table is also a social hub, so you can enjoy the warm, friendly conversation as she creates wonderful pieces made from vintage jewelry, feathers, ribbon, and other tiny pretty things. I’m willing to say that Sharon gets a lot of business from men, as well, and can create the perfect boutonniere to go with any jacket or ensemble.
Don’t miss out on the 10th anniversary party next year, the celebration is going to be huge and full of pranks, I’m sure!
I have anticipated checking out Alexandria’s Amalgamated Classic Clothing and Dry Goods since April, when I heard of its opening shortly prior to DCLX and the wonders that awaited me – rumors that the owners have a warehouse where items are pulled for Hollywood movies, that the inventory has real swing era stuff, GOOD stuff, and I was salivating. As I ditched the Saturday afternoon DCLX dance to head over to Alexandria I got a text message from Bill Speidel that the shop was closed. Oh, the disappointment!
Thankfully, I had already planned to attend the International Lindy Hop Championships in August, so I knew I’d get a second chance. I messaged the store’s Facebook page a few days prior to the event to make sure that they would be open and should I send my measuremnets. The answers were yes and yes, and I was elated.
I planned to go on Friday of ILHC and at the Thursday night dance I met Beth Midavaine, who had also planned to take a trip to Amalgamated with Bill Speidel, but Bill had bailed on her, so it seemed that fate would have it that we go shopping together. We headed to Amalgamated the next day with Jason Sager and arrived at the store at noon on the dot. The store was closed. I was frantic. We went next door to a knick knack store owner, who didn’t know why the shop wasn’t open. As we regrouped on the sidewalk, the door opened to Amalgamated and it was, after all, open for business. *phew!*
It took us three hours to get through everything in the store and try on the rack of clothes that Beth and I accumulated through our collective digging through the store. The store itself is small is square footage, but packed with everything good – there was no small rack where the few swing era items were delegated – the entire store was pre-1960’s, so 100% of their inventory was everything that you would want to see in a vintage store. It was glorious! The men’s section rivaled the women’s section in size and magnificence (who has an entire rack devoted to two tone Ricky Ricardo jackets?) and a men’s shoe section that took up an entire table, and included children’s shoes (tiny leather and mesh oxfords!). Owner Shelley White took us through boxes in the back room filled with delicate 1920’s beaded dresses, there were racks of glorious dresses and gowns, plus some very practical items that would be perfect for dancing. The women’s shoes had a good selection of larger women’s sizes, which was great for Beth, who picked up a pair of fantastic 1940’s heels.
I don’t think words or photos will do this place justice, so you’ll just have to go and see for yourself. Until then, check out some of our finds below:
I have returned from the land of Balboa milk and honey, with tired feet, a warm heart, and a bag of vintage goodies in tow. The All Balboa Weekend organizers did another stellar job with the event this year and it remains my favorite swing dance event. Of course, the shopping helps… 😉
I usually do separate posts for event vendors and my “field trips” to a city’s brick-and-mortar stores, but was no way to separate the vendors from the stores because, in several cases, they were the same. I’ll run through the shopping activities chronologically:
My partners in crime for this round of shopping were Elizabeth Tietgen (she of the aqua velvet 30’s gown and other blue accoutrements from last year) and Molly McGowan (her first trip to ABW and first big vintage shopping endeavor). After a lunch of delicious crepes, we visited Deering Vintage first because they were not represented in the ABW vendor lineup and so I did not blow all of my money at Suite Lorain, as in past years, and actually make it to another store. Deering Vintage had a few swing era items, but was mostly filled with quality goods from later decades and tons of fantastic accessories, like purses and gloves. Elizabeth found a fantastic black and red velvet 40’s ice skater-ish dress (which she took home) and Molly found a gorgeous 1930’s tea dress, which we decided was not the most-dancer friendly dress and that we would keep looking. We also ran into Valerie Bissig and Stefan Deuber, who were also making the vintage store rounds, and I started to get really excited about the weekend and all the international dancers!
The magnetic pull was too strong, so we drove to Sweet Lorain, the vintage department store, for some shopping. There are some real heartbreakers there, in the form of gorgeous dresses suffering from fading, but there were some new gems in the midst as well. Favorites were a late teens/early 20’s dress that was screaming at me to take it home and dress up as someone from Downton Abbey for Halloween, a velvet gown with Art Deco burnouts on the sleeves, some purple canvas 1940’s platforms, and Molly’s navy blue 1940’s dress with matching bolero – win!
We pressed on, to Flower Child next, which appeared to be mostly furniture on the main level, and had vendor booths with clothing, records, knick-knacks, and other furniture downstairs. There were racks upon racks of polyester and, aside from a few slips, we deduced that the good stuff was already in the hallway at ABW (and we were right!). Nevertheless, an interesting space with some really good furniture pieces on display.
Our last stop before heading back to the hotel was The Cleveland Shop. At the front of the store when we walked in was an empty rack where all the swing era clothing used to be and we had to laugh because we all knew where it went. Still, it was nice to see the location and know where it is, for future reference. There were a couple of items left behind, namely a mint condition 1920’s beaver fur coat that was too small for my shoulders and a pair of silk tap pants that came home with me (my first purchase of the day, if you can believe it).
Side note: We were apparently right across the street from another treasure trove, Chelsea Costumes, and didn’t know it. Next year!
Back at the hotel, we began shopping immediately. The Flower Child vendors grabbed the prime spot at the top of the hallway, where you round the corner to go to the ballroom. These ladies get the most dedicated award, for being there the whole time and for bringing in new clothing and items daily. There were too many good things to name – gorgeous beaded and velvet 1920’s dresses, 40’s cocktail dresses, 30’s tea and house dresses, men’s military, sweaters, ties, hats, fabric, notions, you name it, Flower Child had a piece of it.
Next up in the hallway was Re-mix Vintage Shoes, where many would linger, ponder, and eventually part with their hard-earned cash for a fabulous pair of handmade leather reproduction heels. I didn’t notice any new models this year, but there were a few new colors available in the Emily t-strap and some new metallics in the Anita shoe. So much love for these shoes!
The Cleveland Shop set up almost across from Re-Mix and had a nice variety of clothing for ladies and gents, as well as some accessories and choice footwear. This is where I found my sole dress purchase of the weekend! I heard that The Cleveland Shop did so well at ABW, they are interested in attending the Eastern Balboa Championships this year as a vendor. Cleveland, North Carolina will certainly welcome you with open arms if you bring your vintage goods to our fair state…
Shannon Sheldon’s Bombshell Baubles were back this year, in all their petal and feather glory. Shannon added some new handmade items, like aprons, make-up bags in adorable fabrics, and hair flowers made of fabric and buttons. Of note, there were a lot of blue flowers in the collection, which is a color that is both hard to find and, if you do find it, hard to find in a GOOD blue. I made sure to pick up a blue hair bloom for myself.
My Heinies grabbed a fair chunk of the vendor space to house all the lovely bloomers and Carol Fraser’s army of hot dance shoes. I spotted a number of these fabulous heels making their debut on the dance floor this past weekend. I stocked up on fancy hosiery while I was there and picked up some hair accessories that sparkle! As at ILHC, My Heinies paired up with Model J Vintage to offer a selection of vintage and vintage-inspired clothing.
Finally, Sweet Lorain set up a display case of rare gems (like 1920’s beaded bags and Art Deco jewels) at the end of the hallway, and I briefly saw a rack of clothing nearby, but did not see that they were present the way most of the other vendors were. Hence, the lack of reporting. Don’t worry, Sweet Lorain, I still love you!
And…that’s a wrap! I look forward to next year’s vendors and vintage shopping at ABW!
This past weekend was my first trip to New Orleans, LA, which meant I was going to get a double dose of nerdy obsessive bliss – trad jazz and Trashy Diva. The occasion was to celebrate, bachelorette style, the upcoming nuptials of my dear friend Danielle McQueen, who also loves good music and beautiful dresses. On our Saturday in New Orleans the bride and bridesmaids headed over to Chartres Street to shop…
I blubbered like a blithering idiot when I got into the store, I was so excited to be there. The shop attendant was skeptical as I introduced myself as a blogger and asked if I could take photographs of the shop, but I probably sounded like a lunatic. The store was beautiful, so quintessentially French Quarter (but without all the Mardi Gras beads), and, most importantly, it was stocked full of every lovely Trashy Diva dress you can see on their website.
I’m pretty adventurous about buying clothing online, but it was so nice to be able to try on the dresses in the store. Candice Gwinn‘s designs are even more fetching in person. We all leaped in with gusto, each of us hitting either the jewelry counter, the dressing room, or both to take in all the wonderful things we spotted that wanted to come home with us. Danielle left with the dress of the day, the gorgeous deep red velvet Natasha dress, with beading at the shoulders and all around the waistband. The photo on the website doesn’t begin to do this gorgeous dress justice – it’s simply to die for – and it’s perfect for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve cocktail party or a winter dance opportunity.
We were running out of time, so we peeked into the Trashy Diva lingerie store next door to take in the wares. So many lovely, tiny, lacy things on racks! Of note, there are (what looked like) some excellent reproduction slips and nightgowns.
The bachelorette ladies flew out the next day, but I opted to stay an extra day so I could go dancing at d.b.a. to Tuba Skinny (so worth it! I even ran into Lindy Dandy!). This left me with most of Sunday to myself in New Orleans. Since the girls didn’t have time to visit the Trashy Diva shoe store the day before, I headed back to Chartres Street. The shoe shop is truly divine – an entire table is devoted to Re-mix shoes, a selection of the most adorable Aris Allens, and then there were even more fantastic and unfathomable shoes, as well as some more practical-yet-fabulous flats.
I struck up a less blubbery, but excited conversation with Rachel Scott, the keeper of the shoes, and managed to introduce myself like a human being, with coherent words and a Lindy Shopper business card. We proceeded to chat about so many wonderful things over the next hour and a half or so, shopping for shoes all the while, and the whole experience was delightful. After this conversation, I’m definitely looking forward to what Trashy Diva has in store for us in the future and have a greater appreciation for what Trashy Diva offers now in terms of products. Rachel also referred me to some other keen places in the French Quarter, where I could find bakelite, wigs and sparkly hair accessories, and some amazing pralines. To top it all off, the weather was perfect and sunny all day and I didn’t even need the sweater I packed in my bag.
This past weekend I attended a wonderful dance and workshop weekend in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA called Be My Jazz Baby and blissed out on two nights of dancing to Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society. Be My Jazz Baby worked to bring in vendors, who set up their wares along the inside of the dance studio room where the Saturday night dance was held. This seemed to facilitate more interaction between the vendors and the dancers. Some of the vendors were old favorites and others were new to me.
First in the lineup, Sharon Crawford was there with her needle, thread, and supplies, whipping up custom Creations by Crawford for people on the fly, as well as vending some ready-to-wear items. Sharon prefers to create custom pieces for people, based on what they are wearing or something they own, which is entirely practical and takes the guesswork out of knowing what you’ll pair with one of her floral or feather pieces.
Next we had a new addition to our regional vendors, Norfolk-based Kelsie McNair and her collection of vintage dresses, shoes, ties, and other sundries from With Lavender and Lace. It’s always wonderful to welcome the vintage clothing community into the swing dance community and I think Kelsie was pleased with the response.
Dancestore.com, by way of Kara Fabina, was present to vend their quality dance shoes to anyone who needs or wants (or desperately needs because their shoes are falling apart) a new pair of swing dance shoes. I’m excited to see Aris Allen as a consistent vendor and events – after going through a patent leather oxford boy’s ballroom shoe nightmare this week, being able to try on the shoes is worth its weight in gold.
Also new-ish to the vendor squad (but not new to the Raleigh Durham dancers) is Hairzapoppin, the floral creations of Kristy Milliken. Kristy is probably her own best advertising, as she always has a bevy of blossoms tucked into her impeccable updo. Not to mention the Lite-Brite sign, acting as a beacon to draw you to her table…
Vintage Visage came next, which I first encountered at Jammin’ on the James in Richmond, VA this past fall. Wares include reproduction and vintage items, like hats, gloves, fans, hair accessories, ties, and purses, that little something extra you may need to complete your outfit. Kathryn Ann Meyer, the curator of the Vintage Visage collection, graciously let us use one of her hats to draw names for the competition – thanks again for that!
Finally, Be My Jazz Baby had a roving vendor – Caroline Langdon, dolled up in a gorgeous cigarette girl ensemble, peddled vintage ties and other vintage goodies from her tray instead of cigarettes on behalf of Moderlux, a vintage clothing and furniture store in Hampton, VA. Sadly, Caroline and I were both so busy that I didn’t catch sight of her wares, but she’s provided this information on the store: “Modernlux is a truly unique little store I operate with owner/founder Gary MacIntyre located in the heart of old Hampton at 47 East Queens Way (23669). We specialize in Mid-Century design including housewares, household gadgets, furniture, objets d’art, and, naturally, fashion – for both men and women!”
Thanks to Bill Speidel and Victor Celania for hosting a lovely weekend of dancing and shopping!
‘Tis the season to be shopping and the pre-Black Friday sale seems to be the new Black Friday sale.
Everything on Tulle‘s website is now 50% off and all orders are free shipping, which is pretty fantastic, since Tulle already offers items that are reasonably priced. The best deal on the site is Tulle’s coats, which look impeccably cut and come in a fantastic selection of colors. Sale ends at 1:00 p.m. TODAY, PST, which means it ends at 4:00 p.m. for me and everyone else on the east coast.
Our friends at Shabby Apple have a 20% off sale through November 30. Use the code GIVETHANKS to take advantage of the sale and pick up one of their adorable dresses for the holidays.
It’s already wonderful that the Eastern Balboa Championships is just a short drive away, but this year EBC really had the feel of a top notch swing dance event, brimming with a level of excitement and enthusiasm that is almost unrivaled. EBC already felt like a Balboa family reunion, bridging the gap between All Balboa Weekends, but this year it felt like EBC really came into its own as an event. The new hotel for this year’s EBC, the North Raleigh Hilton, provided a lovely ballroom space, a big hallway with chairs and tables for vendors, registration, and for hanging out, and there were no shortage of extra rooms for practice space. There were competitions for everyone and I am proud of the newer Raleigh/Durham Balboa dancers, some of them only dancing Balboa for a few weeks prior to the event, taking the challenge head on and entering their first amateur competitions.
This year, EBC grew from one vendor to four vendors. The solo repeat vendor, and one that is near and dear to my heart, is the Vintage Collective (Andi Shelton, Claire Villa, and Laura Churchill Pemberton), who paid attention to what was bought and who purchased it last year, then went out to their sources to find even more of these vintage goods that swing dancers wear. The result was four large racks of clothing from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, both men’s and women’s apparel, three tables of accessories, and a giant shoe rack. The Vintage Collective was only set up for one day, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and I was there with my fellow vintage poachers at 9:00 sharp, freshly rolled out of bed and ready to commence with the hunt.
I intended to go grab the goodies I wanted, then go back to bed, but it was so exciting trying on clothes with my friends and choosing outfits for people that it was lunchtime before I knew it. I think Rita Shiang got my two favorite dresses of the day – a 1930’s sailor dress with red trim and a 1940’s brown floral rayon dress with amazing draping and a fishtail attachment in the back, you know, for sass. Again, I forgot to take photos of all this good stuff until the end of my shopping visit, I got so wrapped up in the experience…
Next, we have Dancestore, the anchor vendor of any major swing dance event and one that is continuously welcome, as they continue to provide reasonably priced, reproduction dance shoes that are essential to any swing dancer’s wardrobe. At one point, Frankie Hagan stopped dancing and came up to me to show me that his heel had come off his shoe. About 10 minutes later he came back up to me to show off his new pair of Aris Allen cap toes. THIS is only one of the great reasons to have a shoe vendor at your event. Another is to be able to actually try on the shoes to ensure a good fit. Then, at the dance on Sunday night, Kara Fabina announced that Dancestore would be selling their entire inventory at the event for 40% off for the next 15 minutes. YES!!! There was a rush to purchase the discounted shoes and even I decided to replace my pair of white mesh oxfords that I had danced a hole through the toe – at 40% off, how could you not?
Creations by Crawford is Sharon Crawford’s name for the hair flowers, fascinators, boutonnieres, and other clothing ornamentations she makes. I was a bit confused when I saw Sharon’s vendor space, as there were a few items for sale, but it mostly looked like a craft studio, with supplies everywhere. Then Bill Speidel showed me his boutonniere and explained that Sharon had made it custom to go with his outfit. I looked over and Sharon confirmed, as she furiously sewed together one of her creations for a customer. This is a new approach and one that can work at a weekend event – you have a bit of a captive audience if the shopper is there for the weekend, why not make something to go with what they are wearing if they have the time to wait? By the end of the dance you can have a custom piece that you know will work with something you have.
Finally, we have Vintage Visage, the brainchild of Kathryn Meyer, who had a fantastic display of vintage-inspired hats and accessories for sale, including hair flowers, fancy gloves, hats for ladies and gents, and the ever essential fan. Whoever has the foresight to sell fans at dances is always tops in my book. If you are looking for Kathryn and her wares after EBC, she is a regular vendor at Richmond’s Second Saturday dances.
And that about wraps it up for another great year at EBC! Here are some supplemental photos of the vendors:
Just when I was beginning to think eBay is the only place I’ll ever find a deal on vintage clothing or find, not just one rare gem, but hundreds of fantastic items, I travel to Portland, Oregon for a day of vintage shopping. Oh, Portland…your stores are so numerous that they fill up two brochures with maps of locations! I’ve been saving this post for Yehoodi because I knew it would be full of extra goodness, hence the delay in posting following my trip to Portland, Oregon a few weeks ago.
I should begin the story of my trip to Portland with an Etsy purchase from Jitterbuggin’(aka Kim Cullins), about a week before my trip. I noticed that her logo included her location, which happened to be Portland, and I thought, who better to give advice about what vintage stores I should check out in the city than someone who lives there and makes reproduction vintage garments? So I sent her a private message asking about vintage shopping, to which she responded “You should call me and I’ll meet you out for a shopping date.” Um…yeah!!!
So what makes two strangers from opposite sides of the continent able to meet up and share an afternoon of shopping? Two things: vintage clothing and swing dancing. Thanks to the Interwebs, our continents grow smaller and communities grow larger, and the friendly faces of the swing dance community, like Kim’s, open up opportunities in other cities that don’t seem to exist for people outside of our community.
My purpose in Portland was to visit my dear friend from college, Danielle McQueen, and have fun with her in Portland, while incidentally accomplishing some planning for her wedding. Part of the planned fun was already to go vintage shopping, so Kim’s offer seemed like the cherry on our plans sundae.
At Kim’s suggestion, we met her at Huber’s, a restaurant that has been in business since 1879 and has the distinction of being Portland’s oldest restaurant. The restaurant had a lovely Victorian interior and specialized in “a traditional turkey dinner” (hello turkey pot pie!), as well as coffees…but not just any coffees. Their signature cocktail is a Spanish coffee, which the menu states is “Kahlua, Bacardi 151, Bols triple sec and coffee topped with fresh whipped cream and nutmeg, flamed tableside.” You read that right – FLAMED TABLESIDE. Kim ordered a Spanish coffee and, having not seen the menu, had no idea what was going on when the bartender brought over a tray with all the ingredients to make the cocktail. There were grand pours of liquor, with a span of almost four feet, followed by a flame to caramelize the sugared rim of the glass, then more grand pours, and the topping of freshly whipped cream and sprinkles of nutmeg. It tasted so divine, I wish I had ordered one of my own!
After lunch, we embarked on our shopping trip. The first stop, Decades Vintage Company, was just around the corner from Huber’s. The store was small, but inviting, with a lot of great menswear pieces and an enviable rack of shoes in the back of the store. There was much lingering around the shoes and we began talking about the vintage shoes we longed for. I began to tell the story of how my grandmother danced a hole through a pair of red snakeskin heels in one night, to the dismay of her family who had scrimped and saved ration coupons to buy her those fancy heels, and how I wanted just such a pair. At that moment one of my companions gasped and we all turned around to look at the shop owner, who had discreetly pulled out a pair of red 1940’s heels from behind the counter and placed them on top of the counter while I was telling this story. Were they my size? You bet they were! I left Decades Vintage Company with a very happy shoe purchase.
Nearby was Avalon Antiques & Vintage Clothes, a large vintage store with museum-like displays of early 1900’s clothing at the front of the store and an entire wall of men’s suits that made it feel a bit like a vintage version of the Men’s Wearhouse. It took a while to take in all the awesome things on display at the front of the store, like 1920’s shoes and Victorian accessories, but I slowly made my way around the store. After going through the racks, I noticed I wasn’t encountering any pre-1940’s clothing – where was the good stuff? Kim pointed toward the ceiling, where there was a rack full of delicacies from the decades I love, plus some even older items. Introductions were necessary at this point to gain access to the rarities on the ceiling, so between the Lindy Shopper blog and Kim’s reproduction business, we had enough credibility to get some of the garments off the ceiling rack. The shopkeepers shared some wonderful treasures with us from the top rack and the mutual appreciation and joy for these garments was evident, as they continued to pull down things for us to admire – a 1920’s neglige, a spring green silk 1920’s dress, a gossamer 1930’s dress with matching jacket, a Titanic-era coat, and 1920’s day and evening-wear. While we didn’t leave with anything, we did have a wonderful experience in this store.
Next stop was Magpie, an equally large vintage store, but with a more eclectic and modern selection. Even so, there were some choice jazz age and swing era finds, like some divine suits, a sheer 1930’s day dress, silver t-strap heels, 1920’s day and evening-wear, bakelite accessories, vintage luggage, and hats.
We then encountered Ray’s Ragtime. This seemingly endless store is filled wall to wall and floor to ceiling with vintage clothing and accessories, which was great until the encounter. I sometimes forget my manners and begin to take photographs of vintage stores without asking the shopkeeper or owner’s permission, but I was so overwhelmed by the bakelite counter, then the girls beckoned me to the shoes, and I took a photo. One of the shop keeper asked me not to take photographs, so I then explained I wrote a blog and she gave me permission to take photographs. However, she did not relay this to any of the other workers, and within 5 minutes someone snapped at me to stop taking photos. I went back over to drool at the bakelite and one of them employees pulled out some things for me and I made my selections, delighted at the prices – a bracelet, earrings, and necklace! I was reeling until the woman made a comment about her holding on to the jewelry, implying that she would hold them so we didn’t shop lift them, rather than just saying she’d hold them for us until we checked out. Awkward. Dani and I then found Kim in an…I don’t remember the word Kim used, but an Asian style dress with amazing sleeves. Dani and I had barely opened our mouths to express our approval when Ray (THE Ray) came out of nowhere and screamed at Kim to get out of the dress immediately, that she was stressing the seams. The entire store stopped to look at Kim, who Ray had basically called a fatty in front of like 15 people, when Kim is the opposite of fat and was not fitted into the dress in a way that compromised its structure. We all retreated to the dressing room in a flurry of frantic whispers, where Kim showed us how the dress was already in poor condition and that someone had done a botch job on the back seams, where they had put inserts in the darts that weren’t even the same fabric as the dress. Kim was interested in using the dress as a pattern, but not after the screaming incident. While Dani and I waited for Kim near the register, I got up the nerve to ask if they had any 1920’s day dresses. I wasn’t going to leave treasures behind just because the owner was Oscar the Grouch. Ray interjected again, asked my size, and said “We have this 1930’s dress over on the wall, do you see it? It’s from 1931.”
“But I’m looking for a 1920’s day dress…”
“Then I guess that’s not good enough for you!”
Ray huffed, then turned around and continued working on something. He then turned back around, got a long pole, and fished out an orange and tan 1920’s dress from one of the ceiling racks. Orange is probably the last color I would wear with my coloring and before I could articulate my thanks for him pulling it down, he says again “well, I guess that’s not good enough for you!” I muttered my thanks, paid for my bakelite, and we ran out the door to wretch and moan on the sidewalk about our awful experience.
We needed a palette cleanser after that bitter pill, and, thankfully, our next and last stop for the day was Xtabay Vintage Clothing Boutique, a vintage shop with decor that looked like a cross between an elegant ladies shop and a Hollywood Regency boudoir. Calm and elegant was just what we needed, as well as the friendly chatter with Xtabay’s employees and owner. I found an “almost” with a 1920’s dress, but would have had to modify the garment too much for my purposes and didn’t want to hurt the integrity of the garment. Kim found the most amazing 1950’s shoes with little crystals/rhinestones all over the toe strap and saucy gold metal heels. There were some really great 1950’s party dresses, vintage suits, dresses made with wonderful novelty fabrics, and some seriously hot shoes at this store.
It was one of those days you hope never ends, even with the drama at Ray’s. Thanks so much to Kim Cullins for being our guide through the vintage stores of Portland and for taking the good photographs, since I left my camera at home and used my phone. After realizing just how many vintage stores are in Portland, it could take days just to get through them all. Sounds like another trip… 🙂
The Triangle Swing Dance Society has requested a post about where to shop locally for vintage or vintage-inspired swing dance clothing in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill). In the spirit of shopping locally, there are a few places I would recommend to find garments, but keep in mind that this is never a sure thing – vintage shops have one of a kind items and you may have to visit a shop several times before finding anything; similarly for retailers, things that may be in stock one season will not be carried for another season. I’ll list some of the more consistent producers and some general ideas about where to look for these things.
Dolly’s Vintage is in the forefront of my vintage shopping right now because my office is two blocks away from this delightful shop and I often (read: 2 or 3 times a week) stop by the shop to chat with Jennifer Donner, the amazing and talented owner of Dolly’s, and to soak up some of the cheerful atmosphere of the store. Dolly’s is also the most reasonably priced vintage store I have ever encountered. Where other vintage stores would charge $40-$100 for garments, or even more, Dolly’s keeps everything just below that range, with most items between $20 and $30. Jennifer stocks decades from the 1920’s through 1970’s (with a few choice items from more recent decades), but keep in mind that 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s garments will be much rarer and she may not have anything in stock, but you should still ask so that she knows how many people are looking for these garments. She will be more likely to purchase these items from people clearing out estates if she knows there is a demand. I can usually go into Dolly’s and find a few 1940’s items, and definitely a lot of 1950’s day dresses that are perfect for swing dances. For men, Dolly’s has a great selection of sport coats, pants, shirts, and an entire rack of 1950’s skinny ties. If you see something you like, you should either buy it immediately or ask her to hold it if you need to think about it or find something to match it – the clothes fly off the racks in that store and she stocks new items every day just to keep up with the demand. I know some of the Triangle dancers are already a fan of Dolly’s, as I’ve seen Elizabeth Tietgen pick up a 1920’s cloche, Holly Owens bought an adorable polka dot dress that she wore to a dance at the Century Center recently, and Jason Sager purchased a wig here for RDU Rent Party’s role reversal night.
While not technically inside the borders of the Triangle, Beggars and Choosers should not be overlooked. It is a bit of a drive to Pittsboro and they are only open on some Saturdays, but this is the only place I know of in the Triangle that stocks clothing from the late 1800’s through the 1970’s and consistently has a few items from the jazz age and swing era. I see a lot of conflicting information about when this store is open, so it’s best to call ahead before you decide to make the trip. This is a gold mine for men’s and women’s vintage clothing, so I promise it will be worth the effort!
While they have no brick and mortar store, the Raleigh Vintage Collective has a lot of swing era clothing and accessories available for purchase through the web. They are a group of ladies who periodically have trunk shows around Raleigh and list their wares on Etsy (Raleigh Vintage and Time for Vintage). Most notably for dancers, they will have a trunk show at this year’s Eastern Balboa Championships, back by popular demand after last year’s trunk show, which featured only items from the 1920’s through the 1950’s – no digging through polyester to find what you want and no question about the garment’s decade of origin.
There are a few other vintage stores in the Triangle, but my experience with them in finding garments for swing dancing has been unsuccessful, as they stock 1960’s or later garments. Men may find them more useful, as menswear has changed fairly little over the past century. For example, The Clothing Warehouse in Chapel Hill had a rack of men’s vests that looked promising.
Other random notes: Someone who designs for Urban Outfitters must have a penchant for vintage hats because I always seem to find great vintage-inspired hats at this store. I always make sure to stop in at the Southpoint Mall, Durham location when I am there to browse through the accessories. Also at Southpoint, Anthropologie is a store that has built its brand around vintage-inspired clothing and accessories. The prices may set you back, but they always have a good sale rack and, if you find something on the sale rack or in the store that is not in your size, they will locate your size in another store and have it shipped to you.
Gents, the best and cheapest place for you to look for things are your local thrift stores. When my grandfather passed away, most of his suits went to a thrift store – jackets and suits from the 1950’s forward, most of them only worn on Sundays so they were in great condition. I see a rack of suits and sport coats and every thrift store I go to and this can be a great place to pick up something cheap that you don’t mind sweating in. You may also want to check shoe repair places for vintage dress shoes, as people leave shoes or bring them there to sell them. Men’s shoes, for the most part, are easily repairable and able to be shined up to look as good as new. Main Street Shoe Repair in Durham always has several pairs of cap toes and wingtips that look dance-ready, at a fraction of the price of a new pair of shoes.
Finally, Remix Vintage Shoes, a company based out of California that makes gorgeous reproduction shoes, sells their shoes in a couple of stores in Durham – Magpie, a boutique in the West Village tobacco warehouses, and Cozy, on Ninth Street. Neither store carries the entire Remix line, but if you find a pair locally that you like it will save you about $20 in shipping from Remix in California.
There are vintage stores that seem like they have everything but the kitchen sink; then, there are vintage stores that are “curated,” full of carefully selected items that may evoke an era or perhaps only carry the choicest items. I could tell that Dear Golden Vintage on Etsy was one of these stores, even before I read the store description – the collection of items in this Etsy store is truly choice, and selection of things more lovely than the last.
Dear Golden Vintage sets a beautiful scene with clothing and accessories and you should definitely peruse all the online offerings, but here are my favorites:
It was another wonderful year at Richmond, Virginia’s Jammin’ on the James, both the dancing and the shopping. Some of my favorite vintage shoppers – Lily Matini, Elizabeth Aldrich, Bill Speidel, and, a new addition to my vintage cavalry, Josephine Stewart – made cameos at the event this year and it made Saturday an exciting and bustling day at the vintage shops in Richmond. I reported on my trips to Richmond’s two best vintage shops, Halcyon and Bygones, after last year’s Jammin’ on the James, but there’s always new inventory to scout.
Halcyon is my favorite Richmond store because it is so inviting – beautifully decorated, not too large/too small/too crowded, with a carefully chosen selection of garments that leaves you with the feeling that the entire store is filled with the “good stuff,” no filler. This year was no exception and I left with one beautiful 1930’s dress, but there were several other things I probably could have taken home if the budget had allowed. After we expressed interest in ties, Angelica from Halcyon pulled out the hidden rack of beautiful 1930’s ties, including one with circles and butterflies that Bill and I both claimed, but, ultimately, Bill won out because my husband wouldn’t answer his phone to tell me if he would wear the tie. Bill also scored a vintage Alexander Calder inspired tie by Carnival Jones, Elizabeth left with a lovely black faux fur jacket, and I left with a 1930’s silk dress. There were some really lovely pieces from a Richmond estate, including a 1920’s dress that must have had over 100 green bakelite buttons down the front and both sides.
Next stop was Bygones, which is famous for its window display and top of rack displays. This season’s display did not disappoint, with an Egyptian revival-themed window-dressing and an inside display of furs and faux animals that just begged for some taxidermy or, as Bill said, the barrel of a shotgun peeking out from between the furs. Josephine had great luck here, asking for tiny sized clothing and they definitely delivered. Favorite pieces included two 1940’s suits, one in light aqua velvet with quilting detail on the jacket and another in green silk velvet with amazing trim detail on the jacket.
I had the pleasure of dancing and competing at this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships, held just outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was a unique mix of swing dancers, in varying styles of dance, from around the globe. I think the event is best summed up by saying that ILHC is where you can see all those people you see dancing on YouTube – but there’s nothing better than seeing it live, as a video can’t quite capture the energy these couples and teams generate or the dynamic in the room.
(I apologize in advance for the quality of the photographs, as I forgot my real camera and had to use my phone)
Like most large swing dance events nowadays, ILHC had its own set of vendors, most of which I would categorize as the “essentials” providers – shoes, bloomers, hair flowers, and vintage/vintage-inspired clothing. Baltimore-based Dancestore.com was there with a lineup of Lindy and Bal-friendly shoes, including their new pair of white wingtips, which look gorgeous in person. Nina Gilkenson‘s mom, Laurie Gilkenson, was on hand, selling shoes for Dancestore, as well as vintage odds, ends, clothing, and shoes from Nina’s vintage shoe collection. If you wore a size 6.5, it was definitely your lucky day! More photos below of this and the other vendors.
My Heinies, in grand fashion, occupied the largest vendor space, with racks of colorful bloomers in all styles, as well as a beautiful collection of dance shoes for men and women. I noticed a particularly lovely pair of men’s two tone brown wingtips that garnered a lot of attention from the leaders in attendance, as well as some new to-die-for red heels in the collection. I noticed a number of followers in the competitions wearing My Heinies…and some who didn’t, but that’s another story…
Working the booth with My Heinies was Model J Vintage, the Etsy store of New York dancer Joy Grad, which specializes in “a lifetime of collectibles directly to you from my personal closets and new adventures.” She turned up the volume for ILHC, offering a collection of both dance-ready and exquisite vintage and reproduction items from her collection and from Carol Fraser‘s closet. I swore I wasn’t going to buy anymore gowns, but I couldn’t pass up a 1940’s gown made of green silk, with a chevron bodice and velvet bow – it was a triple threat and I didn’t stand a chance. 😉
Last, but certainly not least, Mike Thibault of Vintage Jazz Art set up a gorgeous display of his framed prints, which are simply stunning in person. If you have an empty spot on a wall in your home, consider filling it with a daily reminder of your awesome dance hobby…
Thanks to everyone who organized the event and to those sold their wares at IHLC! I hope to return next year!
The Jazz Age Lawn Party never ceases to amaze me, with its charm, beauty, number of well-dressed people, and even its power over mother nature. It is such a rare opportunity to dance entirely to 1920’s music and the quality of music was superb, thanks to Michael Arenella’s Dreamland Orchestra, the Gelber and Manning Band, and the twin Victrola turntables operated by DJ MAC. It was a beautiful weekend under the trees on Governor’s Island – the storms that threatened New York were held at bay until Sunday afternoon, when Michael Arenella commented from the bandstand that the rain couldn’t stop the festivities and called a tune with “rain” in the title to mock the threatening weather; it was then that the sky opened up, with only a few warning drops before the downpour sent everyone scurrying for cover.
This event has grown every year and this year it seemed to double in size from last year’s impressive turnout. I also noticed that the event organizers take note of how they can improve the event from year to year; for example, in an attempt to combat bystanders loitering on the dance floor and eventually taking it over, they roped off the dance floor area (which was someone effective, but there will always be chattel who don’t understand that a dance floor is for DANCING, not for standing or ogling). There were also more vendors this year, so let’s get to the list!
There simply couldn’t be a JALP without the classic and delicious cocktails made with St. Germain Liqueur, a cocktail confection made from elderflowers picked in the Alps. There was a rush on the cocktails, primarily due to an online coupon deal that offered all you can drink St. Germain for the day, and by the end of day one they were sold out of liqueur. Never fear, they replenished the supply for day two and the delicious festivities continued.
Kreamland Ice Cream was on hand with scoops of ice cream in classic flavors, the perfect treat on a hot August day. In the photograph at right you can see an example of the signs the JALP crew added to distinguish the different administrative and vendor tables, which were especially helpful with the throngs of people in attendance.
Another improvement I noticed was a table set up with helpful items to get you through the day. Forgot your parasol? Need sunscreen or a tissue? Wishing you had a fan to escape the heat? Making these items available for purchase was a great idea! And isn’t the display lovely?
It was interesting to see a modern vendor, such as Yelp, have a table at JALP, but then Yelp is a very useful resource. Yelp sponsored a vintage photo booth at the event, with photographs taken by Tsirkus Fotografika, “an ongoing non-profit, public arts project based in Philadelphia, PA, designed to bring the creative process directly to communities and document populations at their most lively. Employing a mobile portrait studio and trailing-edge technologies such as analog film, old-fashioned “hot” lighting, and large format equipment, Tsirkus follows in the footsteps of itinerant photographers who would travel from town to town making portraits on-the-spot.” I now wish I had waited in line to get my photograph taken – perhaps next year.
Next in the line of vendors was Odd Twin, a Brooklyn-based vintage store with wares available from the jazz age and beyond. I will display more photographs below of the vendors’ wares, but I will note that I was particularly smitten with a two tone brown 1940’s suit that was displayed on the end of their hanging rack. Drool…
Sharing a vendor table were Necks Tuesday and hyc Creative letterpress. Necks Tuesday might be the most creative name for a bow tie company I’ve ever encountered. This Brooklyn-based company asserts that bow ties are a “facet of traditional menswear,” but are now “often an element of a forward, contemporary look.” What’s old is new again, eh? I can get behind this philosophy. Their ties are available in a number of wonderful muted tones and patterns that are sure to go with much of a man’s wardrobe and make a stylish statement without being too loud.
hyc Creative letterpress displayed an endearing collection of thoughtful printed cards, stationery, bookmarks and prints. From their website: “hyc Creative is the creation of Dawn Hylon Lucas-Carlson. A small private press founded in 2006. We print Letterpress greeting cards, bookmarks, coasters, prints, and invitations using a mix of found vintage blocks and fonts, hand carved linoleum blocks and newly created designs. Everything is hand-printed on a Kelsey 6 x 10 Excelsior Press.”
Next in the lineup is The Original Prohibition Clothing Company, a company specializing in custom menswear. What I like about TOPCC is the wear-ability of the garments and the attention to detail. These clothes could be in a fine menswear store just about anywhere, you could wear the clothes anywhere, but they would be that piece that stands out as superb amongst the modern suits, with just enough nod to vintage to appear authentic. Details like fan pleating out of a belt back Norfolk jacket or a black and white Bette Davis printed on the inside of a newsboy cap make these items truly stand out against the competition. Their website is still under development, but I look forward to this company making their products available to the masses. Until then, you can browse some of their accessories available in TOPCC eBay store.
The Fine and Dandy Shop.com had a wonderful showing of men’s accessories – ties, pocket squares, handkerchiefs, cufflinks and other man jewelry, flasks, pocket watches, and even a vintage Boy Scout’s guide. Fine and Dandy has a fairly comprehensive website and I’d recommend that you gents check out their fantastic selection, including their ties, which are made in New York. See photographs below.
After all this menswear, I arrived at my favorite vendor of the weekend, Noble Savage Vintage, who displayed exclusively pre-1940’s clothing and accessories for women. This table and rack were a dream come true, with beautiful beading, gauzy dresses, satin 1920’s shoes, and vintage lace galore. My friend Elizabeth picked up a wonderful 1930’s dress in a gauzy chiffon floral that was perfect for Day 2 of the lawn party.
I’ll end this tour-de-vendors with The Village Scandal, one of last year’s wonderful vendors who had amazing cloches and the must-have fascinator of the event. This year, their entire inventory must have been must-have because, by the time I made it out to their table, it had been ransacked. Their positioning near the entrance may have helped add to the chaos of what happened to their table, but I am pleased to see that they did so much business.
There were other vendors, but they did not have signs and I was unable to speak with the vendor representative (so many people!). I hope to return to this event next year and make it a priority to get to the event earlier to scope out the vendors’ wares. Until then, I leave you with these photos: