Category Archives: Ladies

All Balboa Weekend 2017 – Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I apologize for the tardiness, but, as we all know, life happens outside of the Internet – always better late than never is the All Balboa Weekend vendor post, because ABW has, in my opinion, the best vendor aggregate year after year.  This was my 10th ABW, if you can believe it, and the first one I couldn’t attend for the entire weekend, but I promise I crunched to maximize my time there and to give you this attempt at a comprehensive vendor post.

Before we get into the shopping, I have two things to note:

  1. I was given the incredible opportunity to examine Genevieve Grazis’ performance clothing, including the famous Beach Clip dress, and was invited to talk about the dress’ construction and details in front of the entire event as part of Kate Hedin and Bobby White‘s presentation and demonstration of the dress.  While everyone is gaga over the 11 godets that, combined with 1930’s satin, make this dress spin like a dream (and rightly so!), but my favorite part of this dress are the sleeves – a triple pleats, both front and back, along the arm hole seam with two piped seams straddling a panel in the middle of the sleeve.  The result is a puffed sleeve created by divine architecture.
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LindyShopper talks, Kate is radiant in Genevieve’s dress – photograph courtesy of McFreebird Photography

2.  Coif magicians Destinee Cushing and Francine Amendola combined forces to form the Hepcat Salon, delivering incredible and pristine vintage hairstyles all weekend long.  I know several people who will get their hair done and wear it for a couple of nights or most of the weekend so they don’t have to worry about doing it multiple nights and to keep it out of their faces, which I think is a great plan to maximize your ‘do and practical for a dance weekend with lots going on that you don’t want to miss.

The flagship booth at ABW is always Re-mix Vintage Shoes, who makes very rare appearances at any events outside of southern California.  I know people wait until ABW to buy their first (or second, or 10th) pair of Re-mix shoes so they can try them on and see how the styles fit their feet.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them all in a row.

Next in the lineup was Sweet Lorain, which is my favorite vintage shop in Cleveland.  To call it a shop is really an understatement, it’s almost a warehouse, definitely a department store, and you can get lost in there for hours amongst the clothing, furniture, kitchen wares, records, Christmas decorations, and on.  Of course, for ABW, they pull a selection of garments with dancers in mind from the 1930’s through the 1950’s so that you don’t have to do the digging, it’s already been dug out for you and is sitting in the hallway of the event.  My story this year is that Andy Nishida and Rita Shiang (dancers and organizers of Richmond, VA’s Jammin on the James) had come to Cleveland a few weeks earlier for the World Congress on Art Deco and had scouted a 1920’s dress for me at Sweet Lorain.  1920’s dresses are hard for me because of my body type, so I was hesitant to phone in the purchase, even though Rita knows my size.  I show up at ABW with this texted photograph of a dress and the owner, Redwin Lewis, knew the dress immediately, still had it, knew it would be perfect for me – and it was!  Sometimes vintage shopping is easy and sometimes it takes a few steps to find a dress a home.

De Fils en Perles returned to ABW this year with even more intricate beadwork, much of it Art Deco-inspired.  I was particularly smitten with the earrings this year, which were often made of an exquisite central bead with smaller embellishments and looked perfect for certain 1920’s and 1930’s ensembles.  I am often overwhelmed by jewelry, so many beautiful small things at once, and I took some time to sit down and go through the earrings and really appreciate the detail that goes into each piece.

Retro Rosie made its ABW debut this year and before I even got to ABW, there was a buzz that a vendor was there selling Trashy Diva.  I spoke with Miranda Scott, the owner, who runs this brick and mortar shop and an online shop, that most of her sales are online.  I found this unsurprising, given the specialty nature of the garments (as much as I like to think we are the norm), and was glad she gave ABW a chance.  She had several Trashy Diva dresses that are discontinued in most sizes, so secondary stockists are essential for the dress you may have missed (since they TD lines are selling out within days of launch, nowadays) and the chance to try things on in person.  She also had a selection of Besame Cosmetics, another item that I can’t purchase locally to me, but that I see on the internet all the time on vintage blogs and it’s great to see the colors in person and be able to try them on, as well.

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Jamie in an ABW ensemble with giant lily

Jamie Sturdevant’s Chatterblossom booth is always a bright spot, with her cheery disposition, creative floral-inspired ensembles for each day, and a bevy of blooms for each possible scenario and outfit.  Indecision abounds at this booth, as there are so many to choose from, so many outfits to match, so many beautiful pieces that you just want to come home with you.  My favorite pieces this year are the giant lilies she acquired earlier in the year by chance, they are just so big and elegant, I want one in every color!  Message her about matching one to your favorite ensemble, her Etsy listings are only the tip of the floral iceberg.

Finally, at the end of the hallway are the Flower Child ladies, who also do an amazing job of curating just the kinds of vintage goods dancers and swing era enthusiasts want, and also go back to their warehouse to look for items to fill specific requests.  With new things brought back every day, it’s worth a gander multiple times during the event to keep up with what is in stock.  My favorite item this year, brought to my attention by Jamie and ultimately purchased by Destinee, was a chartreuse 1930’s gown studded with rhinestones, featuring braided straps and a bias cut guaranteed to flatter the figure.  Destinee wore it on Saturday night and, with her impeccable hair and makeup and a Chatterblossom bloom, looked like a legit silver screen movie star – or perhaps early technicolor, because no one should hide the color of this gown!

And here we are!  Enjoy the photo spread below!

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But for serious…this chartreuse gown from Flower Child is everything!  Thanks to Destinee Cushing for allowing me to use this photo.

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A sun-speckled display at the Flower Child booth.

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Ladies hats, ladies things…at Flower Child.

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A gorgeous 1940’s rayon print dress at Flower Child.

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Bathing suit…romper…whatever you want…at Flower Child.

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A waistcoat and some men’s accessories at Flower Child.

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Lilies, roses, and blooms about at ChatterBlossom.

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A purple and white orchid at ChatterBlossom.

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Oh, God, I’m terrible at botany – I don’t remember what these are, but they looked like they were dappled in frost, just so lovely – at ChatterBlossom.

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A sight for sore eyes – gorgeous Besame Cosmetics on display at Retro Rosie.

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Vintage hairstyling books and Trashy Diva at Retro Rosie.

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Trashy Diva, alive and in person – at Retro Rosie.

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Perfect summer cropped top at Sweet Lorain.

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What even is this magical woven trim detail on this dress?  At Sweet Lorain.

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A sweet 1940’s rayon print long sleeved dress at Sweet Lorain.

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Bakelite abounds at Sweet Lorain.

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1940’s neckties at Sweet Lorain.

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More delicious details at Sweet Lorain.

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Minty fresh color on this comfy men’s shirt at Sweet Lorain.

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One of many awesome sweater vests at the Sweet Lorain booth.

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A summer starched topper at Sweet Lorain.

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Re-mix, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

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Men’s selections at Re-Mix Vintage Shoes.

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Knots divine at Re-Mix Vintage Shoes.

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Beaded sets at De Fils en Perles.

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All this wonderful detail, handmade, just incredible – at De Fils en Perles.

 

 

 

 

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Simplicity Reissues Rosie the Riveter Pattern

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It is no secret that workwear has been a trend in the vintage community for the past several years and this has started to translate into some more casual reproduction clothing being made and available for dancers who may not want to roll up into a dance in a 1930’s suit or a 1940’s rayon dress every week.  For women, many of these workwear reproductions translate into WWII era throwbacks, when women joined the workforce in many sectors of employment, including factory workers who would need to wear something more practical than the aforementioned rayon dress.  Vintage style workwear is very easy to integrate into your wardrobe, whether you wear vintage style every day or want a few easy pieces to mix in with your regular daywear.

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Simplicity patterns has been periodically trickling out reissues of popular patterns from the past, with reformatted instructions for more ease in sewing, for the past decade, or so.  I remember picking up a couple of dress patterns for my mom to make for me a little over 10 years ago, since her sewing skills are so much better than mine, and was very pleased with the results.  But the vintage reissues are still a very small part of their offerings, so I hadn’t checked in in a while to see what they were up to.

Yesterday, I see in my Facebook feed that Simplicity has caught wind of the workwear trend and reissued their pattern for 1940’s overalls, trousers, and blouses, a practical package deal for anyone, then and now.  Each piece has such lovely details, showing us that practical doesn’t have to mean boring.  The overalls come up over the bust with some shape so that they define the waistline a bit more than your standard pair of overalls.  The trousers are so classic, make them out of just about any fabric for any occasion, and that hooded blouse is just…I’m dying.   The best of all possible basics in one envelope.  My only complaint is that there isn’t an optional short sleeve for the blouse, but that may not bother you if you are a veteran sewer – if I were actually to make this, I would be lazy and not want to have to figure that out, LOL.3322_1024x1024

But wait!  This pattern is already on backorder.  I’m a little surprised, but then not surprised because this is such a great pattern to own.

If you need this pattern in your life right now, never fear – EvaDress Patterns has already been selling a reissue of this pattern (with the original pattern number), picking up the slack from Simplicity being behind the curve on this trend.  It even has the short sleeve options, further picking up the slack from Simplicity. 😉

SJC 1930’s Chinos

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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If I seem like a broken record, I promise it’s not the record, because the tune keeps changing.  One of the benefits of doing limited runs and placing orders in advance for goods is that you are only ordering based on the demand and you can easily switch your attentions to the next development.  I really like Simon James Cathcart’s business model because he is constantly bringing new items to the market, hence the repeated posts.  The downside is that you don’t get a year to mull over whether or not you need something in your life, but maybe that’s best – if it’s not hitting us in the gut or on our mind consistently for a matter of days, do we really need it?  You might if you decide you might have regrets later.  I’ve learned to trust my gut.

Another thought before I get to the substance of this post – the most searched for item on Lindy Shopper is men’s high waisted trousers, presumably in light-weight, breathable fabrics for dancing.

So what I am telling you is that this item, which is the most sought-after item on this blog, is available to you now on Simon James Cathcart’s website, but not for long!  This limited run of 1930’s chinos, available in khaki, navy, and chocolate brown, are what you have been looking for – something off the rack that you can throw on your body with a shirt of just about any ilk, and go out dancing.  Washable.  Breathable.  Movable.  Unisex.  That’s right, ladies, these trousers are for us, too – though a man’s pattern, given that these sit at the natural waist and have a wide leg, wide enough to accommodate a larger hip/waist ratio, this could work for you, too.  SJC’s advertising includes both a male and a female model to show you just how this will work, which caught my eye and took out the guesswork.

You know what to do!

1930’s Pleated Shorts at The House of Foxy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I basically love everything about these reproduction 1930’s shorts from House of Foxy – I particularly love when shorts look like a skirt because I like the aesthetic of a skirt, the functionality of the shorts, and all the extra room those fabric panels give my bum and thighs to move around.  I bet they even give a little flare when you twirl…tennis or swingouts, anyone?

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The Venice Beach Dress

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Genevieve and Helwig from the Beach Clip

How often do you find a vintage piece of clothing and wished you knew more about the story of the person who wore it?  Sometimes vintage clothing will come with a tidbit of history, passed on from the family to the vintage clothing vendor, and in those wonderful rare moments you might see a photo of the original owner in the garment.

Then there are the garments that are a part of our history as swing dancers – even more rare, like the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers jackets (lovingly reproduced by Chloe Hong) or the costumes worn on the silver screen by our Lindy Hop luminaries of the 30’s and 40’s.  Maybe some people know where some of these items are, but others are lost to time.

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Kate Hedin in THE dress

I remember reading Bobby White’s Swungover posts on Genevieve Grazis, one of the followers in the famous “Beach Clip” that many a Balboa dancer has studied in painstaking detail, and following his adventures in historic sleuthing about who she was and her life outside of this snippet of time we know as the Beach Clip.  After reading about the lives of the original swing dancers and watching them in videos, I can’t help but think, “Where are the clothes they wore, where are they NOW?”  Maybe that’s just my inclination.  Genevieve’s dress in the Beach Clip is distinct, both in its attention-grabbing “color” and texture, as well as the impeccable twirl of the gored skirt.

So I’m scrolling through Facebook today and at the top of my feed is the resplendent Kate Hedin in a glorious white satin dress – THE satin dress worn by Genevieve Grazis in the Beach Clip!  How does this happen?  Bobby, Kate, and the finder of this dress, Swing Sleuths Jennifer Halsne, explain the wonderful story in the video below, including a demonstration!  I got tingles listening to it – I love the hunt and I love the history!

Lindy Focus Vendors 2016

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Merch!

One does not simply recover from Lindy Focus – even if you manage to escape the plague, reset your sleep schedule, unpack and do the mountains of laundry, there are still all the YouTube videos to watch, the photographs to see, and the new people to find and connect with on Facebook and all of this takes a bit of time.  As you can see, it is January 10 and I am just now getting to this post!

It was the best year for vendors yet at Lindy Focus, primarily because almost the entire main front lobby was converted to a vendor area, with the smaller lobby registration/vendor area remaining as a secondary area.  I posted a preview of the vendors before Lindy Focus, so I won’t go into too many details about the ones I have already written about, but there were some additions to that list I would like to highlight, then I’ll post all my photos:

  •  Mickey Fortanasce, who is not only an great instructor and competitor, but also an incredible graphic artist, created an entire set of playing cards using the likenesses of swing dance legends like Frankie Manning, Dawn Hampton, Jewel McGowan, Dean Collins, and many more to create and truly beautiful and unique piece of functional and fun artwork.  “For cutters and shufflers,” of course. 😉  Photos below, I’m not sure how many of these are left, but it doesn’t hurt to reach out to him to find out. (UPDATE:  You can purchase packs of cards at this link –> http://www.kellyandmickey.com/legends-of-swing-playing-cards)
  • Artist, writer, and dancer Irena Spassova was on hand with her adorable artwork, with prints and coloring books (!) to take home, as well as commission work offered at the event!  What a great idea to grab a coloring book and run back to your room for a little de-stress time mid-event.  I always see Irena with a smile on her face and her artwork is just as infectious.
  • San Francisco instructor Ann Mony has created a set of jazz step playing cards, which look to be great for both new and veteran dancers alike, for solo dancing or dancing with others or with a class, and there are already plans to expand the deck!  You could get a set at LF or you can order them on Etsy – follow Shimmytown on Etsy to get updates on expansions.
  • Ryan Calloway returned to Lindy Focus with his fantastic original jazz prints, featuring great dancers and musicians alike!  To up the ante this year, I spotted Ryan backstage making sketches, so perhaps we shall see the fruits of his artistry at LF 2017 – to tide you over until then, you can pick up a jazz print on his Etsy page.
  • Hilary Mercer of photography fame is also a seller for Lularoe – she was selling in the secondary lobby near registration before the Savoy Shop set up and was thereafter selling in her room, and I am aggravated with myself that I did not get a photo of her Lularoe spread, because it was rather impressive in magnitude.  Follow her for Lularoe on Facebook and marvel at this combination of stellar photographer and colorful attire, essentially match made in heaven.

I apologize tenfold if I have somehow missed someone or missed a detail, Lindy Focus was a wonderful and time-consuming 2 p.m. to 4 a.m. job for me this year, which kept me away from the vendor areas except when I was passing through – please let me know what may be missing and I’ll amend this post!

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These two lovelies are from the Savoy Shop and were quickly snatched up (by Laura Glaess and Bethany Potter, respectively)!

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At the Savoy Shop, I was like WHOA what even is this…

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…with similar sentiments on the tag, LOL.

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Fun accessories at the Savoy Shop

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Welcome, Saint Savoy and this parade of lovelies!

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Some colorful men’s shoes by Saint Savoy

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Hello, love…

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Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom) held her own in a big part of the vendor area, with a mix of Dancestore shoes, vintage items, and handcrafted items she made herself!

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Festive and fruity earrings, handcrafted by Laurie Gilkenson

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Lindy Hoppers are moms, too – Laurie explained these were to be worn by infants to let people know that they are breastfeeding.

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Mickey Fortanasce’s fantastic original artwork turned into function beautiful decks of playing cards, featuring legends of swing dancing!

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The delightful Irena Spassova displays some of her artwork and prints.

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An entirely different, but no less entertaining, deck of cards created by Ann Mony.

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Blooms about at Chatterblossom!

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A bloom for every dress, no less…

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Headbands to keep everything in place with a spot of color.

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Need some Lindy Hop or jazz art prints in your life?  Here’s the man.

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Ryan Calloway draws epic dancers…

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…and musicians!

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OH, HI CHLOE *attempts to hide crazy girl fangirl reaction to running into Chloe Hong*

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I was so excited I couldn’t take a photo of the men’s rack in focus.

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It’s all in the details…

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Because you can.  Thanks, Chloe!

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Seriously, the taste level here is so high. ❤

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I’ll leave you with one of Lindy Focus’ most stalwart vendors, the classic Forties Forward table of blooms!

 

Re-mix Now Offering Women’s Size 5

d6605d6d-42cd-40e9-87fe-7db791c7598eThis post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This will be a very brief post, but I felt it warranted a full-fledged Lindy Shopper post because I know it will make some people very happy – Re-mix Vintage Shoes is now offering U.S. women’s size 5 in the following styles: Anita, Balboa, Charleston, Emily  and Emily 2.0!  These are all popular styles for swing dancing, which I’m sure is more than a happy coincidence. 🙂

Tranky Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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GET IN MY CLOSET

So I basically can’t keep up with all the swing dancer-focused shoe companies popping up right now – the latest company to grab my attention is Tranky Shoes, which Jessica Bullock mentioned in response to a shoe question Gaby Cook posted on Facebook.  Their Facbook page is in Italian, Google translate has failed miserably to translate the text, and Facebook translate fared only slightly better, so I’m interested in hearing more about this shoe company.  Here’s what I can surmise from their Facebook page:

  • Based in Italy
  • There are green double strap Mary Janes that need to come home with me (sans the velvet bootie – can that happen?)
  • They are being sold at a bunch of European events
  • Handmade, leather upper, leather soles
  • For more information email trankyshoes@gmail.com

Tell me more, peeps!  Have you tried these shoes?  I want to hear all about them. 🙂

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An array of styles and colors.

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Some Tranky Shoes men’s footwear designs.

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Lindy Focus Vendors Preview

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Brand new colors from Saint Savoy, available for pre-order/pick up at Lindy Focus or try on at Lindy Focus

I usually reserve my vendor report for after the event, but in an effort to be proactive in reporting and share the good news in advance so that we may all prepare ourselves (and perhaps put a bit of that holiday bonus or Christmas money aside, should you be so lucky), I am excited to share what many of you may already know from obsessively following the Lindy Focus Facebook group – nevertheless, here it is, the Lindy Focus vendor lineup:

NEW VENDORS:

– From Chloe Hong – http://www.fromchloehong.com/  (she of the trumpet skirt revolution)
– Saint Savoy – http://www.saintsavoy.com/en/
– ChatterBlossom – https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChatterBlossom

RETURNING VENDORS

– Forties Forward – https://www.facebook.com/FortiesForward/
– Dance Store – https://dancestore.com/
– Savoy Shop Dancer Clothing Exchange –https://www.facebook.com/savoyshop1

SERVICE VENDORS

– Jack n’ Jill Salon – https://www.facebook.com/JnJSalonLindyFocus
– Massage with Danielle Knight!
– Mary Kay Williams is returning again this year to draw $5-5 minute black and white caricatures of everyone, and is also taking commissions for some fabulous vintage pin-up style color caricatures!

For any event, this is a formidable lineup.  It is particularly noteworthy because Chloe Hong will be coming from South Korea and Saint Savoy from Austria, making this a strong international presence in our vendor lineup, which is truly a rarity, a treat, and not something to be taken lightly – you can now try on all those wonderful skirts and shoes that you see online, talk to the vendors in person, and perhaps save on international shipping.  Saint Savoy has already been posting information about new shoe colors that will be available in the Facebook group and, based on the comments, the people are READY FOR YOUR WARES.

I encourage you to become active in the Facebook group discussions if you have any questions.  With Saint Savoy, specifically, as they are bringing try-ons only, unless you place your order by the end of November (see linked FB thread for information).  The Jack n’ Jill Salon should start taking appointments soon and those appointments go fast.  If you want something special/specific for your hair for NYE, reach out to Chatterblossom in advance for a custom piece, as she’ll only be able to bring limited stock of her seemingly endless inventory.  Start compiling your best castoffs to consign at the Savoy Shop – I’ve already got a bag of goodies ready to go from my last closet purge.  Are you ready for Lindy Focus?  SOON.

New Vintage Lady Kickstarter with Rewards for Both Sewers and the Not-So-Thread-Inclined

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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This green 30’s dress…it’s like she channeled my thoughts on the perfect day dress.

As most ladies know and Tim Gunn has spoken out about, the clothing options for women over a certain size range are particularly limited, even though they make up hundreds of thousands of shoppers in the US and beyond and spend significant sums on clothing for themselves.  Compound limited selection with a preference for vintage styles and your options are even more limited.

I’ve had my eye on New Vintage Lady’s Etsy site for some time and I did a post on her in 2011, but I’m excited to see that she keeps showing up on my radar and continues to expand her line of vintage patterns, offering fantastic designs that are all the things we love about jazz age and swing era clothing, with all the wonderful details that make them great (and she has a great eye!  I love her selections, artwork, and fabric choices).  This latest endeavor is via Kickstarter, in an effort to expand her size range to cover bust sizes from 40 inches to 52 inches, as well as improving her existing patterns in terms of graphics and descriptions.  Offering a range of sizes is a lot of work – often, you only find one vintage pattern of a certain dress and it comes in the size you found, not a range, and it’s not simply a matter of adding inches around to increase the size, of course it’s MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT, in that way that all of our bodies are a complicated mix of measurements.

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I LOVE a sailor collar.

The obvious rewards here are reaping the benefit of the new patterns once the Kickstarter is funded, but if you don’t sew there is an AMAZING reward – the New Vintage Lady will make you a dress, one of HER garments from the Kickstarter!  What could be more amazing and more personal and more lovely than that?  (I see she also does men’s trousers *ahem* maybe…if you ask nicely?)  If you’ve ever wanted a reproduction dress to your specifications with your fabric choices and you haven’t done this for yourself, this is a great opportunity to help not only yourself, but others of a certain size range to gain access to these wonderful patterns.

There’s so much to love, go check out her line and video and consider backing this project!

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There are separates, too!

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Yes to all of this!

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There’s even workwear!

Two New Re-mix Shoes: Saddle and Lectrice

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I’m a few days late with this news, particularly if you are already on Re-mix Vintage Shoes‘ email list, but I’m very excited about the new Lectrice and curious about the response to the saddle oxfords.  Lectrice is a no-brainer – built on the same last as the Anitas, which I already love, there is potential to love the Lectrice more because I don’t always feel stable dancing in my Anitas and I believe in the stability of oxfords.  Combined with the comfort of the Anitas and this lovely looped stitching detail, I’m cheering for this shoe to be the awesome I want it to be.

fullsizerender_5_1024x1024The saddle oxfords I am excited about in a smaller, more hesitant way.  There are not particularly good associations in the swing dance community at large for people who show up to dances wearing saddle shoes, and I wish that this could be different because saddle shoes are adorable and were popular decades before the 1950’s.  In popular culture they are so much associated with the 1950’s, part of a caricature involving poodle skirts and pony tails.  My hope is that people will be inspired by photographs of everyday people and dancers from the 1930’s and 40’s wearing saddle shoes and take their style cues from those outfits, or embrace 1950’s garb outside of the caricature.  I am probably most interested in seeing if Re-mix decides makes other colors, I would DIE for a green and white pair!

OcTieBer 2016

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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OcTieBer on a casual day.

It’s the season of cooling temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes, and tweed – that is, it’s time for another OcTieBer, “a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear worn in a traditional style.”

It’s hard to believe we are on our sixth OcTieBer – what once started as a challenge for a small group of sartorially inclined swing dancers to dig deep into their closets and put together ensembles with classic neckwear has grown to include persons outside of the dance community, perhaps some people who thought they might not be up to the challenge of neckwear every day for a month or people who don’t really wear ties/scarves regularly.  This is includes me – last year I made it a priority to do every day, having maxed out at 16 or 17 days out of the month in the past, but I pushed myself to find new and creative ways to pull wardrobe items together and by the end I couldn’t believe I had actually done it (except for the large pile of laundry, of course).  It was refreshing to think inside this box (which is outside of my normal box) and I don’t think I will look at my closet the same way again.

If you don’t believe in sartorial challenges or don’t feel like you have enough ties, no matter – you don’t have to complete the 31 day challenge to celebrate OcTieBer, all excellent ensembles featuring neckwear are welcome at any time during the month (and, really, anytime thereafter if you are feeling particularly natty).  If and when you do participate, be sure to share it with the Facebook group – this is a supportive group of people who love dressing well and celebrating it with others.

For more information, to stop in and take a gander, or post your neckwear-inspired ensemble, visit the OcTieBer Facebook group.

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Simon James Cathcart Review: Spectators and Deco Polo

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I had already backed the Kickstarter for the navy/cream spectators and ordered my Deco polo when I started to see the Simon James Cathcart apparel on others, first the polo on Nicholas Centino while vintage shopping in Cleveland for All Balboa Weekend, then on Glenn Crytzer on Facebook, and then on just about every vintage-loving gent I ran across in person. That the Deco polo was so prevalent and widespread so quickly speaks to its necessity. Vintage clothing isn’t always about being dressed up for fancy affairs, we want to look sharp in casual-wear, with all those nice vintage details that are missing from modern clothing.  Unfortunately, not a lot of vintage knitwear survived, so we’re lucky SJC decided to do something about it.

My navy spectator shoes arrived in the mail week before last, so of course I have gigs all weekend and then it rains all week so I can’t wear them. I had already seen their glory on Facebook, through SJC’s posts of customers who shared their first ensembles with these glorious shoes.  It was so inspiring that I couldn’t help but plan an ensemble of my own. Who am I kidding, I already had my outfit planned out, maybe three outfits…

The first sighting of the canvas and leather spectators in person on another person occurred at Classic City Swing in Athens, Georgia – a pair in acorn/cream on the feet of Augusta, Georgia dancer Keith Beckman. He came over to show them to me, I squeed a bit, he thanked me for posting about the shoes, and he had good reviews for their danceability – the leather sole is top notch, you can tell just by looking at it, but Keith was worried about the small rubber bit on the rear outside of the heel. What he discovered is that the rubber didn’t get in the way of his dancing, spinning, or sliding, but he could use the rubber as a stopper depending on how he distributed his weight. Of course they looked impeccable, I had already spotted him across the room in them before he came over to talk to me, because they are SHARP AS HELL.

I finally got to wear my navy and white spectators this Friday, with navy trousers and a striped shirt.  It didn’t take long to break them in and by the end of the day they felt comfortable, even though I had worn them at my standing desk all day and walked around downtown during lunch for about 20 minutes.  They are men’s shoes, but they fit well – my heel is a regular size, but the ball of my foot and toes can err on the side of wide and I had plenty of room in the toe box without feeling like I was wearing shoes that were too big for me.  I wear a 7 in women’s U.S. sizes and I took a size 4 in SJC’s U.K. men’s sizes.  I received several compliments on my shoes during my lunchtime walk and some dude in the parking deck was definitely checking out my shoes when I got out of the car that morning.

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On Saturday I went out to lunch at Monuts in my green Deco polo, which was perfect for a fall transitional day – it was a season-appropriate color and matched my 1940’s Wild West scarf, but it was also good for the weather, which was sunny and 80-something degrees.  It was comfortable and easy to dress down with jeans and Keds, but I have seen this paired with jackets for a more dressy look.  I really struggle with that sort of in-between look that so many Americans seem to gravitate toward, not dressy, but not too casual – it seems I’m either in a fancy dress or in my pajamas, so the Deco polo is filling a bit of that in-between niche in my wardrobe.  For sizing reference, I typically wear a U.S. women’s size 10 and I took an XS in the SJC polo.  I’ll leave you with this description of the polo from the SJC website:

“Beautifully tailored and made from the truly remarkable bamboo plant.  It is circular knitted in the old school style and thus very slubby giving the shirt a distinctly raw 1930’s look.  Super soft feel and at 230 grams these polos have a nice weighty feel about them.”

I am so pleased with my Simon James Cathcart purchases.  It’s important to remember that these items are limited batch specialty items and some are based on Kickstarter/pre-orders, so it doesn’t give you a lot of time to ponder, “Do I need this?”  The spectators and polo were an easy choice for me because I almost never find good navy shoes (much less vintage two-tone navy flats) or green shirts and these are things I want in my wardrobe. There are only the acorn/cream spectators left on the website and some of the Deco polo colors have sold out, so be sure to act swiftly to secure what you like.

I can’t wait to see what SJC comes up with next, he seems to have a knack for finding these “holy grail” vintage items and then reproduces them for us to enjoy today.

ILHC 2016: Trend and Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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My seat for the weekend’s evening festivities.

It was another banner year for the International Lindy Hop Championships, now in its 9th year, and full of life, energy, and joy that only swing dancing with people who love these dances with every fiber of their being can bring.

This year’s ILHC was very different for me than in previous years, primarily because I was only singing with Jonathan Stout‘s bands on Friday and Saturday night, whereas in previous years I had competed, DJ’ed, participated in the Yehoodi broadcast, and also sang, usually 2-3 of these at various times over the course of the weekend.  Consequently, I cannot say that I was in the ballroom as much as I had been in the past, but I received a request for a trend report, so I will tell you what I was able to see while I was there:

Trashy Diva: TD has been around for a while and there would always be a token dancer in a TD dress (usually Mia Halloran (as in the video below) or Valerie Salstrom), but this year the TD was out en masse.  As my gaze scanned the dancing crowd each night, there were numerous ladies sporting TD’s signature printed rayon dresses and it made my heart sing!  You all looked amazing – at one point, I happened upon a cluster of three women in TD chatting in the hallway and there’s nothing that makes me happier than fashion bringing people together.

Cropped tops: This trend was a pleasant surprise, seeing adorable cropped tops paired with everything from floaty skirts to high waisted trousers, and always impeccably assembled with the rest of the outfit.  Everything from right at the top of the waistband to about three inches above the waistband, so some were just a peek when you lifted your arm to turn and others were more intentionally part of the ensemble’s silhouette.

High waisted tapered leg pleated front pants:  Ubiquitous, for a second year in a row.  My distaste for this trend remains, but at least they all fit you well, no one looked uncomfortable.

Women in ties: Neckties, bow ties, and I think I even spotted a Continental – ladies, won’t you join me during OcTieBer?

Men: I’ve got nothing, it looked rather more of the same, except that well-dressed men are always in style.  Nevermind, keep looking amazing, don’t change. 😉

If you attended, I’d love to hear what other trends did you noticed while you were there – feel free to leave a note in the comments.

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May 15, 2016 Lake Buena Vista, FL Ashley Eckstein / Her Universe Photo credit: Preston Mack

I’m also going to give honorable mention to Diana Smith, who wore my favorite clothing item of the weekend, a black floral romper that, at a distance looks like it’s made from a a nice vintage floral, but upon closer inspection has Captain America’s shield nestled in the beds of flowers!  Click on the photo to make it larger so you can see the detail –  brilliant nod to the Captain America back story and the victory prints of the 1940’s.  Did I think to get a photo of Diana in this romper?  No, because I’m a terrible reporter and I think I got her in trouble during sound check because we were both working when I started geeking out about her romper…so you’ll have to settle for the Kohl’s model at right.  Unfortunately, this romper is no longer available at Kohl’s! *sigh*

There were not as many vendors at ILHC as in the past, and I particularly missed seeing Chloe Hong, but there were 4 vendors offering goods and services to the masses in the hallway of the event and they should be noted because they are noteworthy!

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Holding down the largest vendor space was Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom) with both Dancestore’s line of dance shoes for men and women, as well as vintage shoes and clothing.  I noticed that Dancestore has a new colorway in their Aris Allen men’s wingtip, a nice brown and cream.  I also died when I saw that Laurie had several pairs of 1920’s shoes, just the loveliest things in satin that my feet will never fit into!  Also, vintage velvet…so many lovely things…

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Junebug Shop’s original designs

Across from Laurie was the Junebug Shop, the custom clothing endeavor of Anna Yergat, who had her designs on display, as well as a line of geometric beaded jewelry in just about every color – so you could order an entire accessorized ensemble at her table.  The Junebug Shop Etsy page carries Anna’s custom designs as well as some vintage clothing items.  Anna’s designs look romantic and dance-worthy, vintage nods with modern twists.

Finally, the Vinspire Salon at ILHC was staffed by Destinee Cushing (hair) and Lani Barry (makeup), offering full services faces and quoifs all weekend, if you could even get one – they were so popular there was a wait list!  One could say that having hair and makeup done, either professionally by these two or by other means (self, friend) was also a trend this past weekend and rightly so – this is quite possibly Lindy Hop’s biggest and most broadcast performance opportunity of the year and it’s a time to shine, look vibrant under all those bright lights, and look and dance your best.

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Lani preparing for a new client and Destinee working on some curls.

And that’s a wrap!  I love coming to ILHC for the energy and the inspiring dances I see all weekend, there’s a little something here for everyone, even if you aren’t competing.  Sometimes it’s good just to take it all in.

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Geometric jewelry at the Junebug Shop.

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Vintage velvet must be the greatest snuggle fabric ever…sorry for the blurry photo, I was probably mid-swoon.

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1920’s shoes AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH

Oldfield Clothing – British Sportswear and Accessories

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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A postcard from the UK that reads, “Wish you were here with all this tweed…”

Every time I turn around, I hear about a new vintage reproduction company in the UK, which seems to be where I want to spend my dollars-into-pounds lately and the retail climate appears to be thriving for vintage-inspired clothing.  Swing bandleader, guitarist, and dancer Glenn Crytzer tipped me off to Oldfield Clothing, “purveyors of fine British sportswear and accessories for ladies and gentlemen,” when he picked up a pair of their 1930’s workwear trousers, wanting something in a heavier weight for loading band equipment in and out at gigs.  The Oldfield Clothing collection looks well-suited to incorporating its pieces into modern wardrobes, with vintage takes on standard clothing items like trousers and sweaters.

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The trousers really shine – they offer five different cuts, ranging from the most vintage 1920’s golf knickers to the Keaton trousers that look like a standard pair of front pleated trousers (slightly lower rise than their other pairs, but probably higher rise than modern trousers, if you just want to dip your toe into the wading pool of reproduction trousers).  There are a range of fabrics, from linen to corduroy and wool, so you can shop and dress seasonally.  The workwear trousers Glenn picked are really special, not only for their durable fabric, but also for the details – buttons for braces, button fly, fish tail back, and cinch strap and buckle, to name a few.

Women’s offerings are limited to knitwear (specifically – but knickers, see above), but some really good pieces, like solid sweater vests and beautiful Fair Isle vests and a sweater.  Other items that could be unisex include caps, leather goods, and a classic cream long sleeve polo shirt with two collar options.

Here are some of the goods:

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“The Ralph Trouser” – 1930’s style linen, the trousers you need right now in this Northern Hemisphere heat

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Lady dandies, it’s never a bad time to shop for fall – grab one of these cashmere camel slipovers/sweater vests

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I love the chevron/starburst effect of this Donegal tweed herringbone cap.

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Polo shirt, available with either traditional collar or vintage collar – “ideal for sport, but smart enough to wear with a tie.”

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Some of the details on the workwear trousers.