Category Archives: Socks

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!

 

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Lindy Focus 2015 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Get your LF merch on day 1 or they will sell out on day 2!

In many ways I am still recovering from Lindy Focus 2015, the swing village that camps out at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville, with all manner of dancing and services that pop up to cater to a population that would prefer not to leave the hotel, lest they miss too much dancing, live music, performances, and classes.  To help with our self-containment of joy, 2015 saw service providers such as massage therapists, shoe repair, tailors, the Jack and Jill Salon for hair cuts and styles, a caricature artist in the lobby, and two hotel room pop-up restaurants (Midnight Di-Noshery and Taco Focus) to serve food after the main dance that were, after two nights, axed by the hotel administration and replaced with food trucks, arranged by Lindy Focus to fill the void and the empty bellies of the masses.

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I love the smell of retail in the morning….errr, afternoon.

There were retail vendors, as well!  Let’s start with the Savoy Shop, a mix of consigned clothing from campers, vintage and thrifted duds with dancers in mind, and the home of the shoe repair service at Lindy Focus.  Michelle Morrison has run the shop for the past several years and has this down to a science.  I love seeing things in the Savoy Shop one day, then seeing them on the dance floor the next!  I even spotted one of my own consigned dresses in the crowd one night and it made my heart soar to know it had found a wonderful new home.  Of particular note this year, the Savoy Shop offered the largest selection of tie clips I have ever seen in one place – surely something for everyone!

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Artist in residence Ryan Calloway.

Dance instructor and artist Ryan Calloway was on hand this year, not only throwing down in the Superheroes of Swing finals, but also selling his wonderful jazz dance and music prints, offering giant, colorful books of his prints to flip through while you chat with the artist himself.  Rather than having to worry about crushing your brand new artwork on the flight home, Ryan offered to ship the prints you purchase for free to your home starting on December 28 and ran the special through January 4 in case you decided you wanted a print after all.  If you missed out on decorating your walls with his signature style, you can order his glorious prints online from his Etsy page.

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A gorgeous feathered headpiece from Forties Forward

I’m going to give a shoutout to Forties Forward, making another appearance on this blog as my most prolific vendor – perhaps it’s because we are both from the Southeast and travel to the same events, or perhaps it’s because they have a great product and the get-up-and-go to make it to some of the best events in the USA.  I imagine they do a great business at Lindy Focus, particularly around New Year’s Eve, for the perfect fishing touch to an ensemble.  This year feathers were a trend at Lindy Focus and they offered some great feather options with sparkly jewels as the attachment piece, in addition to their signature blooms.

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Zoe’s hands at work.

Revive Fashions made, I believe, its debut this year at Lindy Focus, with the crafty Zoe Lechucita creating “custom made hair pieces, feather corsages, and tie pins” on site, while you wait or while you dance and come back to check on it later. 🙂  It was so great to see Zoe picking up the custom torch from Sharon Crawford, ensuring that you can have something custom made to match your ensemble for New Year’s Eve.

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This is the cutest, right?

Another newcomer to the vendor program this year was Juniper Jewelry Designs, the work of Maddie FitzGerald, who was interviewed this year for the Lindy Focus blog about her jewelry designs, so I’ll direct you to the blog post for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Maddie and her jewelry.  Maddie’s sense of humor is evident in her notes left on the vendor table (see photo at left) and her collection is serious, with an extensive line of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, small and large, simple and intricate, a little something for everyone (as I like  it!). You can check out her work on her Etsy page, which is really only a small sampling of the large display she had at Lindy Focus.

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Mary Jane wingtip in a new color combo!

Last, but certainly not least, I was so happy to see Dancestore.com return to Lindy Focus, thanks to the efforts of Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom).  At any event there are shoe casualties, and Lindy Focus is, perhaps, well-equipped to deal with some repairs, but sometimes there are catastrophic shoe failures that only a new pair will fix and you only have so much room in your suitcase.  At an event with 1,000+ dancers, it is critical to have a vendor like Dancestore.com present and on site, not just to fulfill wishlists and fill out shoe basics, but to turn a tragedy into a happy ending!

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I’m also going to insert a shameless plug for Beastly Beauties, who was not a vendor this year at Lindy Focus, but who made my feathered headdress that I wore on Ellington night – I am in awe of and eternally grateful for the efforts of this wonderful Raleigh-based designer.

And there you have it!  I hope I have not missed anyone, as I didn’t have as much time this year to shop and hobnob with all the sellers.  If I have missed anything, please let me know and I will amend this post.  Happy hopping and shopping, everyone!

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The mannequin display never held anything for long before it was snatched up from the Savoy Shop!

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A tailcoat and trousers ready for New Year’s Eve, at the Savoy Shop.

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This isn’t even all of them!  SO MANY TIE CLIPS

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Vintage and gently used shoes as the Savoy Shop.

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A color print for the burgeoning clarinetist in your life?  Artwork by Ryan Calloway.

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Who can resist a good Billie Holiday print?   Artwork by Ryan Calloway.

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Dancestore maximized their space!

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A luscious bloom from Forties Forward.

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Ties, hats, and blooms at Forties Forward.

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Feathers, fans, lights, and a screen at Revive Fashions.

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Ready-made blooms with sparkle at Revive Fashions.

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A necklace fit for a New Year’s Eve ensemble, at Juniper Jewelry Designs.

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Tree of Life pendants and clusters of beads and pearls, at Juniper Jewelry Designs.

All Balboa Weekend 2015 – Shopping and Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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All Balboa Weekend celebrated its 15th Anniversary this year and I celebrated my 9th anniversary of attending ABW. This Balboa homecoming/family reunion is one that I look forward to every year for the friends, the amazing dancing, and the wonderful vintage shopping that is available in Cleveland. This year, my report will combine shopping inside and outside the hotel, since some brick and mortar stores set up booths at ABW and other remain in their brick edifices. All are worthy of mention and this year’s shops and vendors did not disappoint!

My partner in crime this year was Berkeley, California dancer Alisa Szatrowski – I’ll give an honorable mention to Jack Flaps, a wonderful brunchy place she discovered and where we fortified ourselves before a day of vintage shopping.

1940's rayon blouse at Sweet Lorain

1940’s rayon blouse at Sweet Lorain

Our first stop is my always first stop, Sweet Lorain, and the owner Redwin Lewis welcomed us with open arms and escorted us back to the 30’s and 40’s area, where he showed us they had pulled additional racks of 30’s and 40’s clothing out just for ABW. *squee!* Soon, Alisa and I were lost in a jungle of clothing, amongst the close and very full racks, calling out to each other as if we were playing Marco Polo to try to find each other to show off choice garments. Sweet Lorain did not disappoint and Alisa and I soon had a dressing room full of things to try on, with another helpful employee pulling additional garments based on our selections. Seriously, an A+ for customer service. We both left with some wonderful pieces and warm fuzzy feelings about everything at Sweet Lorain.

1940's dress with appliqués at Chelsea's Costumes

1940’s dress with appliqués at Chelsea’s Costumes

Next stop was Chelsea’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes, which is an impressive warehouse full of clothing, and particularly has a large selection of menswear, which I wrote about more in-depth last year. We ran into dancer and DJ Bill Speidel and we did a quick run through the menswear, as I’m always shopping for certain dudes and the hubs. I left Chelsea’s empty-handed, but Alisa had great luck with late 30’s/early 40’s dresses in velvet and faille – dreamy!

The vendor market at ABW opens at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday and we were there even a little before that, with anxious vintage lovers already hovering over the booths.

The Gabriele, Re-Mix Vintage Shoes

The Gabriele, Re-Mix Vintage Shoes

The first booth you come to is Re-Mix Vintage Shoes and this booth was abuzz all weekend, with ladies buying shoes, trying on many more, and ogling the beautiful wares. The big hit this year was a new style, Gabriele, which is a low heeled 1930’s shoe with a t-strap, an alternative to the Balboa Style, with a slightly different shape and different colors. I would love to hear some reviews from the ladies who bought them and wore them this weekend – I did see Valerie Salstrom try them on the first day and then didn’t take them off as she continued to set up for the event!

A wonderful display of hats from Flower Child

A wonderful display of hats from Flower Child

Next in the line of vendors was Flower Child, which is comprised of several individual vendors that make up part of the brick and mortar store, and which takes up most of the hallway. They are always good about bringing in new inventory every day, taking requests, and having a nice selection of clothing, accessories, and some novelty items and knickknacks from the swing era. My favorite ABW find for this year came from Flower Child’s booth, a fully functional scales brooch, perfect for me as both a Libra and a lawyer – for serious, the scales have tiny chains and you could actually put things in the bowls and the scales would tip, SO COOL.

Ready to shake it

Ready to shake it

New to the vendor list this year was Sugar Shakers, the handiwork of Joanna Kassoulides Thibault, who got her start stitching chorus girl costumes for a troupe of the same name in Toronto and decided, after accumulating a wardrobe of costumes, that she would sell some of these versatile pieces. I love a good trumpet skirt and Joanna had a nice sampler of trumpet skirts, polka dot wrap blouses, bakelite-inspired earrings, as well as sharing a table with her husband Mike Thibault‘s handmade earrings and Vintage Jazz Art prints.

Cherry blossoms abound!

Cherry blossoms abound!

Next in the vendor lineup is ChatterBlossom, aka Jamie Sturdevant, who is local to me, but for ABW everyone can see her amazing handiwork up close, with flowers and headpieces made from vintage millinery flowers and jewelry made from vintage buttons. Seeing in person is even better, as I noted people running to their rooms for garments, trying to match a bloom to a dress, and (I know I’m a broken record on this, but) the colors in the vintage flowers are just so right for vintage clothing, for obvious reasons, and they are so much more exquisitely detailed than most modern artificial flowers I have seen. Jamie does custom pieces, too, so you can find the perfect bloom for that one of a kind vintage dress.

1940's ties at The Cleveland shop

1940’s ties at The Cleveland shop

Holding down the end of the hallway was The Cleveland Shop, which had a nice selection of men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry. The owner would also bring in new items daily, and even brought in some divine tropical rayon fabric one day, that was gone before it could hit the market (I can’t wait to see that blouse, Jamie!). Oh, to have a warehouse full of endless vintage things to sell!

Each year the vendors at ABW are one of the things I look forward to most about the event and I truly appreciate the effort the vendors put into setting up, displaying, being there to sell, breaking it all down, and sometimes traveling great distances – I think Philip Heath, the owner of Re-mix Vintage Shoes, wins this year by flying in and shipping shoes from California, though past ABWs venders have flown in from as far away as the UK and Australia. We love that you do it and we’ll keep buying all the beautiful things. 🙂

Here are some more photos of all the lovely things:

Who knew the Cotton Club had a soda?  At Jack Flaps.

Who knew the Cotton Club had a soda? At Jack Flaps.

1940's jumper with fringe and embroidered pockets at Sweet Lorain.

1940’s jumper with fringe and embroidered pockets at Sweet Lorain.

1940's rayon dress at Sweet Lorain.

1940’s rayon dress at Sweet Lorain.

Another 40's number in cotton from Sweet Lorain

Another 40’s number in cotton from Sweet Lorain

A cool summer jacket from Chelsea's Costumes

A cool summer jacket from Chelsea’s Costumes

Headbands in all the colors from ChatterBlossom

Headbands in all the colors from ChatterBlossom

Divine orchids from ChatterBlossom

Divine orchids from ChatterBlossom

A selection of goodies from The Cleveland Shop

A selection of goodies from The Cleveland Shop

A closeup of the detail on this 1940's dress from The Cleveland Shop

A closeup of the detail on this 1940’s dress from The Cleveland Shop

Trumpet skirt, Sugar Shaker style

Trumpet skirt, Sugar Shaker style

Vintage Jazz Art prints

Vintage Jazz Art prints

More options to grace your walls, from Vintage Jazz Art

More options to grace your walls, from Vintage Jazz Art

More of the man spread from Flower Child

More of the man spread from Flower Child

Gorgeous 1930's dress from Flower Child.

Gorgeous 1930’s dress from Flower Child.

Gold bathing suit and the biggest sun hat I've ever seen, at Flower Child.

Gold bathing suit and the biggest sun hat I’ve ever seen, at Flower Child.

Field Trip: Hip Wa Zee and Gentleman’s Closet, Columbia, SC

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I attended the first ever Southeast Summer Brawl two weekends ago, a weekend of competitions for the Southeast held in Columbia, SC.  Having never been to Columbia, I was curious to know about vintage shopping there, as the South is notoriously bad for having vintage clothing (poor, rural us, right?), but then Columbia is the capital and just maybe there was something – organizer Nathan Clinebelle tipped me off to two places, a vintage clothing and costume shop called Hip Wa Zee and the Gentleman’s Closet, a store that sells consignment menswear and some new items.  My companions for this outing were Winston-Salem dancer Anna Bryant and my ABW shopping companion and newly outfitted Skyler Hinkel.

Hip Wa Zee proved to be a successful outing – the front of the store is a mix of vintage clothing and reproduction clothing and the back of the store is entirely rental clothing and costumes.  The store was cheery and organized and, while it lacked a large section of swing-era vintage clothing, the offerings it did have were swell.  Definitely a good place to stop in if you are going through or stopping in to visit Columbia!  I particularly enjoyed the selection of beautiful slips in an array of colors, as well as a gorgeous rayon print suit with a floating overskirt/long peplum and puffed sleeves.  Anna left with two gorgeous slips, Skyler with two ties, and I with a 50’s sundress and matching bolero, as well as a late 30’s tie.  We also ran into Clemson, SC dancer Ben White, who left with a sweet vintage sweater vest.

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Gentleman’s Closet was a consignment store full of menswear basics – shirts, suits, slacks, socks (new, not used), braces, belts, ties, shoes, just about everything you’d need to put together a wardrobe.  They also had the largest selection of seersucker suit colors I had ever seen (all new suits, pristine, in plastic dry cleaning bags), which I understand were in stock for Carolina Cup, a horse race held in Camden, SC – purple, yellow, orange, colors I have never seen made into a suit and I LIVE IN THE SOUTH.  We found Skyler a pair of brown oxford street shoes to go with his ABW clothes and newly acquired three piece navy pinstripe suit – can’t wear those Remix oxfords out in the street!

Enjoy the photos and be sure to stop in Columbia if you are in the South – these two stores are also in a very hip area of town, with fun restaurants and delicious coffee!

Seriously, THIS - but seriously, it was tiny.  We so wished it fit Anna, but sometimes we leave things on the rack when they are snug...

Seriously, THIS – but seriously, it was tiny.

Ben White: another Adam Speen achievement unlocked - one dancer at a time!

Another Adam Speen achievement unlocked – one dancer at a time!

Skyler's finds for the day at Hip Wa Zee

Skyler’s finds for the day at Hip Wa Zee

My sweet bolero and sundress...

My sweet bolero and sundress…

A viable suit option

A viable suit option

This is part of the costume section - I kind of like the idea of pairing these fluffy animal heads with vintage prom dresses, hehehehe

This is part of the costume section – I kind of like the idea of pairing these fluffy animal heads with vintage prom dresses, hehehehe

Men's accessories overflowing from the racks at the Gentleman's Closet.

Men’s accessories overflowing from the racks at the Gentleman’s Closet.

Skyler's shoe acquisition for the day

Skyler’s shoe acquisition for the day

So much seersucker, I couldn't fit it all in the frame!

So much seersucker, I couldn’t fit it all in the frame!

All Balboa Weekend 2014 Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Lots of new merch at ABW this year, including this comfy dress.

Lots of new merch at ABW this year, including this comfy dress.

I think it’s safe to say that All Balboa Weekend has the best vendor setup for any event in the United States. With veteran vendors and a few new ones, this year was a good year to bring a little extra to spend at ABW.

The crown jewel at ABW is always Remix Vintage Shoes, who makes their only swing dance event stop here – you can try on that new style you spotted on the website, get that pair of Balboas you’ve been eyeing on any number of Bal follows, and this year they even took pre-orders so that you could be sure to get the style, color, and size of your choice and have them held for you at the booth until you pick them up. Owner Philip Heath was always helping someone with a pair, either giving advice or giving an opinion after they try them on, and he was at the booth until the wee hours of the morning. The demand is so high for these shoes that he pays to ship them from California and flys himself to Cleveland, hundreds of pairs just waiting for the right foot to take them home. Philip also told me that Remix was also working on revamping the website, so that’s good news for everyone!

The accessories display from The Cleveland Shop.

The accessories display from The Cleveland Shop.

Making their return to ABW were the ladies of Flower Child, a vintage store in Cleveland that has many contributors, and The Cleveland Shop, which had a nice selection of 20’s through 40’s. The ladies set up an impressive display of menswear, womenswear, accessories, shoes, jewelry, sewing notions, and Flower Child even had a large display of hats that would be appropriate for the Saturday night theme “A Night at the Races.” It was a race to get down there at get the goods at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday when the vendors opened, before it got picked over. Thankfully, the Flower Child and Cleveland shop ladies would replenish some of the supplies throughout the weekend, which I love about them – you never know what they are going to bring back the next day, and don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for because they may bring back that very thing!

ChatterBlossom's colorful display - vintage millinery to the left

Chatterblossom’s colorful display

On the new vendor front is a vendor who is near and dear to me here in North Carolina, ChatterBlossom (aka Jamie Sturdevant) who runs a fantastic Etsy shop for her handmade blooms and jewelry, as well as vintage accessories. What sets Chatterblossom apart are the vintage millinery blooms she uses to make some of her hair pieces – the colors are so RIGHT, especially when you see the color wave across the hall on the Flower Child clothing racks, you just KNOW that these blooms are vintage. I know she did well because her supplies of vintage flowers were dwindling by the end of the event.

Chloe and her team at the samples table.

Chloe and her team at the samples table.

Finally, we have FROMChloehong, who has taken the swing fashion world by storm, first with her trumpet skirts (MY storm), then with reproduction Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers jackets that she produced and took orders for especially for Frankie 100, then with her stellar showing of tailored menswear at the Frankie 100 fashion show. Chloe was on hand with sample skirts and menswear for people to try on for custom orders – there were so many more styles and colors available than I’ve seen on her Facebook page, and swatch books of fabrics that I just wanted to hold and touch and flip through to marvel at the options. I can tell you that we are just scratching the surface on what Chloe Hong is capable of accomplishing!

And that’s a wrap! Cheers to you, shoppers, for continuing to support these businesses and All Balboa Weekend!

Goodies from The Cleveland Shop on display.

Goodies from The Cleveland Shop on display.

Flower Child's end of the hallway display.

Flower Child’s end of the hallway display.

A dapper Gene Kelly-inspired look by FROMChloehong.

A dapper Gene Kelly-inspired look by FROMChloehong.

A popular pullover from the merch table - very collegiate.

A popular pullover from the merch table – very collegiate.

EBC 2013 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The Eastern Balboa Championships, in its final year, brought out the best in everyone who attended – there was so much positive energy at this event, plus the usual shenanigans, that it was radiant with awesome. Way to go out with a bang!

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The vendors added to the shine, as the vendor area showcase several local businesses with a serious fan base. Creations by Crawford has become a staple of swing dance events in the southeast and beyond, known for her custom hair pieces, but perhaps most brilliantly for her lapel art, which elevates and distinguishes the lapels of men’s jackets, with metal, feathers, fabric, and touches that are elegant without being femme. Sharon had a truly delicious selection of jewels to choose from, as the basis for her designs.

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Raleigh Vintage, whose online fan base has reached international proportions, returned, with a large vendor space filled with 1930’s and 40’s dresses, separates, menswear, accessories, shoes, and a 1933 World’s Fair tie clip for everyone. They always curate a superbly appropriate collection to bring to EBC, with an eye for durable vintage to withstand the tests of the dance floor. Of particular note was a collection of men’s socks with fantastic colors and details. This year’s display also featured a sale rack of items with minor flaws and majorly discounted prices. And there was much rejoicing.

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Chatterblossom made its EBC debut this year, with a collection of hand crafted hair accessories and jewelry, with a vintage-inspired aesthetic. With a welcoming and eye-catching display, it was hard to resist the rings, necklaces, blooms, and flapper head bands in the collection. Already a successful blog and Etsy shop, I hope to see Chatterblossom at future swing dance events, well stocked with tons of goodies, especially red flowers (there are never enough in red!).

Here’s a glimpse of what you missed:

Part of Chatterblossom's vendor area

Part of Chatterblossom’s vendor area

If your name is George, this is your lucky day - at Chatterblossom

If your name is George, this is your lucky day – at Chatterblossom

Earrings made from cute buttons, by Chatterblossom

Earrings made from cute buttons, by Chatterblossom

Ridiculous socks at Raleigh Vintage

Ridiculous socks at Raleigh Vintage

Adorable dress at Raleigh Vintage

Adorable dress at Raleigh Vintage

Ties at Raleigh Vintage

Ties at Raleigh Vintage

Raleigh Vintage always has a few good sweater vests!

Raleigh Vintage always has a few good sweater vests!

This neckline!  At Raleigh Vintage

This neckline! At Raleigh Vintage

Yellow men's shirt with top stitching, at Raleigh Vintage

Yellow men’s shirt with top stitching, at Raleigh Vintage

Miss Sharon Crawford, busy with a custom piece.

Miss Sharon Crawford, busy with a custom piece.

A box of jewels, which can become the basis for a Creation by Crawford.

A box of jewels, which can become the basis for a Creation by Crawford.

Darcy Clothing

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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This menswear resource tip is from Christine Hall of the Decophile group on Facebook – Darcy Clothing, previously The Vintage Shirt Company, has expanded from shirts to include a much broader range of reproduction menswear and accessories from the 18th century to the early 20th century. This is a huge span of time, but there are plenty of 20th century goodies from this UK company to place in your closet.

From the website:

“The clothing is largely made specially for us and is taken directly from original garments. The shapes and fabrics are uncompromisingly genuine. We only ever use natural fibres in any pre C20th garments. The construction methods however take advantage of modern mass production techniques which means that we can supply costume designers with the authenticity they require at an affordable price.”

Here’s what I’m loving from their collection:

Spearpoint Collar Shirt

Spearpoint Collar Shirt

Working men's striped braces, available in 11 colors

Working men’s striped braces, available in 11 colors

Military ties - for your Buck Privates tribute routine

Military ties – for your Buck Privates tribute routine

Fair Isle socks - like stripes, but subdued...but more intricate...

Fair Isle socks – like stripes, but subdued…but more intricate…

Replica ollar pin, if you'd like to get your Boardwalk Empire on

Replica collar pin, if you’d like to get your Boardwalk Empire on

Cricket trousers - "perfect for any period cricketing attire"

Cricket trousers – “perfect for any period cricketing attire”

Cotton Work Jacket - a nice summer weight jacket option

Cotton Work Jacket – a nice summer weight jacket option

ViNSiNN

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Laura Keat's dress, the "Savoy Ballroom Kleid" - Laura has it in red, but I love the teal.  I CAN HAZ?

Laura Keat’s dress, the “Savoy Ballroom Kleid” – Laura has it in red, but I love the teal. I CAN HAZ?

This shop comes to you courtesy of Laura Keat, who posted a photo album on Facebook detailing the sources of her most-asked-about items of clothing. I recognized all of her sources except for one – ViNSiNN. A Google search led me to a website written entirely in German. Not easily deterred*, I used Google translator so I could browse their shop and tell you about it…in English.

The founders of this retail site are Marina Fischer, Peter Bieniossek, and Lucy Flournoy, all swing dancers with a passion for the vintage aesthetic that comes with the dancing. Marina details her frustrations with attempts to locate vintage clothing, mostly sourced from America, and dealing with shipping, taxes, customs, and the waiting, only to find out that after such a great effort the garment wouldn’t work after all. Then came the resourceful idea to start a shop of vintage-inspired garments to sell in Germany. I am a firm believer in “if it doesn’t exist, you create it” and Marina picked up the ball and ran with it, along with business partner Peter, who shared similar frustrations, and Lucy Flournoy, whose paragraph did not translate well in the Google translator…but I can attest to Lucy’s sense of style, as I observed it when she was going to college in North Carolina and dancing at regional events.

Great socks!

Great socks!

This is definitely a store with the dancer in mind – as I browse through all the lovely dress, top, and skirt options, I notice lots of great modern takes on familiar vintage shapes, lovely details, lots of color, but the overarching theme is that all of these are dressing I wouldn’t hesitate to dance in. There are some great basics for men, even a pair of knickers. And the socks page is divine!

Now I have the reverse problem as Marina and Peter – how to get these items (reasonably) from Germany to the US? Anyone coming to ILHC? 😉 Faves listed below.

*I once used Babelfish to translate an entire transaction over the phone, in real time, into Spanish so I could order custom tango shoes from Columbia from a salesperson who spoke no English.

How About a Second Mate? Dress - also available in a romper, what the what?!

How About a Second Mate? Dress – also available in a romper, what the what?!

Anything Goes vest and...

Anything Goes vest and…

...matching knickers!

…matching knickers!

Splanky Shorts

Splanky Shorts

Lots of great caps to choose from...

Lots of great caps to choose from…

Twelve Bar Blues skirt, also available in black

Twelve Bar Blues skirt, also available in black

Each pair of socks is named after an illustrious swing dance instructor - shown here, the "Nick socken"

Each pair of socks is named after an illustrious swing dance instructor – shown here, the “Nick socken”

All Balboa Weekend 2013 Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

If you are a good girl and save your pennies, the Cleveland fairy will bring you vintage on All Balboa Eve.

If you are a good girl and save your pennies, the Cleveland fairy will bring you vintage and repro on All Balboa Eve.

Still basking in the afterglow of All Balboa Weekend, the Balboa Mecca that occurs every year in Cleveland, Ohio. It is a hub for so many things I love – good dancing, good music, good vintage shopping, good company, and good cupcakes. I left with a full heart and a shopping bag full of goodies – it was like Christmas!

My first stop in Cleveland, per usual, was Sweet Lorain, the vintage department store where I seem to have the most luck finding things in my size. I was greeted at the door by the owner, Redwin Lewis, who remembered me from years past (and possibly phone orders – yes, you can call them back if you decide later that you really want/need something you saw, even 6 months later the item may still be there!) and we chatted about high school reunions and all the films (THE film being Captain America) shopping at his store. I was on a mission for a full slip with some sweet details and Sweet Lorain did not disappoint, with two full racks to choose from.

Dad's pitcher - my favorite find in Cleveland

Dad’s pitcher – my favorite find in Cleveland

On a personal note, I was ecstatic to find a red plastic beverage pitcher at Sweet Lorain, perhaps circa 40’s/50’s, that I have been seeking for the past decade or so – when I was in undergrad I picked up a plastic yellow pitcher from Target that looked vintage, with some sweet Deco detail on it. I probably paid less than $10 for it. My dad saw it in my apartment and was immediately drawn to it, asking where I got it, and how much it cost. I told him that I had purchased it at Target several months ago and that it was out of stock. He was crestfallen – my grandmother had owned one during his childhood and he had always thought it was a great design, with a lid that opens when you tilt it and closes when it’s upright. Flash forward to ABW 2013, I was chatting with Redwin in the housewares section and my eye caught a flash of red in that distinct shape. It was the pitcher! I text messaged my dad a photo of it and he confirmed that he wanted it. Done! I look forward to “reuniting” my dad with his childhood pitcher this coming weekend. 🙂

Thus Spake Zarathustra

Thus Spake Zarathustra…at Chelsea Costumes

My next stop was Chelsea Costumes, which I had somehow managed to miss on all prior visits to Cleveland. The sheer volume of square footage packed literally floor to ceiling was overwhelming in a way that only a disorganized Goodwill warehouse of great magnitude could rival. The racks were three tiers high, with the top two racks reachable by rolling staircases located on each aisle. Adding to the library feel of the place, the ends of the racks were labeled by decade range. I searched in vain for the early vintage clothing and had to ask where it was located – at the end of one of the 1950’s racks was a single rack with 1940’s clothing. I found a couple of items I liked, but they had fatal flaws (fading, shredding, etc.). I’d say it’s definitely worth a look, especially if you are into later decades, and it’s an absolute must if you are looking for menswear – I saw just about every size, shape, color, item, and a range of seasonal weights, with a massive selection. You do have to be a digger to make this worthwhile, but the prices are good and worth the dig.

Back at the hotel, ABW had an array of vendors, some new, some old, that filled up the hallway in front of the ballroom. The first vendor was The Cleveland Shop, with an array of clothing and accessories for men and women. Favorites included some divine shoes, a burgundy silk 1930’s gown, and every dress that went on the mannequin and immediately sold.

Next up was the ABW merchandise, which featured some cool shirts with stripes, a henley, and a girly slouchy tee with cool sleeve detail. This year also saw the return of the ABW shoe bag – I do love a shoe bag!

New style!!!

New style!!!

Moving down the hallway, the next vendor was the ever-popular Re-mix Vintage Shoes, with owner Philip Heath on hand to help all the men and women eager to try on their shoes. This year, they took advance requests from people for specific shoes and sizes, so if you wanted a guaranteed shot at trying on a certain pair in your size, you got that chance. I took advantage of this for my husband, who is sort of between sizes and needed another pair of oxfords. It also resulted in Re-mix bringing a number of pairs of wedges, which have never made it out to ABW, since we mostly dance “the Balboa” in heels. 😉

Romper, umbrella, and THE belts at Bettie Page Clothing

Romper, umbrella, and THE belts at Bettie Page Clothing

Bettie Page Clothing made its debut as a vendor this year, spearheaded by the lovely Shannon Butler, who is now the manager of the Bettie Page store at the Mall of America in Minnepolis, MN. Shannon brought another innovative way to make sure everyone got to try on the clothing and get the sizes they need – she kept a stock of the dresses, shirts, and skirts she brought as try-ons and once you decided what you wanted, she called the Mall of America store, placed your order, and it was shipped to you (sometimes that day!) free of charge. In addition to all the adorable clothing, she brought these great adjustable belts that are the perfect dress belt, for when that vintage dress comes without a belt or maybe you lost the belt or want to add a belt…regardless, good, skinny dress belts are hard to come by and these babies are only $10 and come in several handy colors.

Flower Child took up about half the hallway, with a wonderful display that moved from housewares and accessories, to jewelry, to several large racks of clothing at the end of the hall. Because Flower Child is made up of several vendors, there were a range of prices in the shop, and they definitely had the larges selection. Favorites included a 1940’s gold bathing suit, rayon Asian print pajamas, and an adorable dress with strawberry ribbon trim that came home with me.

Still obsessing over Dancestore.com's mesh and leather wingtip

Still obsessing over Dancestore.com’s mesh and leather wingtip

Finally, Dancestore.com made an appearance with most of their line of shoes. I liked that they had a set of “try-on” pairs that you could put on and take for a spin during one dance. It helps you decide, cuts down on wear and tear of new pairs, and also gives you an idea of how they will feel once they are broken in. Great idea!

This year was probably the best year for vendors yet – many of the vendors are veterans at this point, they know their audience, and they only bring the best stuff as it pertains to swing dancers. I am elated that they continue to come out, year after year.

Here are my photos from the weekend – enjoy!

Collar detail *swoon*

Collar detail at Sweet Lorain *swoon*

Velvet collar detail at Sweet Lorain

Velvet collar detail at Sweet Lorain

Love this Jack and the Beanstalk novelty print - at Sweet Lorain

Love this Jack and the Beanstalk novelty print – at Sweet Lorain

Menswear knits in shades of brown, at Sweet Lorain

Menswear knits in shades of brown, at Sweet Lorain

This photo does not do justice to the awesomeness of these sheer cutouts - at Sweet Lorain

This photo does not do justice to the awesomeness of these sheer cutouts – at Sweet Lorain

Oxfords at Sweet Lorain

Oxfords at Sweet Lorain

The entrance to Chelsea Costumes

The entrance to Chelsea Costumes

Brain...shuts...down...

Brain…shuts…down…

Navigation system at Chelsea Costumes

Navigation system at Chelsea Costumes

Lovely dress at Chelsea Costumes

Lovely dress at Chelsea Costumes

Collar detail at Chelsea Costumes

Collar detail at Chelsea Costumes

The view from the top of one of the rolling staircases at Chelsea Costumes

The view from the top of one of the rolling staircases at Chelsea Costumes

Select menswear items from The Cleveland Shop

Select menswear items from The Cleveland Shop

Cool cotton print dress from The Cleveland Shop

Cool cotton print dress from The Cleveland Shop

Tri-strap! From Re-mix Vintage Shoes

Tri-strap! From Re-mix Vintage Shoes

Did you know these come in GREEN?

Did you know these came in GREEN?

A lovely display from Flower Child

A lovely display from Flower Child

Gold bathing suit FTW - courtesy of Flower Child

Gold bathing suit FTW – courtesy of Flower Child

Love all of this - at Flower Child

Love all of this – at Flower Child

Suit jacket peplum made of petals! At Flower Child

Suit jacket peplum made of petals! At Flower Child

Pajamas! At Flower Child

Pajamas! At Flower Child

Lots of good knits this year - this from Flower Child

Lots of good knits this year – this from Flower Child

This Bettie Page blouse went home with many a gal

This Bettie Page blouse went home with many a gal

Lovely dresses from Bettie Page Clothing

Lovely dresses from Bettie Page Clothing

Tightsplease

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Fancy legwear has definitely been a trend in the Lindy Hop community for the past few years and it makes sense – we are paying a lot of attention to movement and embellishing that is one way to get someone to look at your legs. I was contacted by the UK legwear retailer, Tightsplease, about reviewing their site and product and I am happy to report that all is well in the UK for quality hosiery.

I tried a pair of the Tightsplease brand’s Jive Stockings, which proved to be highly durable. I didn’t dance in them, but I did brave a Christmas party with a shooting contest, a parade, hot glue gun crafts, small children, and runway walking on a gravel driveway. They’ve made it through the wash on the delicate cycle and are ready to go again. This is saying a lot for these hose because I am the destroyer of all panty hose that are not, essentially, medical grade support hose. I destroyed a different pair last night on the first wear by simply attending a concert and sitting in a chair for 2 hours. Riddle me that.

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I was very excited to see that they carry what they are calling Charleston stockings, which look like the silk stockings of old, but probably aren’t silk, based on the price tag. I am hopeful for the latter because silk stockings tend to get droopy around the ankles mid-way through the night and I’d love for modern technology to have improved on that, but maintain that same rich, silky look. Ella wasn’t kidding when she sang about silk shiny stockings – they are really shiny!

The website also lists the denier for most of the hosiery, which I find extremely helpful as the hosiery Godzilla. If there’s two pairs that look the same, you can be sure I’ll go for the one with the higher denier number.

Here are some of my favorites from this lovely site:

Side bow suspender tights - sassy without the garter belt

Side bow suspender tights – sassy without the garter belt

Chicago tights - more shiny stuff!

Chicago tights – more shiny stuff!

Freakin' gorgeous hold ups with peacock feather detail

Freakin’ gorgeous hold ups with peacock feather detail

80 denier tights in 7 colors - hoping 80 denier means Godzilla-proof...

80 denier tights in 7 colors – hoping 80 denier means Godzilla-proof…

Dogstooth tights

Dogstooth tights

EBC 2012 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Merch upgrade: the Mint Julep Jazz Band was selling logo shoe bags and buttons at EBC and Creations by Crawford decided to take the buttons to the next level – available as a pin or hair flower.

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. 🙂

Molly McGowan picked up the wonderful 1940’s dress on the right from Raleigh Vintage, and I had ideas that Adam Speen might like this sweater vest.

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…

Red beauties from The Cleveland Shop

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!

Usually, one of Sharon’s creations begins with a piece of jewelry…

Ms. Crawford and her workstation

One of the books on vintage makeup at The Cleveland Shop’s table

I love the smocking on this dress from The Cleveland Shop

Plaid!

My GAWD the shoes – at Raleigh Vintage

Raleigh Vintage’s table of gentlemanly accoutrements

The jewelry case at Raleigh Vintage’s ladies’ table

This dead stock tie came with a matching pocket square!

Beautiful beading on this 1940’s dress

I do love a Peter Pan collar – at Raleigh Vintage

I REALLY wanted this dress, and it really didn’t have a zipper, snaps, or any way to get into the dress other than over the head – someone smaller than me should come crawl in and enjoy. 🙂

Another lovely green item, this time for the gents, from Raleigh Vintage.

Dress with matching necklace – how often does that happen? At Raleigh Vintage.

Field Trip: Amalgamated Classic Clothing and Dry Goods, Alexandria, VA

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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:

The more choice men’s shoes behind glass.

The more choice women’s shoes behind glass – if you wear a size 5, those green t-straps could be yours!

On closer inspection, the print on this adorable 1940’s suit with giant lucite buttons features winged puppies! Does it get any cuter than freakin’ winged puppies???

Love this green 50’s dress, with a white scalloped stripe across the upper torso to draw the eye up and GIANT POCKETS.

Tie rack includes dead stock ties as well as used vintage ties.

Men’s shoes…

…and more men’s shoes…

Wide leg high waist women’s pants with adorable trim.

Ricky in purples

Ricky in brown and white

A shirt Jason considered…

Beth in a snappy hat

Jason snuggles with a vintage cat pillow.

A school spirited hat

A 1920’s beaded dress in my favorite color.

My find of the day – a 1930’s day dress in green. I’m holding the back because it will have to be taken in a bit, but I can’t pass up a green 30’s dress…

Beth’s find of the day – a gorgeous 1940’s gown with floral appliques and overlays

Love this Asian-inspired shape in a cotton leaf print.

Just about died when this almost-but-didn’t-quite fit

Gorgeous embroidery on this peach 1920’s day dress

A men’s vignette in the store

Another display at Amalgamated

Rocket Originals

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

In my search for a new pair of 1940’s wedges I came across Rocket Originals, a UK-based company specializing in 1940’s and 50’s clothing, shoes and accessories for men and women. While the gorgeous wedges they offer didn’t work out (rubber soles!?), there are a bunch of other really great items on the website, namely those wonderful short sleeved ski bunny sweaters, men’s two tone cap toes, wingtips, and loafers, blue suede oxfords, diamond and argyle socks, argyle belts, and repro men’s dress shirts with short and long sleeves,

I do admire the efforts Rocket Originals has taken to supporting local manufacturers in the UK. From their website:

“The men’s shoes are all made here in England, as are our men’s socks. We’re proud to be doing our bit in helping keep our British industries alive and try, whenever possible, to have our stock manufactured in good old blightly.

Our ladies sweaters are also manufactured in England. All the designs are taken from vintage knitting patterns, and one of the companies we use still has a vintage mechanical knitting machine, so we have some of ours knitted on that (very authentic!) We get asked “don’t you knit them yourselves” – well, no we don’t (we can’t knit that well, it would take forever and wouldn’t look nearly as neat!)”

Keep those sweaters coming! Here’s what I’m loving from Rocket Originals:

Fairisle sweater in green, also available in blue and grey

Diamond jacquard sweater in red, also available in black

Something about these blue suede oxfords is reading awesome to me…

I do love a brown and cream cap toe

Diamond pattern socks

Argyle sock 4-pack

White diamond belt to go with your white cap toes

Cream short sleeve dress shirt with a sort of cross hatch and fleck

All Balboa Weekend 2012 Vendors/Field Trip: Vintage Stores in Cleveland, OH

The store front of Deering Vintage

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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!

Molly’s find at Deering Vintage

Green guayabera at Deering Vintage

Bakelite bangles at Deering Vintage

Molly and her lovely dress with matching bolero from Sweet Lorain

Burnout velvet! at Sweet Lorain

The Downton Abbey dress at Sweet Lorain – I’ve already been yelled at today by my local vintage store owner for leaving it in the store after it fit me, lol

Purple 40’s slingbacks at Sweet Lorain

This was the creepiest thing at Sweet Lorain – can you guess what helpful household item it is supposed to be?

Flower Child’s men’s accessories at ABW

A selection of red goodies from Flower Child

Hotttt 1930’s shoes from The Cleveland Shop

David Lee, holding up one of many knit shirts I saw gents walk away with this past weekend from the vintage vendors

A letter sweater, possibly from my alma mater? at The Cleveland Shop

The My Heinies Army

Get your foxy legs at the My Heinies table

Lady Dandy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Another article featured on Yehoodi – enjoy!

In light of recent online discussions about gender roles in Lindy Hop and the recent Amendment/abomination passed this month in my home state, I decided to take up a suggestion made by Sam Carroll that I do a post on women dressing in menswear or dandy garb for dancing. Specifically,

“For my own sake, I’m interested in outfits which cater to the curvy woman’s body, but which are using traditionally ‘male’ items – eg jackets, waistcoats, trousers, hats, cravats, etc. Not women’s clothes, but men’s clothes for women. Or men’s clothes tailored for a woman’s body. Most of the ‘female dandy’ stuff I see about features ridiculously skinny, flat-chested women without hips. That’s not me, I’m not interested in that stuff. But it’s hard to find alternatives.”

I think this is a really cool concept, one that could be practical for dancing socially, traveling, or in performance where a female could be leading and/or want to fit into a particular role in the ensemble.

When Sam posed this question, a few things popped into my head:

– Like vintage clothing for men, the actual vintage options will be limited, but with ladies’ narrower shoulders it could open up more jacket options.

– Accessories are the key. Like many gents I know who dress in vintage or in vintage style, many of the main pieces they wear are regular menswear or reproductions and the accessories, which have usually survived and are more plentiful, take their outfit to the next level. It’s all in the details.

– Finding pants is going to be really hard. As someone who has pretty much given up on finding pants, it could be even harder for me to make a recommendation.

– Like any good dandy, you will need a tailor.

– Women’s clothing retailers offer some dandified options, if you know where to look.

So let’s break this down into the man uniform. Menswear is generally comprised of pants, shirt, jacket and/or vest, socks, shoes, belt or suspenders (but not both). Accessories could be a tie, a cravat, a tie clip, cufflinks, hat, cap, watch, lapel pin, etc. I’ll try to hit on most of these pieces and recommend ideas for sources (because that’s what we’re all about here – where the @#&* do I find it?):

PANTS

Gonna get this one out of the way. Men’s pants are not made for women’s bodies and vice versa, but this doesn’t mean that men and women are made of one shape, or that men’s pants won’t ever fit. One of my favorite pairs of pants in college was a pair of men’s pants and I purchased a tuxedo for myself last year and didn’t have much trouble with the pants (although they cut a wee bit tight across the hips, more so than I am used to feeling). They fit me a hell of a lot better than these skinny jeans that are in style right now (which make me look like a linebacker) and give the illusion and drape of a proper pair of men’s trousers, in spite of the hip area.

My next suggestion is to find men’s pants that fit in the hips and have them tailored to fit your shape. This may not work for all men’s pants, but I believe it’s a viable option. Most nice men’s pants are cut to be tailored and taken in or let out.

Plaid knickers may be adventurous, but this pair of khaki knickers could be the basis for a great lady dandy summer outfit with fantastic socks!

There is always the option to have them made, which is my favorite because they are guaranteed to be made for your shape, in the fabric you like, and can be tailored to look like men’s pants. You can also have more options, like a higher waist to give it a more vintage look. Also, with the higher waist pant, it’s more likely to be a flattering cut for the female figure. I’m thinking specifically about the 13 button sailor pants the U.S. Navy used to issue as part of a uniform – those pants are universally flattering on just about every human I’ve seen wear them.

Finally, in rare instances (so rare that I can’t really point to a consistent source), I have come across wide or straight leg trousers in women’s stores that do sort of have a nod to menswear. The cut will be most important in this case, because womenswear is so squirrely and the cut may not be tailored enough to be truly dandy. Then, there is this sort of hybrid that is golf knickers, which are definitely more traditionally male, but also sporting female, and are made in women’s sizes at golfknickers.com (I would rock the Stewart plaid pair in a hot minute!).

SHIRT

I think most men’s shirts have comparable women’s shirts (tees, polos, button-downs). Sadly, I think a lot of modifications that retailers have made to women’s dress shirts to make them more…girly (?) have not worked out for the best. I am a lawyer IRL, so I deal with a lot of button-down shirts to wear under suits for court. I get miffed when I see that retailers have modified the neckline to show more cleavage – with that silly angle exposing more of the upper chest and removing the buttons so you no longer get to decide where your top button is located. Forget about wearing a neck scarf or a tie with it. And is it too much trouble to put a button across the peak of the bosom, instead of spanning it and causing a gap that must be safety pinned, lest your co-workers catch a glimpse of your bra? But I digress.

The shirt is just the beginning – add high waist trousers, tie or cravat, and a boater

I have found a few good basics for button-down shirts. My favorite is Banana Republic because the fit is usually really good (efficient, professional) and they have nice variations on classic menswear for women, without sacrificing buttons or adding excess cleavage. It’s also one of the few places I’ve found women’s shirts with French cuffs for cufflinks – bliss! They even have a line of non-iron shirts, which is the only kind of shirts my husband will buy, but that I haven’t seen made available that often for comparable women’s shirts. A scan of the BR line shows some great dandy options for summer – long sleeve basics, a safari shirt with rolled up sleeves, and a fantastic long sleeve button-down in blue or pink with contrast white collar and cuffs!

I think it is important to buy shirts made for women, if at all possible. Generally, our shoulders are narrower and we need darts to highlight our feminine shape and streamline our look. Being a dandy is about looking tailored, not frumpy, and I think men’s shirts are just too much of an adjustment in shape when there are options available that do not require alterations or custom-made garments.

I am also not above shopping in the little boy’s section for shirts…which sometimes works out well. 🙂

JACKET/VEST

Ralph Lauren striped jacket with insignia

Things start to get easier here. I’ve seen more women’s vests in recent history and there are always menswear-inspired jackets available. The key here is to mind your colors and materials – obviously, a pink boucle jacket is going to scream femme, but a linen, stripe, or tweed would be more along the lines of a dandy. I’d also experiment with vintage menswear and men’s vests, as there may be potential for tailoring them to fit, or with vests, cinching them if they are adjustable in the back. Again, the key is tailoring, keeping lines clean, and sticking to menswear basics.

SHOES

This becomes a wee bit more difficult because Dancestore.com isn’t making men’s Aris Allens in smaller sizes anymore – finding menswear-inspired shoes is fairly simple, but finding leather soles is not. This is where the ladies with the larger feet have an advantage. I went through great difficulty to find boy’s size 5 black patent leather oxford ballroom shoes to go with my tuxedo (and the size chart was so off that I had to send them back 3 times for an exchange). That said, there are some boy’s ballroom shoes out there in basic black oxfords.

Rachel Antonoff’s take on the classic loafer, for Bass

While I can’t vouch for the danceability of all the soles (there’s always the option of having things sueded), G. H. Bass has some great shoes right now for women that are a sort of twist on classic men’s shoes. I’m loving the Rachel Antonoff collection, which has things like clear/black patent wingtips, saddles shoes in lots of two tone color combos, and loafers with complimentary plaid panels. The Bass American Classics line for women almost looks like a collection of men’s shoes, with basic colors in loafers (tassled and penny; BONUS: leather sole) and saddle shoes.

SOCKS

This is where the fun starts. You could go with the traditional conception of matching your socks to your trousers, but one of the things I love about our male Lindy Hop counterparts is their fearless socks. So long as it matches your ensemble, feel free to experiment with stripes, argyle, prints, and color. This might be a good place to inject your femininity or sense of humor

Dapper gents on a tie worn by a dapper lady? Hehehe

ACCESSORIES

Belt, suspenders, tie, cravat, tie clip, cufflinks, hat, cap, watch, lapel pin…this is where there are comparable women’s products (belt, watch), or adjustable (suspenders), or we have unisex sizing (hats, caps), or it’s one size fits all (tie, cravat, cufflinks, pins, etc. I’m actually thinking vintage 30’s and 40’s ties might work even better on women because they are shorter than modern ties. This is where you have very few limits – go forth to the men’s section and conquer!

As with creating any look or ensemble, it’s important to do your research – look for inspirational photographs of men and women in menswear, or women in pants from the swing era. Pants were definitely not the norm and I think you will find that women took a lot of inspiration from the men when they embraced pants.

I hope this was helpful in some small way – please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or product recommendations for other burgeoning lady dandies!