Field Trip: Sweet Lorain, Cleveland, OH


This post was written by Lindy Shopper.


Sweet Lorain
(formerly Suite Lorain, now under new ownership) is one of those rare places where there are entire racks devoted to 1930’s and 1940’s clothing, rather than being relegated to a few rare items on the wall or stuck in the middle of a mound of polyester. In fact, Sweet Lorain skirts the issue by focusing exclusively on “Deco to 1960’s.” It’s a huge store, with tons of furniture, housewares, knick-knacks, clothing and accessories, and maybe some random items from a past era you’ve never even thought about. The dresses, evening gowns, coats, and other swing era garments are comparably plentiful and in an array of sizes. There were so many things to see that my partner in crime, Elizabeth Tietgen, and I spent several hours there, long enough for the store owner to offer us each a bottle of water!

We were told that the store had been hoarding swing era items for the ABW participants and people were dropping off things to sell to the ABW’ers the morning of the day we went to Sweet Lorain, namely a pair of 1940’s low heeled sandals that Elizabeth took home and a green 1930’s raincoat that came home with me.

I have heard stories about Sweet Lorain for years from my vintage tailor/couturier, Laura Boyes, who grew up in Cleveland. She and her daughter have had great luck in this store during their visits and Laura has even seen buyers from Anthropologie using their corporate card to purchase items from Sweet Lorain to copy or as inspiration for their designs. Understandably, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this visit to Sweet Lorain and it did not disappoint.

Did I think to take photos of what we bought? No, of course not, but Elizabeth left with a bevy of blue and white items, including a 1950’s sundress, a 1930’s day dress with matching bolero, black 1940’s shoes, tap shoes, and an aqua velvet 1930’s gown, and I left with a gray 1920’s dress, a seersucker romper of unknown decade, the 1930’s raincoat, a tie for the Boy, and a Bakelite bangle. Quite possibly the best trip to a vintage store EVER. Did I mention the prices here are amazing? This store will be a must-do for all subsequent ABWs.

Here are some of the other goodies I found at Sweet Lorain (I apologize for posting photos from my phone, I forgot my real camera):

Read the signs, ladies - this is the place!
A wall of slips, with cheerful bloomers hanging above the dressing room area
Wonderful coral crepe print dress
Navy and red crepe dress
Purses under glass
The 1940's shoes we found for Elizabeth
Tie clips galore, including one from the 1933 World's Fair
Ties!
A selection of men's hats
Oh, the bakelite!

Field Trip: Dolly’s Vintage, Durham, NC

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This is less of a field trip and more of a weekly lunch break ritual, usually on Fridays, to a destination two blocks from my office in downtown Durham, North Carolina – to Dolly’s Vintage, a confectionery of a vintage store that is more like a trip to Candy Land than a trip back in time. And, like the board game, Dolly’s is timeless, adorable, and nostalgic at the same time.

You can’t help but smile when you walk by the store, with its vintage bathtub flower bed and cheerful wooden sign welcoming you in. In fact, much of Dolly’s business is foot traffic now that the store has moved from a small space in Brightleaf Square to its expansive new location on Main Street. The store is like a magnet, drawing both men and women into its cheerful interior, with owner Jennifer Donner ready to welcome everyone with a smile and delightful conversation.

What’s inside Dolly’s Vintage? An array of vintage clothing and accessories, mostly ranging from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. The men’s section has a great selection of ties, sport coats, dress and casual button up shirts, tees, and some miscellaneous accessories, like tie clips and cufflinks. The women’s section is a rainbow of awesome dresses, slips, aprons, bathing suits, rompers, skirts, and tops – no losers here, even the 70’s stuff is adorable. A vintage dress will set you back $20-30, which makes it easy to feed the addiction. 😉

Dolly’s carries custom items, like crinolines and ruffled bloomers that Jennifer orders especially for the store, as well as adorable gift items (Hello Kitty, Pucca, Demeter fragrances, and a ton of cool stuff you’ll want to take home with you) and a candy table worthy of Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Jennifer also works with local tailors and seamstresses to mend and repurpose vintage items with flaws to sell in the store.

Location:

905 West Main St # 20G
Durham, NC 27701

(919) 682-1471 ‎

Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Take a look inside!

The view from the front door - ahhh...
Looking up at the wheel-o-crinolines suspended from the ceiling
The glorious purple velvet couch, with the women's section in the background
Massive tie rack
I've mentioned 70's does 30's before and here is a good example - yes, the fabric is synthetic, but it's gauzy enough to look like a chiffon, and the shawl collar is so 30's
This one came home with me 🙂
I died a little when this dress with an adorable purple bird print and purple trim wouldn't zip up my rib cage
A closeup of the bird print
A rack of vintage slips...love
Live your Pretty in Pink fantasy with these 1950's prom dresses
Sportcoats!
Ruffled bloomers
Get your costume wigs here!
Nibble on some candy while you shop

My Baby Jo

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

My Baby Jo has a little bit of everything to help you embrace your inner pin-up girl, and some essential menswear clothing and accessories for the swing era gent. My Baby Jo has a retail store in Los Angeles, CA, but thankfully they also offer their excellent 1940’s and 1950’s-inspired clothing, shoes, and accessories online.

The website has a great selection of women’s dresses, swimwear, undergarments, hair flowers, jewelry, shoes, handbags, cosmetics and men’s jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, hats, pomade, ties, and vintage watches. The vintage men’s watches are especially good, with watches from the 1920’s through the 1950’s that look like they are in sturdy, wearable condition. Their swimwear selections feature the best of Esther Williams’ swimwear line. The site also offers some fun pieces that may fill gaps in your wardrobe or Halloween costume (like that Rosie the Riveter jumpsuit – where else do you find that?). They also have an extensive selection of men’s hats and hat-care items, including brushes and felt cleaner.

There’s so much goodness here, I’ll try to narrow down my favorites:

Mrs. Moore Day Dress, comes in 5 colors
V-cut Plaid Jacket - lots more of these on the site in different fabrics
Alika dress, also comes in red and in a pencil skirt style
Motorcycle sweater
Marilyn eyelet tie top, also in blue
Leading man two pocket shirt with topstitching
Riveting jumpsuit, also in blue stripes and black
Melton captoe by Johnston & Murphy
How cute is this sailor outfit?
Tailored double pleated trouser - available in 13 different fabrics
So many hair flowers, but the orchids are my favorite
There are tons of hats in traditional colors, but this green fedora was my favorite
Love the face on this 1937 watch

Groupon for American Apparel

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The Groupon for Raleigh/Durham today (and for the next three days) is $50 worth of American Apparel goods for $25. The best part? It’s for online sales only, so technically you could live anywhere and use this 50% discount. Huzzah!

(Edited to add that the link takes you to the main Raleigh/Durham Groupon page for the day, but on the right side of the screen there’s a box that says “More Great Deals Nearby” and the American Apparel Groupon link is at the bottom of that box)

Time to stock up on the basics. Here are a few of my faves from the site:

Shirt Dress
Classic stripe sweater
Wrap dress
Striped socks
Round collar shirt

Eastern Balboa Championships

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’m writing about the Eastern Balboa Championships early in the week because I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to write later on, living in the host scene for this event and organizing certain tangential events that occur this week; also, the event starts on Thursday and once I am sucked into the vortex of madness that is EBC, I may not return until Monday. 😉

Last year at EBC I organized a vintage shopping trip to a couple of local vintage stores in and around downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. The main conquest was a giant warehouse of a vintage store called Get Dressed. Unfortunately, this past May, Get Dressed closed its doors for good, leaving Raleigh without a source for vintage clothing of the swing era. The remaining store, Father & Son Antiques, has an impressive collection of mid-century furniture, but lacks in the clothing department. I still wanted to have a vintage shopping experience for the EBC attendees, after the success of last year’s shopping outing – 20 people signed up in advance and even more carpooled over to Get Dressed the day of the outing.

I have been in touch with one of the vintage collectors from Get Dressed, Andi Shelton, who also runs an Etsy store called Raleigh Vintage. Andi has been keeping the dream alive of Raleigh having a vintage clothing retail store, looking for a location to have a less sprawling store with a carefully selected stock of good vintage clothing. It seems that North Carolina may need the assistance of The Rent is Too Damn High Party so Andi can find some reasonable retail space; until then, Andi and several other vintage collectors operate under the name The Vintage Collective, making appearances at various local events and offering their wares for sale.

I have arranged for the Vintage Collective to appear at EBC, during the day and into the evening on Saturday – specifically, 12:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Brownstone, the hotel hosting EBC. Andi wrote this about The Vintage Collective:

“The Vintage Collective is collaborative of three vintage clothing enthusiasts who have a passion for collecting and sharing special pieces. Just for the EBC, we’ll be sharing our collections of 1920s-late 1950s clothing for men and women, as well as accessories to complete the look. Offerings include dresses, tops, sweaters, skirts, lingerie, pants, suits, vests, hats, gloves, jewelry, ties, and shoes….a little bit of everything!

We’ll be accepting cash and paypal (if wi-fi is available in the hotel lobby).”

I know the ladies of The Vintage Collective have been saving up their good stuff for EBC, so I’m very excited to see what they will bring. Actual location in the hotel is TBA, until I can get over there and work with Chris & Holly Owens, the organizers of EBC, on the best location for the Collective to set up.

I’m looking forward to some vintage shopping without leaving the venue! I am also looking forward to seeing what Andi pulls out of the vault…we all know they keep the good stuff in the back. 😉 If you are planning on attending EBC and have any questions about the vintage shopping, please post your questions as a comment to this blog entry. Thanks!

Fraulein Marlene on Etsy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Hello Fraulein! That is the greeting at the top of Fraulein Marlene’s Etsy shop, welcoming you in to look at her lovely vintage goodies. Almost half of her selections are divine vintage shoes from the 1930’s and 1940’s in neutral tones, like brown, black and beige, so they’ll go with everything in your fall and winter dance wardrobe. The shoes also look like they are in solid condition and are reasonably priced.

Fraulein Marlene says simply, “I love clothing and accessories from the 1920’s-1950’s. Vintage is my first passion —> but i am no professional seller…it is a hobby.”

Here are some selections from this excellent hobbyist:

Very much in love with these shoes that are not in my size - 1930's t-straps with gorgeous textured fabric
1940's reptile sandals from Spain in original box
1940's brown suede platform heels
1940's brown suede heels
Black Art Deco pumps - the hotness
1940's brown peeptoes

Shabby Apple

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Special thanks to Julie and Elizabeth for directing me to Shabby Apple, whose dresses are in several categories in my book – vintage-inspired, dance-worthy, clean lines, and work-appropriate. That last category is critical – if I can wear it to work and to dances, I can probably justify paying a bit more for the garment because I’ll get more miles out of it. I can see me getting a lot of miles out of some of these lovely dresses!

Tuileries Dress

That these dresses are work-appropriate is entirely based on the owners’ desire to have stylish dresses that cover enough skin to make them feel comfortable. In their search for these dresses, they discovered that the problem was not that stores were not buying these clothes, but that the designers were not designing these clothes. Necessity is the mother of invention, so Shabby Apple decided to make these dresses that did not seem to exist!

The web site also makes a good point about these dresses – it’s an all in one outfit. You don’t have to buy any camisoles to go underneath or cardigans to go on top, you just have to buy the dress. In these tough economic times, it seems that the dress is the wardrobe saver in more ways than one.

I should also note that I keep running across companies who have great products and a social conscience, and Shabby Apple is no exception. Shabby Apple partners with Unitus, a non-profit organization that “accelerates access to life-changing financial services for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Shabby Apple donates 5% of its net dress sales to support work in India (where Shabby Apple Dresses has sourced many of its dresses and the textiles used to manufacture its dresses). In addition, each Shabby Apple Dresses customer has the opportunity to donate an extra five dollars to Unitus every time she buys a dress. Shabby Apple Dresses and Unitus are involved with 10 of India’s most promising microfinance organizations that provide financial services to more than 1.6 million hard-working women and their families. Every $100 donation from Shabby Apple Dresses provides at least 20 women with access to financial services – and the chance to live a life without poverty.”

There are a bevy of dresses to love, so let’s get started:

Sheep Meadow Dress
Bette D. Dress
Ingrid Dress
Lindy Hop Dress
Jitterbug Dress
Frida K. Dress
Circo Dress
Liz and Darcy Dress (in 9 colors!)
Bonheur Dress
La Tour Eiffel Dress
Sutherland Point Bathing Suit

Mod Cloth: the democratic republic of vintage-inspired fashion

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

When Mod Cloth was discovered online by one of my friends, news of the web site spread like wildfire in my circle of friends because we were starved for a place to get modern retro-inspired clothing at a reasonable price. Variety is the spice of life and Mod Cloth takes this to heart by offering clothing from many different sources, including Trashy Diva, Stop Staring!, and Tulle, thus, giving you maximum exposure to brands offering what you want to wear. The really great clothing items sell out quickly, but I find that if they include the brand or maker in the item description, that the item that is out of stock on Mod Cloth may be in stock at the source web site.

Perhaps the reason Mod Cloth is so great is in large part due to the philosophies of its founders:

“Founded by high school sweethearts, Eric Koger and Susan Gregg Koger, and built on a foundation of love for vintage and retro clothing, ModCloth.com is an online clothing, accessories, and decor retailer that aims to provide a fun and engaging shopping atmosphere for you, our customer. We do this by interacting with you via social network sites like Twitter and Facebook, requesting your feedback through the ModLife Blog and product reviews, and asking you to vote on potential inventory with the Be the Buyer program, all with the intention of running a fashion business in a democratic style. Supplying you with the opportunities to have your voice heard is what keeps our company fresh, relevant, and growing by leaps and bounds. This is what allows us to continually accommodate your pioneering passion for modern trends. We invite you to comb through our clever product descriptions, flip through our stylebooks, shop our vast assortment of indie designs, find some unique one of a kinds, and get in touch with one of our friendly customer care representatives if you have any questions. We want to be the fashion company you’re friends with!”

A fashion democracy? Hear, hear!

The web site is so full of goodness that I’ll limit my favorites to the most recent arrivals:

Strange Vintage Pairing: Two “Suits”

This post was written by Lindy Dandy.

Believe it or not there are some dance events where you’ll be able to wear these finds.

First, a bathing suit.  I’m probably just strange, but I’ve always been fascinated by men’s vintage bathing suits.  Manufacturers didn’t have access to the man-made fabrics we have today, so they had to make their suits out of natural fibers that could survive sea water.  Many were made out of wool, a material we usually associate with suits and sweaters.  Hmm, this one is actually in my size.

Vintage 20s Bathing Suit, made of wool. I wonder if it's itchy.

There are several exchanges with dances at the beach:

Second, tails.  It’s too often that you can wear clothing this formal to a dance event (or any event for that matter), but I would get tails if only for the New Year’s Eve party at Lindy Focus. Check out the details on the lapels and buttons.

Can you imagine swinging out in tails? I could.

Esther Williams swimwear

Before we get too deep into bathing suit season, I thought it important to point out the most flattering bathing suit I have ever owned and will probably continue to own until I am old, gray, and fabulous, a la the designer of these suits. I am talking about Esther Williams, the synchronized swimmer turned movie goddess of the aquamusical, who has her own swimwear line of modern and vintage inspired bathing suits.

I bought her “Classic Sheath” in black last year, resigning myself to the fact that I needed a more practical, full coverage bathing suit that I would not feel self-conscious wearing, regardless of what kind of day I was having. I adored the vintage styling on Esther’s one piece bathing suits and hoped that this would be the solution to all my bathing suit woes. When the suit arrived, it was even better than imagined – not only did the bathing suit look adorable with the old-school ruching and low cut legs, but the bathing suit was well-made with great structure, cups, and durable fabric, it was ultimately flattering in all self-conscious areas, and I felt beautiful wearing it – that’s a first in my years of horrible dressing room experiences with bathing suits!

You can buy this style of bathing suit on other websites, but there’s something special about ordering a suit from Esther herself, as if some of that MGM musical magic will rub off on you when you wear it. Could you wear the bathing suits dancing? If you are planning on attending the Virginia Beach Lindy Exchange, that’s a yes, as the Sunday afternoon dance is on the beach. I also seem to recall status updates from friends about being poolside while attending Camp Hollywood

Here are my favorite styles from the Esther Williams swimwear line:

Classic Sheath
2 Piece Classic
The Marilyn Swimdress
Classic Bandeau

Zac Posen for Target

I have been in love with Zac Posen‘s clothing since Natalie Portman wore his Empire Dress to the Star Wars Episode I premiere (Pictured here – I still love this dress!). I have followed his work over the years, but lack a movie star budget, so I have admired his work from afar…until today.

Target‘s GO! Designer series has done an excellent job of bringing edgy, creative, and up-and-coming designers to the masses. In the past I’ve picked up a few things to wear to dances from this clothing line at Target, including a black Anna Sui flapper dress, an off-white Libertine 20’s-inspired slip dress, and a blouse and vest by Alice Temperley.

I went to Target this morning to check out the collection, which was surprisingly not picked over yet. The collection was youthful, colorful, and a bit more luxurious and detailed than some previous GO! collections I have seen. I’ll add that Zac Posen knows how to make a lady look good and, where the fit in previous collections has been sub-par, everything I tried on from this collection had an excellent fit. Here are some of my favorite looks from the collection that have swing dance potential:

This dress is adorable and, unfortunately, was not at my local Target. Check out the twirl of the skirt on the model!
These tuxedo pants were well-tailored. Matching jacket optional.
The model doesn't do this retro-inspired bathing suit justice - add curves to make this gold swimwear a vintage piece.
This dress fit like a dream, but after yesterday's shopping trip to Winston-Salem, it could not come home with me. The photo does not do this dress justice, it is more vibrant in color and has gold threads running throughout. Wear this at the next Swing and Soul and you'll look gorgeous, like one of the Supremes.
This skirt was not at my Target location, but given the flirtiness of skirts present in the collection, I'd say this has definite swing potential.
This tiger print dress flows beautifully and, upon closer inspection, has details that you would normally not see in clothing sold at Target.