Last month I attended the Jazz Age Lawn Party in New York and the first day of the event reached some of the hottest temperatures I have experienced in my life, with a heat index of 107 degrees Fahrenheit. My already blister-prone feet were properly welted with blisters by the end of the day, after extreme sweating, ample dancing, and walking and metro-ing to get to wherever I was going. My hosts, well-versed in foot ails after years of walking around NY and DC, presented me with a Band-Aid Friction Block Stick, which looks like a deodorant stick put through a shrink ray and the substance itself looks a bit like Crisco (but not greasy). This wasn’t going to help my existing blisters, but was told it would help prevent the next day’s rub on fresh skin from a different pair of shoes. I was willing to try anything at that point.
After a slightly lesser heat index the following day and with more dancing (Peabody!), I was happy to report that the friction stick appeared to have made a difference on my unblistered skin, keeping it blister-free throughout the day and preventing irritation with a different pair of shoes that had a different profile (oxfords I’ve worn a number of times –> never worn before by me secondhand Mary Janes). I’ve since acquired my own stick and used it on shoes that I know rub, on occasion, certain areas of my feet and also with a new pair of shoes, with great success. I’m curious to know if others have discovered this stick – if so, do share your review in the comments.
Don’t you hate it when you’ve been doing something your whole life and later discover that this thing you’ve been doing is harmful to something you love? My heart sunk to the bottom of the Marianas Trench when I read that my deodorant/antiperspirant, which I thought was great because it didn’t streak on my vintage clothing, was actually full of aluminum. Said aluminum not only made my dress shirt armpits sparkle with the most resistant strain of glitter herpes I’ve encountered to date, with an accompanying foul odor when the heat of an iron was applied, but it also caused a chemical reaction that made the armpits of some of my vintage clothing start to yellow/stain. How do I know this? There were casualties. Then research to determine the cause of said casualties. I never go down without a fight.
“Deodorants prevent odor-causing bacteria, while antiperspirants prevent sweat. To do so, antiperspirants rely on aluminum-based compounds, such as aluminum chloride, to cause cells in your sweat ducts to swell and block sweat from escaping. When these active ingredients (which also happen to be quite acidic) bond with your sweat, they’re prone to stain clothing.”
OH. MY. GOD.
Perhaps I’ve been lucky thus far with my antiperspirant not staining my clothing until recently, but I feel like this news should be broadcast, warnings posted in vintage clothing store dressing rooms, shouted from the rooftops. Maybe people don’t keep their clothing as long as I do, so it just doesn’t come up. Whatever the reason, I’m here to raise awareness of this issue and present some information on my journey to aluminum-free deodorant and stain/sparkle-free clothing.
We sweat a lot when we dance. We have to wear SOMETHING or our dance spaces will smell even more like locker rooms and foot cheese than they already do. I decided I could deal without the antiperspirant component of my underarm regimen, as I tended to select clothing for dancing that already doesn’t show at lot of soaked-through sweat, but the smell had to be UNDER WRAPS. But I had to change my deodorant fast, or suffer the consequences of damaging even more clothing.
I headed to the Internet to read reviews of aluminum-free deodorants and I found most reviews to be incomplete, overly-optimistic, and not descriptive enough. There were also options other than stick and roll-on, which sounded like a pain in the butt. Then I came across this article titled “Do Any of These Hippie Deodorants Work?” by Kat Stoeffel that was exactly what I needed – one person’s journey through a myriad of recommended deodorants with different applicators, brands, pros, cons, daily conditions, duration of effectiveness, and a ranking from worst to best. As everyone’s body chemistry is different, I went with her top two and was prepared to try others down the line if necessary.
Kat’s second highest recommendation, Le Couvent de Minimes Everyday Deodorant, is a French cologne which has alum stone as its active ingredient and dates back to 1862. True to Kat’s assessment, it did smell like a fancy Williams Sonoma hand soap, and would work as a nice unisex scent. Unfortunately, my skin had a sensitivity reaction to this deodorant. It did work well and I may try it again in a different season.
The deodorant with Kat’s highest seal of approval was Lavilin, an Israeli deodorant that featured images of athletes on the cardboard packaging around the bottle, which looked promising. I had to get used to wearing a roll-on, but it was usually dry by the time I finished drying my hair and I haven’t seen evidence of it leaving residue on my clothing when I remove it. It’s been working like a champ on regular office days for the past month. While it boasts 72 hours of coverage, I’d err on the side of caution when going to a swing dance – I would always reapply my old deodorant/antiperspirant before attending a dance, just to be safe, and that reapplication was needed with Lavilin if I wanted to continue to smell fresh at the end of the dance (per a self-sniff). Lavilin is my winner of the two.
Thankfully, it was just that easy, trying two and coming up with a winner. I am so relieved to have found a deodorant that has less of a negative impact on my wardrobe! If you have stories, recommendations, or other information about what works for you, please feel free to post it in the comments.
The guilt is immense. I’d like to say I have all the answers for my recovery plan, but I don’t. I’ve soaked the damaged red gingham dress in Oxyclean twice and the armpits are still yellow. I’ve used vinegar on a cranberry colored dress shirt and I can still see the glitter of aluminum embedded in the fabric. I did, however, manage to eradicate all glitter and stains from several white dress shirts following the advice of this video, using a paste of water, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide:
I probably need to try this on my cranberry shirt and gingham dress, but the peroxide has me worried it will bleach the color…need some more confidence…please feel free to insert confidence in the comments section, as well. 😉
I realize there are all sorts of warnings and cautionary things we can do to protect our vintage clothing (like not wearing it – but where is the fun in that?), but a change of deodorant was a fairly easy lifestyle change for me to make and it’s also made with an eye toward protecting the lifespan of my modern clothing, as well! Hopefully, I’ll never have to make a peroxide and baking soda paste again.
I’ve been preparing for a WWII/D-Day themed gig and am elated to be borrowing a friend’s grandmother’s WWII nurse’s uniform for the day – the only thing I am missing is a hairstyle that will work with the uniform’s service cap. The obvious choice is a pin curl set, with curls peeking out from under the cap, since I have so little hair and an elaborate victory roll configuration just is not possible. I had experimented with a pin curl set pattern I found online through a video tutorial from Lisa Freemont Street, “the Gene Tierney,” and was very pleased with the results, though I only did a trial run without product and didn’t leave my home with the ‘do.
I began following Lisa Freemont Street’s Facebook page and this gal is a wealth of information, and timely at that – just as I was needing a pin curl set with some staying power (i.e. the right hair products), she posts an updated video of her styling tools and hair products recommendations. Since this blog is all about where to purchase the things we want and need for dancing, I thought I’d share her vlog post recommendations. She covers everything from products for finger waves to pin curls and talks about different types of hair. I made a list of things I will need for my pin curl set (both wet and dry, we’ll see what works best) and I was able to find everything on my list on Amazon.com. The hair products and tools are now on their way to my front door – voila! Thanks, technology! Check out Lisa’s recommendations in her vlog below and her YouTube channel is a wealth of how-to information:
As we travel to events in different cities and dance the night away, sometimes our wardrobe fails us. Sometimes we don’t have backup clothing when our wardrobe fails us because we’ve sweated through all of our clean clothing or something else more catastrophic happens. If you’ve got the right things in your suitcase or dance bag, you may be able to make a quick repair or have a quick solution to keep yourself together and out on the dance floor for a few more dances. Here’s what I like to have in my bag:
They are so essential I carry them around on my keychain. They can do just about anything – mend a seam, hem pants, keep a neckline in place, pin a stray bra strap, or even hold a tie in place. Start keeping the ones they give you to pin your number on in competitions, just put them on your keychain or in your dance bag until you need them. 😉
DOUBLE SIDED BODY TAPE
Also known as “fashion tape,” this stuff is great for many of the things safety pins can do, only with more finesse. If you don’t sweat too much when you dance, you can use it to secure fabrics to your skin to prevent them from moving, and it is also great for fabric on fabric dilemmas at dance events. I’ve used it to secure larger collars or other loose clothing appendages, hem pants, make bows perkier, and to secure gaps when I wear button-down shirts.
Yes, I know, this is obvious – but it does come in handy.
I am a messy eater and I will inevitably spill something on myself during a meal. If you are like me, you dress up to go out to dinner with friends before the big Saturday night dance at an event and, in your finery, something saucy falls in your lap and you run to the bathroom to try to blot it out before it sets in. In times like this, it’s a good idea to have something on hand to eliminate the stain, like Tide To Go, so that you can go on to the dance without having to change clothes or wear something with your dinner on it.
If you happen to be attending a longer dance event and/or have very little luggage space, you may want to consider doing laundry while you are gone and wearing some things twice. I’m thinking about those of you who make multiple shirt changes each night – who wants to sacrifice luggage space to pack all the tee shirts you actually need for a week-long dance event? If your housing situation does not have laundry facilities, you can always wash your clothing in the sink – Tide also makes travel sink packets with detergent for washing your clothes in the sink.
Inevitably, at some point in your dance lifetime, you will be in the middle of an event and the suede on your shoes will start to come off, or maybe even the entire sole. If Dancestore.com isn’t there vending and you didn’t bring backup, you could be in trouble. Have some sort of adhesive handy in your luggage – people have differing opinions about what works best, but barge cement and contact cement seem to be the most popular.
Dapper Man hair pomade is made the way pomade used to be made, from a 1930’s formula of natural waxes and oils, and is free of petroleum products. I don’t know how many of you have experimented with pomades, but if you are like me, the thought of selecting a hair product, much less one that would achieve the desired effect, is a daunting task. Perhaps your barber has set you straight on a suitable pomade, but for those men embarking on a quest for vintage hair, perhaps this would be a good place to start.
“The Gentleman’s Pomade” was conceived and created by one of our own, Steve Cochrum – a California swing dancer and vintage clothing enthusiast, who was dissatisfied with the petroleum-based products available on the market and began experimenting with a formula from his father’s 1930’s book about how to “be a fit man and how to keep yourself looking your best.” From there, he made samples, distributed them at dances and vintage venues, and a brand was born.
So why is the old pomade superior to new pomade? Some older products – I’m thinking ladies make-up made with what we now consider toxic ingredients – are not necessarily better for us and the same desired vintage effect can be achieved with modern products. However, Dapper Man makes some very compelling arguments as to why going to the source product is better:
“The more I respected this hobby I realized that something was missing with the way society dresses today, not to mention the loss of interest in men’s grooming, so I set quest for a men’s hair pomade that could give the look of the 1930’s style. As we would make our rounds to many events, I began to ask the young men that liked wearing their hair in that fashion, what they were using and if they were happy with it. The comments I got were mostly negative, that it was difficult to find a product with the right consistency they needed, without being too sticky, for the right hairstyle and “not to greasy” something easy to wash out of hair and off of hands. Also men complained of their hair goo getting left behind on what ever lovely ladies pillow they had “visited” with the night before! The problem that I found with all the other products on the market was that the ingredients used, usually had a petroleum base, which can be dangerous and may cause hair loss-wow! I knew there had to be something better, more consistent and much more natural.”
Ultimately, the benefits of Dapper Man pomade are simple: “You will love the way your hair behaves – great hold and restyle as you desire. It should not stain your clothes, furniture, your sheets and pillows, etc. It even helps to soften your hat band in vintage hats and helps prevent ‘hat hair.'”
If any of you gents have experience with this product, feel free to chime in with a comment.