Tag Archives: Aris Allen

Newsflash: Aris Allen Mesh and Leather Oxford

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Since I didn't snap a photo of the Aris Allen prototype, here's a version by Allen Edmunds, their "Strawfut," to give you an idea of the mesh and leather combo, but with a $300+ price point.

This past weekend at DCLX, amidst discussions of trumpet skirts, Dancestore.com owner Gay Santelmann showed me
her prototype of an Aris Allen
mesh and leather oxford, set
to go into production and be available for purchase in, approximately, 4 to 6 months. Excited! I’ve been looking for
a vintage pair for my husband and it’s just not happening…
but now it is!

I’m a big fan of the Dancestore.com mesh and leather heeled oxford for its comfort, flexibility, and breatheability. I can imagine that the same concept will translate well into an oxford for men. Kudos to Dancestore.com for picking up on this functionality.

Did I think to take a photo of the prototype? No, of course not, but the shoe I saw was two tone, with dark brown leather and tan mesh, and was copied from a 1940’s pair of the same coloring. Gay said they would also be available in black leather/white mesh, and possibly a black and navy combo.

Top 10 Places You Should Be Shopping for Swing

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

(Another article for Yehoodi – enjoy!)

Inspired by Rebecca Brightly’s “Top 20 Online Resources For Becoming a Bad-Ass Swing Dancer” (and delighted to be included in her list!), I decided to come up with a list of my own. Unless you are a regular reader of the Lindy Shopper blog, it may be hard to determine what sources may be most helpful to get you started in your swing dance shopping endeavors.

I usually try to stay away from lists because I find that they can become outdated quickly (stores no longer in business, styles no longer relevant, etc.), so we are going to say that this is my top 10 list as of the date of publication. Most of these sources have been tried and true for me, so hopefully the list will withstand the test of time, at least for a few years.

1. Dancestore.com

This is kind of a no-brainer if you’ve been dancing for any length of time, but if you are just starting out you may not know where to find dance shoes. Most people outside of the swing dance community see character shoes as an option and I’ve definitely seen newer dancers show up in ballroom shoes, but it shows a level of commitment to the dance when you invest in your first pair of swing dance shoes.

Dancestore.com provides the work-horses of my dance shoe collection, as well as thousands of other dancers, with their Aris Allen line of shoes – shoes that are comfortable, relatively inexpensive, and offer vintage styles that work well with both vintage and modern outfits. I think we sometimes take Dancestore.com for granted – when I have worn my Dancestore shoes outside of the swing dance community, they tend to garner a lot of attention because they don’t look like shoes that are available anywhere else – and really, aside from a couple of other vintage repro shoe makers, they aren’t. Dancestore does the swing dance community a great service with their products and makes it easy for us to point new dancers in their direction and say THIS is where you should get your first pair of dance shoes.

2. Re-Mix Vintage Shoes

Let’s say you’ve accumulated a few pairs of Aris Allens in great neutral colors, but you’ve just acquired an outfit that requires some color or something extra fabulous in the way of footwear – Re-Mix Vintage Shoes is the next step. Offering an array of vintage styles from swing-era decades with divine details and fabulous color, Re-Mix is the place for the most stylish reproduction shoes I know of online.

3. Your local vintage store

If you are blessed with a wonderful vintage store in your area, then you already know this is a great place to shop. More likely, your vintage store does not stock swing era clothing or men’s clothing and is full of polyester, but don’t be discouraged! It is important to check in on these places for two reasons – first, you never know when they might get something in stock that you would die to have; second, if the store owner doesn’t know that there is a demand for these things, he or she probably won’t buy it from a seller or an estate. It is so important to develop relationships with the vintage store owners in your area and tell them what you are looking for in terms of clothing. Then, when something does come across their desk, they will have you in mind, they might even give you a call to let you know that something has come in, and they also might give you a better price on it because of that friendship and loyalty. Don’t assume you can come into a store and tell them you are a swing dancer and that they will instantly know how serious you are about collecting vintage clothing – to them, you are no better than the random college girl or boy looking for something to wear to a theme party. Distinguish yourself!

4. Your local thrift store

This is mostly for the gents, although ladies may find a diamond in the rough every now and then. But, seriously, menswear hasn’t changed so much in the last century that you can’t go to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or any local thrift store and find a sportcoat, old pairs of dress shoes, entire suits, pants, just about everything you need at a fraction of the cost of buying it new in a store AND with a cut and quality that is more likely to be in line with that of the swing era. It must pain most men to spend money on clothing because I talk about thrift store shopping (usually after hearing a complaint about needing more vests, pants, etc.) to dozens of men every year, only to hear the lamest excuses. You obviously went somewhere to buy those jeans and that tee shirt…and if you didn’t, you should tell the person shopping for you about the thrift stores…

5. eBay

I post a lot of items on Lindy Shopper from eBay because there are so many good things at good prices, if you are patient and willing to look. I spend the time looking on eBay because it’s worth it – I don’t have lots of vintage resources locally and it’s more efficient to shop on eBay because you simply type in your search terms and – voila! – what they have available pops up on your screen. Because eBay has continuous auctions and it’s not practical to search for the same items every day, you can save your search terms if you don’t find what your are looking for and have eBay email you when something you want does pop up on eBay. It’s that simple. For example, I get daily emails for 1940’s dresses and sometimes I go through the listings (looking at the most recently listed items), but other items, like 1930’s suit in size 40 (for my husband) only pop up every few months. Yes, it can be hit or miss and auctions can go for astronomical amounts, but even with the gamble it is still the best place to find the most rare items and the quickest way to find specific items, new and old.

6. Etsy

I am addicted to Etsy for many things. It’s almost as good as eBay for vintage finds (usually pricier), but it’s even better for new items that people have hand-crafted. If I can dream it or find it in a vintage photograph, someone on Etsy can make it. Etsy is my go-to source for hair flowers, fascinators, and affordable reproduction garments. Some Etsy sellers have ties to the dance community, like Jitterbuggin and Allure Original Styles, while others, like Time Machine Vintage and Raleigh Vintage simply have a love for vintage and reproduction clothing.

7. Your relatives’ closets (or anyone within earshot at least 40 years older than you)

The odds are favorable that you have a relative who was alive during the swing era, and the odds are pretty favorable that they have kept things from that era (being products of the Great Depression in some fashion – anyone else’s grandparents have giant freezers full of food?). I have been the recipient of so many items, mostly accessories, that relatives have given me that they didn’t want to get rid of, but were delighted to give to me knowing these items would be used and loved. Once word got out that I was looking for vintage items, other people (aunts, friends of grandparents) started digging through their closets or finding things at yard sales (for pennies!) that I might like. Even people I’ve encountered and simply had a conversation with about my vintage clothing has yielded items from closets, lovingly tucked away for years, but brought out for me because they thought I might like the garment and get some use out of it. The key here is to talk to people – a simple “Hey Grandpa, do you have any old suits you don’t wear anymore?” or “Grandma, do you have any jewelry from the 1940’s?” Even if they don’t give it to you, it can make a nice connection or revive some stories from the past. 🙂

8. My Heinies

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of covering your butt at swing dances. If you are not vintage-inclined and are buying the very short dresses that are in style now, don’t assume that the dance floor won’t be able to see your underwear. We all see it and I, especially, SEE it. Dancer Carol Fraser is a saint with her dance pants, My Heinies, developed based on her years of experience as a dancer and instructor, with the dance community and clothing styles in mind. There’s something for everyone on the My Heinies web site and I would encourage ladies who wear skirts and dresses to invest in this product so that you can dance uninhibited and free from worry that the entire room will see your private parts.

9. Vintage stores at out of town dance events

For me, the grass is usually much greener on the other side, so I take the opportunity when I travel to out of town swing dance events to visit that town’s vintage stores. Before I travel to a new city, I like to ask one of the local dancers where they recommend shopping (and if it’s worth it to try), or I’ll check to see what information I can find on the internet and, if it’s not apparent from the information on the web, give the store a call to find out if they carry swing-era merchandise. I relish every trip to Cleveland for All Balboa Weekend for the event and for Cleveland’s vintage stores, and I can’t wait to get back to Portland and Seattle. By the way, anyone know of any good vintage shops in Iowa City? Hawkeye Swing Festival, I’m coming in April…

10. Clothing swaps

One of the best places to get clothing and shoes for swing dancers could be other dancers. The ladies in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill swing dance community have been organizing periodic clothing swaps for the past couple of years, which include all clothing and accessories, but have been particularly helpful in passing around dresses and shoes that are good for dancing. That dress you are tired of wearing is brand new to someone else, so rather than give it to Goodwill, why not take it to the clothing swap and find it a new home? I’m always delighted when I see other girls in dresses that don’t fit me anymore, and they are always grateful for the garment. It’s a win-win.

Black Cap Toe Aris Allens on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Men tend to wear their dance shoes out, so I was pleasantly surprised to see this eBay listing for a pair of black cap toe Aris Allens, size 11.5, gently used. They look to be in great condition and, with a $24.99 starting bid, much cheaper than a new pair. Anyone looking for a replacement or an inexpensive addition to your dance shoe collection?

Be My Jazz Baby 2012 Vendors

Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society, dapper in tuxedos

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This past weekend I attended a wonderful dance and workshop weekend in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA called Be My Jazz Baby and blissed out on two nights of dancing to Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society. Be My Jazz Baby worked to bring in vendors, who set up their wares along the inside of the dance studio room where the Saturday night dance was held. This seemed to facilitate more interaction between the vendors and the dancers. Some of the vendors were old favorites and others were new to me.

First in the lineup, Sharon Crawford was there with her needle, thread, and supplies, whipping up custom Creations by Crawford for people on the fly, as well as vending some ready-to-wear items. Sharon prefers to create custom pieces for people, based on what they are wearing or something they own, which is entirely practical and takes the guesswork out of knowing what you’ll pair with one of her floral or feather pieces.

Next we had a new addition to our regional vendors, Norfolk-based Kelsie McNair and her collection of vintage dresses, shoes, ties, and other sundries from With Lavender and Lace. It’s always wonderful to welcome the vintage clothing community into the swing dance community and I think Kelsie was pleased with the response.

Dancestore.com, by way of Kara Fabina, was present to vend their quality dance shoes to anyone who needs or wants (or desperately needs because their shoes are falling apart) a new pair of swing dance shoes. I’m excited to see Aris Allen as a consistent vendor and events – after going through a patent leather oxford boy’s ballroom shoe nightmare this week, being able to try on the shoes is worth its weight in gold.

Also new-ish to the vendor squad (but not new to the Raleigh Durham dancers) is Hairzapoppin, the floral creations of Kristy Milliken. Kristy is probably her own best advertising, as she always has a bevy of blossoms tucked into her impeccable updo. Not to mention the Lite-Brite sign, acting as a beacon to draw you to her table…

Vintage Visage came next, which I first encountered at Jammin’ on the James in Richmond, VA this past fall. Wares include reproduction and vintage items, like hats, gloves, fans, hair accessories, ties, and purses, that little something extra you may need to complete your outfit. Kathryn Ann Meyer, the curator of the Vintage Visage collection, graciously let us use one of her hats to draw names for the competition – thanks again for that!

Finally, Be My Jazz Baby had a roving vendor – Caroline Langdon, dolled up in a gorgeous cigarette girl ensemble, peddled vintage ties and other vintage goodies from her tray instead of cigarettes on behalf of Moderlux, a vintage clothing and furniture store in Hampton, VA. Sadly, Caroline and I were both so busy that I didn’t catch sight of her wares, but she’s provided this information on the store: “Modernlux is a truly unique little store I operate with owner/founder Gary MacIntyre located in the heart of old Hampton at 47 East Queens Way (23669). We specialize in Mid-Century design including housewares, household gadgets, furniture, objets d’art, and, naturally, fashion – for both men and women!”

Thanks to Bill Speidel and Victor Celania for hosting a lovely weekend of dancing and shopping!

Some samples of Creations by Crawford - what you don't see is all the custom pieces she made on-site over the weekend!

Kelsie McNair and her goods from With Lavender and Lace

The spread of shoes from Dancestore.com

Kristy delivers the goods at Hairzapoppin'

Vintage Visage's table runneth over... 🙂

EBC 2011 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

EBC beach clip swag

It’s already wonderful that the Eastern Balboa Championships is just a short drive away, but this year EBC really had the feel of a top notch swing dance event, brimming with a level of excitement and enthusiasm that is almost unrivaled. EBC already felt like a Balboa family reunion, bridging the gap between All Balboa Weekends, but this year it felt like EBC really came into its own as an event. The new hotel for this year’s EBC, the North Raleigh Hilton, provided a lovely ballroom space, a big hallway with chairs and tables for vendors, registration, and for hanging out, and there were no shortage of extra rooms for practice space. There were competitions for everyone and I am proud of the newer Raleigh/Durham Balboa dancers, some of them only dancing Balboa for a few weeks prior to the event, taking the challenge head on and entering their first amateur competitions.

Some of the Vintage Collective spread

This year, EBC grew from one vendor to four vendors. The solo repeat vendor, and one that is near and dear to my heart, is the Vintage Collective (Andi Shelton, Claire Villa, and Laura Churchill Pemberton), who paid attention to what was bought and who purchased it last year, then went out to their sources to find even more of these vintage goods that swing dancers wear. The result was four large racks of clothing from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, both men’s and women’s apparel, three tables of accessories, and a giant shoe rack. The Vintage Collective was only set up for one day, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and I was there with my fellow vintage poachers at 9:00 sharp, freshly rolled out of bed and ready to commence with the hunt.

I intended to go grab the goodies I wanted, then go back to bed, but it was so exciting trying on clothes with my friends and choosing outfits for people that it was lunchtime before I knew it. I think Rita Shiang got my two favorite dresses of the day – a 1930’s sailor dress with red trim and a 1940’s brown floral rayon dress with amazing draping and a fishtail attachment in the back, you know, for sass. Again, I forgot to take photos of all this good stuff until the end of my shopping visit, I got so wrapped up in the experience…

So many shoes!

Next, we have Dancestore, the anchor vendor of any major swing dance event and one that is continuously welcome, as they continue to provide reasonably priced, reproduction dance shoes that are essential to any swing dancer’s wardrobe. At one point, Frankie Hagan stopped dancing and came up to me to show me that his heel had come off his shoe. About 10 minutes later he came back up to me to show off his new pair of Aris Allen cap toes. THIS is only one of the great reasons to have a shoe vendor at your event. Another is to be able to actually try on the shoes to ensure a good fit. Then, at the dance on Sunday night, Kara Fabina announced that Dancestore would be selling their entire inventory at the event for 40% off for the next 15 minutes. YES!!! There was a rush to purchase the discounted shoes and even I decided to replace my pair of white mesh oxfords that I had danced a hole through the toe – at 40% off, how could you not?

Creations by Crawford is Sharon Crawford’s name for the hair flowers, fascinators, boutonnieres, and other clothing ornamentations she makes. I was a bit confused when I saw Sharon’s vendor space, as there were a few items for sale, but it mostly looked like a craft studio, with supplies everywhere. Then Bill Speidel showed me his boutonniere and explained that Sharon had made it custom to go with his outfit. I looked over and Sharon confirmed, as she furiously sewed together one of her creations for a customer. This is a new approach and one that can work at a weekend event – you have a bit of a captive audience if the shopper is there for the weekend, why not make something to go with what they are wearing if they have the time to wait? By the end of the dance you can have a custom piece that you know will work with something you have.

Finally, we have Vintage Visage, the brainchild of Kathryn Meyer, who had a fantastic display of vintage-inspired hats and accessories for sale, including hair flowers, fancy gloves, hats for ladies and gents, and the ever essential fan. Whoever has the foresight to sell fans at dances is always tops in my book. If you are looking for Kathryn and her wares after EBC, she is a regular vendor at Richmond’s Second Saturday dances.

And that about wraps it up for another great year at EBC! Here are some supplemental photos of the vendors:

My favorite Dancestore wedge in brown

Nelle Cherry models a Dancestore limited edition two tone mesh and leather heeled oxford

Sharon shows off her handiwork

Kathryn and Meghan with the Vintage Visage spread

Hats and purses - even a 1920's cloche! From the Vintage Collective

Adorable socks and ties from the Vintage Collective

The Vintage Collective's shoe rack

Elizabeth getting ready to hit the dressing room

Lovely fabrics from the Vintage Collective dresses

Happy shoppers!

Dance Shoe Deals of the Week

Re-mix Deco

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

There are a few really good deals on eBay right now for Re-mix Vintage Shoes and Aris Allen dance shoes. For starters, there is a pair of worn-once Remix Deco shoes in the gray suede/black leather combo, size 9, with a starting bid of $10.00. These shoes retail at $194.00, so $10.00 just seems crazy. My guess is that the bidding will go higher than this, but any Remix shoe to be had under $50.00 is a major win.

Re-Mix pleated toe wedge

The next Remix deal isn’t as good, comparatively, but it’s still a pretty awesome deal – $89.99 starting bid for a pair of silver pleated toe wedges, size 11. I love Re-Mix wedges and silver seems to go with everything. 🙂

Finally, the best deal of the week as a pair of lovely Aris Allen white satin 1930’s heels, size 10, with a starting price of $0.99. That’s right, 99 cents! The shipping is more than the cost of the item, but even then, it still puts you in a pair of dance shoes for less than $15. Winning!

Aris Allen white satin 1930's heels

Aris Allen Black Wingtips

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

On the heels of their white wingtip, Dancestore.com has introduced a black wingtip oxford to their line of Aris Allen dance shoes. This is most certainly a welcome addition and one that, I believe, may be picked up by people outside of the dance community. At $74.95, this pair of basic black dress shoes is less than half the retail cost of most new pairs of black wingtips with leather soles.

Men’s Aris Allen Pants on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

In my haste to get out of town this weekend, I forgot to post links to two pairs of Aris Allen men’s pants in black that I found on eBay, high waist with a wide leg, three pleats, and cuffs. The first pair is a size 32 long and the second pair is a size 34 long – if you lack a tall inseam, they can always be hemmed. Both pairs of pants have never been worn and, at $19.99 starting price for a pair of dress dance pants, this is a crazy deal.

Auction ends tomorrow! Bid swiftly!

Aris Allen White Wingtip Oxford

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Aris Allen is on a roll this week, this time with the debut of a new men’s shoe (a rare occurrence, indeed) – a lovely white wingtip oxford with classic broguing detail along the seams and on the toe. Aris Allen has been the go-to for affordable men’s swing dance shoes and I’m happy to see this welcome addition to their men’s footwear line. Now, you just have to decide if you are a white wingtip man or a white cap toe man…

The Help, Starring Aris Allen

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Do you recognize these shoes?

I took this photograph at the movie theater tonight, from a giant banner for the movie “The Help,” which will be in theaters tomorrow. I am almost 95% certain that these shoes are the white Aris Allen 1940’s peep toe oxfords. Can anyone verify this? I suppose it caught me off-guard – you expect to see, for example, Remix reproduction 1920’s shoes in a 1920’s movie, but not necessarily 1940’s repro shoes in a 1960’s movie. Surprises where you least expect it. 🙂

$20 Off – Aris Allen 1940’s Black Velvet and Mesh Mary Jane

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Continuing the shoe theme of this week, for a limited time Dancestore.com is offering their 1940’s velvet and mesh Mary Jane for $49.95. Regular retail price is $69.95, so this is a significant reduction in price! No word on how long the sale will last…

More Colors! Aris Allen 1940’s Velvet and Mesh Mary Jane

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I can’t believe I missed this (how long have these been out?), but Dancestore.com has come out with three new colors of the Aris Allen velvet and mesh Mary Jane – black with white mesh, indigo with white mesh, and brown with white mesh. I have been admiring the black velvet and black mesh Mary Jane for a while, as I find that shoes made with mesh let your feet breathe while dancing. They are all so lovely, deciding which pair to order will be difficult!

Indigo with white mesh

Black with white mesh

Dancestore.com 10% Off Sale

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

From now until February 12, 2011, Dancestore.com is taking 10% off all orders when you use the code “SWING2011.” Time to stock up on some Aris Allens!

Aris Allen 1930’s Heeled Oxford on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I have always admired Aris Allen’s 1930’s heeled oxford, it’s such a lovely shoe. Here’s a pair, new in box, on eBay in a size 8. Starting price is $34.99, about half the price of ordering a new pair from Dancestore.com.

More Swing Dance Shoes on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

‘Tis the season to get rid of your dance shoes? One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so we don’t mind here at Lindy Shopper! Here’s this week’s eBay offerings to get your feet ready to go for the next dance:

Red Remix Picasso Wedges, Size 10

Remix Pleated Toe Wedge in Black, Size 6

Aris Allen Camel 1930's Velvet Oxford, Size 10.5