Jitterbuggin’ is having a 25% off sale today and tomorrow (that’s July 3 and 4) to keep the inventory rolling so the fabulous Kimberly Cullins can do awesome things with the new fabrics she got in this week. A little birdie told me there are some awesome new prints, including two cat prints, which I am dying to see, so….we should all help Kim keep the ball rolling and pick up something from the Jitterbuggin store!
Last week I embarked on a quest for nude seamed stockings. I have little patience for wading through lingerie websites, so I solicited Facebook for ideas. When Kate Patsky declared “This is like finding the Holy Grail…” I knew I had a real shopping challenge on my hands; thus, I headed to the Stockings HQ chat forums to ask the experts/fetishists where I could find the Holy Grail. Stockings HQ is a lingerie website based in the UK that also hosts chat forums where people can share stocking info, pictures, and talk about…anyway, they were most helpful during my last hosiery dilemma, finding stockings for a Sally Bowles costume that would be period appropriate and fit my short legs, and they delivered yet again. One of the forum regulars recommended What Katie Did and I’ve been in love ever since.
What Katie Did makes beautiful reproduction and vintage-inspired bras, panties, girdles, corsets, stockings, slips, swimwear, and much more. I loathe most “vintage-inspired” undergarments because they are skimpy and not at all what was actually worn. What Katie Did has gone to the heart of the matter, reproducing things that are such rare finds, like fully fashioned stockings, bullet bras, 1940’s bras (which were just coming into the modern age of the bra), and different kinds of girdles so you can get your Joan Holloway on. If you really want a vintage look, then the next step beyond just the clothes are the foundation garments. Think about how your underwear selections change with what you wear and how that affects your shape and the way the clothes fit, then apply that to your dance dresses. What Katie Did goes further and actually improves the reproduction by eliminating discomfort and taking garments, like that 1940’s bra that probably did little to lift and support, and upgrading them to modern standards. If this sounds dull, like a conversation you’ve had with your grandmother, never fear! There are also plenty of skimpies and pretties on the website for everyone, and I know some burlesque girls who might find some goodies here.
From the website: “Founder and head designer Katie Halford has had a deep and abiding love affair with 1940s and 1950s fashion her entire adult life, but though the clothing was always fairly easy to come by, the appropriate undergarments were not. Her quest for the perfect bullet bra, the most authentic stockings and the firmest foundation garments, led to the development of her own collection, over ten years ago. And since then, thanks to her abiding passion, What Katie Did has been at the very forefront of the vintage revival that’s only recently come into the public eye.
On this website, in our London boutique, and in the glossy pages of our catalogue, retrophiles, vintage queens and lingerie lovers who appreciate the art of a circle-stitched cup, a wasp-waist, or a flash of fully-fashioned seam, can find everything their hearts’ desire.
We create and produce beautifully cut, high-quality and affordable undergarments, corsetry and hosiery inspired by the 1940s and 1950s. Our designs are based on vintage patterns, adapted only slightly for modern figures, using authentic fabrics and even old-fashioned production methods wherever possible. We’re proud of our close-knit team, high standards and enthusiasm for great customer service, all of which which have earned us fans worldwide, and led to What Katie Did being worn by stars as lofty as Claudia Schiffer and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks. But really, we make our beautiful lingerie for every woman, so she can look and feel like a bombshell, any day of the week.”
I don’t often get excited about underwear, but I am excited to try out some of these gorgeous things. Here’s what I’m loving:
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!
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:
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…
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:
Run, don’t walk, to Winston-Salem, NC to experience the gorgeous vintage clothing and treasures at Putting on the Ritz. The store owner Hans Hauser has a lifelong passion for vintage clothing and accessories and it shows in every square inch of the house he has converted into a vintage clothing store. Through his vintage consignment sources, friendships with vintage collectors, and his own efforts to retrieve specific pieces from faraway locations, Hans has collected one of the best, if not the best, vintage clothing and accessories collection for sale in the state.
I met Hans about 5 years ago when my friend Sharon Ferris directed me to this treasure trove. I purchased a 1940’s bathing suit that I wore to VBLX that year for the battleship dance. Even though I had not seen him in 5 years, he knew immediately who I was today and pulled out the picture I sent him of me in the bathing suit from behind the countertop. My friend Laura Boyes and I ended up exploring the shop and chatting with Hans for about 3 1/2 hours – excellent company and excellent vintage!
The shop is jam packed full of a mix of vintage, designer consignment, and glitzy clothing. The list of notables is long: straw boaters, men’s 50’s hats, Yves Saint Laurent black satin pumps, a white fur capelet, 50’s prom and day dresses (some with matching jackets), 30’s and 40’s gowns worthy of an MGM movie, flowered 40’s day dresses, a velvet trimmed 40’s suit, wide brim ladies hats, art deco costume jewelry, wedding dresses from the Victorian era through the 50’s, delicious 40’s platforms, bias cut lingerie, and a burnout velvet 20’s dress that came home with me.
If you are interested in any of the clothing items I have posted or would like to know more, please contact Hans Hauser at (336) 659-9944. He is happy to work out arrangements over the phone and he also does layaway.
Putting on the Ritz
304 Harvey Street
The shop is open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 6:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
P.S. Pardon my unmade face – I think it’s easier on the clothes if I don’t wear makeup when I try on vintage clothing.