He may not know it outright, but Simon James Cathcart is here to serve swing dancers – that is, serve up classic, rare, and sought-after reproduction menswear pieces in great fabrics. His latest offerings are all cotton, which means it’s all breathable and washable for us sweaty dancer types.
The workwear cotton stripe is being offered in four pieces, a belt back jacket, a waistcoat, a pair of trousers, and a cap, all inspired by 1920’s workwear. From the website:
“SJC has woven this exclusive cloth, which recreates the striped pattern from a pair of genuine 1920’s work-wear trousers in the company’s collection of vintage clothing. The cloth has been brushed on the inside for warmth…”
The details on these pieces are wonderful, as per usual – notice all the careful seams and generous use of pockets. Of interest to dancers would be the note about ample room in the thigh of the trousers, which translates to more room for your legs to move about unrestricted.
Finally, you just need some basics and SJC is, again, delivering the goods – what’s more basic than a pair of chinos or a pair of jeans? The workhouse chinos come with all the casual air of a weeknight DJ’ed dance, but have all the details you expect from period trousers, such as buttons for braces, a cinched back, and a nice V at the back of the waistband.
Cotton = breathable = sweat and dance to your heart’s content! Keep it comin’, Simon!
I will continue to sing Simon James Cathcart’s praises – his fall releases thus far consist of matching separates in salt and pepper or Dutch blue chambray, inspired by nineteen teens, 20’s, and 30’s workwear, and I think the concept of purchasing mixing and matching pieces you like is brilliant, not to mention all of these could be worn separately or together as a suit. And all the pieces are great – two jackets (belt back or Norfolk style), two styles of trousers with proper buttons at the fly and for braces (narrow or wide leg), a waistcoat in each color, and a dart cap in each color.
But what to wear with your new workwear? How about a work shirt in 4 different colors, two stripes and two solids? SJC gives you a great jumping off point for many different workwear inspired looks. Add some work boots or oxfords, add a tie to dress it up, add a henley to dress it down…
ALSO, there’s a 40% off sale on those magical chinos that everyone keeps looking for on my blog (high waist, wide leg, breatheable, danceable), as well as the summer weight flannel trousers (which I think would be more perfect for fall around these parts), the signature zig zag neckerchief, and the vintage style polos in bamboo fabric that every dancer needs as part of their wardrobe of comfort and style.
We should just start giving all our clothing money to the UK because I’m convinced this is where the giant hub of vintage reproduction clothing is located. Thanks to a Reddit thread about trying to find suits for swing dancing, I’m now hip to Chester Cordite, which offers “a modern take on classic styles from the golden age of 1930s and 1940s, producing limited edition suits and shirts with period influenced fabrics at splendidly affordable prices and all suits made in England.” Chester Cordite got its start with that same frustration of not being able to find the right suits in good condition, and since necessity is the mother of invention, we have this company producing wonderful suits and shirts.
The suits are definitely custom, in gorgeous fabrics, perfect vintage-inspired cuts, and are fairly reasonably priced for custom work. On an even more accessible level are their spearpoint collar shirts, which will give you an immediate vintage look (compare to modern shirt collars) for only 60 pounds (roughly $75 as of the date of this post), about what you would spend for a shirt at a nice menswear store in the U.S. The shirts also come in an array of solid colors and stripes, which I love for dancers because most menswear-wearing dancers I know don’t commit to a jacket the whole night and it’s nice to have something classic other than a white dress shirt to complete your look. All of the suits and shirts are paired with vintage ties in photographs on the website to give you an idea of how your vintage look will work.
The ABW vendor report is in progress, but to tide you over you could pick up your own summer belt back jacket and vest from this eBay auction – pair with your favorite pair of summer trousers, wear together or separate. Size 42, bidding at $99.95 with free shipping…not quite the steal from Chelsea’s, but cheaper than flying to Cleveland!
I ran across Richard’s Fabulous Finds on the OcTieBer group on Facebook – he had posted a few suits of interest, so I bit. Clicking through to his Etsy page, I was struck by the presentation – everything looked cool, wearable, and pulled together. On closer inspection, it wasn’t just the goods, it was the presentation. A model (perhaps Richard himself?) had on most of the suits, and each suit was fully presented, with shirt, necktie, pocket square, possibly a boutonniere, so that the suit wasn’t JUST a suit, you could see it as an ensemble. I know a lot of men struggle with color and pairings and Richard has done the work for you, at least for starters. Here’s what I’m loving from his Etsy shop:
Menswear can be a difficult world to navigate and, if you are just starting to accumulate your dress wardrobe, figuring out which pieces will be essentials, what colors to get, which fit, etc. can add to the confusion. The Original Prohibition Clothing Company is here to help, with a pretty awesome deal – a jacket, two pairs of trousers, three shirts, two bow ties, and a hat, all made-to-measure for your body, with your choice of fabrics and colors, and a helping hand to guide you through these choices to create what is, in essence, the framework for a fabulous wardrobe. At $998.00, this is a lot of bread to throw down at once, but it is an overall 20% savings off these individual items, and they are made for you, in the USA, to your specifications and measurements. If I were a dude, I’d start saving right now and treat myself at Christmas. 😉 (Update: Deal runs through September 1 – rethink Christmas present, get your monies together soon!) See details below (from their Facebook page):
While fall is upon us, I couldn’t help posting this fantastic 30’s/40’s belt back summer weight suit, size 40 jacket with a 33 inch waist in the pants. Man, this suit looks great – I had hoped it would fit my husband, but there’s less than an inch to let out in the pants. Now that I’m not hoarding it, someone else should pick it up. 😉
Do I know any size 42 gents? If I did or if I remembered you would have received a message from me about this amazing 1930’s suit, labeled “Paramount Wardrobe” as in this suit was made for the movies! I’m just going to copy/paste the seller’s description because this suit is so rad:
“Original Men’s 1930’s two piece BACK BELT SUIT in Size 42” chest in a nice medium cocoa brown wool flannel suiting. The jacket is single breasted with two lower patch pockets and decorative seams down the front. The back is pleated into a half belt and has a “Bi-Swing” action back with two long vertical pleats. The pants have a pleated front and two side and two back pockets. The only markings are an ink stamp on the trouser waistband: “Paramount Wardrobe”
The suit measures:
Across the shoulders: 19″
Down back from collar seam to hem: 31″
Sleeve from shoulder seam to cuff: 24 1/2″
Pants waist: 36″ (can be let out to 38 1/2″
Pants inseam: 31″ (can be let out to 33 1/2″)
There are no rips, tears, stains or mothing, etc on this suit. It’s in excellent condition.” (Emphasis added.)
42 gentlemen, it is your imperative and your directive that you acquire this suit – go forth and conquer!
This Norfolk work jacket, which the seller labels 1920’s/30’s, was made by Shenandoah Tailoring Company of Mt. Sidney, Virginia, and has some interesting bits of tailoring going on. From the front it looks like a work jacket, with pretty plain front, pockets, collar, and a big metal zipper. From the back, it looks like an elegant belt-back jacket, with tucks that look like they could be ironed out for definition. The jacket is also unlined, which I find odd, and the seams are piped with a trim so the fabric doesn’t unravel. There was a spot with threads (which can be pulled out) where the coat had a patch at some point…it would be interesting to know what was on the patch.
The jacket is labeled a 34, but the seller says he fit into it snugly at a 38, so it could fit a 36, with some fabric in the cuff of the sleeves to let out for tailoring. Starting price is $24.99, which is a great price for a coat, period; however, I don’t know what delusions of grandeur the seller had listing the Buy It Now at $1,200. I think I’d take my chances in the auction!
The eBay gods have offered up this wonderful reproduction specimen by American designer Ralph Lauren, who has created one of the holy grails of male swing dancer shopping, his version of the linen Norfolk jacket. In white, breathable, summer weight linen, this Norfolk jacket has oodles of details, like the square pockets in the front, full belting, and what looks like pintuck detailing in the front. Made in a size 40L, it’s a wearable size for a taller gent. At $375, this grail comes with a price tag I’d not normally post on Lindy Shopper, but it was too good not to share and it’s new, with the tags still attached. I always have hope that, if I watch the item long enough, the price will go down or the seller will entertain other offers.
It’s back to reality, post-Experiment, but while I was away I did have a chance to chat with instructor Bobby White about some of his impeccable garments. He directed me to Magnoli Clothiers as a great source for vintage reproduction three piece suits. I must agree with Mr. Whi-te on this one, as the tailoring and fabrics look spot on.
Magnoli Clothiers is more than just menswear, it “is dedicated to the reproduction of vintage clothing, historic garments and popular film costumes. These reproductions, however, are not costume pieces, but tailor-made, high-quality clothing…any piece of mens clothing that you can provide images of can be reproduced. We can copy a garment you already own, or, by analyzing various images, we can reproduce any article from photograph or film stills.” The sky is the limit, or you can choose from their impeccable sample suits, pants, leather jackets, sport coats, shirts, vests, shoes, hats, and accessories.
The prices are no bargain, but for custom pieces…consider this an investment in looking awesome. Reasonably priced vintage repro menswear is hard for Lindy Shopper to find, but I am on a reproduction kick right now so I thought it best to share. Did I mention shipping is included in the price? That helps a bit.
Here are some of the great pieces you might want to own:
Last month I put out the call for a shopping challenge, asking Lindy Shopper readers to send me on a mission for your heart’s desire, the garment you have been unable to find and add to your wardrobe. My first response was from Rich Werden, a fellow dancer and vintage clothing enthusiast who I met last year at All Balboa Weekend. One of his challenges (email subject line: “You want a challenge!?!?”) was to find a Norfolk jacket, or as Rich more aptly put it:
“The Coup de grace is a belt-back sport jacket that would actually fit me. The naming of this style is difficult: sometimes these jackets are called Action-Backs, Norfolk, or Bi-Swing jackets. The style was popular in heavy wools n’ tweed as an outdoorsman thing for going sport shooting in England, but of course, being a dancer, I wouldn’t want anything so heavy. Really, Nick Williams has an excellent white one that I have been jealous of for years! I can’t even find a place that would do one bespoke!”
Out of my element and, perhaps, out of my league, I set forth my online quest for this belt-back jacket. My first stop was eBay, to look for the right key words for my eBay searches, as the plan was to look online, but also have searches sent to me daily using the key words Rich gave me for this particular jacket. The term “Norfolk jacket” yielded the most results, almost all of them in tweed.
One of the jackets caught my eye, as it was in a lighter color and sans tweed, so I clicked through to view the auction description. The auction was for a vintage 1970’s Norfolk jacket, offered for sale by Bookster, a British company that sells vintage menswear, but also has their own retail web site for custom menswear – “Home of The Bookster Range, Craft Tailored in England from the Finest British Tweed, Wool and Linen Cloths at Accessible Prices.”
A promising start. I honed in on the word “linen” – yes, here’s a dancer-friendly fabric!
I messaged Rich with the link, hoping that this was even close to what he wanted. Rich agreed that the linens would be the way to go. 🙂
The price is where things get squirrely. Everything is so customized and “bespoke,” down to the number of buttons, vents, regular v. comfort waistline, sleeve length, back length, pockets, shoulder pleats, yowza…I did a sample order, pretending to order a linen Norfolk jacket for my husband and the cost came out at around $550 U.S. This seems like a lot, but if this is THE piece you are missing and you will wear it until you are old and gray, I’d say it would be worth the investment. We do want to invest in some quality pieces, even though Lindy Shopper is always looking for a bargain. Or you could always settle for the disco-era Norfolk jacket they listed on eBay for $65.00.
As a side note, you can also order knickers from Bookster as part of your tweed or linen suit.
Rich upped the ante and found another website, Matt Deckard Apparel based in Los Angeles, offering several versions of the action-back jacket from this side of the pond. The photographs on this site give you an excellent idea of how the pieces will look in an ensemble – such classy gents! Prices range from $800 to $1,500 for a bespoke suit, so maybe the Bookster jacket isn’t looking so bad as an investment.
I’d like to thank Rich for this wonderful foray into menswear – I hope this information will help some of you in your searches as well!