Tag Archives: Bobby White

All Balboa Weekend 2017 – Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I apologize for the tardiness, but, as we all know, life happens outside of the Internet – always better late than never is the All Balboa Weekend vendor post, because ABW has, in my opinion, the best vendor aggregate year after year.  This was my 10th ABW, if you can believe it, and the first one I couldn’t attend for the entire weekend, but I promise I crunched to maximize my time there and to give you this attempt at a comprehensive vendor post.

Before we get into the shopping, I have two things to note:

  1. I was given the incredible opportunity to examine Genevieve Grazis’ performance clothing, including the famous Beach Clip dress, and was invited to talk about the dress’ construction and details in front of the entire event as part of Kate Hedin and Bobby White‘s presentation and demonstration of the dress.  While everyone is gaga over the 11 godets that, combined with 1930’s satin, make this dress spin like a dream (and rightly so!), but my favorite part of this dress are the sleeves – a triple pleats, both front and back, along the arm hole seam with two piped seams straddling a panel in the middle of the sleeve.  The result is a puffed sleeve created by divine architecture.
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LindyShopper talks, Kate is radiant in Genevieve’s dress – photograph courtesy of McFreebird Photography

2.  Coif magicians Destinee Cushing and Francine Amendola combined forces to form the Hepcat Salon, delivering incredible and pristine vintage hairstyles all weekend long.  I know several people who will get their hair done and wear it for a couple of nights or most of the weekend so they don’t have to worry about doing it multiple nights and to keep it out of their faces, which I think is a great plan to maximize your ‘do and practical for a dance weekend with lots going on that you don’t want to miss.

The flagship booth at ABW is always Re-mix Vintage Shoes, who makes very rare appearances at any events outside of southern California.  I know people wait until ABW to buy their first (or second, or 10th) pair of Re-mix shoes so they can try them on and see how the styles fit their feet.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them all in a row.

Next in the lineup was Sweet Lorain, which is my favorite vintage shop in Cleveland.  To call it a shop is really an understatement, it’s almost a warehouse, definitely a department store, and you can get lost in there for hours amongst the clothing, furniture, kitchen wares, records, Christmas decorations, and on.  Of course, for ABW, they pull a selection of garments with dancers in mind from the 1930’s through the 1950’s so that you don’t have to do the digging, it’s already been dug out for you and is sitting in the hallway of the event.  My story this year is that Andy Nishida and Rita Shiang (dancers and organizers of Richmond, VA’s Jammin on the James) had come to Cleveland a few weeks earlier for the World Congress on Art Deco and had scouted a 1920’s dress for me at Sweet Lorain.  1920’s dresses are hard for me because of my body type, so I was hesitant to phone in the purchase, even though Rita knows my size.  I show up at ABW with this texted photograph of a dress and the owner, Redwin Lewis, knew the dress immediately, still had it, knew it would be perfect for me – and it was!  Sometimes vintage shopping is easy and sometimes it takes a few steps to find a dress a home.

De Fils en Perles returned to ABW this year with even more intricate beadwork, much of it Art Deco-inspired.  I was particularly smitten with the earrings this year, which were often made of an exquisite central bead with smaller embellishments and looked perfect for certain 1920’s and 1930’s ensembles.  I am often overwhelmed by jewelry, so many beautiful small things at once, and I took some time to sit down and go through the earrings and really appreciate the detail that goes into each piece.

Retro Rosie made its ABW debut this year and before I even got to ABW, there was a buzz that a vendor was there selling Trashy Diva.  I spoke with Miranda Scott, the owner, who runs this brick and mortar shop and an online shop, that most of her sales are online.  I found this unsurprising, given the specialty nature of the garments (as much as I like to think we are the norm), and was glad she gave ABW a chance.  She had several Trashy Diva dresses that are discontinued in most sizes, so secondary stockists are essential for the dress you may have missed (since they TD lines are selling out within days of launch, nowadays) and the chance to try things on in person.  She also had a selection of Besame Cosmetics, another item that I can’t purchase locally to me, but that I see on the internet all the time on vintage blogs and it’s great to see the colors in person and be able to try them on, as well.

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Jamie in an ABW ensemble with giant lily

Jamie Sturdevant’s Chatterblossom booth is always a bright spot, with her cheery disposition, creative floral-inspired ensembles for each day, and a bevy of blooms for each possible scenario and outfit.  Indecision abounds at this booth, as there are so many to choose from, so many outfits to match, so many beautiful pieces that you just want to come home with you.  My favorite pieces this year are the giant lilies she acquired earlier in the year by chance, they are just so big and elegant, I want one in every color!  Message her about matching one to your favorite ensemble, her Etsy listings are only the tip of the floral iceberg.

Finally, at the end of the hallway are the Flower Child ladies, who also do an amazing job of curating just the kinds of vintage goods dancers and swing era enthusiasts want, and also go back to their warehouse to look for items to fill specific requests.  With new things brought back every day, it’s worth a gander multiple times during the event to keep up with what is in stock.  My favorite item this year, brought to my attention by Jamie and ultimately purchased by Destinee, was a chartreuse 1930’s gown studded with rhinestones, featuring braided straps and a bias cut guaranteed to flatter the figure.  Destinee wore it on Saturday night and, with her impeccable hair and makeup and a Chatterblossom bloom, looked like a legit silver screen movie star – or perhaps early technicolor, because no one should hide the color of this gown!

And here we are!  Enjoy the photo spread below!

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But for serious…this chartreuse gown from Flower Child is everything!  Thanks to Destinee Cushing for allowing me to use this photo.

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A sun-speckled display at the Flower Child booth.

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Ladies hats, ladies things…at Flower Child.

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A gorgeous 1940’s rayon print dress at Flower Child.

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Bathing suit…romper…whatever you want…at Flower Child.

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A waistcoat and some men’s accessories at Flower Child.

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Lilies, roses, and blooms about at ChatterBlossom.

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A purple and white orchid at ChatterBlossom.

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Oh, God, I’m terrible at botany – I don’t remember what these are, but they looked like they were dappled in frost, just so lovely – at ChatterBlossom.

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A sight for sore eyes – gorgeous Besame Cosmetics on display at Retro Rosie.

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Vintage hairstyling books and Trashy Diva at Retro Rosie.

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Trashy Diva, alive and in person – at Retro Rosie.

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Perfect summer cropped top at Sweet Lorain.

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What even is this magical woven trim detail on this dress?  At Sweet Lorain.

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A sweet 1940’s rayon print long sleeved dress at Sweet Lorain.

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Bakelite abounds at Sweet Lorain.

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1940’s neckties at Sweet Lorain.

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More delicious details at Sweet Lorain.

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Minty fresh color on this comfy men’s shirt at Sweet Lorain.

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One of many awesome sweater vests at the Sweet Lorain booth.

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A summer starched topper at Sweet Lorain.

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Re-mix, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

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Men’s selections at Re-Mix Vintage Shoes.

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Knots divine at Re-Mix Vintage Shoes.

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Beaded sets at De Fils en Perles.

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All this wonderful detail, handmade, just incredible – at De Fils en Perles.

 

 

 

 

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The Venice Beach Dress

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Genevieve and Helwig from the Beach Clip

How often do you find a vintage piece of clothing and wished you knew more about the story of the person who wore it?  Sometimes vintage clothing will come with a tidbit of history, passed on from the family to the vintage clothing vendor, and in those wonderful rare moments you might see a photo of the original owner in the garment.

Then there are the garments that are a part of our history as swing dancers – even more rare, like the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers jackets (lovingly reproduced by Chloe Hong) or the costumes worn on the silver screen by our Lindy Hop luminaries of the 30’s and 40’s.  Maybe some people know where some of these items are, but others are lost to time.

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Kate Hedin in THE dress

I remember reading Bobby White’s Swungover posts on Genevieve Grazis, one of the followers in the famous “Beach Clip” that many a Balboa dancer has studied in painstaking detail, and following his adventures in historic sleuthing about who she was and her life outside of this snippet of time we know as the Beach Clip.  After reading about the lives of the original swing dancers and watching them in videos, I can’t help but think, “Where are the clothes they wore, where are they NOW?”  Maybe that’s just my inclination.  Genevieve’s dress in the Beach Clip is distinct, both in its attention-grabbing “color” and texture, as well as the impeccable twirl of the gored skirt.

So I’m scrolling through Facebook today and at the top of my feed is the resplendent Kate Hedin in a glorious white satin dress – THE satin dress worn by Genevieve Grazis in the Beach Clip!  How does this happen?  Bobby, Kate, and the finder of this dress, Swing Sleuths Jennifer Halsne, explain the wonderful story in the video below, including a demonstration!  I got tingles listening to it – I love the hunt and I love the history!

Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers Reproduction Jacket

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The original!

The original!

As if FROMChloehong had not already reached the pinnacle of awesomeness by producing and selling superior trumpet skirts, she has upped the ante by creating a reproduction of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers’ letterman style jacket. I couldn’t find a lot of information about the original jacket except for the black and white photo posted here and a video clip from 1940 linked to by Bobby White on his Swungover blog, showing the jacket and noting that the logo on the back was the same logo on the shirts Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers wear in “Keep Punching” (aka the Big Apple clip). This jacket is a pretty big undertaking and Chloe’s results are fantastic, with great attention to detail.

If you would like to purchase one of these jackets, Chloe will begin taking orders on May 23, 2014 with more details forthcoming at the FROMChloehong Facebook page. What a conversation starter this jacket must be, with the wearer instantly becoming an ambassador of Lindy Hop in a very public and visual way. I can’t wait to see one of these in person!

EDITED to add that the order form is up! Click here to order. Chloe is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Frankie Manning Foundation and, if you get your order in by April 30, you can pick up your jacket at Frankie 100!

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Men’s High-Waisted Trousers

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This is how it's done.

This is how it’s done.

I recently went to see The Great Gatsby (2013) and the thing that bothered me more than the horribly anachronistic female costuming and the inflatable zebras were the men’s pants. They were obviously out of place – poorly tailored stove pipes that wrinkled/puddled around the ankles and calves, much in the way that a pair of skinny jeans would on a hipster. David Lochner tells me they used Brooks Brothers’ Milano Fit Trouser, their “slimmest fitting trouser with a lower rise and a plain front.” Something about this description seems like the antithesis of 1920’s menswear. That the film would sacrifice historical accuracy for a modern marketing opportunity is no surprise, but it got me thinking about high waist pants. Is this really the best they can do? When I search for high waist pants, what are retailers offering these days?

The pre-qual to these questions is how we got out of the fashion of wearing high waisted pants in the first place. Whenever I wear modern pants while I am dancing, they slowly inch their way downward or pull unnecessarily on my legs when I wear a belt. Doesn’t it make sense that our bottom garments would be better served by being secured at the narrowest point on our body? As someone with an extremely short inseam, why would I want to make my legs look shorter?

So many questions…in my initial search online for men’s high waist pants I found this great article by Cator Sparks for the Huffington Post called “Rise Up, Men, to the Glorious High-Waisted Pant!” which seemed to address several questions:

Quoting Nick Wooster of Bergdorf Goodman, “men have become so comfortable with low rise that it’s like bringing back the pleated pant; it took years to get men out of them and now we are showing men how good they can look in them. He sighed, “Men are creatures of repetition and when they get conditioned to like something it takes a very long time to change that.”

Quoting Robert Bryan, stylist, “Nothing looks worse than a long torso with short legs, a look created by pants that rise only to the hips, or these days, considerably lower,” he demurred. “Furthermore, it seems only natural that trousers should rise at least to the natural waist where they can rest for support on the hips and drape from there,”

In closing, “So, men, it is up to you daredevils that want to look tall, erect and sophisticated to bring back this iconic staple to our wardrobes.”

Support and drape sounds beautiful and practical for dancing…so where do we find these high-waisted pants?

There should be a website devoted to hot men in high-waisted pants.

There should be a website devoted to hot men in high-waisted pants.

Well, a lower rise appears to have overtaken all modern retailers – I asked two of my favorite male sartorialists, Bobby White and the aforementioned Mr. Lochner, about where they find high-waisted trousers with modern retailers and it is just as I feared: nowhere. Sure, you can find waists that are higher in comparison to low-rise pants, but not pairs, for example, like the ones Marlon Brando is sporting in the photo to the left. Mr. Lochner added, “Even the old men’s section at Macy’s lowered the rise.” Your options are to order something made for you, seek vintage sources, or spend countless hours searching for that one elusive pair in a shop and buy every pair they have in your size.

There are some online custom trouser purveyors: Revamp Vintage has several reproduction options, like their 1920’s Elliot trousers and their 1930’s Felix trousers.

I found a nice selection of high waisted 1950’s pants at the Rusty Zipper, including some sweet looking Army slacks.

Levi's 517

Levi’s 517

A Google search of “men’s high waisted pants” revealed a few, perhaps, not-quite-so-high-but-higher-than-low-rise options:

Cator Sparks says he picked up a pair of Levi’s 517’s, which he says are the pants the cowboys wear. Aside from describing the seemingly endless zipper, I love that Mr. Sparks talks about how he hasn’t felt this comfortable in a pair of pants since he bought a pair of custom made tuxedo pants.

Emporio Armani has this pair, but they don’t look particularly high-waisted to me, rather somewhere just above a low rise.

Dickies, classic purveyors of work-wear, offers this trouser – added bonus: hidden expandable waist and extra pocket on the leg.

And there you have it – with the passing of generations that wore high-waisted pants and the wearing-down of the waistline, so to speak, to more low-rise trousers being en vogue in subsequent generations, we have run out of a resource. If you have resources for high-waisted pants, please feel free to share them here in the comments section below. I know others will thank you for it!

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Note: I have heard protests from “larger” gentleman about high-waisted pants not being a fathomable or flattering option for them. There is a great discussion at the Fedora Lounge on this topic. I would also recommend that you find Austin, TX dancer Victor Celania and pick his brain about this topic.

Also: Some more thoughts on the benefits of high-waisted trousers.

And this: On getting the right fit with high-waisted trousers.

Silliness: This pair from Wal-Mart.