Now in its fifth year, OcTieBer is “a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear worn in a traditional style” – in reality, it is much more than the sum of this description: it is the encouragement of people of all walks, creeds, and genders to embrace classic style (or modern twists on classic style); it highlights accessories that we don’t often consider in our modern lives, unless you happen to be a lawyer or just really like wearing neck scarves or ascots; it encourages you to dig deep into your closet and pull out those neglected ties or challenges regular tie wearers to create new ensembles and be inspired by others; it may cause people to notice you in positive ways; it creates a sense of camaraderie within the OcTieBer Facebook group where novice and even professional dressers can share their creativity and efforts for the day or every day of October.
OcTieBer IS inspiring. The challenge is to wear neckwear every day for the month of October, but even if you only join us for a couple of days, I invite you to join us for the fun of dressing, learning from and being inspired by others, and being supported in your endeavors by a wonderful group of people.
1. Wear a collared shirt and tie each day (be it a long tie, bow tie, ascot, cravat, bolo, western double string tie or any other traditional neckwear that expresses your personal style). Preferably your outfit will be paired with a jacket, sweater, vest or other accessories that suggest why you’ve chosen that day’s tie.
2. Upload an image of your fine outfit with an optional description of the designer, type of knot, fabric, etc.
3. Share the love by encouraging your friends to admire your statement of personal style.”
This menswear resource tip is from Christine Hall of the Decophile group on Facebook – Darcy Clothing, previously The Vintage Shirt Company, has expanded from shirts to include a much broader range of reproduction menswear and accessories from the 18th century to the early 20th century. This is a huge span of time, but there are plenty of 20th century goodies from this UK company to place in your closet.
“The clothing is largely made specially for us and is taken directly from original garments. The shapes and fabrics are uncompromisingly genuine. We only ever use natural fibres in any pre C20th garments. The construction methods however take advantage of modern mass production techniques which means that we can supply costume designers with the authenticity they require at an affordable price.”
Tampa, Florida dancer Tom Blair tipped me off to Dapper Designs, an Etsy store that specializes in bow ties, hair bows, and other swing-inspired accessories, made by another Florida dancer, Margie Sweeney. There are a few things I really like about this shop:
1. The bow ties are available in four different styles: classic, diamond point, and those skinny nod-to-the-1950’s bow ties in both straight and wide straight. Let’s not deny that this period in history happened and that one does not have to look like a gift wrapped package to call it a bow tie. Options are always welcome.
2. The neck-wear extends to women, so we can all get a jump on our neck-wear wardrobes to give the guys a run for their money during OcTieBer. I especially like the custom cross-tie, being reminiscent of some Girl Scout neck piece I may have worn and I think it would look fab with a blouse, a 30’s skirt, and a jaunty hat.
3. The fabric selection for the custom ties has a little something for everyone – from classic plaid to dots to geometric patterns to a faux bois print.
And there you have it! Lots of custom options for guys and gals, handmade by one of our own.
(Edited to add that David Lochner has informed me that “the “cross tie” is called a “continental” in menswear and the straight bows are “batwings” – I learn something new every day! 🙂 )
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):
Thanks to a tip from North Vancouver dancer Sarah Vincent, I am now apprised of the existence of M.G. Baker Co. Bow Ties, handmade in the U.S.A. and christened with names like Foxtrot, Lindy Hop, Bunny Hop, Charleston, Boogie, and other vintage dances. The funny thing is, this guy is not a dancer…which means he must be very clever to know the names of all of these dances. 🙂
These ties are 100% cotton, which means they are friendly for the inevitable sweat that accompanies your dancing. It also means you could probably throw it in the wash (but air dry, lest your tie shrink to mini-tie).
From the website: “All M.G. BAKER CO. Bow Ties are the traditional “Self-Tie” variety; meaning they are the kind you tie yourself. But don’t fret! Each and every one is uniquely packaged in a keepsake box complete with illustrated tying instructions to help teach even the most inexperienced beginner how to tie a bow tie to perfection.”
It’s October 1, which means it’s time to kick off another Oc-Tie-Ber, a month-long sartorial celebration of quality neck-wear. While I’d like to consider this the male counterpart to Floweruary, I have seen more encouragement given to the ladies to participate. I believe it was decided that scarves would count?
“‘A well tied tie is the first serious step in life’ – Oscar Wilde
With the arrival of fall, men (and a few fashionably adventurous women) of style and good taste will once again bond together to demonstrate their embrace of dapper design and finely tailored fabrics.
In short, a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear.
How to participate? It’s simple:
1. Wear a tie each day (be it a long tie, bow tie, ascot, cravat, bolo, western double string tie or any other neckwear that expresses your personal style)
2. Upload a photo of your finely attired dudeness wearing said tie with an optional description of the designer, type of knot, fabric, etc.
3. Share the love by encouraging your friends to admire your bold fashion statement.”
Looking forward to seeing all the photos from this month’s festivities – it is always so interesting to see the variety of neck-wear available and I am always surprised at how appropriate and well-put-together everyone looks. Onward, ladies and gents!
At last August’s Jazz Age Lawn Party I happened upon a booth for the upstart men’s clothing company The Original Prohibition Clothing Company and reported on some of the most beautifully tailored men’s clothing I have seen in person. The company’s owner and designer, Corey Miller, sent me an email last week to let me know that the website was now open for business and that their offerings are expanding and continue to expand (including expanding into women’s dandy-wear – paging Sam Carroll…)
While I don’t talk a lot about tee shirts on this blog, it’s a fact that most dancers wear tee shirts dancing most of the time, especially men. Corey has noted this and when he “looked around at most of the dance tee shirts, they identified your love for dance, but the shirts themselves weren’t lovely.” I like the way this man thinks – to add to the small pool of Lindy Hop merchandise available to us, TOPCC is now offering two tees – one for “Fearless Follows” and another for the “Solid Sender.” The design on the tees is certainly lovely, with vintage styling and iconic silhouettes. Now that I am the proud owner of a Fearless Follow tee, I can attest to the fact that this is one of the softest tee shirts I own – it will be a delight to wear!
While you’re at TOPCC website, you should absolutely look around – there are fabulous things here, too fabulous, really. I pretty much want to buy everything here for my husband to wear! Impeccable jackets, Hollywood trousers, wonderful vests, variations on the collared shirt, newsboy caps, and even men’s ties in a Tommy gun pattern (to continue the theme – cheeky).
And thanks to Corey for designing with the swing dance community in mind – a rare thing, indeed!
It is so rare to find a man curating a vintage shop on Etsy, which is why I was delighted to discover that Las Vegas dancer Kyle Kettner is the owner the Etsy store Thrifty Vegas. I first met Kyle at ABW this past year as a participant in the 1930’s fashion show, one of the rare males who a) would actually participate and b) had his own fantastic wardrobe.
Thrifty Vegas is “Your one-stop shop for vintage kitsch, Americana, men’s classic style, shirts, neckties, accessories, jewelry, and Old Vegas.” This shop’s aesthetic is entirely male and I love the idea that men don’t have to wade through miles of dress listings to come across a solid tie or good pair of cufflinks. Kyle also posted a photo of some fantastic ties this week on Facebook that he acquired in San Francisco, which should appear in the store this week. Here are some other great items from the shop:
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.
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…
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:
Oc-Tie-ber may be over, but its spirit lives on – add to your neckwear collection by picking up one of these dead stock (read: vintage, but never worn/new in packaging) Austin Reed white bow ties on eBay, size 15 1/2. Wouldn’t this look fantastic with your New Year’s Eve tux, or with a colorful shirt, or maybe pair with a vest?
Bidding is still under $2.00 for both auctions, so you may spend more on shipping than you will on the tie!
This Invizo black bow tie caught my eye on eBay today, not only because it looked sharp, but also because of its packaging – I love it when things come in their original boxes. It’s like opening a time capsule – without the box, it might look period or old, but with the box you’re looking at how it came to its original owner, a nice bonus for vintage shoppers.
This particular bow tie has some nice features, such as the lovely silk faille fabric, it’s “hand tied” yet adjustable, and I love that it points on the ends, giving a backdrop to the bow. The serial number dates this tie to 1936 and the auction says it is in excellent condition, possibly never worn. Adjustable to sizes 14 3/4″ to 14 1/2″. Perhaps the best part – buy it now for $14.99!
I was going to stop there, but the seller, hpainting4u2, has two other bow ties from the 1940’s made by Arrow, made of satin, with the pointed ends, size M, also for $14.99. Click here and here.
I heard on NPR this morning that it’s the last day to send packages that will be guaranteed delivery by December 25, so here’s your last holiday item post for the year.
I love when guys wear holiday ties that are both festive and classic at the same time. So many fall victim to the novelty tie at this time of year, but there’s a way celebrate the holidays through your wardrobe without having to don Homer Simpson in a Santa suit. I found these ties at Beau Ties Ltd. of Vermont that would look great for a holiday dance or family occasion. I think the key here is subtlety, color, and repetition of pattern. For each tie you can specify width, neck size and style (freestyle, pre-tied, or clip-on). Also, for some of these items, the store offers a matching pocket square, ascot, cummerbund, and cravat.
I’ll probably catch some flack from my fellow bloggers, but I couldn’t resist posting this tweed bow tie from Urban Outfitters that I ran across while looking for Christmas presents on the UO website. This is tie great because it could essentially go with anything and is sort of an everyman’s bow tie – it provides an unassuming upgrade to your outfit in neutral color that works with both patterned shirts (as pictured) and plain shirts. The tweed could be dressed up or dressed down – wear it with a three piece suit or a simple button-up. It was also in the gift section for under $20, which makes it a deal whether or not you buy it for yourself or for someone else. 🙂