I don’t know who is designing for Eshakti, an India-based company making customizabe/semi-customizable clothing, but they are up for everything and I am here for their vintage-inspired styles in knits and machine-washable fabrics. I haven’t written about them on the blog, in part because I assumed everyone knew about them and in part because I wasn’t sure if they would keep up with the few vintage-inspired styles they were offering, but it’s been a few years and I get and love what they are throwing down, especially for this coming fall. They’ve graduated from basic shirt dresses and 50’s shapes to much more adventurous vintage silhouettes with delicious details.
Aside from the wash-and-wear fabrics, one of the main reasons I’ve had friends recommend and wear this brand is the wide range of sizes and the ability to customize the garments, not only in body proportions, but also modifying parts of the garment itself – don’t like a scoop neck? Make it a V-neck. Don’t like sleeveless? Add your choice of several different sleeve options. It costs a bit extra to make these modifications, but it’s a modest cost and Eshakti always seems to be running a sale of some sort to basically offset that cost. And every dress comes with pockets – if you don’t want pockets, you can opt out at no cost (but why would you? lol).
What prompted this blog, in addition to recent emails from Eshakti and ensuing purchases/longings, were some prominent Eshakti sightings at the International Lindy Hop Championships this past weekend. Dance instructor Carol Fraser coached and performed with the Jazzabelles, a solo jazz performance team from Long Island, New York, and she and her teammates were all in coordinating shades of green of the same Eshakti dress. This particular dress I have seen on other women I know who are into vintage style it’s one of those universally flattering cuts for many different body types. Combined with the ease of the knit fabric and the relatively reasonable cost, Eshakti becomes a great option when you are looking for performance team outfits.
Highlighting the versatility and customization elements and also the more luxe fabrics, my fellow vocalist this weekend, Taryn Newborne, sported a gorgeous embroidered lace dress from Eshakti, which she customized by adding length to the skirt and modifying the sleeves. The results were superb, she looked and sounded like a queen.
I would say my only complaint about Eshakti is that you can’t always linger when making a decision – some dresses, like the Jazzabelles’ dresses, have been on the website for a few years; others have disappeared within a matter of a couple of months, for reasons unknown or because they run out of that particular fabric (I’m looking at you green cat print skirt, also couldn’t find Taryn’s dress to link).
Now, for what’s been catching my eye for fall – enjoy!
I had the pleasure of dancing and competing at this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships, held just outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was a unique mix of swing dancers, in varying styles of dance, from around the globe. I think the event is best summed up by saying that ILHC is where you can see all those people you see dancing on YouTube – but there’s nothing better than seeing it live, as a video can’t quite capture the energy these couples and teams generate or the dynamic in the room.
(I apologize in advance for the quality of the photographs, as I forgot my real camera and had to use my phone)
Like most large swing dance events nowadays, ILHC had its own set of vendors, most of which I would categorize as the “essentials” providers – shoes, bloomers, hair flowers, and vintage/vintage-inspired clothing. Baltimore-based Dancestore.com was there with a lineup of Lindy and Bal-friendly shoes, including their new pair of white wingtips, which look gorgeous in person. Nina Gilkenson‘s mom, Laurie Gilkenson, was on hand, selling shoes for Dancestore, as well as vintage odds, ends, clothing, and shoes from Nina’s vintage shoe collection. If you wore a size 6.5, it was definitely your lucky day! More photos below of this and the other vendors.
My Heinies, in grand fashion, occupied the largest vendor space, with racks of colorful bloomers in all styles, as well as a beautiful collection of dance shoes for men and women. I noticed a particularly lovely pair of men’s two tone brown wingtips that garnered a lot of attention from the leaders in attendance, as well as some new to-die-for red heels in the collection. I noticed a number of followers in the competitions wearing My Heinies…and some who didn’t, but that’s another story…
Working the booth with My Heinies was Model J Vintage, the Etsy store of New York dancer Joy Grad, which specializes in “a lifetime of collectibles directly to you from my personal closets and new adventures.” She turned up the volume for ILHC, offering a collection of both dance-ready and exquisite vintage and reproduction items from her collection and from Carol Fraser‘s closet. I swore I wasn’t going to buy anymore gowns, but I couldn’t pass up a 1940’s gown made of green silk, with a chevron bodice and velvet bow – it was a triple threat and I didn’t stand a chance. 😉
Last, but certainly not least, Mike Thibault of Vintage Jazz Art set up a gorgeous display of his framed prints, which are simply stunning in person. If you have an empty spot on a wall in your home, consider filling it with a daily reminder of your awesome dance hobby…
Thanks to everyone who organized the event and to those sold their wares at IHLC! I hope to return next year!
The presence of vendors seems to be growing at larger Lindy Hop and Balboa events, presenting sellers with a unique opportunity to reach a targeted (and sometimes captive) audience. It can be difficult to fly into an event and not have the time to experience local vintage stores, or order online without trying something on, or maybe your dance shoes choose that weekend to fall apart. When the vendors come to you, the event becomes even more accommodating, convenient, and special.
As far as vendor lineups go, All Balboa Weekend this year has had the most vendors I have seen at any single event. Does this surprise the swing dance community at large, with Balboa dancers having a reputation for dressing up? Probably not. 🙂 There were three shoe vendors (four if you count the vintage store that brought some choice 1940’s pumps), a ton of dresses, hair accessories, bloomers, and a smattering of vintage goodies. Here’s a list of the vendors, in the order in which you would approach them entering the hallway of the event:
I’ve been singing Carol Fraser’s praises for months, but she has seriously outdone herself again. I don’t think I’ve seen that many bloomers in one place, with dozens of patterns in the My Heinies signature styles. Carol’s exclusive line of footwear from Worldtone, developed for swing dancers, is even more developed at this point and it was apparent that the styles available at ABW are targeted to be good colors and styles for dancers. I found the new shoes VERY appealing and was pleased to see that some of the focus group shoes had made the final cut. She also carried a number of one-of-a-kind styles – featuring more colors, patterns, and detailing – that were just breathtaking. I also noticed a number of follows sporting fancy hosiery from this vendor, both on the social dance floor and in competitions. Top it all off with one of the lovely hair flowers Carol sells and you’ve got a winner.
REMIX VINTAGE SHOES
What can I say? Remix Vintage Shoes makes the most drool-worthy reproduction shoes out there, with dance-friendly heel heights and soft leather galore. There are always a few new models and colors, as well as some shoes that may not be made anymore (i.e. Remix is looking for a new manufacturer for the Balboa t-strap, so if you’ve been on the fence get them NOW because we don’t know when they will be available again!). I had the high honor of having my vintage two-tone oxfords photographed by Philip Heath, the owner of Remix – perhaps there will be a reproduction made and named after Lindy Shopper? *swoon*
Shannon Sheldon is the mastermind behind both the execution of a flawless 1930’s fashion show and the line of adorable hair flowers known as Bombshell Baubles. Shannon personally tests each flower to make sure that, no matter how much your head shakes, the flower will not fall out. As someone who has abandoned flowers mid-dance because they simply could not stay in place, I salute you! Etsy store coming soon…
Flapperfly makes cute, crafty, and recycled items, such as earrings, hair accessories, fabric bags, charm necklaces, and has some vintage finds worthy of the cuteness of this vendor. I only wish I had seen Flapperfly’s wares out more often at the event, I feel that I am lacking in accurate commentary. Please check out her Etsy site for goodies, especially the sequin sparrow barrette, which is my favorite.
Loco Lindo saw some heavy traffic at ABW, and for good reason – their line of dresses and skirts are flirty and practical, made from an infinite number of crepe prints, both modern and vintage reminiscent. The best parts about this kind of crepe are the nod to vintage crepe fabrics (common in swing era clothing), the comfort and wearability of the fabric, and the washability – no dry cleaning necessary, just throw it in the washer and hang it up to dry. The crepe travels well, being somewhat wrinkle-resistant, which is good news for traveling swing dancers. I would also file these dresses under dance and work-appropriate, so there’s double duty potential. I picked up a lovely gray and white polka dot dress with smocking detail at the shoulders – it is so rare to find dresses with smocking – superb!
The staple of almost every swing dancer’s wardrobe, Dancestore‘s shoes are always well received at dance events and tend to be the anchor vendor with their vast inventory. I think I spent most of the weekend in their white mesh oxford. They were not at ABW the entire time, so I am afraid I am remiss of additional tidbits relating to the event or new products. I will use this opportunity to reiterate Teni Lopez-Cardenas‘ plea to make the trumpet skirt available in more colors (and sizes) – please! I’ve been waiting for years for the black trumpet skirt to be in stock in my size.
More hair accessory cuteness, this time from Follow Fashions‘ Ohio based designer, Lisa Curry. As you can see from the photo, there are wonderful flowers and feather fascinators, in lots of color options, shapes, and sizes. I am particularly grateful to see the smaller flower options, for short haired follows, for embellishing up-do’s, and perhaps for use as a boutonniere. Special thanks to Follow Fashions for outfitting some of our 1930’s fashion show participants with hair accessories!
The token actual vintage vendor at ABW was Flower Child, who looked like they had been hoarding swing era goodies for us for a while, as there were some really choice items available for purchase. Things that stuck out in my mind were some great 1940’s cocktail dresses, pumps and wedges, bakelite jewelry at not outrageous prices, vintage sewing notions, a fairly substantial menswear and accessories section, gorgeous hats, and the 6 yards of 1930’s printed cotton the ladies brought for me to look at after I told them about some of my dresses being handmade. These ladies were diligent and stuck it out all weekend, into the wee hours of the nightly dances. Special thanks also goes out to Flower Child for letting the 1930’s fashion show borrow some of their accessories – such lovely things!
And those are the vendors! Stayed tuned for more possible future ABW-related blog posts.
If you are wearing a dress at a dance, chances are, at some point in the evening, your hoo-ha will be in someone’s line of sight, be it upside down in an aerial or while being dipped by your dance partner. With modern hemlines sky high, the need for coverage is even more pressing. But where to get good coverage? Or better yet, where to get pretty coverage?
Enter My Heinies, “the original ‘pretty’ dance pant.” My Heinies is the brainchild of Carol Fraser, a dancer and choreographer from New York, has been dancing for her entire life and was inspired by her experience sitting on the floor at All Balboa Weekend and looking at the competitors, who had nothing necessarily pretty going on under their skirts during competitions. Necessity is the mother of invention and Carol took it upon herself to create this line of dance and athletic-specific bloomers that were made to go under clothing and provide the type of coverage we are looking for, but with a bit of flair for color and pattern.
From the website: “My Heinies addresses many concerns of dancers and athletes in all genres. All pants have the triangular crotch design which reduces the inner thigh from riding up and also eliminates “the front wedgie.” Additionally, all short inseam pants are 1 inch lower in the back to maintain maximum cheek coverage. There is no elastic on the low and mid rise pants thus eliminating bulges and allowing for more movement. And the high waisted pant offers a new option to current lingerie style trends.
In addition to new technology, My Heinies brings to the market modern prints and patterns in many styles as well as materials that perform. It allows dancers of all genres – contemporary, modern, jazz, tap, salsa, swing, ballroom, tango – as well as all athletes in yoga, running, gymnastics or cheer to add a little “pretty” to their attire.”
My Heinies is currently offering 9 styles of dance pants, with variations on waist height and length. The critical detail here with the shortest leg length is that the backside is lower, so when you kick or lift your leg, the dance pant will not ride up, leaving you with a bit of cheek hanging out (Carol noted that the guys will probably hate her for this 😉 ). With the highest waist model, any dress that does not have a defined waist/belt can have a smoother appearance, rather than seeing the waistband of the bloomers through the fabric of the dress. Taking that even further, you could incorporate the high waist into the layers of your outfit – spokes-model Carla Heiney wore the high waisted model with a regular skirt and tucked her shirt into the My Heinies dance pants, offering a new and interesting way to display her Heinies while keeping her shirt securely tucked in.
Carol also noted that the fabric stretches 4 ways, while most stretch fabrics only stretch 2 ways – the 4 way stretch allows for maximum movement and prevents the fabric from riding up. The fabric is very smooth and can function similarly to a slip, in the sense that the smoothness prevents the bunching of your dress fabric against the fabric of your undergarments and also creates a smoother line under your clothing.
To clarify, these are not Spanx. I detest Spanx and any other sort of nouveau-girdle. These are athletic/dance pants to wear under your clothing for comfort, modesty, style, and athleticism. We are athletes and it’s time for a product to withstand our intensity while looking immensely put-together!
In addition to bloomers, My Heinies will be selling some really hot/sexy/fancy hosiery by Leg Avenue – fishnets, seams, patterns, faux garters, bows, FANCY. When your skirt flies up, there will be plenty of pretty to see!
As if things couldn’t get prettier, Hy Heinies will also be selling lovely hair flowers, of the traditional silk kind as well as real orchids from Thailand that are dipped in resin to preserve them. You can have a real, one of a kind hair flower in your hair that’s frozen in time. Brilliant!
Carol is currently in talks with Arika Nerguiz, maker of some of the most divine tango shoes on the planet, to make shoes for the swing dance community. I am very excited about this development, as I have been drooling over Arika Nerguiz shoes for years.
I am at the Balboa Experiment with Carol this week (we are roomies) and her excitement about the possibilities for this company is infectious. I love to see one of our own creating a new business that enhances our community and is driven by someone who knows dance, dance clothing construction, and our own unique sub-culture so well. She is diligently working to make sure these products live up to their intended function.
I look forward to seeing you and your Heinies on the dance floor!