For some reason, the 1920s is the most difficult for finding good reproductions. Perhaps it’s a combination of post-1920s Hollywood changing [ruining] the popular conception of what people wore or that the silhouette of the garments, once considered liberating, are taken to look unflattering by today’s standards. As someone who owns real 1920s clothing and good reproductions, I can attest that these garments are comfortable and, if the fit and fabric are good, they can be very flattering. The irony to all of this is that modern pop culture seems to love the 1920s, calling on the decade to provide themes for weddings and parties, leaving the participants/invitees scratching their heads and saying, “What do I wear for this?” Add to this the fact that swing dancers often learn a heavy dose of 1920s based dances, form dance troupes that perform 1920s-inspired dances, and may get called upon to perform, either as a performance group or as individual/social dancers to add to the ambiance of an event. At this point, I’d say a seasoned jazz dancer should have at least one serviceable and passable 1920s styled outfit in their closet for just these occasions.
I’ve blogged in the past about beaded reproduction 1920s dresses, but beads and sequins are not good for social dancing, as they tend to cut into your partner’s hands at touch points. Beads, sequins, and fringe are all well and great, but they aren’t the ONLY options for evening wear (and they certainly weren’t day wear) – so what do we wear?
One possible answer is to purchase a dress from Etsy seller LaVieDelight, who specializes in 1920s style dresses, bags, coats, and coordinating hats for a variety of occasions, all offering a number of styles, colors, and fabrics that are evocative of the decade. The company is based on Bangkok, Thailand and offers some standard sizing guidelines that appear to end on the small end of the sizing range, but they are really making each garment custom for the wearer and offer customization up to a 48 inch bust at the price listed, with the option of a greater than 48 inch bust at some additional charge. There are no additional fees for customization and the turnaround time is between 7 and 10 days (plus shipping time, presumably).
I really like the idea of LaVieDelight’s dresses for dance performances because they come in an array of colors, but also can be solid so that you can add things like hats/headdresses, jewelry, gloves, and other inspired accessories either to make it signature to your look. It’s the 1920s equivalent of buying that little black dress and making it the go-to in your closet depending on what you add to it – although, take heed, the 1920s loved color and I would encourage you to embrace a color other than black for your LaVieDelight dress, particularly if you are planning on making this dress your day AND evening 1920s dress.