Tag Archives: collegiate

Letter Sweaters

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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One of the classic swing dance looks is a “collegiate look,” a youth culture of the jazz age and swing era (and beyond, really), who had their own trends and fads, like any youth culture – one option to add to this look is a classic letter sweater.  Last year All Balboa Weekend had a limited number of ABW patches made up, so of course I snagged one because I love the look, love the concept and I lettered in a couple of sports when I was in high school, so I’m partial to that nostalgia – I mean, of course I’ve lettered in Balboa by now, my 10th ABW, right?

But my ABW letter patch has been sitting on the dresser in my guest room since then, waiting for the perfect sweater.  I had hoped to find a vintage one, but finding one in the right color and in my size proved to be a non-starter.  I ran into New York dancer/instructor/performer Adrienne Weidert at Camp Hollywood in September sporting a Miss Camp Hollywood letter sweater and she (and several other former Miss Camp Hollywood title holders) had purchased theirs online.  It makes sense, I had a letter jacket in high school, those classic items can still be purchased, why not sweaters?

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A Neff letter sweater with all the bells and whistles

A quick internet search directed me to Neff, a company still making classic letter jackets and letter sweaters, but the absolute best part is that these sweaters, made from acrylic, are customizable – 16 different colors to choose from, decide what you want each color to be for the body of the sweater, the neck/placket, the pocket trim, the buttons, and if you want stripes on either sleeve.  I designed a sweater and submitted it for a quote, which came back at $94.95, which is cheaper than any vintage sweater I had found that would work.  Then we had to get our roof fixed for the impending hurricane than never ended up coming, and the sweater quote email sat in my inbox, I’m sure you know how that goes, and I never got around to getting this…

Then, dancer/instructor/organizer Andy Nishida tagged me on Instagram for a kelly green 30’s/40’s wool letter sweater being sold by @mrartdeco, and I had to have it – exactly my size, my favorite color, maybe it would look good with the ABW letter, and if it didn’t I’d still have a ton of things to wear with it.  It arrived and it is WARM and HEAVY – like I don’t know if I’d need a coat if I had it on, which I think was the point (that you’d want everyone to see your sweater and not cover it up with a coat).  There’s no way I could dance in it, so I decided to look for something more…3 seasons than 1 season.  But never fear, the green sweater will be out in its own glory, it really needs no embellishment and you will all see me coming a mile away.

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Harlow cardigan – a good choice for my climate and needs

I had a birthday coupon for J Crew and went to look at their cardigans – I don’t buy a lot of things from J Crew, but their Jackie cardigan is my go-to classic cardigan (good weight cotton, lovely finish, stays nice through washes, nice shape/length, etc.) so I went to check on any new colors they may have for the fall season.  As I’m perusing the cardigan page, I notice the Harlow cardigan, which looks like a letter sweater in shape – merino wool, pockets on each side, trimmed in grosgrain ribbon, but it looks like a lighter weight wool.  Of course ordering things online is tricky and I was fully prepared for this sweater to be a total failure of modern clothing, like most things from mall retailers are for me these days.  It arrived today and it’s perfect – great weight for a little nip in the air, light enough to be a middle layer, I prefer natural fibers for breathability, and just enough space to sew my letter on.  I can’t wait to wear it out and about!

Thus ends this letter sweater story – if you are on a search for your letter sweater, I hope some of this information will be helpful.

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1930’s Style Collegiate Trousers from Heyday!

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I was elated to receive an email in my inbox this morning notifying me that Heyday!, my favorite place to buy high waisted women’s trousers, had launched a new men’s trouser, based on a vintage pair of 1934 trousers made by a tailor and found in Paris.  More details from the website:

“The wide belt loops are a celebration of what was new in style…belts! These are a real fashion forward trouser, and, most likely a young man’s trouser. (Older men were slow to trust a belt, and for awhile some men would wear both the fashionable belt and the trusty braces)  We found a really similar pair in the Sears catalogue, it’s youthful design suggested in the name. Another point to note is that they are drawn very wide, like Oxford bags, but in fact the measure at the hem matches our pattern.  Our pattern has been tweaked to fit better, as the original had some quirks, and now we have them available in our sturdy, medium weight fabric that has proved so popular with our dancers.”

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All the little details add up:

Wide belt loops and waistband.
Side buckle adjusters
Back pockets
Button fly with bar and hook fastening
Cuffs

Available in practical black and (brace yourselves) ivory – I have heard your complaints about menswear and summer pants and here is your modern reproduction that you can sweat in and not worry about ripping the seat.  Pair with a colorful lightweight jacket and a boater for a lawn party or a striped tee for a more casual look.

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1930’s Collegiate High Waist Pants

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This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Fab Gabs has posted a fantastic pair of mint condition 1930’s collegiate style high waist pants on eBay, that I am sharing here in hopes that someone from our community will pick them up (and take them for a spin) or derive inspiration for your tailor, seamstress, or perhaps ask Chloe Hong to make you a pair. Interesting features include zipper pockets and fly, a 3 inch waistband with 8 exposed buttons, and are made from “fantastic woven wool suiting in deep teal with black and subtle accents of of pale blue and red in a fine stitch running up the herringbone section of the stripes.”

Perhaps the best quote of the auction: “Balboa and collegiate shag were made for pants such as these. The crotch is gusseted for ease of movement.”

Enjoy! I’d be bidding on them myself if they were my size – let me know if a dancer snags these trousers!

ILHC 2014 – Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Get your ILHC tees here!

Get your ILHC tees here!

I was excited to see some new vendor faces and an old favorite return to the International Lindy Hop Championships this year. Particularly, with a focus on menswear – it is so easy for women to find good dance clothing, but most of our vendors (who are mostly women themselves) cater to women. This year, the men and women had some great vendors to choose from, from pieces you could take home to custom-made garments to order.

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Did I mention my love for Chloe Hong? After her stint at All Balboa Weekend, I was suprised (read: elated) to see her back in the U.S. after such a short time. Not only did she clean up on the dance floor, she set up shop at ILHC to take custom orders for her wonderful selection of women’s skirts and classic men’s suiting. Just going through her fabric swatches makes me happy! If you have never considered ordering something custom and you find yourself at an event with Chloe Hong, I would recommend at least looking into ordering a custom piece – she can get your measurements in person and has lots of experience dressing dancers for a range of movement (she counts Bobby White, Thomas Blacharz, Pontus Persson, Laura Keat, Jeremy Otth, and Juan Villafane as customers, and I could go on…)

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Returning for another year (have they been at ILHC every year?) is Forties Forward, with an array of lovely hair blooms, feathers, and accessories. One can never have too many hair accoutrements and I was also pleased to see that Forties Forward shared their table with A Woopie! Handmade Bowties (another menswear vendor!), which had a nice array of ties and even included some adorable instructions on how to tie the ties! I always need a little help when I tie my ties, so an adorable instruction card on my vanity beats, say, that YouTube tutorial I have to pull up every time I do this…

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Perhaps the most impressive display belonged to Brown & Williams Clothiers, who specialize in vintage British menswear – yes, they import and they curate a stellar collection, a portion of which was on display at ILHC. I wish could sport the amazing jackets, sweaters, and trousers I spotted in their booth (none of them small enough!) – a seriously delicious collection for anyone who digs British style, collegiate style, boating, and especially tweed. If you are interested in checking out some of their stock, it looks like the best way to purchase is through their Etsy site – that green and white crested blazer *drool*…

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Then there was this mysterious banner for Behind the Beat – Clothes that Match Your Rhythm and a link to a website that says it is launching July 7 (checks calendar…still no). Upon further inspection, a Facebook page yields evidence of graphic tee shirts and hoodies, so I guess we will stay tuned? Stay tuned.

And that’s all, folks, check out the goods below – happy shopping and happy dancing at ILHC!

Collar options - FROMChloeHong

Collar options – FROMChloeHong

Chloe does casual

Chloe does casual

An array of sample jackets at FROMChloeHong

An array of sample jackets at FROMChloeHong

The fabulous Chloe skirts - look at those colors!

The fabulous Chloe skirts – look at those colors!

Trouser detail at FROMChloeHong

Trouser detail at FROMChloeHong

Some softness from Forties Forward

Some softness from Forties Forward

Some signature blooms from Forties Forward

Some signature blooms from Forties Forward

What a cute name for ties!

What a cute name for ties!

A selection of A Whoopie! ties

A selection of A Woopie! ties

Adorable tie instructions

Adorable tie instructions

Belt back jacket spotted at Brown & Williams - definitely a good sign

Belt back jacket spotted at Brown & Williams – definitely a good sign

Red vest, for a more formal look - at Brown & Williams

Red vest, for a more formal look – at Brown & Williams

This striped jacket would be a great attention-grabber in a competition - at Brown & Williams

This striped jacket would be a great attention-grabber in a competition – at Brown & Williams

Lots of interesting details on this vest, especially the button lapels - at Brown & Williams

Lots of interesting details on this vest, especially the button lapels – at Brown & Williams

ABW 1930’s Vintage Fashion Show

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

A few of our participants at curtain call, from L-R: Abigail Browning, Elizabeth Tietgen, Patrick Draus, Kyle Kettner, Dominique Blouin, Mia Goldsmith, Bobbly White, Emily Shuhmann, Heidi Rosenau, Joe McGlynn and Valerie Bissig - photographs by Patrick Hovan

I had the honor of working on the committee that produced All Balboa Weekend‘s first 1930’s Vintage Fashion Show this year. The committee was comprised of Valerie Salstrom, Shannon Sheldon, Shannon Butler, Victor Celania, and myself, with some consultation about accuracy from the reigning queen of vintage, Heidi Rosenau. The idea was that we would put out the call for people attending ABW to submit photos of themselves in 1930’s clothing that they either own, inherited, or borrowed and we would decide on themes based on the contents of the submissions to put together a complete show. We would also take people who were interested in modeling and put them in extra vintage clothing, provided by myself and Valerie.

The plan worked. We had enough models, clothes, and themes to put together a cohesive fashion show. Having never actually coordinated a fashion show, I was relieved when Shannon Sheldon stepped up to the plate at our meetings to expertly organize the execution of the show, down to charts of participants, clothing, what rack their garments would hang on, who they would enter with, in what order, who had a quick change and would get priority near the rack, and who needed help changing. I love organization! Victor and I cat-walked in the lobby to make sure the music was right for each theme. After a single run through with the participants we hoped everything would go according to plan.

We knew there would be a bit of a time crunch getting everything in, but when it came time to put on the show everything ran so smoothly that I think we came in under time! The themes/vignettes were beachwear, sleepwear, collegiate, picnic, day wear, cocktail, and evening wear. In addition to helping organize the show, I also participated in the show, in a floral day dress and straw hat and a green velvet evening gown with matching cape. I also had one of those quick changes and it was so fast that, even with two people dressing me and not changing shoes I barely made it out in time for the vignette! I have to hand it to the people who do this every day, getting people dressed, re-dressed, and parading them around a room is hard work!

Thank you to everyone who participated and made this wonderful! Special thanks to Remix Vintage Shoes for sponsoring the fashion show and giving all participants a discount on their lovely shoes, as well as the vintage store Flower Child for providing the participants with props for the show.

Here are some photographs of the fashion show, courtesy of Patrick Hovan (P.S. if there are more photos I haven’t seen them, but would love to post more here! Please let me know if you find others):

Dominique Blouin, Bobby White, and Shannon Butler model evening wear

Kate Hedin, Joe McGlynn, and Brandi Ferrebee show off their cockail attire

Heidi Rosenau in beach pajamas and Joe McGlynn in a Palm Beach suit

A closeup of that Palm Beach suit - looking sharp, Joe!

Mia Goldsmith's gorgeous black and gold gown

Lindy Shopper's gown and cape, with Carla Heiney sporting a velvet and fur coat over Valerie's grandmother's black and white evening gown