Tag Archives: costume

Portland Rhythm Shakers Costume

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I’ve written about costuming for team performance before, and I’ll reiterate that it’s no small task. Everyone has different body types, comfort levels, colors that work with their hair, etc. To add to the difficulty, perhaps a theme is integrated, and then we have this vintage dance form that we have adopted and it’s hard to find those more accurately vintage-inspired duds to compliment the music. Those who are successful in costuming a team have achieved a great feat, indeed.

I was delighted to see my friend Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies tagged on Facebook wearing an adorable vintage-inspired dance costume, along with the three other ladies – Rachael Ries, Mallory Teresina Freed, and Leah Bazzano – that make up the Portland Rhythm Shakers, a Portland-based 1920’s and 30’s dance troupe. The costume has everything I would want for a vintage chorus girl – a puff sleeve, an asymmetrical neckline (for enhanced visual effect in quadruplicate), a short and sassy skirt (to draw attention to footwork and legwork, plus twirl), and sparkles ALL OVER IT. Very Busby Berkeley and a nod to Killer Diller.

The costumes are from a dance costume company, Art Stone, which reminds me that not all of our clothing sources will come from streetwear – their jazz and tap costume catalog looked very promising, a great jumping off point for ideas for a routine. This costume is also a good jumping off point for the Portland Rhythm Shakers – they could use this costume for a lot of different routines, mixing in different head pieces, shoes and shoe accents, pin an applique to the shoulder, add a trim to the skirt, etc. to create different visual effects and themes using the same base costume.

Check out the costumes and the Portland Rhythm Shakers in action, they recently performed a routine to Glenn Crytzer‘s “Harlem Mad” at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon:

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1930’s Capezio Tap Costume

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Happy Halloween! Speaking of costumes, I came across this 1930’s Capezio tap costume on eBay today, complete with matching bloomers. I am always fascinated by dance costumes of the past and this one appears to be fairly simple in terms of fabrics, but has some lovely details – trim, pocket, and sash – I wonder what routine and song went along with the costume wearer’s performance? Alas, we’ll never know who she is because the place to write the name on the dress tag is blank. I could see someone doing a nautical-themed Lindy Hop routine in this, accompanied by a sailor in white and blue, or maybe replicated by a troupe of chorus girls…

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Congratulations to Leluxe Clothing for a Great Showing at the Oscars!

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’d like to extend my congratulations to Leluxe Clothing, an official supporter of Lindy Shopper, whose gorgeous reproduction 1920’s dresses were featured in The Artist, which brought home not only the Academy Award for Best Picture, but also the award for Best Costume Design. Mark Bridges, costumer for the film and the recipient of the Best Costume Design Oscar, used several of Leluxe’s dresses when costuming the cast for the film. Here’s a great article on Leluxe’s “Rags to Riches” story and its involvement with the film. Bravo!

Actress Berenice Bejo wears Leluxe's Tango dress in the film The Artist

Vintage Showgirl Costumes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I can’t help but be fascinated when these vintage dance performance items show up on eBay. I posted some 1920’s tap shoes earlier, but these auctions really take the cake! eBay seller monicasvintagefashions has four vintage dance costumes worthy of a Busby Berkeley style dance number, which is pretty rare, considering I had trouble even finding reference photographs while researching costumes for The Carolina Fascinators. These are just fantastic, especially the ones from the 1920’s…paging Sharon Davis and Sister Kate

Beaded 1920's Art Deco costume, with a nod to Egyptian revival

A beautiful sequined 1920's costume with butterfly wings

A three piece suit in gold sequins with Art Deco-style cutouts around the neck, hem, and top of the gloves

A lovely blue 1950's costume with beading on the bodice and gloves

Sequin Queen

Kristen Minksy's lovely flapper-inspired costume

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

One of the biggest challenges for me this year has been finding costumes for The Carolina Fascinators, an all-girl jazz performance troupe that I organize. When I started thinking about costumes I contacted Casey Schneider of Sister Kate to find out where they had been finding costumes, because the Sister Kate girls always look so put together – and by that I mean, from head to toe, each girl looks like she is in a professional costume with a well-thought-out thematic that goes with the routine and the music. Casey agreed that this was not an easy task and that the Sister Kate girls were lucky to have some really creative and talented seamstresses in their ranks.

I’m no great seamstress, but I was determined to find costumes that would evoke the swing era and not fall prey to the “sexy” Halloween costumes or gaudy modern “jazz” costumes. Where do I find that Busby Berkeley-inspired costume today and not pay an arm and a leg for a custom costume?

I later ran into Kristen Minsky, of the Minsky Sisters, at an event she organized in Durham for her cabaret, Chifferobe. For one of her performances she wore a fully sequined dance costume that was very 1920’s and looked like it was custom made for her. In a way it was, and it wasn’t – she ordered it from Sequin Queen, an online retailer of sequin dresses and costumes, who have samples you can choose from, but then everything else, from the fit to the sequin color, is customized for your needs. If this looks like drag queen garb, that’s because it is (even RuPaul gave this place a nod on her show, Drag Race) – but if you push aside the Suzanne Sugarbaker pieces, you can find some gems here. The prices are amazing for custom, sequin dresses and some of the samples are made with a stretch base, to allow for less-restrictive movement. I’d love to see more sparkle in swing dance performances and I think some of these costumes would work well for performance teams as well as solo jazz and Charleston.

Here are some of my faves from Sequin Queen:

A more modest neckline, but keeping that 1920's look with the beaded hem

I like the boldness of the red and the contrast of the flower - I think this would show up well for a performance

Don't hang me for this one, but I could definitely see a circus themed routine using this costume

Shimmy and sparkle!

Add a strand of beads and t-straps and you've costumed your Charleston routine

Swing Outfits: Custom 1930’s and 1940’s Clothing for Men, Women, and Lindy Ensembles

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Someone posted on Yehoodi this week asking about where to find skirts for a dance team, either to be made or to order. This post jogged my memory and I immediately thought of Swing Outfits, a website that sells custom, made to order clothing for men and women from 1930’s and 1940’s patterns. Swing Outfits offers some wonderful options for just about any basic swing garment you could think of in an almost endless selection of fabrics.

Swing Outfits has a section of their website devoted to dance team shopping. I understand that selecting an outfit that everyone agrees on is nearly impossible; however, Swing Outfits offers some sound advice on selecting a team or couple’s costume:

“For couples that dance regularly in competition or performance it is especially important to have a costume. It is one thing to dance at a party, and a different thing to dance on a stage before an audience. It is not enough to just have nice clothes on each individual performer – you need to look like a unified couple.

What makes a good stage costume for a couple? First of all, your costume must be tailor made for you – we will need measurements from both dancers. You will also need to select a fabric and a design for your costumes. Pictured below are three sets of costumes: Silk, Polka Dots, and Plaid/Stripes. Within each set are a number of elements that you can select for your costume, and each will be made from the same material you have chosen.”

The website then walks you through three easy steps to select pieces for your performance outfit. The beauty of these pieces is that they can be mixed and matched with anything – with each other or with something you might find at Target or H&M.

Another great thing about having team costumes made for the team members is that you avoid the one-pattern-fits-all problem that you encounter when purchasing something from a retail store. Having personally experienced the pain of not fitting into the mold of a chosen team costume, I would personally rather pay more and get something that fits perfectly, that I don’t have to pay someone to alter, and that I might actually wear again dancing.

Which leads to my next point – you don’t have to be on a dance team to wear and enjoy an outfit from Swing Outfits! Make sure to browse their selection of patterns, then their selection of fabrics, and think of the endless possibilities. The Libra in me may never be able to decide…

Here’s what I love from Swing Outfits:

Classic trumpet skirt

Knickerbockers - yes, this is the photo from the web page - why hide those pretty socks when you can do them justice with a pair of knickers?

Splanky dress

Student pants - 1930's style

Splanky blouse

Single-breasted cashmere vest

Sailor pencil skirt

A nod to classic ensemble Lindy Hop performances, your ensemble can also sport silky jumpers for the ladies with matching silk shirts for the gents