He may not know it outright, but Simon James Cathcart is here to serve swing dancers – that is, serve up classic, rare, and sought-after reproduction menswear pieces in great fabrics. His latest offerings are all cotton, which means it’s all breathable and washable for us sweaty dancer types.
The workwear cotton stripe is being offered in four pieces, a belt back jacket, a waistcoat, a pair of trousers, and a cap, all inspired by 1920’s workwear. From the website:
“SJC has woven this exclusive cloth, which recreates the striped pattern from a pair of genuine 1920’s work-wear trousers in the company’s collection of vintage clothing. The cloth has been brushed on the inside for warmth…”
The details on these pieces are wonderful, as per usual – notice all the careful seams and generous use of pockets. Of interest to dancers would be the note about ample room in the thigh of the trousers, which translates to more room for your legs to move about unrestricted.
Finally, you just need some basics and SJC is, again, delivering the goods – what’s more basic than a pair of chinos or a pair of jeans? The workhouse chinos come with all the casual air of a weeknight DJ’ed dance, but have all the details you expect from period trousers, such as buttons for braces, a cinched back, and a nice V at the back of the waistband.
Cotton = breathable = sweat and dance to your heart’s content! Keep it comin’, Simon!
Every time I turn around, I hear about a new vintage reproduction company in the UK, which seems to be where I want to spend my dollars-into-pounds lately and the retail climate appears to be thriving for vintage-inspired clothing. Swing bandleader, guitarist, and dancer Glenn Crytzer tipped me off to Oldfield Clothing, “purveyors of fine British sportswear and accessories for ladies and gentlemen,” when he picked up a pair of their 1930’s workwear trousers, wanting something in a heavier weight for loading band equipment in and out at gigs. The Oldfield Clothing collection looks well-suited to incorporating its pieces into modern wardrobes, with vintage takes on standard clothing items like trousers and sweaters.
The trousers really shine – they offer five different cuts, ranging from the most vintage 1920’s golf knickers to the Keaton trousers that look like a standard pair of front pleated trousers (slightly lower rise than their other pairs, but probably higher rise than modern trousers, if you just want to dip your toe into the wading pool of reproduction trousers). There are a range of fabrics, from linen to corduroy and wool, so you can shop and dress seasonally. The workwear trousers Glenn picked are really special, not only for their durable fabric, but also for the details – buttons for braces, button fly, fish tail back, and cinch strap and buckle, to name a few.
Women’s offerings are limited to knitwear (specifically – but knickers, see above), but some really good pieces, like solid sweater vests and beautiful Fair Isle vests and a sweater. Other items that could be unisex include caps, leather goods, and a classic cream long sleeve polo shirt with two collar options.
After securing one of these reasonably priced dance dresses recently, it arrived with an unfortunate waistline that could only be remedied with a belt. I wanted something with elastic, but also something that was plain, but not too plain, resiliant, thick enough, and with an interesting buckle. I basically create the impossible in my head and then try to find it – it hones my hunting skills, but can be frustrating at times.
Fortunately, after a quick search on Amazon.com, I arrived at a belt that I think a lot of Lindy Hoppers may appreciate – Malco Modes Ribbed Cotton Stretch Belt. It met and exceeded the requirements – 100% cotton, simple-but-not-boring buckle, wide enough (but not too wide), elastic, durable, and available in 24 colors. I will be back for more colors, you can be certain of that.
Some of the reviews said the belt looked cheap and the fabric was cheap, but I think that depends on your point of view and the purpose of the belt. I wouldn’t wear this with shantung silk, clearly, but I would say the fabric is more durable cotton than “cheap” – think cotton work-shirt or uniform. With that durable, ruched cotton I feel very comfortable sticking in as many safety pins as needed to keep that belt securely in place.
I was in Bygones in Richmond, Virginia a few weeks ago and noticed a label that I had never seen before on their reproduction dress rack, attached to a very attractive dark teal rayon print dress. I, of course, forgot to write it down, but Bygones was able to connect the dots for me about Petrunia via Facebook…
…and, upon further investigation, it appears that Petrunia has an entire line of dresses and coats, many in shapes and fabrics reminiscent of the decades when swing dancing was popular.
From the website: “As specialists in vintage apparel and textiles we know that the most-cherished pieces that are kept and worn for decades share the traits of extraordinary quality and a style that serves the wearer as well as the latest trends. Certain pieces are so feminine and flattering that they are truly transformative, making the wearer look and feel her best. With this in mind we have recreated the fabrics and the fit and feel of some of the best coat and dress designs from the 1930s to the 1960s, and we have added modern fabric and design innovations.”
This is all very reassuring, inspiring confidence in a Petrunia purchase that it would have those qualities of vintage clothing. Regretfully, I didn’t purchase that dress at Bygones, but the fabric did feel like a dreamy cool rayon and the construction details were lovely.
It looks like there are only limited quantities of certain garments available for purchase directly through them, but there is an extensive list of retail locations around the United States where you can purchase Petrunia garments. Hopefully, this will change and you’ll be able to purchase everything online, but I don’t see any news to that effect, so we shall have to be patient.
(Edited to add that the owners of Petrunia contacted me to let me know they just launched an online store at http://shop.petrune.com/)
Incessant scanning of the Mod Cloth website can lead you to discover new brands that you instantly love – I fell in love with this sailboat dress, and a quick search took me to the Trollied Dolly website. The sailboat dress was there, along with an array of colorful vintage-inspired dresses and tops in clever prints – dragonflies, butterflies, seagulls, honeybees, strawberries – essentially adorable overload.
Based out of the UK (like everything else I want to buy these days), Trollied Dolly is the brainchild of two sisters, Louise and Nicole, who share with us that “the Trollied Dolly range reflects the colour and vibrancy of far flung places, lively cultures and perky people, all shaken up with a slice of London Town and a splash of getting’ down! They believe in a land where bad outfits, dull fabrics and boring basics are banned and dreams of utter wardrobe brilliance really can come true!” Getting’ down means “let’s dance,” right? 😀
I’m thinking yes – on top of the adorableness, these dresses are made of cotton – breatheable, danceable, washable cotton. Yes! Yes! Yes!
I can thank milliner Joei Reed for directing me to this gem – Cabiria‘s tagline is “whimsical, sensual style in sizes 12-24,” but I think the word vintage should be thrown in there because so many of these designs take inspiration from 1940’s and 1950’s styles.
This brand is brand spanking new – according to their website, the line launched on October 22, 2012, with an e-store for presales and wholesale and their lookbook, which is a part of their fundraising through Kickstarter. That’s right, this company is still in its infancy and, with your support, these dresses could make their way to you faster and possibly at retail locations and boutiques if the company’s Kickstarter is successful – it looks like they are really close! Here’s the skinny from the Kickstarter campaign:
“The $8,000 is to pay for grading (sizing up and down) costs for each pattern, factory production fees (higher here in the US than abroad, but so important to keep skilled jobs local), shipping costs, website development, and marketing to let the buyers know about our SS13 line. Part of this is to produce the garments to place in independent plus size and boutiques and online retailers, and part will be to produce additional stock for our own e-store direct to the customer.”
Here’s what I’m loving (available for pre-order) from their Spring/Summer 2013 line – silk blends, cotton blends, prints – YESPLS:
*Note that there are additional fabrics/swatches available for each dress.
In my quest for 1920’s cloches on eBay, I stumbled upon a cloche that looked like it could have been vintage from the thumbnail, but up close it was clearly new, but…it had that thing about it that made it a really good hat on its own. I find a lot of straw cloches for summer (Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, etc.), but rarely, if ever, do I see a modern cloche made of fabric that doesn’t look like…a turban, or something odd.
Anna Chocola‘s cloches look comfortable and cheerful, with a great shapes and lots of wonderful details – this is what led me to believe, at a distance, that a particular cloche of her design was vintage. The model for the shape of her hats is her great-grandmother’s cloche.
I am also thinking that a cotton cloche may be more versatile and danceable than a straw one – you’d have the advantage of keeping a vintage look, with the functionality of a cotton hat. I’m thinking, in particular, of one gent I know who has a supply of cotton newsboy caps that he brings and trades out at exchanges after they get too sweaty, then throws them in the wash when he gets home. I suppose we’d have to check with Ms. Chocola about how the hats would fare being washed, but I do like thinking that there is that possibility…
In another stroke of genius, the New Orleans-based Trashy Diva has launched a bridal collection, featuring some of their most popular dress styles in white stretch cotton blend satin. This collection is perfect for so many things, but especially for dancers who may want to change from their fairytale wedding gown into something more danceable for the reception, or maybe you just want something simple, beautiful, and comfortable to wear throughout your wedding. The choice of fabric here appears ideal, as well, with a lovely satin sheen for a slightly more formal look, but enough stretch to be able to move and dance comfortably.
Gah! Where were these dresses when I was getting married? There is a real need for these knee-length white dresses…just brilliant!
Of course, you aren’t limited to weddings in wearing this – anyone could wear one of these lovely white dresses alone, or accessorize with a pop of color. Here’s the collection:
I’ve been following Allure Original Styles for a while, from her initial offerings through eBay as seller buddhaboogie (which is still used to sell what appears to be samples), to a full-fledged Etsy store where you can purchase custom made reproduction swing era garments. Allure Original Styles distinguishes itself from other reproduction sellers by creating an extensive line of pants and complimentary blouses. The fabrics range from wool gabardine to light-medium weight denim, to cover both dressy and casual pants needs. I am probably most excited about having wide leg denim options – while I love to dress up, sometimes you have you wear jeans for more casual occasions and shopping for jeans is only a step above shopping for a swimsuit on the loathsome activity scale. What could be more comfortable for everyday wear than a pair of flattering wide leg lightweight denim jeans?
There are also some great dresses and other separates from the store. So much to love here…I might learn to love wearing pants again:
Oh, Trashy Diva, oh, Trashy Diva, how lovely are thy dresses…Trashy Diva, the New Orleans-based retail and online seller of fantastic vintage-inspired dresses has added some new additions to their line of stretch cotton blend satin dresses. Notably, a very lovely shade of green in the Ballerina dress and the Dottie Dress. Unfortunately, these items are only available for pre-order, so you’ll have to plan for events after the holidays.
Available for purchase right now are a collection of vintage coats Trashy Diva has just listed on their website, including a glorious olive velvet 1940’s coat, several faux mouton coats, and a few models with fur collars.
I am in love with two dresses on eBay this week, made in vastly different sizes, but both equals in adorable-ness and wearable-ness – both are cotton and look sturdy enough to withstand the dance floor. I am itching for spring – these dresses would be perfect for an upcoming dance in warmer weather!
The first dress is a late 1930’s/early 1940’s cotton dress in a green and white print, with lovely puff sleeves, carved buttons, and this fantastic smocking/stitching detail on the shoulder. The bust/waist/hip measurement on this dress is 48/38/52. It is missing the belt, but it looks like there’s enough fabric in the hem to fashion one, or add a green or white ribbon to finish the outfit.
The next dress is another recurring theme in my wardrobe, candy stripes, this time in seersucker cotton in this lovely 1930’s dress. Within this dress there are three stripe directions – horizontal on the buttons and neckline, vertical on the torso, and chevron stripes on the skirt. The slit pockets are perpendicular to the chevron stripes. The bust/waist/hip on this is 34/26/35. The puff sleeves, a bow sash, and giant buttons – how cute is this?!