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!
If I seem like a broken record, I promise it’s not the record, because the tune keeps changing. One of the benefits of doing limited runs and placing orders in advance for goods is that you are only ordering based on the demand and you can easily switch your attentions to the next development. I really like Simon James Cathcart’s business model because he is constantly bringing new items to the market, hence the repeated posts. The downside is that you don’t get a year to mull over whether or not you need something in your life, but maybe that’s best – if it’s not hitting us in the gut or on our mind consistently for a matter of days, do we really need it? You might if you decide you might have regrets later. I’ve learned to trust my gut.
Another thought before I get to the substance of this post – the most searched for item on Lindy Shopper is men’s high waisted trousers, presumably in light-weight, breathable fabrics for dancing.
So what I am telling you is that this item, which is the most sought-after item on this blog, is available to you now on Simon James Cathcart’s website, but not for long! This limited run of 1930’s chinos, available in khaki, navy, and chocolate brown, are what you have been looking for – something off the rack that you can throw on your body with a shirt of just about any ilk, and go out dancing. Washable. Breathable. Movable. Unisex. That’s right, ladies, these trousers are for us, too – though a man’s pattern, given that these sit at the natural waist and have a wide leg, wide enough to accommodate a larger hip/waist ratio, this could work for you, too. SJC’s advertising includes both a male and a female model to show you just how this will work, which caught my eye and took out the guesswork.
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.
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.”
All the little details add up:
Wide belt loops and waistband.
Side buckle adjusters
Button fly with bar and hook fastening
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.
If you’ve been following the adventures of Agent Carter, you’ll know that she has an impeccable 1940’s wardrobe that is ready for action and adventure – a particular purple dress caught the eye of Balboa dancer and instructor Nelle Cherry and, in her diligence and internet mastery, located a close approximation of said dress at La Vie en Swing. Classic 40’s shape, flattering waist, keyhole neckline, swing skirt, the Berlin dress is all the things I love in a dress and would love to wear on the dance floor. While I’m sure that this purple dress similarity a purely wonderful coincidence, it led me down the rabbit hole to exploring the La Vie En Swing clothing line.
La Vie en Swing offers a wonderful 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s reproduction clothing line, with an obvious bent toward swing dancers, with pieces that offer ease of movement and a swish of the skirt. From the website: “Our patterns are accurate in order to enhance and flatter the femenine silhouette. Some of the designs come from original vintage sewing patterns and some other designs are our own creations inspired in the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s, precious years of the Swing Era.”
I am loving the color palette – pinks, purples, mint, cream, and a pop of orange or red. One of my big complaints with vintage 1940’s clothing is the overall lack of color (I find lots of black, brown, navy) and I think La Vie en Swing has embraced a cheerful color palette (bring on the spring!) without resorting to colors that look out of character or like a caricature of the era. The pieces are carefully selected, with lovely details – a little bow detail on the skirt, keyhole necklines (love, love, love!), high waisted sailor trousers, pockets on dresses, and an adorable take on the shirtwaist dress.
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!
The long-awaited women’s line from Prohibition Clothing Company is go – I saw the fruits of their labor at the Jazz Age Lawn Party in August and now you can order these great separates online. Everything – the Parker trouser, the Clara knicker, and the Margaret skirt – is perfect for fall and coordinates with the existing menswear/unisex accessories. The neutral palette will also compliment so many other clothing items and colors for fall. I am particularly excited about having a ready-to-wear option for knickers and the potential for lady dandy dance ensembles and tweed ride awesomeness. Take a gander, folks!
I’ve been hearing a lot about Freddie’s of Pinewood lately, usually coming up in conversations about vintage or reproduction jeans. This UK-based company has taken a practical approach to dressing vintage, providing reproduction clothing you’d mostly wear just out and about, rather than getting gussied up – lots of great separates, shirts, jackets, and denim. While I generally dislike denim, I understand that most of you live in jeans – perhaps Freddie’s could be a gateway to a more vintage, casual look? There are a lot of versatile pieces on this site, to either dress up or dress down (or both), so take a gander!
Two spring sales worth posting about! First, the Original Prohibition Clothing Company is offering a great sale dubbed the “Spring Made-to-Measure Event” – with a focus on spring/summer weight fabrics (hello, tropical weight woolens and linens), the following price cuts:
Unconstructed Jackets were $348, now $298
Full-Rise Trousers were $188, now $159
Fine Cotton Shirts were $88, now $75
Prices valid through March 31st, 2014. There are so many “3 season” suits and heavy suits out there, it seems that for dancing that the most practical splurge would be for a summer suit, no? If you don’t like ironing or wrinkling, my vote is for the tropical weight wool. Remember, wool is a natural fiber that breathes…
Next, a wonderful sale from the I-can’t-believe-this-is-a-thing retailer A Vintage Sole, selling dead stock/never worn vintage shoes – here are the details:
“Enter ‘Benzie’ in the discount box at checkout and receive 15% OFF your entire order. By doing so, you’ll be lending a very helpful hand to those in real need.
When you use the Benzie code, we will donte 5% of your order to the Benzie Food Partners, our local all volunteer food bank.
Visit aVintageSole.com to learn more about our $hop-$ave-$upport program and the huge impact your purchase will make for those in Benzie County, Michigan.”
I recently went to see The Great Gatsby (2013) and the thing that bothered me more than the horribly anachronistic female costuming and the inflatable zebras were the men’s pants. They were obviously out of place – poorly tailored stove pipes that wrinkled/puddled around the ankles and calves, much in the way that a pair of skinny jeans would on a hipster. David Lochner tells me they used Brooks Brothers’ Milano Fit Trouser, their “slimmest fitting trouser with a lower rise and a plain front.” Something about this description seems like the antithesis of 1920’s menswear. That the film would sacrifice historical accuracy for a modern marketing opportunity is no surprise, but it got me thinking about high waist pants. Is this really the best they can do? When I search for high waist pants, what are retailers offering these days?
The pre-qual to these questions is how we got out of the fashion of wearing high waisted pants in the first place. Whenever I wear modern pants while I am dancing, they slowly inch their way downward or pull unnecessarily on my legs when I wear a belt. Doesn’t it make sense that our bottom garments would be better served by being secured at the narrowest point on our body? As someone with an extremely short inseam, why would I want to make my legs look shorter?
Quoting Nick Wooster of Bergdorf Goodman, “men have become so comfortable with low rise that it’s like bringing back the pleated pant; it took years to get men out of them and now we are showing men how good they can look in them. He sighed, “Men are creatures of repetition and when they get conditioned to like something it takes a very long time to change that.”
Quoting Robert Bryan, stylist, “Nothing looks worse than a long torso with short legs, a look created by pants that rise only to the hips, or these days, considerably lower,” he demurred. “Furthermore, it seems only natural that trousers should rise at least to the natural waist where they can rest for support on the hips and drape from there,”
In closing, “So, men, it is up to you daredevils that want to look tall, erect and sophisticated to bring back this iconic staple to our wardrobes.”
Support and drape sounds beautiful and practical for dancing…so where do we find these high-waisted pants?
Well, a lower rise appears to have overtaken all modern retailers – I asked two of my favorite male sartorialists, Bobby White and the aforementioned Mr. Lochner, about where they find high-waisted trousers with modern retailers and it is just as I feared: nowhere. Sure, you can find waists that are higher in comparison to low-rise pants, but not pairs, for example, like the ones Marlon Brando is sporting in the photo to the left. Mr. Lochner added, “Even the old men’s section at Macy’s lowered the rise.” Your options are to order something made for you, seek vintage sources, or spend countless hours searching for that one elusive pair in a shop and buy every pair they have in your size.
I found a nice selection of high waisted 1950’s pants at the Rusty Zipper, including some sweet looking Army slacks.
A Google search of “men’s high waisted pants” revealed a few, perhaps, not-quite-so-high-but-higher-than-low-rise options:
Cator Sparks says he picked up a pair of Levi’s 517’s, which he says are the pants the cowboys wear. Aside from describing the seemingly endless zipper, I love that Mr. Sparks talks about how he hasn’t felt this comfortable in a pair of pants since he bought a pair of custom made tuxedo pants.
Emporio Armani has this pair, but they don’t look particularly high-waisted to me, rather somewhere just above a low rise.
Dickies, classic purveyors of work-wear, offers this trouser – added bonus: hidden expandable waist and extra pocket on the leg.
And there you have it – with the passing of generations that wore high-waisted pants and the wearing-down of the waistline, so to speak, to more low-rise trousers being en vogue in subsequent generations, we have run out of a resource. If you have resources for high-waisted pants, please feel free to share them here in the comments section below. I know others will thank you for it!
Every once in a while I will come across an eBay seller that I can’t quite figure out – does the seller make the clothes? Hand-knit the sweaters? Is this small batch, but manufactured? How can they sell these garments at such good prices?
I came across eBay seller qbiffa’s store when one of their lovely reproduction 1940’s sweaters popped up in one of my searches. I saw that the sweater, which was not in my size, could be ordered in other sizes and, to my delight, there were many other colors and styles of these little short sleeved sweaters available. Then I saw wide leg pants for men and women, men’s button down short sleeved shirts, and 40’s repro jackets, with nothing costing over $120.00. Even better, the seller posted a photo of the original pattern for the sweaters and men’s items, so you can see the origin and maybe get some ideas about what to pair each garment with and how it would have been worn.
The items show can be made in different sizes and colors, simply contact the seller if the item you like is not in your size or colors. 🙂 I wonder why this particular seller picked eBay, it seems like Etsy might be a better forum for this kind of transaction…
I considered this find so good, I almost waited to post until after I bought what I wanted from the store…but there were too many things I wanted and I was too excited! Here are my faves:
In my haste to get out of town this weekend, I forgot to post links to two pairs of Aris Allen men’s pants in black that I found on eBay, high waist with a wide leg, three pleats, and cuffs. The first pair is a size 32 long and the second pair is a size 34 long – if you lack a tall inseam, they can always be hemmed. Both pairs of pants have never been worn and, at $19.99 starting price for a pair of dress dance pants, this is a crazy deal.
The catalogs keep coming in the mail and, while the title says early spring, the Urban Outfitters pictorial actually wants to whisk you away to a tropical locale, not unlike the newest Shabby Apple collection. Urban Outfitters gives vintage a twist, of course, pairing new with old and doing some great reproduction basic accessories to enhance your dance, vintage, or vintage-inspired wardrobe.
For the ladies, I am loving the shoe selection, which features an array of awesome oxfords just begging for some heel slides, as well as some more practical Keds style sneaks for sueding. A pair of high waisted sailor shorts (pictured at right) might have to make a home in my closet, as well as a pair of their chunky wedges and a wonderful floppy, wide brim straw hat (to keep the sun off my face at the DCLX Dupont Circle dance!)
Note: The pair of oxfords I really love are not available online yet, but keep your eyes peeled for tone on tone brown leather and straw oxfords, as well as some strawberry print Vans (SO CUTE). C’mon Urban, get this stuff up and available!