Whether you’re a chorus girl or you just want a little something between you and your dance shoes to reduce friction without sacrificing ventilation, you may have forayed into wearing fishnet stockings. Often, fishnets are only offered in two colors – black or nude. However, this “nude” typically translates to “white people nude” and this is troubling for many reasons. Dancer/instructor/event organizer Erica Vess posted a link on Facebook this morning to Discount Dance Supply’s nude fishnets page this morning, which offers Nude Barre fishnets in 12 shades of “nude,” citing that she has friends who have been “unable to (easily) find “nude” fishnets if their personal shade of nude.” Now, if we could only get Discount Dance Supply to actually provide a sizing chart, we’d be even better…but you can always go to the source for this information, you can also order swatches to decide which color works best for your skin tone, and you can find more availability options at the full retail price. If you haven’t considered dance tights for swing dancing for various reasons, maybe this is a good jumping off point, because, for the money, these will last so much longer than pantyhose.
I’ll add that if there are other products dancers use that would be more inclusive to you or others in the community, please feel free to share them here. I’ve seen many discussions on Facebook in the past few months about exclusivity/inclusivity and, though this blog is fairly limited in scope, there are products, like these fishnet tights, that represent a step in the right direction.
Fancy legwear has definitely been a trend in the Lindy Hop community for the past few years and it makes sense – we are paying a lot of attention to movement and embellishing that is one way to get someone to look at your legs. I was contacted by the UK legwear retailer, Tightsplease, about reviewing their site and product and I am happy to report that all is well in the UK for quality hosiery.
I tried a pair of the Tightsplease brand’s Jive Stockings, which proved to be highly durable. I didn’t dance in them, but I did brave a Christmas party with a shooting contest, a parade, hot glue gun crafts, small children, and runway walking on a gravel driveway. They’ve made it through the wash on the delicate cycle and are ready to go again. This is saying a lot for these hose because I am the destroyer of all panty hose that are not, essentially, medical grade support hose. I destroyed a different pair last night on the first wear by simply attending a concert and sitting in a chair for 2 hours. Riddle me that.
I was very excited to see that they carry what they are calling Charleston stockings, which look like the silk stockings of old, but probably aren’t silk, based on the price tag. I am hopeful for the latter because silk stockings tend to get droopy around the ankles mid-way through the night and I’d love for modern technology to have improved on that, but maintain that same rich, silky look. Ella wasn’t kidding when she sang about silk shiny stockings – they are really shiny!
The website also lists the denier for most of the hosiery, which I find extremely helpful as the hosiery Godzilla. If there’s two pairs that look the same, you can be sure I’ll go for the one with the higher denier number.
Here are some of my favorites from this lovely site:
As I sit here in front of my space heater, loathing the cold front that came in and whisked my summer away, I’ll admit that I have to start thinking about warmer garments. I’ve been saving up some things to write about until the colder weather arrived, such as highlighting some great seamed hosiery options offered by What Katie Did, my favorite retro/repro undergarment web store.
I am completely smitten with the Swiss dot seamed pantyhose – an element of adorableness amidst the classic, yet sassy, seam. I also love the metallic seams, which you can buy in nude with a gold seam or black with a silver seam – the OCD in me would pair them with matching metallic heels for a Balboa comp. Finally, I see what could potentially be a more durable option for dancing (80 denier as opposed to 15 denier) with opaque seamed hosiery – in black with a red racing stripe for the back of your legs. 🙂
I noticed yesterday that the My Heinies website has officially expanded their line of dancewear to include the shoes, hosiery, and hair flowers I mentioned in my previous post on My Heinies and their creator, New York dancer and instructor Carol Fraser. This certainly calls for another post highlighting these goodies, because now we have pictures. 🙂
Before we get to the goods, I want to point out that Carol does her homework. At week one of the Balboa Experiment, Carol brought in samples of everything and held a focus group to talk about what Balboa dancers look for in a shoe – heel shape, heel height, colors, styles, straps, where the shoe falls on the top of your foot, suede v. hard leather, and everything in between. The shoes now available on the My Heinies website represent the results of this group discussion, most of which Carol had overnighted to the Experiment house so that we could try them on in person, give further feedback, and have the option to purchase. The sample shoes remained at the Experiment house for weeks 2 and 3 to try out as well, and I’m sure she’s solicited feedback from a number of other dancers. Another great thing about using the Experiment as a testing ground was that it gave Carol an international perspective on what dancers would want to wear, not just dancers in the U.S.
Here’s what I love from My Heinies’ new selections of shoes, hosiery, and hair flowers (and don’t forget to check out the bloomers, I think Carol’s ordering a new batch very soon):
Last week I embarked on a quest for nude seamed stockings. I have little patience for wading through lingerie websites, so I solicited Facebook for ideas. When Kate Patsky declared “This is like finding the Holy Grail…” I knew I had a real shopping challenge on my hands; thus, I headed to the Stockings HQ chat forums to ask the experts/fetishists where I could find the Holy Grail. Stockings HQ is a lingerie website based in the UK that also hosts chat forums where people can share stocking info, pictures, and talk about…anyway, they were most helpful during my last hosiery dilemma, finding stockings for a Sally Bowles costume that would be period appropriate and fit my short legs, and they delivered yet again. One of the forum regulars recommended What Katie Did and I’ve been in love ever since.
What Katie Did makes beautiful reproduction and vintage-inspired bras, panties, girdles, corsets, stockings, slips, swimwear, and much more. I loathe most “vintage-inspired” undergarments because they are skimpy and not at all what was actually worn. What Katie Did has gone to the heart of the matter, reproducing things that are such rare finds, like fully fashioned stockings, bullet bras, 1940’s bras (which were just coming into the modern age of the bra), and different kinds of girdles so you can get your Joan Holloway on. If you really want a vintage look, then the next step beyond just the clothes are the foundation garments. Think about how your underwear selections change with what you wear and how that affects your shape and the way the clothes fit, then apply that to your dance dresses. What Katie Did goes further and actually improves the reproduction by eliminating discomfort and taking garments, like that 1940’s bra that probably did little to lift and support, and upgrading them to modern standards. If this sounds dull, like a conversation you’ve had with your grandmother, never fear! There are also plenty of skimpies and pretties on the website for everyone, and I know some burlesque girls who might find some goodies here.
From the website: “Founder and head designer Katie Halford has had a deep and abiding love affair with 1940s and 1950s fashion her entire adult life, but though the clothing was always fairly easy to come by, the appropriate undergarments were not. Her quest for the perfect bullet bra, the most authentic stockings and the firmest foundation garments, led to the development of her own collection, over ten years ago. And since then, thanks to her abiding passion, What Katie Did has been at the very forefront of the vintage revival that’s only recently come into the public eye.
On this website, in our London boutique, and in the glossy pages of our catalogue, retrophiles, vintage queens and lingerie lovers who appreciate the art of a circle-stitched cup, a wasp-waist, or a flash of fully-fashioned seam, can find everything their hearts’ desire.
We create and produce beautifully cut, high-quality and affordable undergarments, corsetry and hosiery inspired by the 1940s and 1950s. Our designs are based on vintage patterns, adapted only slightly for modern figures, using authentic fabrics and even old-fashioned production methods wherever possible. We’re proud of our close-knit team, high standards and enthusiasm for great customer service, all of which which have earned us fans worldwide, and led to What Katie Did being worn by stars as lofty as Claudia Schiffer and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks. But really, we make our beautiful lingerie for every woman, so she can look and feel like a bombshell, any day of the week.”
I don’t often get excited about underwear, but I am excited to try out some of these gorgeous things. Here’s what I’m loving:
If you are wearing a dress at a dance, chances are, at some point in the evening, your hoo-ha will be in someone’s line of sight, be it upside down in an aerial or while being dipped by your dance partner. With modern hemlines sky high, the need for coverage is even more pressing. But where to get good coverage? Or better yet, where to get pretty coverage?
Enter My Heinies, “the original ‘pretty’ dance pant.” My Heinies is the brainchild of Carol Fraser, a dancer and choreographer from New York, has been dancing for her entire life and was inspired by her experience sitting on the floor at All Balboa Weekend and looking at the competitors, who had nothing necessarily pretty going on under their skirts during competitions. Necessity is the mother of invention and Carol took it upon herself to create this line of dance and athletic-specific bloomers that were made to go under clothing and provide the type of coverage we are looking for, but with a bit of flair for color and pattern.
From the website: “My Heinies addresses many concerns of dancers and athletes in all genres. All pants have the triangular crotch design which reduces the inner thigh from riding up and also eliminates “the front wedgie.” Additionally, all short inseam pants are 1 inch lower in the back to maintain maximum cheek coverage. There is no elastic on the low and mid rise pants thus eliminating bulges and allowing for more movement. And the high waisted pant offers a new option to current lingerie style trends.
In addition to new technology, My Heinies brings to the market modern prints and patterns in many styles as well as materials that perform. It allows dancers of all genres – contemporary, modern, jazz, tap, salsa, swing, ballroom, tango – as well as all athletes in yoga, running, gymnastics or cheer to add a little “pretty” to their attire.”
My Heinies is currently offering 9 styles of dance pants, with variations on waist height and length. The critical detail here with the shortest leg length is that the backside is lower, so when you kick or lift your leg, the dance pant will not ride up, leaving you with a bit of cheek hanging out (Carol noted that the guys will probably hate her for this 😉 ). With the highest waist model, any dress that does not have a defined waist/belt can have a smoother appearance, rather than seeing the waistband of the bloomers through the fabric of the dress. Taking that even further, you could incorporate the high waist into the layers of your outfit – spokes-model Carla Heiney wore the high waisted model with a regular skirt and tucked her shirt into the My Heinies dance pants, offering a new and interesting way to display her Heinies while keeping her shirt securely tucked in.
Carol also noted that the fabric stretches 4 ways, while most stretch fabrics only stretch 2 ways – the 4 way stretch allows for maximum movement and prevents the fabric from riding up. The fabric is very smooth and can function similarly to a slip, in the sense that the smoothness prevents the bunching of your dress fabric against the fabric of your undergarments and also creates a smoother line under your clothing.
To clarify, these are not Spanx. I detest Spanx and any other sort of nouveau-girdle. These are athletic/dance pants to wear under your clothing for comfort, modesty, style, and athleticism. We are athletes and it’s time for a product to withstand our intensity while looking immensely put-together!
In addition to bloomers, My Heinies will be selling some really hot/sexy/fancy hosiery by Leg Avenue – fishnets, seams, patterns, faux garters, bows, FANCY. When your skirt flies up, there will be plenty of pretty to see!
As if things couldn’t get prettier, Hy Heinies will also be selling lovely hair flowers, of the traditional silk kind as well as real orchids from Thailand that are dipped in resin to preserve them. You can have a real, one of a kind hair flower in your hair that’s frozen in time. Brilliant!
Carol is currently in talks with Arika Nerguiz, maker of some of the most divine tango shoes on the planet, to make shoes for the swing dance community. I am very excited about this development, as I have been drooling over Arika Nerguiz shoes for years.
I am at the Balboa Experiment with Carol this week (we are roomies) and her excitement about the possibilities for this company is infectious. I love to see one of our own creating a new business that enhances our community and is driven by someone who knows dance, dance clothing construction, and our own unique sub-culture so well. She is diligently working to make sure these products live up to their intended function.
I look forward to seeing you and your Heinies on the dance floor!