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!
It’s about time to start planning what to wear for New Year’s Eve (or, if you are me, you’ve been planning since you knew you were going to Lindy Focus months ago) for Lindy Focus, Snowball, or perhaps your local scene has a special event. This may be the trickiest night of the year to dress yourself because you want to look like you’re on a red carpet, but you also need to be able to move and sweat like you’re running a marathon.
I took one look at Nancy Mac‘s collection of dresses and immediately thought these would make great NYE dresses for swing dancers – luxe fabrics in movement-friendly cuts with vintage silhouettes. This U.K. based company (if anyone was in doubt, the UK is KILLING IT with the repro brands) was founded by two sisters, Hannah and Sarah McMahon, and their about page reads like music to my ears and my closet: “Designed to flatter, Nancy Mac dresses and stand-alone separates are cut with care from luxurious fabrics and unique prints. Every piece in the range is inspired by the belief that true style stands the test of time. We love making beautiful yet affordable clothes that you will want to wear and keep in your wardrobe forever.”
Did I mention that I have a velvet problem, in that I can’t resist it? Specifically vintage silk velvet? Because it feels like buttah on your body, inside and out, but then come the rips I seem to be forever repairing…with a newer garment (which I also own in silk velvet, because problems) fabric deterioration becomes less of an issue and I’m just over the moon about Nancy Mac’s velvet dresses because they look so wearable, on top of that silk velvet feeling. Other fabrics look almost as enticing, such as viscose crepe, silk viscose, and just plain silk. Do you feel fancy? Because I feel fancy talking about all these fancy fabrics.
Let’s not forget that it gets cold in the mountains of North Carolina and in Sweden in December – Nancy Mac also has gorgeous coordinating jackets, shrugs, and coats to go with their dresses. There’s also a collection called Mint Julep…it’s like they knew I was coming…
Here is what I am loving from the Nancy Mac website:
I will continue to sing Simon James Cathcart’s praises – his fall releases thus far consist of matching separates in salt and pepper or Dutch blue chambray, inspired by nineteen teens, 20’s, and 30’s workwear, and I think the concept of purchasing mixing and matching pieces you like is brilliant, not to mention all of these could be worn separately or together as a suit. And all the pieces are great – two jackets (belt back or Norfolk style), two styles of trousers with proper buttons at the fly and for braces (narrow or wide leg), a waistcoat in each color, and a dart cap in each color.
But what to wear with your new workwear? How about a work shirt in 4 different colors, two stripes and two solids? SJC gives you a great jumping off point for many different workwear inspired looks. Add some work boots or oxfords, add a tie to dress it up, add a henley to dress it down…
ALSO, there’s a 40% off sale on those magical chinos that everyone keeps looking for on my blog (high waist, wide leg, breatheable, danceable), as well as the summer weight flannel trousers (which I think would be more perfect for fall around these parts), the signature zig zag neckerchief, and the vintage style polos in bamboo fabric that every dancer needs as part of their wardrobe of comfort and style.
I’ve been on the hunt for elusive vintage and reproduction knitwear and came across Alixis Lupien on the Oooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Facebook group, as she was selling the most adorable sweater with parrots on it. At first glance it looked vintage, but then I looked again and she made it! People who knit clothing are magical unicorns in my book, it looks like so much could go wrong, but here was this darling multi-colored knit sweater that I could see instantly enhancing my summer wardrobe.
I followed her progress on Facebook to her Ains & Elke Style Haus Facebook page and then to her Etsy shop, where she posts her incredible novelty knit sweaters and an array of sewn clothing options that you can order custom to your fabric, color, measurement, etc. specifications.
File this under “I need this in my life but can’t justify spending $400 on it,” BUT LOOK AT THIS JACKET from 1939 on eBay, some organization or sports team decided that they were going to take a tip from Ella and Chick and name their group the Dipsy Doodlers. I am so in love with this! Comes with a matchbook and napkin from Hamilton High School class of 1939, along with a bit of history:
“The Dipsy Doodlers were a group at the Hamilton High School in Trenton, New Jersey, circa late 30’s. This belonged to Lillian Crabtree, who went on to become secretary to General Claire L. Chennault, Commander of the “Flying Tigers.”
I happened upon Laura Bakker’s Catalogue of Fashion website in one of those lists – THOSE lists, that purport to have links to all the repro goodness, but ultimately and eventually the links stop working as websites go out of business (which is why I won’t maintain one of THOSE lists on this website). HOWEVER, every now and again you find a true gem, still in business, with fantastic garments.
With a degree from the Art School of Maastricht in her pocket and a love of movie costumes from the 1930’s through the early 1950’s, Laura got to work making her line of unique and individualized fashions. From the website: “Everything is made by only me, the patterns, the clothes and all the applications. Every item is made only once, my little personal war against all the big productions 😉 I wish to offer all the ladies & gentlemen something special.”
The menswear offerings include great shirt and trouser basics that look comfortable for dancing. The women’s clothing is all about the details and you can see on each piece how it is unique and how Laura has left her own mark on each piece, with buttons, trim, contrasting fabrics, inset panels, and even hand-painted details.
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.
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…)
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…
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*…
The ABW vendor report is in progress, but to tide you over you could pick up your own summer belt back jacket and vest from this eBay auction – pair with your favorite pair of summer trousers, wear together or separate. Size 42, bidding at $99.95 with free shipping…not quite the steal from Chelsea’s, but cheaper than flying to Cleveland!
While I’m helping organize/run Frankie 100 NC this weekend, I’ll definitely have one eye on New York to see what amazing videos and news come out of the main Frankie 100 celebration. Already, I see friends posting photos and experiences, including shopping – I think the most eagerly anticipated Frankie 100 merch is the reproduction Whitey’s Lindy Hopper jacket, which FROMChloehong took preorders for several weeks ago.
It was no surprise to me that the master of vintage collegiate style, Bobby White, posted a photo of his acquisition of the jacket (I would do the same thing – it’s exciting, it’s here, it’s real!), but there was more! Chloe also had custom bags made just for the jacket with the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers logo, as well as tee shirts. I was ecstatic to see the tees, not only because they would be available at a much lower price point than the detailed wool jacket, but also because the tees themselves are reproductions of sorts from the Keep Punching Big Apple routine! I say of sorts because it looks like the tees in the video are a lighter color with a darker graphic – Bobby says there is also a yellow tee available with a darker graphic, so you can get that Keep Punching look. 🙂
Thanks to Bobby for sharing his loot and to Chloe for keeping the surprises coming!
EDITED to add that the order form is up! Click here to order. Chloe is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Frankie Manning Foundation and, if you get your order in by April 30, you can pick up your jacket at Frankie 100!
This, the coldest winter I’ve experienced in my life living in North Carolina, just won’t go away – Mother Nature teased us with 60 degrees today, followed by a forecast of snow tomorrow. Since I’m still digging around for more woolens to wear, here are a couple of cozy Norfolk/action back jackets on eBay for the gents to bundle up with until these winter storms pass:
I ran across Richard’s Fabulous Finds on the OcTieBer group on Facebook – he had posted a few suits of interest, so I bit. Clicking through to his Etsy page, I was struck by the presentation – everything looked cool, wearable, and pulled together. On closer inspection, it wasn’t just the goods, it was the presentation. A model (perhaps Richard himself?) had on most of the suits, and each suit was fully presented, with shirt, necktie, pocket square, possibly a boutonniere, so that the suit wasn’t JUST a suit, you could see it as an ensemble. I know a lot of men struggle with color and pairings and Richard has done the work for you, at least for starters. Here’s what I’m loving from his Etsy shop:
This menswear resource tip is from Christine Hall of the Decophile group on Facebook – Darcy Clothing, previously The Vintage Shirt Company, has expanded from shirts to include a much broader range of reproduction menswear and accessories from the 18th century to the early 20th century. This is a huge span of time, but there are plenty of 20th century goodies from this UK company to place in your closet.
“The clothing is largely made specially for us and is taken directly from original garments. The shapes and fabrics are uncompromisingly genuine. We only ever use natural fibres in any pre C20th garments. The construction methods however take advantage of modern mass production techniques which means that we can supply costume designers with the authenticity they require at an affordable price.”
Menswear can be a difficult world to navigate and, if you are just starting to accumulate your dress wardrobe, figuring out which pieces will be essentials, what colors to get, which fit, etc. can add to the confusion. The Original Prohibition Clothing Company is here to help, with a pretty awesome deal – a jacket, two pairs of trousers, three shirts, two bow ties, and a hat, all made-to-measure for your body, with your choice of fabrics and colors, and a helping hand to guide you through these choices to create what is, in essence, the framework for a fabulous wardrobe. At $998.00, this is a lot of bread to throw down at once, but it is an overall 20% savings off these individual items, and they are made for you, in the USA, to your specifications and measurements. If I were a dude, I’d start saving right now and treat myself at Christmas. 😉 (Update: Deal runs through September 1 – rethink Christmas present, get your monies together soon!) See details below (from their Facebook page):