I don’t know who is designing for Eshakti, an India-based company making customizabe/semi-customizable clothing, but they are up for everything and I am here for their vintage-inspired styles in knits and machine-washable fabrics. I haven’t written about them on the blog, in part because I assumed everyone knew about them and in part because I wasn’t sure if they would keep up with the few vintage-inspired styles they were offering, but it’s been a few years and I get and love what they are throwing down, especially for this coming fall. They’ve graduated from basic shirt dresses and 50’s shapes to much more adventurous vintage silhouettes with delicious details.
Aside from the wash-and-wear fabrics, one of the main reasons I’ve had friends recommend and wear this brand is the wide range of sizes and the ability to customize the garments, not only in body proportions, but also modifying parts of the garment itself – don’t like a scoop neck? Make it a V-neck. Don’t like sleeveless? Add your choice of several different sleeve options. It costs a bit extra to make these modifications, but it’s a modest cost and Eshakti always seems to be running a sale of some sort to basically offset that cost. And every dress comes with pockets – if you don’t want pockets, you can opt out at no cost (but why would you? lol).
What prompted this blog, in addition to recent emails from Eshakti and ensuing purchases/longings, were some prominent Eshakti sightings at the International Lindy Hop Championships this past weekend. Dance instructor Carol Fraser coached and performed with the Jazzabelles, a solo jazz performance team from Long Island, New York, and she and her teammates were all in coordinating shades of green of the same Eshakti dress. This particular dress I have seen on other women I know who are into vintage style it’s one of those universally flattering cuts for many different body types. Combined with the ease of the knit fabric and the relatively reasonable cost, Eshakti becomes a great option when you are looking for performance team outfits.
Highlighting the versatility and customization elements and also the more luxe fabrics, my fellow vocalist this weekend, Taryn Newborne, sported a gorgeous embroidered lace dress from Eshakti, which she customized by adding length to the skirt and modifying the sleeves. The results were superb, she looked and sounded like a queen.
I would say my only complaint about Eshakti is that you can’t always linger when making a decision – some dresses, like the Jazzabelles’ dresses, have been on the website for a few years; others have disappeared within a matter of a couple of months, for reasons unknown or because they run out of that particular fabric (I’m looking at you green cat print skirt, also couldn’t find Taryn’s dress to link).
Now, for what’s been catching my eye for fall – enjoy!
A lot of black Lindy Hoppers are speaking right now and a lot of us are listening, but I know a lot of us also want to take action to help. I have been looking for more ways to be an ally and to use my voice to help make our community more inclusive to black dancers. Lindy Shopper is my most public voice, but this is a fashion blog – I wasn’t sure how I could help writing about clothing and shoes.
Then I saw a Facebook post made by dancer Angel Sheniev Cadenza, which detailed ways in which racial isolation is present in the dance scene, and one of those was was the following: “Racial isolation in the dance scene to me…It is planning to attend a vintage-themed dance event and having almost no black reference points to create your look because all the vintage themed resources are created by and for whites, and black people are almost non-existent in historical media.”
I spend a good amount of time poring over photographs and videos from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s studying the subjects’ clothing and I knew that there were a lot of black reference materials (a good place to start is the Vintage Black Glamour Facebook page, which you should all be following because it’s fabulously curated with lots of historical information), but I can do better and share this information here. I realize newer dancers may not know all the vintage clips of the swing era, so let’s explore that. The focus of this blog is source material, where to purchase clothing and shoes, so I’ll try to tie that in, as well – we should be inspired AND know where to get the look.
Back in 2010, I started a series called “What’s Old is New” and I realized that I never actually made this into a series, so I’m going to pick this up and continue it (after posting it in Angel’s thread as a possibility of how I could contribute to this discussion and received positive feedback)…so here we go. If this is a misstep, then I apologize and I will stop and continue listening.
The first and only post in my What’s Old is New series was about the clothing in the Marx Brothers’ film “A Day at the Races,” which features Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers and I found sources for some modern day inspirations/approximations of the garments worn by the women dancers in the film. I still love their outfits, the quintessential mid-calf 1930’s skirts in bias cut plaid are just awesome.
Let’s take a look at another classic clip featuring Whitey’s Lindy Hopper’s, a 1941 soundie called “Hot Chocolate (Cottontail),” featuring Duke Ellington and his Orchestra playing Cottontail. The dancers are wearing clothing that is not quite costume, not quite street clothing, somewhere fun and in the middle.
The pinafore/jumpers on the women are just adorable and I am dying over the huge sleeves on their blouses. The men have a bit more variance in their dress, ranging from overalls to jackets with maybe the largest collar I’ve ever seen on a shirt. Finding exact replicas of these garments would be hard, you’d likely have to get a copy made, but we’ll find some pieces that capture some of the fun of these garments.
For the blouses, my first instinct was to go to the House of Foxy website and they deliver – their Elsie blouse has those amazing sleeves (available in mustard, black, and white). They also have a great Peter Pan collar blouse available in ivory, ivory gingham, black gingham, and a black/gray/red floral print – I know I have missed seeing these available outside of thrift/vintage shops and I’m glad House of Foxy is offering some twists on the basic (or not so basic) blouse so we can find some reproductions we may not feel as hesitant to dance in. I own the Peter Pan collar shirt and some other pieces from this company and the quality is stellar, would purchase again.
I didn’t see but one vintage 40’s jumper that caught my eye on Etsy (but it’s awesome – black velvet with pockets on the front!), but they tend to pop up somewhat often, as these jumpers and pinafore dresses were fairly common – the thing you won’t find is the shorter skirt length, but then you can decide what length you want and what look is more your style.
Men, I don’t even know where to begin with that giant collar, it’s amazing and a sight bigger than any 40’s, any 70’s, anything I’ve ever seen. Since a trend in the 70’s was 30’s style and the collars were of superior width and breadth in that decade, I went looking in vintage because I honestly don’t know of any modern retailer carrying an approximation of this. Even Simon James Cathcart’s polos aren’t cut that big, but if you wanted a nod to that big collar, this would be a reasonable place to start. The 40’s shirts were a bust, but there were some promising 70’s options on Etsy – like this Art Deco print or this yellow long sleeved shirt. There were more great printed shirts on Etsy with wide collars so take a gander!
As for the overalls…I’ve got nothing. Sometimes garments are so special that they can’t be found and/or have to be made.
I went looking for the light car coat in the video and the first hits were Burberry and Prada, so I retreated to Etsy and found one from the 60’s that fit the bill. That they were doing aerials in a coat is pretty awesome, but you’ll probably save yours for before and after the dance.
There are other pieces I wish I could find! In particular that two tone paneled skirt, what a great piece to have in your closet.
Feel free to chime in with other pieces you have found that look inspired by this clip in the comments! This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but a starting point for ideas and sources.
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’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.
Continuing my foray into vintage/reproduction knitwear, I’ll highlight the Wollarium on Etsy, which is both swoon-worthy and holiday wishlist-worthy…and when I say holiday wishlist, I mean that the Wollarium (Emma Sommerfeld in Berlin, Germany) produces hand-made reproduction sweaters from vintage patterns and said hand-made items are priced accordingly. Have you ever knit something yourself? That scarf I made once took forever, I can only imagine the love and craftsmanship that goes into these gorgeous knits. Knit-to-order, so you can have your choice of yarns and colors! Great items for both ladies and gents.
I have been on the hunt for knitwear to pair with my Chloe Hong trumpet skirts to transition them into winter and fall. My conclusion is that most of the great knitwear I am finding is coming from the UK, so let’s start with one of my new favorite knitwear sources, Collectif Clothing. What’s this all about? From the website: “Established in the year 2000, Collectif is an independent 1940s and 1950s inspired vintage reproduction brand based in London. We create garments and accessories that are inspired by genuine vintage patterns, knitting patterns, and fabrics from our extensive archive.”
Of course there’s much more than knitwear here, and I’ve seen a few pieces pop up on other vintage/retro retail websites, like ModCloth and Miss L Fire (US shipping!). From blouses to knitwear to gowns to overalls, I love the variety available here – there’s lots of really good everyday basics to work into your wardrobe, casual or dressy, and you could put together an entire ensemble here or just pick up a few special pieces. Also, plaid…keep it coming, I can never get enough!
I’ve been meaning to seek out the items for this post for a couple of years and Memorial Day seems like a good time to share – following my last What’s Old is New featuring outfits from A Day at the Races, I’d like to look at some of the costuming choices in Groovie Movie and note where you may find similar items in modern times to hone your 1940’s-inspired dance pieces. As this was a film made during World War II and the film features some the male dancers at the end wearing military uniforms, this appears to an excellent film to highlight, in the spirit of Memorial Day. Jitterbugs, veterans, and those who served our nation with honor – we salute you!
I’m going to focus on some of the followers’ outfits at the end of the film because some of the earlier outfits were more…to prove a point or to further the narrative. 🙂 For military garb, that’s a bit of a can of worms. Visit your local army/navy surplus for inspiration, talk to your grandpa, or delve into the potentially very expensive (and very specific) hobby of collecting vintage uniforms.
Jitterbuggin’ is having a 25% off sale today and tomorrow (that’s July 3 and 4) to keep the inventory rolling so the fabulous Kimberly Cullins can do awesome things with the new fabrics she got in this week. A little birdie told me there are some awesome new prints, including two cat prints, which I am dying to see, so….we should all help Kim keep the ball rolling and pick up something from the Jitterbuggin store!
While I already have a green repro jumper, I couldn’t resist posting this Jukebox DJ Jumper available at ModCloth – high waist, potential twirly skirt, little green buttons on the front, just adorable. Pair with just about any blouse!
My search results have been futile, even with the help of my wonderful friends via Facebook, for this fantastic jumpsuit from H&M, which appears to have come out sometime just prior to August, 2011. The jumper, pictured here and modeled by the stylish author shown as SP in this article, is identified as part of a trend towards 1970’s clothing, but the cut and design of this jumper, with the floaty sleeves, cinched waist, and, wide legs is more 70’s does 1930’s beach pajamas. Beach pajamas at H&M in an adorable print? Yes, please!
Can anyone help me find this jumpsuit in my size? The H&M here only had a size 6 left and I’d probably need a size 10, or could alter a size 12. Your assistance would be much appreciated! If you find it in your size, I’d love to see someone else wearing it as well. 🙂
I’ve highlighted the adorable reproductions made by Etsy seller Jitterbuggin in the past, but I think she’s really hit her stride with these new (since my last post) matching 1940’s jumper and blouse sets in blue and green. I’m linking to the jumpers, as the blouse must be purchased separately, and all are available in multiple sizes.
Everything about the sets is just fantastic, the pocket details on the jumpers, the line of the skirts, the fabric choices for both the jumpers and the blouses (especially the airplanes!), and the contrast collar and sleeve bands on the green blouse. On top of that, Jitterbuggin shows you how to wear it by styling her models to the hilt, with period hair, hosiery, shoes, red lips, hair flowers, and bakelite accessories. Very Groovie Movie!
Just a reminder that we are still conducting a silent auction for this wonderful 1940’s reproduction jumper and cherries print blouse to raise money for The Carolina Fascinators – bidding ends tomorrow at 11:00 p.m. All the auction details and the auction itself are in the LS post from Monday. The bidding is only up to $45.00 – less than the value of just the blouse itself!
Did I mention this outfit is one of a kind? And that, by wearing it, you’ll reach an astronomic level of cuteness?
One of my favorite Etsy sellers, Time Machine Vintage, has generously donated this lovely reproduction 1940’s jumper and cherries blouse to The Carolina Fascinators‘ fundraising efforts. I will be conducting a silent auction on this blog for the jumper and blouse set – simply place your bid in the comments section and whoever has the highest bid at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2011 will be the winner. The jumper and blouse will be on display at the Triangle Swing Dance Society Dance on March 12 at the Carrboro Century Center and The Carolina Fascinators will be taking bids at the dance as well (with updates posted here during the dance, in case you are not local and want to bid at the end).
The jumper and blouse were made to fit a modern size 6-8. The waist on the skirt is approximately 27 inches, but might fit a 28, as there’s some room to move the fasteners over. The amount of space in the hip area is generous and will drape nicely to fit. The blouse will fit up to a 36C bust and around a 34 bust, with the waist in the blouse being more generous than the skirt. If you have any questions about measurements, please let me know and I’ll be happy to measure the garments. The outfit looks even more adorable in person, I’d bid on it myself if it was my size. I love the contrast collar, the big buttons on the jumper, and that the jumper straps cross in the back. The jumper has 8 gores in the skirt, which means maximum twirly-ness and dreaminess!
Who are The Carolina Fascinators, you ask? TCF are a ladies jazz dance performance troupe based out of Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, specializing in routines inspired by the vintage dances of the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s. We have hit the ground running, but are still a very new organization and need funding for travel, costumes, and practice space. The local dance community has been very generous thus far at our bake sales and we hope that you will help us out in this latest fundraising endeavor!
I’ll add that Time Machine Vintage is also making The Carolina Fascinators’ next costume and she has been so wonderful to work with during the process of costuming five gals.
The fine print: If you are bidding online, we will accept payment only through PayPal. Shipping in the U.S. will be $8.50, please email me for an international shipping quote at firstname.lastname@example.org. Payment due within two days of the auction ending.