Tag Archives: Keds

What’s Old Is New: Keep Punching

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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There is a lot of documented history about the creation and performance of The Big Apple line dance in the 1939 film “Keep Punching” – if you don’t know this story already, take a gander at Wikipedia, The Lindy Circle, and Savoy Style.  It’s the story of a dance within a dance craze!  I love this clip for its energy, the individual style (dancing and clothing) of each of the dancers, and also because they keep it simple and functional – this clothing is obviously their own normal street clothing, with the exception of the coordinating Whitey’s Savoy Lindy Hoppers tee shirts.  I imagine this is a snapshot into what they might wear on any given night of the week out at a dance (compare to the more fancy street clothing/costumes in Hot Chocolate (Cottontail) or the outright dance costumes in The Harlem Congaroos clip).  There is an array of interesting clothing in this clip – from the dancers to the more fancy daywear/cocktail attire of the actors/extras to the orchestra in tails.

 

There are so many pieces of clothing worn by the dancers in this clip that are accessible today, so let’s dig in:

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First, those custom Whitey’s Savoy Lindy Hoppers tee shirts – we don’t have the light background with the darker graphics, but Chloe Hong has reproduced this graphic on dark blue and dark red tees that you can order from her website.  Since none of us hold a candle to the original Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, we can view these shirts as aspirational/inspirational, a tribute to these original dancers and innovators.  I love that some of the tee shirts in the clip are worn as-is and others are worn over another shirt, as layers.  This makes me think of the ever present battle of sweat management – if that tee shirt has to last through a day of many film takes under hot lights, you might need that base layer to keep things fresh on the outside.

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SJC spearpoint in check

Since men’s reproduction knitwear is still a bit of an outlier, your best collared “undershirt” solution to get the look from the video is to pick up one of Simon James Cathcart’s short sleeved polos with that distinctive spearpoint collar – they are also made of wicking bamboo fabric, so extra helpful with sweat management.  Available in nine colors and I wouldn’t be surprised if SJC was going to release some more in the future.  Even though the men in this clip are wearing the spearpoint collars, these polos are also great for women, I have a few and I love them.

A few of the women in this clip looks like they may be wearing either some sort of collared or uncollared blouse underneath their tee shirt or they may be wearing a scarf tied loosely around their neck and tucked in a bit at the tee shirt collar.  The House of Foxy’s 1940’s shirt in crepe would give a similar effect to the pointed collar blouses in the clip, with just the top points peeking out and the crepe being flexible enough to work around the tee shirt collar and lay right.  One of the women is wearing a belt with her flared skirt and it looks awesome, but the video quality is such that I can’t tell if the belt is leather, fabric, or some other material.

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Heyday’s A-line skirt

While there is one woman in a flared skirt (and I say that relatively, as we’re not talking Dior “new look” volume, just a bit more twirl than the other women), rest of the women in this clip are in A-line skirts, something with a more streamlined profile, but with enough radius at the hemline to allow for kicks and movement.  This skirt silhouette and just-below-the-knee hemline shows the fashion transition to the 1940’s silhouette, when you contrast with the calf-length skirts from the film A Day at the Races that came out just two years before Keep Punching.

UK brand Heyday has a nice A-line skirt, available in several prints and solid colors, I love the quality, wearability, and washability of their pieces.   If you are going for the more full skirt, it looks like the House of Foxy’s Whirlaway Skirt fits the bill of being not to full, not too A-line, but just right in terms of fullness for the purposes of this clip.   It’s also available in 7 colors and ditto on the quality coming out of this UK brand.  Would wear both of these skirts for dancing and for work and for anything, really.

Men’s bottoms look like your standard fare for trousers, tucked in shirt or not tucked in – I mean, whatever’s comfortable for you after umpteen takes, right?  If you are looking for something high waisted, I can’t say enough good things about SJC’s 1930’s chinos, which can handle belt or braces.  Or just go and buy whatever lightweight, breathable trousers you can find and wear that shirt untucked!  The exact right pants are usually hard to find, but for this look it’s not an absolute essential, the devil is in the other details.  For the tucked-in crowd, note the dancer with the skinny belt – how skinny is up to you and your pants loops.  Google was an absolute failure at looking for skinny belts (“no, Google, I mean REALLY skinny, 1.5 inches wide isn’t skinny!”), so dive deeper into your internet searches and/or go to the women’s section of a department store to buy one because nobody cares where it comes from.

The footwear is all over the map.  I see white Keds-like sneakers with dark socks (that may color-coordinate with the collared shirt under the tee shirt) and in other colors (Gray? Black? Oh, wait, we’re not in Technicolor), or maybe even a shoe with a  more substantial sole closer to Vans’ classic shoe (or their newly engineered more flexible/lightweight version).

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OHAI PRETTY SHUEZ

I see a couple of pairs of saddle shoes thrown in the mix and, though most modern associations are with the 1950’s, the saddle shoe’s popularity boomed in the decades prior to the 1950’s, as well.  Most saddle shoes I see today have a crepe sole, which isn’t my favorite for dancing, but Re-mix carries them with a leather sole.  I’d consider giving this Restricted pair from ModCloth a whirl because they have leather interiors (for my sensitive feet), what appears to be a flat synthetic sole, and because the blue/brown color combo is awesome.   Then I go and find this yellow and white Chelsea Crew pair…I need to stop while I’m ahead.

One of the dancers wears a pair of low heeled sandals with an ankle strap, akin to Saint Savoy’s Eden shoe or Chelsea Crew’s Nadia sandal – she’s also sporting them with some ankle socks, which may be part fashion-forward, part blister/sweat management.

Finally, one dancer has some classic leather oxfords on, which previous discussions on my blog have covered everything from buying them used at thrift stores to getting your first pair of Aris Allens to splurging for a pair of Allen Edmonds (or finding them used on eBay).

To recap: classic dance shoes of your choosing, socks, comfy pants/skirt, signature tee shirt, optional undershirt/collar/scarf action.  One might say this is not too far from what we are wearing on the dance floor today.  Now, time to go practice the second half of the Big Apple that I never seem to remember….

 

 

 

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Keds Celebrates 100 Years

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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According to Wikipedia, Keds as shoes were introduced by the U.S. Rubber company in 1916, so 2016 marks 100 years of canvas on rubber athleticism.  Through the decades this classic shoe has remained a constant, falling in and out of fashion, but seems to be prevalent and lasting in the Lindy Hop community as a staple shoe.  Its efficient shape, versatile rubber sole, and array of colors help continue that legacy, whether they are selected to be “period-appropriate” or just a reasonably-priced dance shoe.

I got an email in my inbox celebrating this anniversary and touting three new collections, inspired by the 1940’s, 1970’s, and 1990’s – the 1940’s shoe is an espadrille in a washed cotton, a nod to both casual elegance and a worn, vintage look, as though these shoes had been washed and loved for years.  The colors available are spot on for the 1940’s – a patriotic navy, classic white, and coral that was so popular during the 1940’s.

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Keds Kate Spade Champion in Glitter

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This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Thanks to Megan Bowen of Lindy Hop Problems for posting about these great glitter Keds, a collaboration with Keds and Kate Spade. If you’re worried about dancing in heels for New Year’s Eve, why not grab a pair of these glitter Keds and you’ll still sparkle in flats. Or wear them all the time and make everyone smile. 🙂 Available in navy, gold, black, silver, multi-pink, and rose gold glitter.

Artsy Toes on Etsy, aka Mike the Girl Creates Artful Dance Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

A New Orleans-inspired pair of Keds.

A New Orleans-inspired pair of Keds.

“Let your shoes live up to your dancing. Send me your shoes, and I’ll turn them into art that represents you. Send me a conversation, to get the ball rolling on your inspiration and preferences, then purchase through the Etsy shop.”

It’s just that simple! Blues instructor and DJ Mike “the Girl” Legenthal will take your plain, canvas dance shoes, or anything from “formal shoes to steampunk coats to home decor” and make it all about you after some design consult with you about who you are and what you’d like to see on your item. I love the idea of decorated canvas shoes – I have a pair of Vans slip-ons that a tattoo artist friend drew pin-ups on for me – and I was excited to see that Mike is offering to do this, with an obvious focus on the swing dance community. You can purchase through her Etsy shop, but the bulk of her work is on display on the Artsy Toes Facebook Page. Check it out and enjoy her wonderful, whimsical shoe designs!

Get some Savoy style!

Get some Savoy style!

Lindy Shopper’s Favorite Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The most common questions I field in person and online are about dance shoes – this is our one essential piece of “equipment” or “gear” (since street shoes are only occasionally made in a way that they can be an option), so it stands to reason that shoes would be the primary topic of discussion about what we put on our bodies when we dance. I’ve written about swing shoes before for Atomic Ballroom, but that was over 3 years ago, so it’s probably time for an update. Instead of doing another overview, I’m going to write about my favorite dance shoes of the moment – my go-to shoes for a variety of situations and ones that I would recommend to others. I’m also going to photograph them so you can see how much they are loved.

#1 – The weekly dance: Re-Mix Balboa

This is my main shoe right now – gold goes with almost everything and these are so nice and broken in that I just can’t pass them over. They are my most flexible pair and, with a low heel, are ideal to transition back and forth from Balboa to Lindy Hop/Charleston. The addition of a gel pad at the ball of my foot has combated any discomfort for lack of shoe padding. They are starting to look pretty bad because of so many people stepping on the toes, but a gold Sharpie is helping to keep up appearances.

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#2 – The dance where I wear a vintage dress: Nina Gilkenson‘s 1940’s Red Cross Mesh and Leather Oxfords/Dancestore.com Mesh Oxford

I bought these shoes years ago at Lindy Focus from Nina’s mom, Laurie Gilkenson, who was cleaning out some of Nina’s vast vintage shoe collection. I was told that they were the model for Dancestore.com’s mesh oxford, which explains also why I love that shoe so much, as well (but the original is still my fave). The leather on these shoes is so broken in, the sole is the perfect consistency, and the mesh keeps things cool and flexible. They are very worn and the polish has come off the heel and I don’t care. This is another wonderful 2 inch heel that’s great for a dance where you have to do everything – it’s a bit thicker than the Re-mix Balboa heel, so if I’m stepping into uncharted dance territory, I’ll opt for the thicker heel. This is also me advocating for wearing vintage shoes for dancing – they don’t have to be in pristine cosmetic condition. If the shoe is still solid structurally and fits, wear it!

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#3 – The dance where there is no Balboa: Aris Allen Mary Jane wedge

I am sad that these are no longer in production (except in brown), but this is my lazy comfort shoe – I am so used to wearing heels when I dance that the wedge is as low as I usually like to go, but I do appreciate the groundedness of full contact with the floor. Stability is key here. If I wore these for long, they would rub and leave blisters on my heels, so I added some Pedag leather heel grips, which solved the problem.

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#4 – Practicing solo jazz OR Lindy Focus Day 4 late night: Keds

When I am working on solo jazz movement or routines, I want to start out not worrying about my personal balance or lines or anything other than focusing on basic movement and learning. I do have personal balance issues and, when I don’t have another person to help with that, I tend to want to be in flats. I also have my limits with heels and anything longer than a regular dance weekend just makes my feet want to give up. I would probably wear Keds more often, but my heels slip out of them and I have to wear thick socks with them to keep them on, so vanity and convenience can sometimes override my dance shoe selection.

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DIY Wingtip Keds

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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One of the first things on my Facebook feed this morning was a photo of a pair of red and a pair of green wingtip Keds, made by St. Louis dancers Beccy Aldrich and Kayce Maureen. I love a DIY project and the shoes were so adorable I couldn’t resist posting them here.

They got the idea from Pinterest, which linked to this site in a language unknown to me. However, the photographs take you step by step through the process so you can make a pair of your own! Beccy adds that they used fabric pens to create all the patterns on the shoe, and supplemented with white fabric paint to highlight the dots in the brogueing. We’re not sure what the turquoise pen is in the photo.

If you’re going to Lindy Focus, you’ll get to see the green pair and red pair in person – nice job, ladies!

Dance Shoes for Wide or Narrow Feet

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

My most recent article for Yehoodi:

If there’s one thing we need to wear as dancers, it’s appropriate and comfortable footwear. Shoes that fit you well can make a positive difference in your dancing; conversely, shoes that are ill-fitting can negatively impact your dancing and potentially cause health problems. So what do you do when you can’t find a pair of shoes that fits because of the width or shape of your foot?

I’ve had a couple of requests about dance shoes for irregular feet widths, specifically dance Keds and Balboa shoes. While I wear a regular width shoe, I just barely missed the genetic gift of narrow feet from my father and paternal grandmother, who both have very narrow feet (Granny wears a AAAA). Finding narrow shoes in retail stores seems to be an extinct possibility for them, so both of them have had to order shoes from catalogs that offer narrow and wide width shoes. This can get pretty expensive, considering my dad had to wear a suit and dress shoes every day to work and my grandmother loves to dress up.

However, these shoes do exist! I’ll start with the Keds, because that is easy – Keds makes narrow and wide widths of their Champion Oxford, the quintessential Lindy Hop shoe of the past few years. Keds makes them in AAAA (super narrow), AA (narrow), B (medium), D (wide), and EE (extra wide) widths. You are a bit limited in the colors available, but the classic white and black are there, as well as navy, blue, red and tan.

The process to get them to dance shoes is the same – buy Keds and either glue the suede/leather sole them yourself or take them to a cobbler to be sueded/leathered.

You can buy the different widths from the Keds website, but I found that finding the different widths was easier and they were cheaper on the Maryland Square website (which is the catalog my Granny uses). Also, the EE width did not appear to be available on either website, but was available in the paper catalog, so if you are looking for this width you will probably need to place a phone order with Maryland Square.

Men, you can have these in two-tone or one color, with 13 different colors to choose from.

My suggestion for different widths of Balboa shoes and for men looking for an oxford for dancing is to buy a custom pair of tango shoes. Tango shoe makers tend to offer vintage-inspired styles of shoes and will create a custom pair for your feet using actual measurements of your feet. The cost is more than a pair of Aris Allens, but generally less than a pair of Re-Mix Vintage Shoes. I ordered a custom pair from Mr. Tango Shoes a few years ago and had a very positive experience. The fit of my custom shoes was unparalleled. On top of the width/shape, you can also customize the colors in both two-tone and mono-tone, the heel height and width/shape, the type of sole, the arch support, cushioning at the ball of the foot, and whether or not you want a platform. Another friend has had a good experience ordering custom shoes from Guaranteed Fit Tango Shoes.

Kind of digging this pair from Mr. Tango Shoes, maybe with a silver metallic and a wider, shorter heel

If you have narrow feet, the vintage shoe world is your oyster. I would encourage you to look for vintage shoes on eBay and in vintage stores. Always ask whoever is working in the vintage store if they have narrow shoes because they don’t always put them out, and ask your local vintage store to be on the lookout for your size – often, stores will turn down shoes that are narrow because they don’t believe they will sell. Let them know you are the person who will buy these shoes!

Also, if you have wide or narrow feet and have found something that works for you, please feel free to share your experience or source here – I know there are others who would like to have this information. 🙂

1930’s Athletic Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

File this under curious goods, as I’m not sure these shoes are in a condition to be worn. First we have two pairs of Keds, but these Keds are not your everyday canvas dance shoe – the first pair looks a bit like a pair of Chuck Taylors, made with leather accents and some traction on the rubber soles. The second pair is a pretty straightforward pair of canvas high tops, but with a dress heel instead of a flat rubber sole. Interesting…

Finally, this same seller, who found these old athletic shoes at an auction for a shoe store that had closed in the 1930’s and was finally liquidating its inventory, has a pair of “Ball-Band” rubber soled sneakers, which look like an elegant hybrid between a pair of Chuck Taylors and a pair of two tone cap toed oxfords – very cool! I’d like to see this style in reproduction.

The "Ball Band" athletic shoes

Dead stock 1930's Keds

Keds with heels!

Keds Saddle Sneakers

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Given the number of people searching for “saddle shoe sneakers” on Google (which get directed to my post about said sneaks from last year), I had to post the Keds verson of saddle sneakers I ran across today at ModCloth.com. The are slightly different, with the classic, slimmer Keds shape and scalloped detailing that’s a nod to brogueing. Nice!

Delia*s Makes Me Wish For Summer

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

As most of the United States is blanketed with snow and ice, the Delia*s catalog arrives in my mailbox, bearing good tidings of warm weather that we won’t see for a few more months. I see cork soled wedges and sundresses and I want the temperature to go up 40 degrees so the sheet of ice covering my driveway will evaporate and I can emerge from the cocoon of winter coats into the warm glow of a summer sun. Is that too much to ask for?

Delia*s is one of those stores/catalogs that I think most people associate with teenagers, but every year I find something in the Delia*s catalog that becomes that thing that everyone asks, “Where did you get that? It’s so cute!” It’s definitely worth a look. Here’s a preview of some good things to come from Delia*s:

Polka dot dress, only $44.50

Nautical stripe knit dress

Polka dot short

Yellow polka dot bikini - hehe

Two tone oxford, also in black and white

Peep toe espadrille flats, also in navy

Yang wedge, in 4 colors...not danceable, but we still need arrival shoes, right?

A more danceable option, Keds Champion Oxford in silver, also available in metallic blue

Spring cleaning

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It’s that time of year where some of us (myself included) feel compelled to rid ourselves of the trappings of winter, of items that don’t fit anymore, or items that are simply not being worn. In that vein, my pal and swing dance Wonder Woman Kristy Milliken (seller ID rhythm.is.my.business – indeed!) is selling some stylish castoffs from her closet on eBay, all with free shipping so you don’t have to do that extra calculation in your head. Here’s what she’s listed:

Stop Staring! black and pink dress

Aris Allen satin t-strap shoes, size 8.5

Keds champion slip-ons, size 8 - new in box!