5-year-old Lindy Shopper is squeeing right now, because Re-mix Vintage shoes has added a number of purple shoes to its lineup – my favorite color as a child, second favorite to green now. I remember looking for purple shoes to wear with vintage for a long time and I did manage to pick up a couple of pairs, but nothing I could wear dancing, and Re-mix always had a couple of pairs (mostly multi-tone or eggplant), but nothing that really spoke to me until now, particularly seeing them all in a row. Let us take a moment and bask in the purple options in various heel heights and styles…
I have been counting down the days until February 1 since Royal Vintage Shoes made its announcement that they were taking pre-orders for their spring line on said date and showed previews of some of the most delicious new reproduction 1930’s shoes I have seen in a while – a golf shoe in kelly green and white (BE STILL MY HEART, also in brown) and a two tone 1930’s sandal (in blue/white and red/white). However, neither of these shoes have leather soles, so my intent was to go about my merry way, purchase these as street shoes, and not blog about things I felt it might not be OK to dance in, since our focus is on function AND aesthetics. But you should go look at their entire spring line because it is all beautiful!
Then I went to visit Royal Vintage’s parent company, American Duchess, which produces shoes from time periods prior to the jazz age, because I love historic costumes and I like to see what is out there. To my surprise, as part of their spring line of Victorian shoes, there was a lovely little flat two tone oxford with a leather sole called the Eliza. The uppers are houndstooth wool and leather and come in shades of black and brown. These shoes look so soft and comfortable, which is not something you can always say just by looking at a shoe. So if you’re in the market for flats, you can use these for modern swing dancing or your 1830’s-1860’s ensembles.
Pre-orders last through the end of February with shoes expected in April!
In the next installment of shoes Jenna Applegarth has recommended, a new company named Swivells appears to have their sights set on cornering the market on women’s oxford dance flats. I could not find a website for this company (which appears to be based in France), but the few photos and posts on their Facebook page were intriguing enough that I wanted to bring Swivells to everyone’s attention (particularly in light of Charlie Stone’s transition away from leather soles – we need more flats options!). Check out their Facebook page, like it, and stay tuned for updates on these candy colored oxfords.
As you may have read in a post earlier this week, I wept tears of infinite sorrow that there were no Simon James Cathcart spectators in my size that I could order through SJC’s wonderful summer shoe Kickstarter, BUT THROUGH THE MAGIC OF THE INTERNET I have spoken with SJC and he has offered to make this shoe available to us sizes 7-8 US women’s/sizes 5-6 US men’s/sizes 4-5 UK men’s (I wear a US women’s 7) on one condition: he needs 8 of us to back the shoe at each size in order for it to be cost-effective for the factory to produce this size as a part of this run.
I wasn’t sure if could rustle up enough support from people wearing these shoe sizes, but this is such a quality, unique shoe that I thought there might be enough lady dandies or gents with smaller feet that we MIGHT be able to pull this off. It can be any of the three colors, we just need 8 people to back the SHOE at each SIZE.
Can I find 16 people who love this shoe and need it in their lives? I know you’re out there!
A few more details on this marvelous shoe:
They are made by hand in Northampton (the shoe capital of England) on 1930’s lasts, so the shape is there from the start.
They will last a lifetime. How? They are “Goodyear Welted” (the gold seal of quality) which means as the soles wear out they can be easily replaced while the shoe remains totally intact.
The shoes are lined in soft calfskin for comfort, with a super comfortable cork footbed so your feet breathe.
They come in three gorgeous shades; Navy, Oxblood and Acorn – order whatever color you like, we only need 8 people to order a particular SIZE.
The real bargain here is they are going to be 2.5 times this price out in the real world and if we don’t do this, the real tragedy will be they will never be in our size. NEVER AVAILABLE TO YOU EVER AGAIN.
I keep seeing Simon James Cathcart pop up in my newsfeed and in Facebook groups and everything I am seeing is just fantastic, not only for classic menswear in general, but also for swing dancers. In September I blogged about his 1930’s jeans, something that dancers could wear for everyday and for a more casual dance look with or without vintage styling. All of his stuff presents as carefully crafted, quality goods and I am all about those things! How fancy is SJC? This fancy: “For the past 12 months SJC has been quietly delighting dedicated devotees and attracting new fans from far and wide with limited edition runs of hard to find, high-end, vintage inspired pieces. More than a brand, this is a movement made up of over 200 of the earth’s most discerning menswear’ collectors. Led by Simon James Cathcart we have moved forwards with the meticulous design and construction of otherwise unobtainable pieces.”
We’re here to talk about these glorious two tone spectators, which are presently being sold through a Kickstarter (only 23 days left!) along with some equally sweet reproduction boots. I’m going to lead with the fact that SJC has made these spectators in a wide range of sizes to fit both men AND some women (but not quite small enough for my feet *weeps*). UPDATE: My size, US women’s 7/men’s 5 and US women’s 8/men’s 6 will be available – read the post here and then select the Lindy Shopper reward to get these sizes!
But why Kickstarter?
“Your pledge is going to help fund the production, materials and tooling costs involved with bringing back to life these historical classics. In return, you receive footwear at easily half of the retail price and will walk away wearing hand-crafted pieces of British footwear history.”
The price for these spectators via Kickstarter is around $223 USD (depending on the exchange rate) and that’s only slightly more than Remix and less than those holy grail Allen Edmonds you’ve been eyeballing. Retail price is quoted at $600. JUST LOOK AT THEM, this is a beautiful shoe. I’m wiping away the drool from the corners of my mouth right now. And can we talk about how you can never find a good looking navy shoe? It’s kind of like the shrimp and grits rule, if the stellar navy shoes are on the menu, you get them.
To be clear, this is a summer shoe – the cream portions of the shoe are canvas, with the most of the rest of the shoe (including the lining) being made from leather. The canvas is treated with Scotchguard to prevent marks. Though, now I’m thinking of how cool it would be, once a pair of these did get scuffed up, to get an artists to custom paint the canvas portion of this shoe…a life and an afterlife!
I’m going to post a bunch of gorgeous photos of these shoes now – enjoy, and don’t forget that the Kickstarter ends soon!
Warm weather is here and I’m always on the lookout for men’s mesh inset oxfords because I believe they are immensely practical and neat. Here’s a few pairs, ranging from reasonably priced to a bit of a hit on your wallet:
In October I wrote aboutSaint Savoy, a dance shoe company that had just come across my radar. The owner, Rani Patricia, was kind enough to send me a pair of Saint Savoy’s Jitterdoll shoes to give them a test run and tell you about it here!
The Jitterdoll is a low-heeled oxford shoe – not quite a full oxford in terms of top of foot coverage, but definitely more coverage than a pump. The heel height is 3.5 cm/1.37 inches and the heel itself is of a substantial width, giving the shoe a balanced feel and appearance, which I find tends to be lacking in some shoes with lower heels. The Jitterdoll laces up, which could lend itself to some fun options with laces. The shoe features both brogueing and contrast trim, giving it a unique appearance, but the overall effect is subtle.
The best part of this shoe is the foot bed around the ball of the foot – there was ample room to acommodate my swath of toes, bone spurs, and bunions, with a soft interior, and a ridge at the base of the toes/top of the ball where everything just fit into the groove and felt supported. The leather sole at the ball of the foot was ample enough to take the pounding of a night of Lindy and Balboa, without sacrificing the feel of the floor. The heel height is just perfect to go back and forth between Balboa and Lindy Hop and I would recommend this shoe for people who are looking transition from flats to heels without making a giant leap.
Aesthetically, the shoes are very pleasing – I got a ton of compliments on the appearance of the shoes (I opted for the tan shoes with white brogueing and red piping, though that green pair is calling my name) and I think the idea of more subdued and detailed oxford is a brilliant idea. I also like that they are closed toe shoes – so many of my heels have an open toe and it’s nice to have the option of tights or hosiery in the winter without worrying about my toe pushing through my hose to freedom through the peep hole in my shoe, and also to avoid the hosiery toe seam poking out. We’re not always in the mood for fishnets, right? OK, maybe we are, but variety is the spice of life and these shoes are great, bare-footed, with fishnets, or with close-toed legwear.
The only downside of the shoes for me was that my heel slipped out of the back, but I must explain that almost all of my dance shoes do this because I have a narrow heel. I noticed it the first night I took them dancing, so for the second dance night I added the Pedag heel grips and they stayed right where they needed to stay.
The Jitterdoll is a wonderful addition to our dance shoe options and I also think that they would make stellar street shoes, based on their comfort, style, and leather sole. Saint Savoy is offering free shipping worldwide, so if you’d like a pair of these under your tree (or as a treat to yourself), you’ll save a bit there. The Jitterdoll is available in black, early green, and the sand colored pair I received, which will be available soon. Quality construction, comfort, and a great low-heeled shoe for your dance shoe wardrobe!
I love a sale and I love it when I find new products tailored for swing dancers – here, we have Saint Savoy Dancewear, a swing dance company founded by Rani-Patricia Dirnhofer, a Vienna-based dancer who grew up in Spain and uses her connections there to collaborate with Alicante shoe manufacturers to create this line of men’s and women’s dance shoes – from oxfords to t-straps, flats to heels, brogueing to cutouts…there’s a lot of variety here! Additionally, Saint Savoy is running a sale until November 30, 10 Euros off any pair of dance shoes…
…but what about these shoes, you say? Let’s take a closer look:
It seems all dancers struggle with finding that perfect pair of shoes – Rani-Patricia shared this struggle: “While hunting for stylish dance shoes, we searched through countless websites from all over the world. The meagre array, several bad buys, and a lot of research brought us to the idea of starting our very own company.” What is remarkable is that people are actually doing this, starting companies and making these shoes – clearly there is a demand!
So if you could come up with a dance shoe company, what specs would you include? Saint Savoy touts the following:
– Sustainable production: “We hold the manufacturing methods of our products to high ethical standards, and select the materials used according to durability and sustainability. We proudly ensure that our shoeboxes are made from recycled paper, plastic packaging is minimized, leatherwork follows German PCP Regulations, and working conditions for our shoemakers are fair – more ways in which we join traditional and contemporary.”
Here are some favorites from the Saint Savoy line of shoes for men and women (ladies, note that there are flats and low heel options) – don’t forget to place your orders before November 30 to get the discount!
This tip came to me via a Twitter conversation with @RebeccaBrightly and @jonandcris about dance shoes, where @jonandcris noted that he “spent all last weekend at Paris Swing Workshop wearing @slideandswing & feet/legs/knees not sore at all.” A few clicks later and I was exploring Slide & Swing, a Barcelona-based shoe-maker/retail shop/online store, selling vintage-inspired shoes with a modern twist for dancers and muggles alike.
The shoes are available in men’s and women’s sizes, focusing on three classic styles – an oxford, a saddle shoe, and a wingtip. What makes these shoes a modern update are the clean lines and the available colors and color combinations. The clean lines are essentially created by the absence of broguing and the smooth, clean look of the leather. The colors update the look even further, with gray as their baseline (in lieu of black) and vivid, distinct colors/combinations like a royal blue and white saddle shoe for women and an oxford in canary yellow for men.
I’d also like to note that these are great flats options for women (which always seem to be in short supply), with construction that will keep these on your feet and some nice color options that are different from our usual standbys. With all leather construction and their fresh take on the classics, Slide and Swing dance shoes look like a viable option for dancers seeking shoe options that are created with dancers in mind.
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.
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.
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!
#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.
#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.
“I purchased these shoes to wear at the “big dance” we attended after taking dance lessons. They were never worn for practice and when I wore them at the dance I wore street shoes until inside. They are in perfect condition. I got a new girl friend and so I don’t have to dance any more!! Shoe trees shown in the picture are not included.”
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure? 😉 Bless his heart…
Another pair of dance shoes priced to move! Aris Allen Red Velvet Oxfords, size 7.5, starting bid $5.99. The shipping is a little steep at $18.35 *ahem* for Expedited mail, but perhaps you could convince the seller to ship at a lower/slower rate. I just sent Lindy Dandy a box of goodies to Kabul and it didn’t cost half that…anyway, bid away and don’t forget to message the seller about the shipping and perhaps some more details about the condition of the shoes.
I first heard of American Duchess from my fellow blogger Beth Grover at V is for Vintage – I was excited that another reproduction shoe company had come along to give us more options for dance shoes, even customizable options via dye/paint. American Duchess focuses on earlier eras of women’s footwear and, until now, their latest time period of footwear offered was the 1920’s.
The Claremont is American Duchess’s 1930’s oxford, done in classic fashion – not too fussy, with elegant details. Available in black and brown (for pre-order right now), suede with patent leather accents and a 2 3/8 inch heel. The pre-order price is $115, $20 less than what you will pay when they are in stock…or, you could win a pair for free in the giveaway they are having right now. 🙂
I haven’t done a post about Aris Allens on eBay in a while, but if you aren’t doing regular searches for these shoes, then here are some great deals for some used, some barely worn, dance shoes on eBay:
Still basking in the afterglow of All Balboa Weekend, the Balboa Mecca that occurs every year in Cleveland, Ohio. It is a hub for so many things I love – good dancing, good music, good vintage shopping, good company, and good cupcakes. I left with a full heart and a shopping bag full of goodies – it was like Christmas!
My first stop in Cleveland, per usual, was Sweet Lorain, the vintage department store where I seem to have the most luck finding things in my size. I was greeted at the door by the owner, Redwin Lewis, who remembered me from years past (and possibly phone orders – yes, you can call them back if you decide later that you really want/need something you saw, even 6 months later the item may still be there!) and we chatted about high school reunions and all the films (THE film being Captain America) shopping at his store. I was on a mission for a full slip with some sweet details and Sweet Lorain did not disappoint, with two full racks to choose from.
On a personal note, I was ecstatic to find a red plastic beverage pitcher at Sweet Lorain, perhaps circa 40’s/50’s, that I have been seeking for the past decade or so – when I was in undergrad I picked up a plastic yellow pitcher from Target that looked vintage, with some sweet Deco detail on it. I probably paid less than $10 for it. My dad saw it in my apartment and was immediately drawn to it, asking where I got it, and how much it cost. I told him that I had purchased it at Target several months ago and that it was out of stock. He was crestfallen – my grandmother had owned one during his childhood and he had always thought it was a great design, with a lid that opens when you tilt it and closes when it’s upright. Flash forward to ABW 2013, I was chatting with Redwin in the housewares section and my eye caught a flash of red in that distinct shape. It was the pitcher! I text messaged my dad a photo of it and he confirmed that he wanted it. Done! I look forward to “reuniting” my dad with his childhood pitcher this coming weekend. 🙂
My next stop was Chelsea Costumes, which I had somehow managed to miss on all prior visits to Cleveland. The sheer volume of square footage packed literally floor to ceiling was overwhelming in a way that only a disorganized Goodwill warehouse of great magnitude could rival. The racks were three tiers high, with the top two racks reachable by rolling staircases located on each aisle. Adding to the library feel of the place, the ends of the racks were labeled by decade range. I searched in vain for the early vintage clothing and had to ask where it was located – at the end of one of the 1950’s racks was a single rack with 1940’s clothing. I found a couple of items I liked, but they had fatal flaws (fading, shredding, etc.). I’d say it’s definitely worth a look, especially if you are into later decades, and it’s an absolute must if you are looking for menswear – I saw just about every size, shape, color, item, and a range of seasonal weights, with a massive selection. You do have to be a digger to make this worthwhile, but the prices are good and worth the dig.
Back at the hotel, ABW had an array of vendors, some new, some old, that filled up the hallway in front of the ballroom. The first vendor was The Cleveland Shop, with an array of clothing and accessories for men and women. Favorites included some divine shoes, a burgundy silk 1930’s gown, and every dress that went on the mannequin and immediately sold.
Next up was the ABW merchandise, which featured some cool shirts with stripes, a henley, and a girly slouchy tee with cool sleeve detail. This year also saw the return of the ABW shoe bag – I do love a shoe bag!
Moving down the hallway, the next vendor was the ever-popular Re-mix Vintage Shoes, with owner Philip Heath on hand to help all the men and women eager to try on their shoes. This year, they took advance requests from people for specific shoes and sizes, so if you wanted a guaranteed shot at trying on a certain pair in your size, you got that chance. I took advantage of this for my husband, who is sort of between sizes and needed another pair of oxfords. It also resulted in Re-mix bringing a number of pairs of wedges, which have never made it out to ABW, since we mostly dance “the Balboa” in heels. 😉
Bettie Page Clothing made its debut as a vendor this year, spearheaded by the lovely Shannon Butler, who is now the manager of the Bettie Page store at the Mall of America in Minnepolis, MN. Shannon brought another innovative way to make sure everyone got to try on the clothing and get the sizes they need – she kept a stock of the dresses, shirts, and skirts she brought as try-ons and once you decided what you wanted, she called the Mall of America store, placed your order, and it was shipped to you (sometimes that day!) free of charge. In addition to all the adorable clothing, she brought these great adjustable belts that are the perfect dress belt, for when that vintage dress comes without a belt or maybe you lost the belt or want to add a belt…regardless, good, skinny dress belts are hard to come by and these babies are only $10 and come in several handy colors.
Flower Child took up about half the hallway, with a wonderful display that moved from housewares and accessories, to jewelry, to several large racks of clothing at the end of the hall. Because Flower Child is made up of several vendors, there were a range of prices in the shop, and they definitely had the larges selection. Favorites included a 1940’s gold bathing suit, rayon Asian print pajamas, and an adorable dress with strawberry ribbon trim that came home with me.
Finally, Dancestore.com made an appearance with most of their line of shoes. I liked that they had a set of “try-on” pairs that you could put on and take for a spin during one dance. It helps you decide, cuts down on wear and tear of new pairs, and also gives you an idea of how they will feel once they are broken in. Great idea!
This year was probably the best year for vendors yet – many of the vendors are veterans at this point, they know their audience, and they only bring the best stuff as it pertains to swing dancers. I am elated that they continue to come out, year after year.