You can thank the magic of Facebook for alerting me to this shopping opportunity – I believe I saw that Valerie Salstrom had commented on a particular tee shirt image and voila! I found Dean Velasco’s home grown swing tee shirt shop, where you can message Dean on Facebook for one of his clever swing dance themed tees.
I showed one of the tees to my husband, who said “I might like one of those,” so I bit – commerce through Facebook commenced and I learned that Dean did have a “slightly outdated” website that did not have an ordering system, but does allow the general public to view the tees. Dean sells mostly to friends and via Facebook, but right now it’s just a hobby. We all have 2 or 3 streams of income, right? Right. If things pick up, perhaps Dean can find a distributor for his wares, but for now he’s keeping things in the community.
The shirts are available in unisex sizes, S to XL in black and navy blue, and a few black XXL. The ladies shirts are available in S to XL in black and navy blue. $15.00 a pop ($17.50 for XXL) plus shipping.
My Baby Jo announced the arrival of their new 1940’s-inspired blouses, that are the epitome of lady-like (“Veronica” and “Simone” to be exact). I knew as soon as I saw the photo exactly what they were – I have a 1940’s coral blouse of the same vein that I picked up from Dolly’s Vintage a few months ago thinking, “Here’s something I haven’t seen a lot.” It looks like My Baby Jo was on the same page, only they did something about it! This blouse is fitted, with lovely buttons down the back, and metallic stud detailing. It’s just begging for a high-waisted skirt! Available in black, red, blue, and brown.
I have anticipated checking out Alexandria’s Amalgamated Classic Clothing and Dry Goods since April, when I heard of its opening shortly prior to DCLX and the wonders that awaited me – rumors that the owners have a warehouse where items are pulled for Hollywood movies, that the inventory has real swing era stuff, GOOD stuff, and I was salivating. As I ditched the Saturday afternoon DCLX dance to head over to Alexandria I got a text message from Bill Speidel that the shop was closed. Oh, the disappointment!
Thankfully, I had already planned to attend the International Lindy Hop Championships in August, so I knew I’d get a second chance. I messaged the store’s Facebook page a few days prior to the event to make sure that they would be open and should I send my measuremnets. The answers were yes and yes, and I was elated.
I planned to go on Friday of ILHC and at the Thursday night dance I met Beth Midavaine, who had also planned to take a trip to Amalgamated with Bill Speidel, but Bill had bailed on her, so it seemed that fate would have it that we go shopping together. We headed to Amalgamated the next day with Jason Sager and arrived at the store at noon on the dot. The store was closed. I was frantic. We went next door to a knick knack store owner, who didn’t know why the shop wasn’t open. As we regrouped on the sidewalk, the door opened to Amalgamated and it was, after all, open for business. *phew!*
It took us three hours to get through everything in the store and try on the rack of clothes that Beth and I accumulated through our collective digging through the store. The store itself is small is square footage, but packed with everything good – there was no small rack where the few swing era items were delegated – the entire store was pre-1960’s, so 100% of their inventory was everything that you would want to see in a vintage store. It was glorious! The men’s section rivaled the women’s section in size and magnificence (who has an entire rack devoted to two tone Ricky Ricardo jackets?) and a men’s shoe section that took up an entire table, and included children’s shoes (tiny leather and mesh oxfords!). Owner Shelley White took us through boxes in the back room filled with delicate 1920’s beaded dresses, there were racks of glorious dresses and gowns, plus some very practical items that would be perfect for dancing. The women’s shoes had a good selection of larger women’s sizes, which was great for Beth, who picked up a pair of fantastic 1940’s heels.
I don’t think words or photos will do this place justice, so you’ll just have to go and see for yourself. Until then, check out some of our finds below:
At last August’s Jazz Age Lawn Party I happened upon a booth for the upstart men’s clothing company The Original Prohibition Clothing Company and reported on some of the most beautifully tailored men’s clothing I have seen in person. The company’s owner and designer, Corey Miller, sent me an email last week to let me know that the website was now open for business and that their offerings are expanding and continue to expand (including expanding into women’s dandy-wear – paging Sam Carroll…)
While I don’t talk a lot about tee shirts on this blog, it’s a fact that most dancers wear tee shirts dancing most of the time, especially men. Corey has noted this and when he “looked around at most of the dance tee shirts, they identified your love for dance, but the shirts themselves weren’t lovely.” I like the way this man thinks – to add to the small pool of Lindy Hop merchandise available to us, TOPCC is now offering two tees – one for “Fearless Follows” and another for the “Solid Sender.” The design on the tees is certainly lovely, with vintage styling and iconic silhouettes. Now that I am the proud owner of a Fearless Follow tee, I can attest to the fact that this is one of the softest tee shirts I own – it will be a delight to wear!
While you’re at TOPCC website, you should absolutely look around – there are fabulous things here, too fabulous, really. I pretty much want to buy everything here for my husband to wear! Impeccable jackets, Hollywood trousers, wonderful vests, variations on the collared shirt, newsboy caps, and even men’s ties in a Tommy gun pattern (to continue the theme – cheeky).
And thanks to Corey for designing with the swing dance community in mind – a rare thing, indeed!
Every once in a while I will come across an eBay seller that I can’t quite figure out – does the seller make the clothes? Hand-knit the sweaters? Is this small batch, but manufactured? How can they sell these garments at such good prices?
I came across eBay seller qbiffa’s store when one of their lovely reproduction 1940’s sweaters popped up in one of my searches. I saw that the sweater, which was not in my size, could be ordered in other sizes and, to my delight, there were many other colors and styles of these little short sleeved sweaters available. Then I saw wide leg pants for men and women, men’s button down short sleeved shirts, and 40’s repro jackets, with nothing costing over $120.00. Even better, the seller posted a photo of the original pattern for the sweaters and men’s items, so you can see the origin and maybe get some ideas about what to pair each garment with and how it would have been worn.
The items show can be made in different sizes and colors, simply contact the seller if the item you like is not in your size or colors. 🙂 I wonder why this particular seller picked eBay, it seems like Etsy might be a better forum for this kind of transaction…
I considered this find so good, I almost waited to post until after I bought what I wanted from the store…but there were too many things I wanted and I was too excited! Here are my faves:
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!
File this under unisex: I found a great sailor suit this morning on eBay, advertised as World War II-era, and in a small men’s size with the signature 13 button pants that make everyone (male and female) look like they have an amazing bum. Obviously, this was originally a man’s uniform, but I love that they have a woman modeling it. 🙂 It’s also labeled as being in perfect condition, which is pretty amazing. My only complaint is that it is without rank, but perhaps one could go to your local Army-Navy store or eBay and find some period-appropriate insignia? Still adorable!
Portland-based repro maven Jitterbuggin is running a Facebook promotion where YOU could win $100 in Jitterbuggin merchandise. You want this $100. How can you enter to win?
From the Jitterbuggin website: “This is a very special gift certificate! It will be given away FOR FREE when the Jitterbuggin Facebook Page reaches 1,000 likes! Once the page is at 1,000 we will publish a post that you can comment on to enter to win. We will number the comments in the order they were received and enter them into a random number generator to declare a winner.”
As I’m writing this post, the Jitterbuggin Facebook group sits at 786 fans – an impressive feat! But to get 1,000 fans we’ll need you to “Like” the Jitterbuggin Facebook page, maybe get your friends to “Like” it as well. Once the 1,000 mark has been reached, then (and only then) will it trigger the post for the giveaway. Now that you have your homework…go forth and Facebook “Like,” and check out the goods at jitterbuggin.com!
I’ve been following Allure Original Styles for a while, from her initial offerings through eBay as seller buddhaboogie (which is still used to sell what appears to be samples), to a full-fledged Etsy store where you can purchase custom made reproduction swing era garments. Allure Original Styles distinguishes itself from other reproduction sellers by creating an extensive line of pants and complimentary blouses. The fabrics range from wool gabardine to light-medium weight denim, to cover both dressy and casual pants needs. I am probably most excited about having wide leg denim options – while I love to dress up, sometimes you have you wear jeans for more casual occasions and shopping for jeans is only a step above shopping for a swimsuit on the loathsome activity scale. What could be more comfortable for everyday wear than a pair of flattering wide leg lightweight denim jeans?
There are also some great dresses and other separates from the store. So much to love here…I might learn to love wearing pants again:
It’s already wonderful that the Eastern Balboa Championships is just a short drive away, but this year EBC really had the feel of a top notch swing dance event, brimming with a level of excitement and enthusiasm that is almost unrivaled. EBC already felt like a Balboa family reunion, bridging the gap between All Balboa Weekends, but this year it felt like EBC really came into its own as an event. The new hotel for this year’s EBC, the North Raleigh Hilton, provided a lovely ballroom space, a big hallway with chairs and tables for vendors, registration, and for hanging out, and there were no shortage of extra rooms for practice space. There were competitions for everyone and I am proud of the newer Raleigh/Durham Balboa dancers, some of them only dancing Balboa for a few weeks prior to the event, taking the challenge head on and entering their first amateur competitions.
This year, EBC grew from one vendor to four vendors. The solo repeat vendor, and one that is near and dear to my heart, is the Vintage Collective (Andi Shelton, Claire Villa, and Laura Churchill Pemberton), who paid attention to what was bought and who purchased it last year, then went out to their sources to find even more of these vintage goods that swing dancers wear. The result was four large racks of clothing from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, both men’s and women’s apparel, three tables of accessories, and a giant shoe rack. The Vintage Collective was only set up for one day, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and I was there with my fellow vintage poachers at 9:00 sharp, freshly rolled out of bed and ready to commence with the hunt.
I intended to go grab the goodies I wanted, then go back to bed, but it was so exciting trying on clothes with my friends and choosing outfits for people that it was lunchtime before I knew it. I think Rita Shiang got my two favorite dresses of the day – a 1930’s sailor dress with red trim and a 1940’s brown floral rayon dress with amazing draping and a fishtail attachment in the back, you know, for sass. Again, I forgot to take photos of all this good stuff until the end of my shopping visit, I got so wrapped up in the experience…
Next, we have Dancestore, the anchor vendor of any major swing dance event and one that is continuously welcome, as they continue to provide reasonably priced, reproduction dance shoes that are essential to any swing dancer’s wardrobe. At one point, Frankie Hagan stopped dancing and came up to me to show me that his heel had come off his shoe. About 10 minutes later he came back up to me to show off his new pair of Aris Allen cap toes. THIS is only one of the great reasons to have a shoe vendor at your event. Another is to be able to actually try on the shoes to ensure a good fit. Then, at the dance on Sunday night, Kara Fabina announced that Dancestore would be selling their entire inventory at the event for 40% off for the next 15 minutes. YES!!! There was a rush to purchase the discounted shoes and even I decided to replace my pair of white mesh oxfords that I had danced a hole through the toe – at 40% off, how could you not?
Creations by Crawford is Sharon Crawford’s name for the hair flowers, fascinators, boutonnieres, and other clothing ornamentations she makes. I was a bit confused when I saw Sharon’s vendor space, as there were a few items for sale, but it mostly looked like a craft studio, with supplies everywhere. Then Bill Speidel showed me his boutonniere and explained that Sharon had made it custom to go with his outfit. I looked over and Sharon confirmed, as she furiously sewed together one of her creations for a customer. This is a new approach and one that can work at a weekend event – you have a bit of a captive audience if the shopper is there for the weekend, why not make something to go with what they are wearing if they have the time to wait? By the end of the dance you can have a custom piece that you know will work with something you have.
Finally, we have Vintage Visage, the brainchild of Kathryn Meyer, who had a fantastic display of vintage-inspired hats and accessories for sale, including hair flowers, fancy gloves, hats for ladies and gents, and the ever essential fan. Whoever has the foresight to sell fans at dances is always tops in my book. If you are looking for Kathryn and her wares after EBC, she is a regular vendor at Richmond’s Second Saturday dances.
And that about wraps it up for another great year at EBC! Here are some supplemental photos of the vendors:
In honor of my trip to visit Knickerrocker this weekend and DJ at his and Bill Speidel‘s monthly dance event, The Southside Stomp, I decided to profile golfknickers.com, purveyors of men’s and women’s short pants, fancy socks and other classic golf attire. Arguably, if these knickers are made for a sport, wouldn’t they also be ideal for dancing? I’d like to think so.
Golfknickers.com has a clear purpose: “We specialize in our full line of men’s plus fours or golf knickers (knickers). To complement the knickers our company has a full line of matching socks, caps and shirts; allowing us to deliver the complete outfit to our customer. Our customers’ include Corporations, Golf Courses (outfitting Staff and Patrons), School Golf Teams, Tournaments and avid golfers around the world. We are committed to growing the game of golf by encouraging players to wear the game the way it was meant to be played.”
The way it was meant to be played. I’m already a fan – promoting dressing well and in a classic way is just what we do on this blog, as well. 🙂
Now for the goods! Just about everything on this site is vintage inspired and could be worn at a dance. Obviously the knickers are the highlight, with the men’s models in 20 colors of microfiber gabardine and cotton/linen, 6 plaids in cotton/linen, 4 plaids in a wool blend, and some models with matching caps. The microfiber knickers are a steal at $69.95. Ladies can choose from 6 colors and 3 plaids (although shouldn’t they be offering some lovely 1920’s-inspired golf dresses and cloches, a la Jordan Baker? *sigh*)
Having trouble deciding? Golfknickers.com anticipated that the unlimited combinations could be overwhelming, so they have collections of ready to go outfits, that include knickers, shirt, sweater vest, socks and cap already expertly matched – just pick a color. If you’d like to create your own look, but aren’t sure how the pieces will look together, the site offers a virtual model where you can try different color combinations.
You could be dressed up like a million dollar trooper this holiday season in this fantastic 1930’s tuxedo, available on eBay from seller catalpa1961 with a starting bid of only $9.99! I do wish the seller had pressed the tuxedo and shirt before taking the photos, but you’ll have to imagine it after a pressing. Even with wrinkles, it’s easy to see that this tuxedo has some wonderful detailing, like the satin lapels, satin stripe down the leg, double breasted coat and vest, and, my favorite detail, checkerboard satin covered buttons on the coat and vest. This tuxedo has the rare added bonus of a period Arrow tuxedo shirt in good condition. Just add socks, shoes, studs, and cufflinks and a bow tie and you’re fit for any fête.
My Baby Jo has a little bit of everything to help you embrace your inner pin-up girl, and some essential menswear clothing and accessories for the swing era gent. My Baby Jo has a retail store in Los Angeles, CA, but thankfully they also offer their excellent 1940’s and 1950’s-inspired clothing, shoes, and accessories online.
The website has a great selection of women’s dresses, swimwear, undergarments, hair flowers, jewelry, shoes, handbags, cosmetics and men’s jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, hats, pomade, ties, and vintage watches. The vintage men’s watches are especially good, with watches from the 1920’s through the 1950’s that look like they are in sturdy, wearable condition. Their swimwear selections feature the best of Esther Williams’ swimwear line. The site also offers some fun pieces that may fill gaps in your wardrobe or Halloween costume (like that Rosie the Riveter jumpsuit – where else do you find that?). They also have an extensive selection of men’s hats and hat-care items, including brushes and felt cleaner.
There’s so much goodness here, I’ll try to narrow down my favorites:
The cuteness is overwhelming at Time Machine Vintage’s Etsy store, which offers custom made (or if the sample fits, you can buy the sample) 1930’s through 1950’s dresses made from the seller’s collections of vintage patterns and vintage fabrics. The patterns and fabrics are adorable and whimsical, two things I love to have in a dress.
From the dressmaker extraordinaire: “If you’ve ever tried to find a great vintage cotton day dress in mint condition, you know it is damned near impossible. Women wore them until they fell apart! “Make do and mend” was the buzz phrase of the WWII era and it carried over to post war too. So adding decorative appliques and trims to hide imperfections, stains, rips and holes was the norm. In my creations you’ll often find those great little vintage touches even on fabric that is in perfect condition.
I prefer to use authentic vintage feedsack and cotton fabrics but I often default to vintage reproduction prints since there are so many great ones out there now. If I can, I use recycled metal zippers, antique buttons and vintage trims. Just doing my part to save the earth from all those thrown away metal zippers! So browse my pattern collection and choose a dress sample that has already been put together or convo me with a color choice or choices (or actual fabric you have seen or have in mind) and a pattern selection and I can make a dress or romper just for you in your size!”
She speaks the truth – finding vintage day dresses is extremely difficult. I generally want day dresses for dancing because they are more breathable and danceable than more formal dresses and fabrics. In looking at Time Machine Vintage’s offerings, just about everything looks like it should be ready to hit the dance floor.
Perhaps the best part of this Etsy store are the prices – items range between $40 and $100 for a custom dress made for your measurements, with most dresses in the $65-$90 price range. The fabric alone would cost you at least $40 if you went to a fabric store today and bought enough yardage to make one of these dresses. These dresses are a steal. Buy them quickly!