Lindy Shopper’s Closet Episode 5 is up – this week I’m talking about swing dance undergarments, everything from briefs to full slips, what to wear under your skirts and dresses. Tune in, subscribe, let me know if you have requests for future topics, and stay healthy, y’all!
I love finding interesting undergarments to wear under my dancing clothing, and I particularly love slips for all the reasons outlined in this earlier blog post. In perusing ModCloth I noticed a number of slips in lovely colors, both full slips and half slips, and they are certainly worth mentioning here. I like the idea of these brightly colored full slips doubling as a camisole for the top (perhaps with a V-neck or wrap dress), and the same color poking out under a twirly skirt when you spin. Here are some of ModCloths under-goodies:
One of my complaints, and one that I hear come up over and over, is that there are no really good slips being made, at least not ones that compare to vintage slips in terms of materials, function, and beauty. I always keep my eyes open at vintage stores for good slips – full, half, camisole, tap pants, whatever, just because the quality of these items is just far superior to anything I’ve purchased that was produced in my lifetime. But what if you didn’t have time to go to all the vintage stores?
If you need a gorgeous slip RIGHT NOW, The Slipperie on Etsy could be the answer. While the undergarments of yesteryear tend to be fairly plentiful, finding them all in one place can be difficult, and finding truly special ones (as with anything vintage) is even harder. I love that these beautiful undergarments are really meant to be worn, not just saved for special occasions. Add them to your dance wardrobe for a pop of color or lace with your twirl or swish (or other functions discussed in a prior post)…here’s what I love from the shop:
This is less of a field trip and more of a weekly lunch break ritual, usually on Fridays, to a destination two blocks from my office in downtown Durham, North Carolina – to Dolly’s Vintage, a confectionery of a vintage store that is more like a trip to Candy Land than a trip back in time. And, like the board game, Dolly’s is timeless, adorable, and nostalgic at the same time.
You can’t help but smile when you walk by the store, with its vintage bathtub flower bed and cheerful wooden sign welcoming you in. In fact, much of Dolly’s business is foot traffic now that the store has moved from a small space in Brightleaf Square to its expansive new location on Main Street. The store is like a magnet, drawing both men and women into its cheerful interior, with owner Jennifer Donner ready to welcome everyone with a smile and delightful conversation.
What’s inside Dolly’s Vintage? An array of vintage clothing and accessories, mostly ranging from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. The men’s section has a great selection of ties, sport coats, dress and casual button up shirts, tees, and some miscellaneous accessories, like tie clips and cufflinks. The women’s section is a rainbow of awesome dresses, slips, aprons, bathing suits, rompers, skirts, and tops – no losers here, even the 70’s stuff is adorable. A vintage dress will set you back $20-30, which makes it easy to feed the addiction. 😉
Dolly’s carries custom items, like crinolines and ruffled bloomers that Jennifer orders especially for the store, as well as adorable gift items (Hello Kitty, Pucca, Demeter fragrances, and a ton of cool stuff you’ll want to take home with you) and a candy table worthy of Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Jennifer also works with local tailors and seamstresses to mend and repurpose vintage items with flaws to sell in the store.
905 West Main St # 20G
Durham, NC 27701
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
After a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of finals at Twin Cities Balboa Festival, the undergarments Lindy Shopper wears dancing have taken on new importance; thus, a post was necessary. These are some of the least talked about clothing items, probably because we don’t normally see the undergarments and generally people compliment or comment on what they see. I like to pick out undergarments with a specific function in mind, but I find myself constantly seeking better function for dancing. I would love to hear what works and what doesn’t work for you and invite commentary on this blog, as I am still seeking the perfect bra and pair of underwear for dancing. Gents, feel free to chime in on your choices as well…I can only imagine.
A swing dancer’s underwear should stay put, provide full coverage for your bum, and generally not inhibit dancing. I see a lot of women with biker shorts under their skirts, which provide maximum coverage of bum and upper leg. I do not subscribe to the wearing of biker shorts, so I can’t comment on what products may work best for this, but I would caution against getting something that may be too tight or too supportive, for fear that the shorts will cause a ripple effect (which I have witnessed on the dance floor).
Another full coverage option is to wear a slip, which I discussed at length in an earlier blog post.
I sometimes wear cheerleading bloomers, which are made for jumping around, tumbling, and dancing, so the function translated well from sport to dance. I’m a big fan of Varsity’s products and their bloomers are comfortable, immovable, and indestructible (I’ve had mine since the 7th grade). They also come in a lot of fun colors, but be careful if you order white, because the only underwear color that won’t show through is tan/nude.
My newest favorite option, as of late, is a thicker cotton, wedgie-resistant version of the granny panty – full coverage underwear almost up to your navel. I got this idea after looking at the shape of bloomers, which are essentially the same as granny panties, only with bloomers you have two layers – your regular, less coverage undies and the bloomers. I thought, why not eliminate the middle man? Unless I’m doing aerials, I don’t necessarily need the iron-clad security of bloomers. Granny panties provide the same amount of coverage as bloomers without having an extra layer of polyester fabric; thus, they are more breathable and comfortable.
The search was on and I stumbled upon Hanes’ Low Rise Modern Brief with Comfort Waistband , with a “No Ride Up” money back comfort guarantee, in my local Target. While labeled as low rise, they looked pretty high rise to me. When I got them home and held them up they looked intimidatingly large. I had to laugh at myself when I first put them on to wear to a dance because they were so different from the norm. They were big, but they were also very comfy. I didn’t even notice them during the dance and I think that’s the point – it’s good to wear something you don’t have to worry about under your dress.
I am at a loss for what to recommend for a bra. Dancers need the support of a really durable sports bra, but often wear clothes that don’t work with the kind of full coverage that a sports bra provides. I am left looking for a bra that can still be worn with a V-neck dress that can keep the girls locked and loaded.
My malfunction at TCBF incited discussion about other malfunctions and both Sylvia Sykes and Nick Williams agreed that, for the guys, it’s always a good idea to match your underwear to your pants color. Your pants may still fit and not be too tight, but still rip at the seams if a particular dance move puts too much strain on the pants. If your underwear matches your pants, people may not even notice the rip, even if it’s a rather large rip.
If I had to pick one item that gets worn the most in my wardrobe, it would be my just-above-the-knee half slip. I wear a slip with almost every dress and skirt I own, save a few well-lined pencil skirts. Growing up, my mother would not let me leave the house in a dress or skirt without a slip on, or without passing the sunlight test: if I stood in front of the light and she could see the silhouette of my legs through the dress, the slip had to go on. At the time this was highly annoying – another layer of fabric? Over time I began to see the value of wearing slips, beyond just modesty.
The virtues of wearing a slip begin with the obvious, which involves sheer garments. Both vintage and new garments are made with sheer fabric. Most of the newer garments I come across may have a built-in slip or lining, adding dimension to the garment and showing off certain sheer areas, while covering others. Many vintage dresses that are sheer do not necessarily come with a slip or lining, either because of garment condition or, like me, the previous owner wore that particular slip with everything and it didn’t come with the dress. Insert full slip, half slip, and/or camisole under a sheer vintage dress and you have the desired look.
Beyond the obvious, why would you want to wear a slip? Here’s a list I brainstormed, based on my experiences:
Garment drape – I find that certain dress fabrics drape on your body better if you are wearing a slip. The slip creates a silky barrier so that the fabric does not stick to your skin, but falls as it was meant to fall, reinstating the flattering lines of the dress and facilitating the movement of the fabric.
Panty lines – thongs are sort of out of the question for swing dancing, so the remedy for panty lines under a tight skirt may be a slip.
Smooths out hips – I’m not talking about Spanx, I’m talking about the way the fabric falls over your hips. A slip can’t make your hips smaller, but it can help create a layer that smooths things out a bit so the fabric lays on the slip, not on your hip.
Prevents bunching – if you are an hourglass girl you may have encountered this problem: dress fits great, but as you walk, the fabric bunches up on the top of your bum or rides up in another unflattering way. This is usually a fabric problem, as the dress fabric catches on the underwear – a slip will usually prevent this kind of bunching.
Embarrassing moments – I’m thinking specifically of those occasions where I’ve been carrying a book bag while wearing a dress and, as I walk, the book bag collects the dress fabric and pulls it up between the bag and your back. Slip in place? Check!
Spins – You can wear bloomers or something to cover your bum more fully when you wear a full skirt for dancing, but what if you want to cover your thighs, too? Fat days happen and, while you may look fine, you don’t feel fine. On those days I will definitely be wearing a slip, as slips generally have enough give to be flexible for dancing, but won’t flare up when you spin.
Pretty and/or unobtrusive – slips can either disappear under your garments or become a featured part of your outfit (from underneath, of course). I usually go for the disappearing slip because they are generally thinner and highly functional; however, there are a lot of pretty, decorative slips out there that could be worn, with a hem sticking out or a bit of lace showing at the bottom of a V-neck dress, much like a tank or camisole.
Modesty – I still implement the sunlight test because I feel uncomfortable leaving the house in something slightly sheer. This is obviously a personal choice, do what makes you comfortable, but be aware of what may happen under bright lights or back lighting. 😉
Upgrade your outfit – A lined garment is almost always more expensive than an unlined garment. I love buying cheap dresses from Forever 21, but most of them are not lined. Wearing a slip gives the illusion of a lining and makes your garment look more like a quality piece of clothing.
Where do you find slips? Most of mine were hand-me-downs from my mother and grandmother, so go shopping there first!
In a pinch I usually find them at department stores. The most practical ones I have found are at J.C. Penney’s website, and it is the ONLY place I have found a full slip for a floor-length dress (not to say others do not exist, but I had 3 local department stores actually tell me that no one made floor length slips anymore). The J.C. Penney slips are great because they come in a long or just below knee length, but are hemmed with lace at three lengths so you can customize your length without having to hem the slip. Sometimes it’s hard to measure the dress and find the right slip for underneath, so buying one of these slips allows you to try it on with the dress, select the exact length you need, and cut off the bottom at the lace layer with scissors for the perfect slip.
I keep hoping more retailers like Victoria’s Secret will get on the slip bandwagon, but, for the most part, their slips are more akin to nightgowns or sexy decorated undergarments that would not be suitable to wear under clothing. That said, I have been in love with this slip for a while as a functional and beautiful option.
In my post about Leluxe Clothing I mentioned that Leluxe carries slips to go under their 1920’s reproduction beaded dresses; however, you could buy any of these slips to wear under other dresses. They are simple, elegant, and drape well.
Finally, a great place to find slips is your local vintage store. These slips usually have better lace/trimmings than the newer slips, but still have the same great function.