Tag Archives: solo jazz

Eshakti for Fall and at ILHC

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Classic shapes, flattering pleats, POCKETS

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.

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The Jazzabelles in coordinating Eshakti dresses.

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Vocalist Taryn Newborne in her custom Eshakti dress.

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!

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This dress is reading super 1930’s to me

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The bodice, the balloon sleeves, the little buttons at the shoulder – leave as is for dancing or maybe lengthen the hemline for a more 30’s-inspired day look.  Comes in more colors.

 

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This is going to be one of my go-to dance dresses – I customized by adding short puffed sleeves.  More color options on the website.

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Classic brown polka dot with lovely flat rushing at hips and matching belt.

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Y’all know I love a jumper…

 

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Jive Styles – Lindy Hop Tees

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Willamae and Leon!

Willamae and Leon!

On a tip from Kevin and Jo’s Facebook page, I stumbled upon Jive Styles, a retail website specializing in Lindy Hop themed tee shirts featuring the artwork of two dancing artists, Sarah Carney (said in my best Duke Ellington impression) and Michael Lombardi. Their cartoons of famous Lindy Hoppers in iconic poses, from Lucille and Frankie to Jo and Kevin, are fresh and adorable, as well as their wonderful original artwork. I see it as a continuation of our legacy as dancers in art, with a nod to Disney’s animation of Benny Goodman’s All the Cats Join In. The shirts are available in standard, soft, v-neck, and scoop neck styles, and a wide array of colors – check it out!

Solo jazz dancer and her shellac!

Solo jazz dancer and her shellac!

Field Trip: Hip Wa Zee and Gentleman’s Closet, Columbia, SC

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I attended the first ever Southeast Summer Brawl two weekends ago, a weekend of competitions for the Southeast held in Columbia, SC.  Having never been to Columbia, I was curious to know about vintage shopping there, as the South is notoriously bad for having vintage clothing (poor, rural us, right?), but then Columbia is the capital and just maybe there was something – organizer Nathan Clinebelle tipped me off to two places, a vintage clothing and costume shop called Hip Wa Zee and the Gentleman’s Closet, a store that sells consignment menswear and some new items.  My companions for this outing were Winston-Salem dancer Anna Bryant and my ABW shopping companion and newly outfitted Skyler Hinkel.

Hip Wa Zee proved to be a successful outing – the front of the store is a mix of vintage clothing and reproduction clothing and the back of the store is entirely rental clothing and costumes.  The store was cheery and organized and, while it lacked a large section of swing-era vintage clothing, the offerings it did have were swell.  Definitely a good place to stop in if you are going through or stopping in to visit Columbia!  I particularly enjoyed the selection of beautiful slips in an array of colors, as well as a gorgeous rayon print suit with a floating overskirt/long peplum and puffed sleeves.  Anna left with two gorgeous slips, Skyler with two ties, and I with a 50’s sundress and matching bolero, as well as a late 30’s tie.  We also ran into Clemson, SC dancer Ben White, who left with a sweet vintage sweater vest.

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Gentleman’s Closet was a consignment store full of menswear basics – shirts, suits, slacks, socks (new, not used), braces, belts, ties, shoes, just about everything you’d need to put together a wardrobe.  They also had the largest selection of seersucker suit colors I had ever seen (all new suits, pristine, in plastic dry cleaning bags), which I understand were in stock for Carolina Cup, a horse race held in Camden, SC – purple, yellow, orange, colors I have never seen made into a suit and I LIVE IN THE SOUTH.  We found Skyler a pair of brown oxford street shoes to go with his ABW clothes and newly acquired three piece navy pinstripe suit – can’t wear those Remix oxfords out in the street!

Enjoy the photos and be sure to stop in Columbia if you are in the South – these two stores are also in a very hip area of town, with fun restaurants and delicious coffee!

Seriously, THIS - but seriously, it was tiny.  We so wished it fit Anna, but sometimes we leave things on the rack when they are snug...

Seriously, THIS – but seriously, it was tiny.

Ben White: another Adam Speen achievement unlocked - one dancer at a time!

Another Adam Speen achievement unlocked – one dancer at a time!

Skyler's finds for the day at Hip Wa Zee

Skyler’s finds for the day at Hip Wa Zee

My sweet bolero and sundress...

My sweet bolero and sundress…

A viable suit option

A viable suit option

This is part of the costume section - I kind of like the idea of pairing these fluffy animal heads with vintage prom dresses, hehehehe

This is part of the costume section – I kind of like the idea of pairing these fluffy animal heads with vintage prom dresses, hehehehe

Men's accessories overflowing from the racks at the Gentleman's Closet.

Men’s accessories overflowing from the racks at the Gentleman’s Closet.

Skyler's shoe acquisition for the day

Skyler’s shoe acquisition for the day

So much seersucker, I couldn't fit it all in the frame!

So much seersucker, I couldn’t fit it all in the frame!

Portland Rhythm Shakers Costume

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I’ve written about costuming for team performance before, and I’ll reiterate that it’s no small task. Everyone has different body types, comfort levels, colors that work with their hair, etc. To add to the difficulty, perhaps a theme is integrated, and then we have this vintage dance form that we have adopted and it’s hard to find those more accurately vintage-inspired duds to compliment the music. Those who are successful in costuming a team have achieved a great feat, indeed.

I was delighted to see my friend Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies tagged on Facebook wearing an adorable vintage-inspired dance costume, along with the three other ladies – Rachael Ries, Mallory Teresina Freed, and Leah Bazzano – that make up the Portland Rhythm Shakers, a Portland-based 1920’s and 30’s dance troupe. The costume has everything I would want for a vintage chorus girl – a puff sleeve, an asymmetrical neckline (for enhanced visual effect in quadruplicate), a short and sassy skirt (to draw attention to footwork and legwork, plus twirl), and sparkles ALL OVER IT. Very Busby Berkeley and a nod to Killer Diller.

The costumes are from a dance costume company, Art Stone, which reminds me that not all of our clothing sources will come from streetwear – their jazz and tap costume catalog looked very promising, a great jumping off point for ideas for a routine. This costume is also a good jumping off point for the Portland Rhythm Shakers – they could use this costume for a lot of different routines, mixing in different head pieces, shoes and shoe accents, pin an applique to the shoulder, add a trim to the skirt, etc. to create different visual effects and themes using the same base costume.

Check out the costumes and the Portland Rhythm Shakers in action, they recently performed a routine to Glenn Crytzer‘s “Harlem Mad” at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon:

Sequin Queen

Kristen Minksy's lovely flapper-inspired costume

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

One of the biggest challenges for me this year has been finding costumes for The Carolina Fascinators, an all-girl jazz performance troupe that I organize. When I started thinking about costumes I contacted Casey Schneider of Sister Kate to find out where they had been finding costumes, because the Sister Kate girls always look so put together – and by that I mean, from head to toe, each girl looks like she is in a professional costume with a well-thought-out thematic that goes with the routine and the music. Casey agreed that this was not an easy task and that the Sister Kate girls were lucky to have some really creative and talented seamstresses in their ranks.

I’m no great seamstress, but I was determined to find costumes that would evoke the swing era and not fall prey to the “sexy” Halloween costumes or gaudy modern “jazz” costumes. Where do I find that Busby Berkeley-inspired costume today and not pay an arm and a leg for a custom costume?

I later ran into Kristen Minsky, of the Minsky Sisters, at an event she organized in Durham for her cabaret, Chifferobe. For one of her performances she wore a fully sequined dance costume that was very 1920’s and looked like it was custom made for her. In a way it was, and it wasn’t – she ordered it from Sequin Queen, an online retailer of sequin dresses and costumes, who have samples you can choose from, but then everything else, from the fit to the sequin color, is customized for your needs. If this looks like drag queen garb, that’s because it is (even RuPaul gave this place a nod on her show, Drag Race) – but if you push aside the Suzanne Sugarbaker pieces, you can find some gems here. The prices are amazing for custom, sequin dresses and some of the samples are made with a stretch base, to allow for less-restrictive movement. I’d love to see more sparkle in swing dance performances and I think some of these costumes would work well for performance teams as well as solo jazz and Charleston.

Here are some of my faves from Sequin Queen:

A more modest neckline, but keeping that 1920's look with the beaded hem

I like the boldness of the red and the contrast of the flower - I think this would show up well for a performance

Don't hang me for this one, but I could definitely see a circus themed routine using this costume

Shimmy and sparkle!

Add a strand of beads and t-straps and you've costumed your Charleston routine