Tag Archives: swing dance

Simon James Cathcart Review: Spectators and Deco Polo

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I had already backed the Kickstarter for the navy/cream spectators and ordered my Deco polo when I started to see the Simon James Cathcart apparel on others, first the polo on Nicholas Centino while vintage shopping in Cleveland for All Balboa Weekend, then on Glenn Crytzer on Facebook, and then on just about every vintage-loving gent I ran across in person. That the Deco polo was so prevalent and widespread so quickly speaks to its necessity. Vintage clothing isn’t always about being dressed up for fancy affairs, we want to look sharp in casual-wear, with all those nice vintage details that are missing from modern clothing.  Unfortunately, not a lot of vintage knitwear survived, so we’re lucky SJC decided to do something about it.

My navy spectator shoes arrived in the mail week before last, so of course I have gigs all weekend and then it rains all week so I can’t wear them. I had already seen their glory on Facebook, through SJC’s posts of customers who shared their first ensembles with these glorious shoes.  It was so inspiring that I couldn’t help but plan an ensemble of my own. Who am I kidding, I already had my outfit planned out, maybe three outfits…

The first sighting of the canvas and leather spectators in person on another person occurred at Classic City Swing in Athens, Georgia – a pair in acorn/cream on the feet of Augusta, Georgia dancer Keith Beckman. He came over to show them to me, I squeed a bit, he thanked me for posting about the shoes, and he had good reviews for their danceability – the leather sole is top notch, you can tell just by looking at it, but Keith was worried about the small rubber bit on the rear outside of the heel. What he discovered is that the rubber didn’t get in the way of his dancing, spinning, or sliding, but he could use the rubber as a stopper depending on how he distributed his weight. Of course they looked impeccable, I had already spotted him across the room in them before he came over to talk to me, because they are SHARP AS HELL.

I finally got to wear my navy and white spectators this Friday, with navy trousers and a striped shirt.  It didn’t take long to break them in and by the end of the day they felt comfortable, even though I had worn them at my standing desk all day and walked around downtown during lunch for about 20 minutes.  They are men’s shoes, but they fit well – my heel is a regular size, but the ball of my foot and toes can err on the side of wide and I had plenty of room in the toe box without feeling like I was wearing shoes that were too big for me.  I wear a 7 in women’s U.S. sizes and I took a size 4 in SJC’s U.K. men’s sizes.  I received several compliments on my shoes during my lunchtime walk and some dude in the parking deck was definitely checking out my shoes when I got out of the car that morning.

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On Saturday I went out to lunch at Monuts in my green Deco polo, which was perfect for a fall transitional day – it was a season-appropriate color and matched my 1940’s Wild West scarf, but it was also good for the weather, which was sunny and 80-something degrees.  It was comfortable and easy to dress down with jeans and Keds, but I have seen this paired with jackets for a more dressy look.  I really struggle with that sort of in-between look that so many Americans seem to gravitate toward, not dressy, but not too casual – it seems I’m either in a fancy dress or in my pajamas, so the Deco polo is filling a bit of that in-between niche in my wardrobe.  For sizing reference, I typically wear a U.S. women’s size 10 and I took an XS in the SJC polo.  I’ll leave you with this description of the polo from the SJC website:

“Beautifully tailored and made from the truly remarkable bamboo plant.  It is circular knitted in the old school style and thus very slubby giving the shirt a distinctly raw 1930’s look.  Super soft feel and at 230 grams these polos have a nice weighty feel about them.”

I am so pleased with my Simon James Cathcart purchases.  It’s important to remember that these items are limited batch specialty items and some are based on Kickstarter/pre-orders, so it doesn’t give you a lot of time to ponder, “Do I need this?”  The spectators and polo were an easy choice for me because I almost never find good navy shoes (much less vintage two-tone navy flats) or green shirts and these are things I want in my wardrobe. There are only the acorn/cream spectators left on the website and some of the Deco polo colors have sold out, so be sure to act swiftly to secure what you like.

I can’t wait to see what SJC comes up with next, he seems to have a knack for finding these “holy grail” vintage items and then reproduces them for us to enjoy today.

Band-Aid Friction Block Stick

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

61q39vbwavl-_sy355_Last month I attended the Jazz Age Lawn Party in New York and the first day of the event reached some of the hottest temperatures I have experienced in my life, with a heat index of 107 degrees Fahrenheit.  My already blister-prone feet were properly welted with blisters by the end of the day, after extreme sweating, ample dancing, and walking and metro-ing to get to wherever I was going.  My hosts, well-versed in foot ails after years of walking around NY and DC, presented me with a Band-Aid Friction Block Stick, which looks like a deodorant stick put through a shrink ray and the substance itself looks a bit like Crisco (but not greasy).  This wasn’t going to help my existing blisters, but was told it would help prevent the next day’s rub on fresh skin from a different pair of shoes.  I was willing to try anything at that point.

After a slightly lesser heat index the following day and with more dancing (Peabody!), I was happy to report that the friction stick appeared to have made a difference on my unblistered skin, keeping it blister-free throughout the day and preventing irritation with a different pair of shoes that had a different profile (oxfords I’ve worn a number of times –> never worn before by me secondhand Mary Janes).  I’ve since acquired my own stick and used it on shoes that I know rub, on occasion, certain areas of my feet and also with a new pair of shoes, with great success.  I’m curious to know if others have discovered this stick – if so, do share your review in the comments.

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Day 2 at 10 a.m., this is the face of someone determined to dance for up to 6 hours and not get any more blisters.

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Derby Kiss Rollergirl Shorts –> Swing Dance Bloomers

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Continuing our discussion in the vein of undergarments, I ran across a post on Facebook from dance instructor Mike Legenthal to dancer/event floor captain Brandi Ferrebee suggesting Derby Kiss sequined rollergirl shorts because Brandi and everyone else who wants to sparkle under their skirts should be allowed to shine.  I love crossover products made for athletes because they are usually made with similar considerations to what dancers will need (dancers, after all, are athletes!).  This is a small business, with the wife and husband team of Emily and Dan running the sparkle show – Emily makes the products and Dan takes care of the embroidery, photography, and technical details.

These sequin shorts come with some really great options – a variety of colors are available, and each pair has a color change, where the sequins look one color, but when you run your fingers over the sequins they flip to another color.  In the Facebook thread that ensued, it was agreed that the fabric band around the thighs was a great feature to prevent thigh rubbing or sequin rollover onto the skin.  I particularly like that these come with a high waisted option, which is essentially sparkles where the low rise shorts come up to and then black fabric up to your natural waist, providing smoothness where your skirt meets your waist (so as not to have sequin bumps show through your garments) and some extra coverage if you want it.

This video basically sells the whole thing:

 

There are also some other fun non-sequin fabrics available – I think this Galaxy pair of shorts would be perfect for Bal-ast Off, there’s already been a Dr. Who themed exchange, and I’m basically OK having red and white stars on my butt at any time.  THIS IS ALL SO FUN – enjoy!

 

 

A Rainbow of Slips on ModCloth

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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:

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Foundation Fascination Full Slip in Sea – love the detail at the neckline and the accordion pleats at the bottom to allow for extra movement just under your bum.  Also available in a rose pink and plummy purple.

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Give Me Gracefulness Slip in Rose – this blush color would look lovely under just about anything and give a bit of lift to your skirts with the tulle bottom.  Also available in black.

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If you can’t be bothered with spaghetti straps (I know I’ve safety pinned many to my dress to keep from slipping while dancing), perhaps this slip is a better fit for you.  I like the idea of layering this with a dress of a different cut for interest and for function.

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The name says it all – Dream It, Dance It Slip is divine in this steely gray tone, with some feather-light lace to peek out from under your dress and an opaque top to keep your bum covered.  Also available in rose and navy.

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Can’t Stop Dancing Slip in Ivory – your basic half-slip, also available in classic bronze and black. All these references to dancing and slips…ModCloth, are you reading my blog?😉

Oldfield Clothing – British Sportswear and Accessories

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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A postcard from the UK that reads, “Wish you were here with all this tweed…”

Every time I turn around, I hear about a new vintage reproduction company in the UK, which seems to be where I want to spend my dollars-into-pounds lately and the retail climate appears to be thriving for vintage-inspired clothing.  Swing bandleader, guitarist, and dancer Glenn Crytzer tipped me off to Oldfield Clothing, “purveyors of fine British sportswear and accessories for ladies and gentlemen,” when he picked up a pair of their 1930’s workwear trousers, wanting something in a heavier weight for loading band equipment in and out at gigs.  The Oldfield Clothing collection looks well-suited to incorporating its pieces into modern wardrobes, with vintage takes on standard clothing items like trousers and sweaters.

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The trousers really shine – they offer five different cuts, ranging from the most vintage 1920’s golf knickers to the Keaton trousers that look like a standard pair of front pleated trousers (slightly lower rise than their other pairs, but probably higher rise than modern trousers, if you just want to dip your toe into the wading pool of reproduction trousers).  There are a range of fabrics, from linen to corduroy and wool, so you can shop and dress seasonally.  The workwear trousers Glenn picked are really special, not only for their durable fabric, but also for the details – buttons for braces, button fly, fish tail back, and cinch strap and buckle, to name a few.

Women’s offerings are limited to knitwear (specifically – but knickers, see above), but some really good pieces, like solid sweater vests and beautiful Fair Isle vests and a sweater.  Other items that could be unisex include caps, leather goods, and a classic cream long sleeve polo shirt with two collar options.

Here are some of the goods:

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“The Ralph Trouser” – 1930’s style linen, the trousers you need right now in this Northern Hemisphere heat

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Lady dandies, it’s never a bad time to shop for fall – grab one of these cashmere camel slipovers/sweater vests

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I love the chevron/starburst effect of this Donegal tweed herringbone cap.

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Polo shirt, available with either traditional collar or vintage collar – “ideal for sport, but smart enough to wear with a tie.”

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Some of the details on the workwear trousers.

Domesticated Pinup on Etsy

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Domesticated Pinup’s Etsy profile pic, which I believe was the product of a photo shoot with Jerry Almonte at Lindy Focus.

There are a few people in the Lindy Hop community whose style I would describe as iconic and Anne Williams is one of them – I remember seeing her at dances when she was in college at William and Mary and even then she was that girl with the wonderful vintage dresses (I later learned that her history with vintage goes back even further into her youth), while everyone else was in tee shirts and jeans.  I learned via Facebook (thanks Brandi Ferrebee!) that Anne had opened an Etsy shop called the Domesticated Pinup and was selling part of her collection, which made for an immediate click-through because Anne has such excellent taste, even her castoffs would be golden.  And I was right, check out her shop full of golden goodies and I remain hopeful that she will continue to bless us with her good taste.  Here are some of my favorites:

 

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Lilac 1950’s day dress.

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Caramel 1940’s fascinator.

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Blue chiffon 1950’s dress.

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Brown 1940’s hat with chartreuse feathers.

The Seamstress of Bloomsbury

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Can this be me? Please?

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Here we have yet another example of the UK absolutely killing the reproduction clothing market: The Seamstress of BloomsburyThe Seamstress of Bloomsbury, a clothing line of revived reproductions from and inspired by a woman who bore this nickname, Lillian Wells, who was seamstress to aristocratic families around the world.  The focus here is on 1940’s frocks and they’ve pretty much nailed everything down to the prints (which I find can be the hardest thing to get right, perhaps leaning toward the kitschy rather than fun and artful).

I am presently salivating over everything in the Seaside print and, with these reasonable prices, an order is inevitable…here are some of my favorites from the shop:

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Clara dress and bolero (and matching belt!) in the Seaside print – basically dying over here from the adorableness…

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Barbara wrap dress with slight ruffle in a navy blue print with little dogs – subtle, fun, classy, and I love the placement of the ruffle just slightly off the neckline.

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Because who doesn’t need a pair of black and white polka dot crepe de chine rayon wide leg 40’s trousers?

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This needs no explanation, other than if you don’t dig pants, it also comes as a dress.  CLASSY CLASSY CLASSY

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The Pearl Jacket – quintessentially 1940’s

Ains & Elke Style Haus on Etsy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I still need this in my life.

I’ve been on the hunt for elusive vintage and reproduction knitwear and came across Alixis Lupien on the Oooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Facebook group, as she was selling the most adorable sweater with parrots on it.  At first glance it looked vintage, but then I looked again and she made it!  People who knit clothing are magical unicorns in my book, it looks like so much could go wrong, but here was this darling multi-colored knit sweater that I could see instantly enhancing my summer wardrobe.

I followed her progress on Facebook to her Ains & Elke Style Haus Facebook page and then to her Etsy shop, where she posts her incredible novelty knit sweaters and an array of sewn clothing options that you can order custom to your fabric, color, measurement, etc. specifications.

Here are some of my favorites from the shop:

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Fishy sweater!

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Heart and Dagger sweater

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Pastel rainbow 50’s style skirt

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Coretta 40’s style jacket

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Esther 40’s sarong dress

New Shoes from Charlie Stone

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Peta by Charlie Stone.

Since the launch of their not-quite-flat-not-quite-heeled wedge over a year ago, I’ve seen Charlie Stone’s signature t-strap pop up at dances in the U.S., with solid reviews and a supply of dancers looking for that shoe that’s dressier than Keds, but still as comfortable as their flats.  For their second collection, they polled Facebook for feedback and votes on the new shoe designs (I love a Facebook poll) and the results are not only in, they are ready to launch two new shoes, the Peta and the Marisa.  The Marisa is a white ankle strap shoe with adorable cutouts, while the Peta is closer in design to their sigature shoe, with some modifications to design and a two-tone color scheme.  They are offering a presale with 10% off starting this Sunday, February 14, 2016, here are the details from their Facebook page: “From 14.02.16 to 29.02.16, use the discount code PRESALE at checkout to get 10% off Peta or Marisa.” Enjoy!

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Marisa by Charlie Stone.

Holiday Gifts for the Lindy Hopper

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It’s not too late to place your order and have it arrive in the post by December 24!  Here are some great gift ideas for the Lindy Hopper in your life, or maybe you treat yourself this holiday season, thanks to the creative mavens selling their wares on Etsy:

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Get a mini-print of Frankie and Lucille and frame it, print by Illustrious Studio

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Sterling silver Lindy Hop earrings at byrska

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Handmade Harris Tweed cap, available in other colors, but this purple was so cheerful!  From AmiCharnel.

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Any excuse, right?  Tank by boredwalk.

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This crazy intricate tie clip of a jazz band and swing dancers, also by byrska.

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This amazing set of 8 glasses from the 1950’s featuring dance images, carrier included, from Diagnosed Nostalgia.

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byrska killing it with the gift ideas – Lindy Hop cufflinks

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The ultimate table cloth, from Sarah Bradley Vintage.

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The Fed in Austin may not be your local venue, but it makes a great backdrop for this print of a familiar scene to all of us – from amp3graphics

Field Trip: Vintage Shopping in St. Louis

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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St. Louis has legs!

A couple of weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit St. Louis, Missouri and perform at the Nevermore Jazz Ball with Michael Gamble and his Rhythm Serenaders.  I was particularly eager to visit St. Louis because there are some very dear dance friends in my life who moved there after living with or near me in North Carolina and I heard there was amazing vintage clothing there – knowing that St. Louis had a lot of money/industry during my sought-after clothing periods and seeing the amazing wardrobe of Miss Jubilee in photographs online, I was beyond excited to take my first trip to this Midwest city.

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I picked Saturday of Nevermore to embark on my shopping adventure, meeting up with Athena Moon and Lian Tarhay for a quick stop at The Vintage Haberdashery and then brunch at Rooster.  The Vintage Haberdashery is part vintage store, part costume shop and had a small, but respectable selection of pre-WWII clothing and some great 1920’s reproduction beaded gowns glistening from the rafters.  The store was well-organized with lots of quality items, and a particularly nice display of shoes and hats.  I spotted a bunch of great 40’s day and cocktail dresses, some 1940’s oxfords, and a nice selection of menswear, both dress and sportswear items.  Definitely worth a stop!

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After brunch, we went to Cherokee Street to take in the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, which happened to include a vintage shop as a venue and be down the street from another vintage shop – bliss!  Imagine shopping in a stacked vintage clothing store with a live hot jazz band playing just outside on the back patio, and you could take a break, dance, shop, dance, shop – that was my experience at Retro 101.  Seriously, a luxury!  Retro 101 had so many special pieces, I can’t even articulate everything, delicious sheer 1930’s dresses, beautiful rayon print 1940’s dresses, wonderful gowns, hats, gloves, leather, and a case of amazing bakelite!  Feathers!  Beading!  I didn’t even get to the menswear, but I spotted some usual suspects with great garments and accessories in hand, so I know there was good stuff!

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Finally, we visited Ruth’s Vintage Clothing, a little shop on the corner just a few blocks from Retro 101.  Almost as soon as we stepped into the store, we heard the second line start up outside and ran back out to see the parade.  At this point I’m thinking St. Louis and this event definitely have really unique offerings for the dance community – dancers joined in, people were drawn out of shops and restaurants to watch, adding to the magnetic and magical SOMETHING in the air that made this event distinctive, local, and inviting.  We went back into Ruth’s, which had a few 1940’s dresses and some great accessories, including an Art Deco belt buckle and brooch set that combined distinctive rhinestone angled shapes with early plastic (bakelite or celluloid, not sure) flowers blooming from the stones – VERY tempting, can we create a dress or gown around this?

We followed the second line back down to Retro 101, took another gander (so much to take in!), then ended up at Melt for a cider and to hear Mike Faltesek and Chloe Feoranzo play their last set of the day.  An all around very satisfying day of shopping in a wonderful city!

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1940’s heels with potential at The Vintage Haberdashery – those waves!

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Adorable!  All the details!  At The Vintage Haberdashery.

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This wonderful confection of a hat, at The Vintage Haberdashery.

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A menswear display at The Vintage Haberdashery.

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The serious goods hanging from the ceiling at Retro 101.

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The bakelite case in all its glory, at Retro 101.

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This purple plaid 1930’s dress at Retro 101 is EVERYTHING.

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Beaded detail on sleeve of 1930’s dress at Retro 101.

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A snapshot of the men’s section at Retro 101.

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A carousel of accessories at Retro 101.

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A lovely neckline on this 1940’s dress at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

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A wall of accessories at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

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A closeup of a 1940’s floral rayon dress with these interesting ruched scallops down the seam, at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

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Following the second line down Cherokee Street.

 

1940’s Reproduction Overalls by Nudeedudee

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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A definite trend at ILHC 2015 was overalls, sported by both male and female dancers alike. While typically associated with more rural endeavors (and perhaps costumed, in some instances, as a nod to such), overalls are comfortable, typically a bit wider in the leg and the seat by design, and create a nice long line from your soles up to your chest. Anything that makes me look taller is good in my book!

I purchased a fantastic pair of 1940’s reproduction overalls from Nudeedudee last year and I am in love – the styling is a bit softer than your standard modern overall, with a torso shape that is more akin to a sundress (flattering!), and buttons with button holes instead of a metal button and metal loop. I get so many compliments every time I have worn them! Style a la Rosie the Riveter to complete your swing era workwear look. Available in denim and engineer stripe, as well as a denim romper if you are looking for shorts.

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My pair, styled for OcTieBer with a vintage bow tie and flannel shirt.

My pair of Nudeedudee overalls, styled for OcTieBer with a vintage bow tie and flannel shirt.

From the Top, Episode 6 – Fashion and Swing Dance

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’m delighted to have been asked to be a part of the From the Top podcast‘s exploration of fashion for swing dancers. This is the sixth episode from this podcast that, in general, explores topics surrounding swing music and swing dancing. The host of From the Top, Vienna-based dancer Alexei Korolyov, explores modern lindy hop fashion with discussions from New York dancer/DJ Voon Chew, Vienna University’s Dr. Elisabeth Frottier, Russian dancer Yana Sanamyants, Saint Savoy owner Rani-Patricia Dirnhofer, and yours truly. Clocking in at 19 minutes, we can keep you company on your commute to somewhere this week – enjoy!

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Jive Styles – Lindy Hop Tees

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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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!

ModCloth’s Bugle Joy Skirt

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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While we’re talking about skirts, I’d like to talk about Mod Cloth’s Bugle Joy Skirt, one of the great basics that ModCloth offers that I picked up for work, but then spotted on dancer friends as we all independently discovered the wonders of this skirt. Chicago dancer Lindsay Longstreth sported a plum Bugle Joy at the Knoxville Lindy Exchange and I spotted its signature shape and spin- she learned about the skirt from St. Louis dance instructor Jenny Shirar, who has one in olive. Within the month I spotted one on Philadelphia dancer Caitlin Farthing in the OcTieBer group. After such compelling evidence, it’s safe to say that the Bugle Joy skirt is a success amongst Lindy Hoppers.

Why is this skirt great? Here’s the rundown:

– A full skirt that is a nod to the New Look without being costumey

– It twirls nicely for a full skirt, without too much bloomer exposure

– The polyester fabric drapes nicely and is super durable

– It doubles for work-wear – in fact, I initially purchased one in red as a work skirt.

– It comes in some great basic colors and not-so-basic colors, like black, red, gray, rust, burgundy, olive, teal, and plum

– At $54.99 it’s not too hard on the wallet for a quality skirt

I hope ModCloth continues to carry this skirt or even expand its colors offered – what a great, versatile piece to add to your wardrobe!