If you’re looking for a gift for the special swing dancer in your life (or really any super niche sub-culture), look no further than Etsy – here are some of my favorite swing dancer themed items that you may want to gift or that you may want under the tree for yourself:
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:
It’s been four years since Lindy Dandy wrote on this blog about the functionality of tie clips and a lot can happen in four years – new dancers come, old dancers leave, some dancers have already come and gone. It bears repeating that tie clips, perhaps second only to cufflinks in desirable-but-when-am-I-going-to-wear-this man jewelry, are super-functional for dancers, especially competitors, wearing ties.
I was at Lindyfest and the Lone Star Championships two weekends ago and reveled in the fantastic showmanship in the competitions. With so many great performances, something like, say, a tie flapping about on a competitor like a giant red kite, would be entirely noticeable – nay, distracting. I’m sure I’m beating a dead horse here, but the focus should be on your dancing and your attire should enhance, not distract from, your dancing. I did see a number of tie-wearing competitors in tie clips, so the word has gotten out.
For those of you new to this concept, I invite you to embrace the tie clip, tie bar, whatever you’d like to call it. It’s there for you to keep your tie out of your face and your partner’s face and to prevent any sort of mishaps where the tie may catch on something. Safety first!
It is so rare to find a man curating a vintage shop on Etsy, which is why I was delighted to discover that Las Vegas dancer Kyle Kettner is the owner the Etsy store Thrifty Vegas. I first met Kyle at ABW this past year as a participant in the 1930’s fashion show, one of the rare males who a) would actually participate and b) had his own fantastic wardrobe.
Thrifty Vegas is “Your one-stop shop for vintage kitsch, Americana, men’s classic style, shirts, neckties, accessories, jewelry, and Old Vegas.” This shop’s aesthetic is entirely male and I love the idea that men don’t have to wade through miles of dress listings to come across a solid tie or good pair of cufflinks. Kyle also posted a photo of some fantastic ties this week on Facebook that he acquired in San Francisco, which should appear in the store this week. Here are some other great items from the shop:
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:
I’m not sure if Lindy Dandy and Knickerrocker would approve, but I think this vintage set of scottie dog cufflinks and matching tie clip is adorable. Pair it with tweeds and some argyle socks and you have a winner in my book. 😉
I really am speechless as to how to describe the suiting on the Indochino web site. It manages to be all things at once: cool, classic, vintage, modern, tailored, and edgy, with a slight sense of humor, a dash of executive, and a pinch of street cred. I’d like to think there’s a little something for everyone here and, with suiting tailored to your measurements, perhaps there’s a perfect fit for everyone as well.
I started out looking for three piece suits and quickly noticed the attention to detail on these garments. There were varying lapel widths, peaked lapels, excellent fabrics, and options like choosing your pant leg width, pick stitching, and a functional buttoniere. The term bespoke is tossed around a lot – items custom-made to the buyer’s specification – and I like it! The best part is that these custom suits cost much less than even your local tailor would probably charge you – I do try to keep the things I post on this blog under $200, but considering comparable expense for such suits as these, the Indochino price is a discount.
Never fear! There are things other than suits on this website, and well under $200. Shirts with custom cuffs and collars, vests in three different cuts, ties, cufflinks, pocket squares, and even a tie clip! *nods to Lindy Dandy* There are also gorgeous blazers, overcoats, and pants that are in that upper range, but…well, you should see for yourself.
I am, perhaps, most impressed with the construction of suit jackets, which have a canvas interlining to provide structure and drape. That extra layer is just another barrier between the lead’s sweat and the follower – just think followers, if the guy is wearing an undershirt, a dress shirt, and one of these jackets, that’s 5 layers of fabric the sweat has to wick through until it reaches you! Every little bit helps.