Lindy Shopper’s Closet Episode 6 is up and I’m talking about the Art Deco Ocean Queen ensemble I wore for NYE 2017 at Lindy Focus. This is probably the last episode for the foreseeable future – I am an essential employee and have been working mostly from home, but on top of my city re-opening in two weeks (and going back to my office full-time), I find that I am way more busy than I anticipated. Family law is booming (my day job) and I have enough engagement with music-related projects that producing these videos is no longer in the cards. I hope you enjoyed these, I have enjoyed making them, if only to be able to talk to myself in my guest room about clothing and shoes that I love.
This post was written by Lindy Shopper.
(Another article for Yehoodi – enjoy!)
Inspired by Rebecca Brightly’s “Top 20 Online Resources For Becoming a Bad-Ass Swing Dancer” (and delighted to be included in her list!), I decided to come up with a list of my own. Unless you are a regular reader of the Lindy Shopper blog, it may be hard to determine what sources may be most helpful to get you started in your swing dance shopping endeavors.
I usually try to stay away from lists because I find that they can become outdated quickly (stores no longer in business, styles no longer relevant, etc.), so we are going to say that this is my top 10 list as of the date of publication. Most of these sources have been tried and true for me, so hopefully the list will withstand the test of time, at least for a few years.
This is kind of a no-brainer if you’ve been dancing for any length of time, but if you are just starting out you may not know where to find dance shoes. Most people outside of the swing dance community see character shoes as an option and I’ve definitely seen newer dancers show up in ballroom shoes, but it shows a level of commitment to the dance when you invest in your first pair of swing dance shoes.
Dancestore.com provides the work-horses of my dance shoe collection, as well as thousands of other dancers, with their Aris Allen line of shoes – shoes that are comfortable, relatively inexpensive, and offer vintage styles that work well with both vintage and modern outfits. I think we sometimes take Dancestore.com for granted – when I have worn my Dancestore shoes outside of the swing dance community, they tend to garner a lot of attention because they don’t look like shoes that are available anywhere else – and really, aside from a couple of other vintage repro shoe makers, they aren’t. Dancestore does the swing dance community a great service with their products and makes it easy for us to point new dancers in their direction and say THIS is where you should get your first pair of dance shoes.
2. Re-Mix Vintage Shoes
Let’s say you’ve accumulated a few pairs of Aris Allens in great neutral colors, but you’ve just acquired an outfit that requires some color or something extra fabulous in the way of footwear – Re-Mix Vintage Shoes is the next step. Offering an array of vintage styles from swing-era decades with divine details and fabulous color, Re-Mix is the place for the most stylish reproduction shoes I know of online.
3. Your local vintage store
If you are blessed with a wonderful vintage store in your area, then you already know this is a great place to shop. More likely, your vintage store does not stock swing era clothing or men’s clothing and is full of polyester, but don’t be discouraged! It is important to check in on these places for two reasons – first, you never know when they might get something in stock that you would die to have; second, if the store owner doesn’t know that there is a demand for these things, he or she probably won’t buy it from a seller or an estate. It is so important to develop relationships with the vintage store owners in your area and tell them what you are looking for in terms of clothing. Then, when something does come across their desk, they will have you in mind, they might even give you a call to let you know that something has come in, and they also might give you a better price on it because of that friendship and loyalty. Don’t assume you can come into a store and tell them you are a swing dancer and that they will instantly know how serious you are about collecting vintage clothing – to them, you are no better than the random college girl or boy looking for something to wear to a theme party. Distinguish yourself!
4. Your local thrift store
This is mostly for the gents, although ladies may find a diamond in the rough every now and then. But, seriously, menswear hasn’t changed so much in the last century that you can’t go to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or any local thrift store and find a sportcoat, old pairs of dress shoes, entire suits, pants, just about everything you need at a fraction of the cost of buying it new in a store AND with a cut and quality that is more likely to be in line with that of the swing era. It must pain most men to spend money on clothing because I talk about thrift store shopping (usually after hearing a complaint about needing more vests, pants, etc.) to dozens of men every year, only to hear the lamest excuses. You obviously went somewhere to buy those jeans and that tee shirt…and if you didn’t, you should tell the person shopping for you about the thrift stores…
I post a lot of items on Lindy Shopper from eBay because there are so many good things at good prices, if you are patient and willing to look. I spend the time looking on eBay because it’s worth it – I don’t have lots of vintage resources locally and it’s more efficient to shop on eBay because you simply type in your search terms and – voila! – what they have available pops up on your screen. Because eBay has continuous auctions and it’s not practical to search for the same items every day, you can save your search terms if you don’t find what your are looking for and have eBay email you when something you want does pop up on eBay. It’s that simple. For example, I get daily emails for 1940’s dresses and sometimes I go through the listings (looking at the most recently listed items), but other items, like 1930’s suit in size 40 (for my husband) only pop up every few months. Yes, it can be hit or miss and auctions can go for astronomical amounts, but even with the gamble it is still the best place to find the most rare items and the quickest way to find specific items, new and old.
I am addicted to Etsy for many things. It’s almost as good as eBay for vintage finds (usually pricier), but it’s even better for new items that people have hand-crafted. If I can dream it or find it in a vintage photograph, someone on Etsy can make it. Etsy is my go-to source for hair flowers, fascinators, and affordable reproduction garments. Some Etsy sellers have ties to the dance community, like Jitterbuggin and Allure Original Styles, while others, like Time Machine Vintage and Raleigh Vintage simply have a love for vintage and reproduction clothing.
7. Your relatives’ closets (or anyone within earshot at least 40 years older than you)
The odds are favorable that you have a relative who was alive during the swing era, and the odds are pretty favorable that they have kept things from that era (being products of the Great Depression in some fashion – anyone else’s grandparents have giant freezers full of food?). I have been the recipient of so many items, mostly accessories, that relatives have given me that they didn’t want to get rid of, but were delighted to give to me knowing these items would be used and loved. Once word got out that I was looking for vintage items, other people (aunts, friends of grandparents) started digging through their closets or finding things at yard sales (for pennies!) that I might like. Even people I’ve encountered and simply had a conversation with about my vintage clothing has yielded items from closets, lovingly tucked away for years, but brought out for me because they thought I might like the garment and get some use out of it. The key here is to talk to people – a simple “Hey Grandpa, do you have any old suits you don’t wear anymore?” or “Grandma, do you have any jewelry from the 1940’s?” Even if they don’t give it to you, it can make a nice connection or revive some stories from the past. 🙂
8. My Heinies
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of covering your butt at swing dances. If you are not vintage-inclined and are buying the very short dresses that are in style now, don’t assume that the dance floor won’t be able to see your underwear. We all see it and I, especially, SEE it. Dancer Carol Fraser is a saint with her dance pants, My Heinies, developed based on her years of experience as a dancer and instructor, with the dance community and clothing styles in mind. There’s something for everyone on the My Heinies web site and I would encourage ladies who wear skirts and dresses to invest in this product so that you can dance uninhibited and free from worry that the entire room will see your private parts.
9. Vintage stores at out of town dance events
For me, the grass is usually much greener on the other side, so I take the opportunity when I travel to out of town swing dance events to visit that town’s vintage stores. Before I travel to a new city, I like to ask one of the local dancers where they recommend shopping (and if it’s worth it to try), or I’ll check to see what information I can find on the internet and, if it’s not apparent from the information on the web, give the store a call to find out if they carry swing-era merchandise. I relish every trip to Cleveland for All Balboa Weekend for the event and for Cleveland’s vintage stores, and I can’t wait to get back to Portland and Seattle. By the way, anyone know of any good vintage shops in Iowa City? Hawkeye Swing Festival, I’m coming in April…
10. Clothing swaps
One of the best places to get clothing and shoes for swing dancers could be other dancers. The ladies in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill swing dance community have been organizing periodic clothing swaps for the past couple of years, which include all clothing and accessories, but have been particularly helpful in passing around dresses and shoes that are good for dancing. That dress you are tired of wearing is brand new to someone else, so rather than give it to Goodwill, why not take it to the clothing swap and find it a new home? I’m always delighted when I see other girls in dresses that don’t fit me anymore, and they are always grateful for the garment. It’s a win-win.
In this post I’m going to pay homage to La Mode Pyjama, a blog devoted entirely to beach pajamas of the 1920’s and 1930’s. While this blog is not a source for the actual purchase of said pajamas, it does offer wonderful and inspiring photographs and postcards of beachwear from that era, highlighting various styles of beach pajamas. The material here is simply gorgeous – the colors, the shapes, the scenery, it’s like a wonderful time machine to a tropical destination. The beachwear shown here is so creative, ranging from clean and chic to drapey and sophisticated, with each outfit showing different parts and amounts of skin.
The blog is affiliated with the Trojan Academy of Studies Cartophiles, which, according to the blog (as translated by Babelfish/Yahoo, as I don’t speak French) “Its goal is to study the old postcards, i.e. to carry a glance on the technique cartophile, to evaluate their historical interest, to consider their sociological interest. Monthly meetings make it possible to the members to make their presentations. Studies made by the members of the Trojan Academy of studies cartophiles and relating to teaching, the leisures, various local events, of communes and any subject cartophile without exclusiveness in places. The academy publishes postcards of collection (47 achievements) primarily devoted to the local life and booklets taking again the contents of the conferences of its members.” I have an aunt who collects old postcards of Beaufort, North Carolina, my hometown, and it a fascinating study of the past, leisure, and writings from the beach. To focus on a particular fashion trend of the time that is directly associated with the beach is a great way to show how the postcards convey the fun and relaxation to be had (or to envy, if you are the recipient of the postcard) at the beach.
With beach pajamas you don’t have to sweat how you look on the beach, you simply look fabulous in a floaty, elegant, drapey, one piece pantsuit. Top it off with a big brimmed floppy hat, sandals, and beach tote and you’re ready for a day in the sun without having to worry about your ghostly white legs, bikini line, or any undesirable bits showing in your bikini…no worries means you might actually relax at the beach. I think we’re on to something here.
Where can you find your own pair of beach pajamas? A Google search reveals that you can buy a pair for your American Girl doll, but finding a life sized pair will prove more difficult. Unless you can find a vintage pair somewhere (likelihood: slim), you will probably have to either make your own pair from a pattern, like this one from Wearing History Patterns, or have a pair made for you, like this adorable pair from Etsy seller Time Machine Vintage. I opted for the latter and am so pleased with the results (in green, of course) – beyond comfortable!
While these pajamas were widely photographed at the beach, you certainly shouldn’t relegate your beach pajamas to purely sandy locations – they’ve been spotted “puttering in the garden,” I could see this as a great hostess outfit, and I’ve definitely spotted Heidi Rosenau wearing hers out dancing. If you have a pair, I’d love to see yours out on the dance floor!
This post was written by Lindy Shopper.
Just a reminder that we are still conducting a silent auction for this wonderful 1940’s reproduction jumper and cherries print blouse to raise money for The Carolina Fascinators – bidding ends tomorrow at 11:00 p.m. All the auction details and the auction itself are in the LS post from Monday. The bidding is only up to $45.00 – less than the value of just the blouse itself!
Did I mention this outfit is one of a kind? And that, by wearing it, you’ll reach an astronomic level of cuteness?
This post was written by Lindy Shopper.
One of my favorite Etsy sellers, Time Machine Vintage, has generously donated this lovely reproduction 1940’s jumper and cherries blouse to The Carolina Fascinators‘ fundraising efforts. I will be conducting a silent auction on this blog for the jumper and blouse set – simply place your bid in the comments section and whoever has the highest bid at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2011 will be the winner. The jumper and blouse will be on display at the Triangle Swing Dance Society Dance on March 12 at the Carrboro Century Center and The Carolina Fascinators will be taking bids at the dance as well (with updates posted here during the dance, in case you are not local and want to bid at the end).
The jumper and blouse were made to fit a modern size 6-8. The waist on the skirt is approximately 27 inches, but might fit a 28, as there’s some room to move the fasteners over. The amount of space in the hip area is generous and will drape nicely to fit. The blouse will fit up to a 36C bust and around a 34 bust, with the waist in the blouse being more generous than the skirt. If you have any questions about measurements, please let me know and I’ll be happy to measure the garments. The outfit looks even more adorable in person, I’d bid on it myself if it was my size. I love the contrast collar, the big buttons on the jumper, and that the jumper straps cross in the back. The jumper has 8 gores in the skirt, which means maximum twirly-ness and dreaminess!
Who are The Carolina Fascinators, you ask? TCF are a ladies jazz dance performance troupe based out of Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, specializing in routines inspired by the vintage dances of the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s. We have hit the ground running, but are still a very new organization and need funding for travel, costumes, and practice space. The local dance community has been very generous thus far at our bake sales and we hope that you will help us out in this latest fundraising endeavor!
I’ll add that Time Machine Vintage is also making The Carolina Fascinators’ next costume and she has been so wonderful to work with during the process of costuming five gals.
The fine print: If you are bidding online, we will accept payment only through PayPal. Shipping in the U.S. will be $8.50, please email me for an international shipping quote at email@example.com. Payment due within two days of the auction ending.
This post was written by Lindy Shopper.
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!