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!
In the never-ending quest for full coverage swing dance undergarments and bloomers, I have come across many athletic options and, for a short time, we had some fun My Heinies, but for the most part finding something feminine in the undergarment department that would meet the athletic requirements of the dance limited my options to tap pants. ModCloth, in the infinite wisdom of its buyers, unearthed what they call the “Properly Layered Undies,” which is Rago Style 919 – a full coverage brief in a sateen finish with just a touch of lace at the top of the leg. Just the RIGHT about of lace in the right place. Order from ModCloth (which has been sold out twice and restocked twice since I started watching these) or from another Rago distributor – don’t be scared of the intense looking shapewear on the Rago site, these undies just have enough shape to hold everything in place, no more than that, no miracles, just a solid pair of full coverage undies. Available in white, black, beige, pink, mocha, black, or red.
I often write about undergarment options for coverage when we wear skirts, but what about what we wear under our bloomers or our pants? What about the material? What about all that gross sweating we do? Where dudes bring multiple shirts to a dance weekend, I bring multiple pairs of underwear because there’s nothing worse that sitting around or dancing in a puddle of your own sweat (along those lines, there’s nothing better than putting on a fresh pair of underwear after you’ve danced, especially between a main dance and late night – file that under my body odor commentary).
Cotton breathes, but it also soaks everything up. Synthetics can be icky in terms of odor and I usually don’t like they way the feel against my skin. Can we get some technology in here to engineer us some undies?
Montreal dancer Alisha Ruiss sent me a link to this great Indiegogo campaign for Thinx: Change Your Underwear, “where technology and fashion intersect to solve a global problem.” How is this underwear smart? You can check out the diagram to the right, and then listen when I tell you that it
1) Is leak/stain-resistant, anti-microbial, moisture-wicking and lasts for several years
2) Acts as back-up to traditional methods of leakage prevention during your period (but will not replace these during heavier days – they are working on creating this style next!)
3) Completely replaces liners on light days
Whaaaaaa?! So this is obviously super practical in real life, and in your dance life having that bit of extra protection there for potential leakage (because we move around a lot, just like athletes, and we sometimes lose track of time…) or just sweat absorption could make the world of difference in your comfort at a dance, on any day of the year.
“Beyond our own desire for the smartest underwear for our drawer, we found out that there was an even bigger problem for girls and women in the developing world.
Girls in the developing world are missing up to a week of school per month and using unimaginable things to manage their monthly cycle like twigs, leaves, newspaper, plastic bags or dirty rags. In Africa alone, 67 million girls have dropped out entirely which overwhelmingly leads to early marriage, pregnancy and a greater difficulty in raising themselves out of poverty.
THINX is part of the solution. For every pair of THINX you buy, you help fund the production of a 7-pad washable kit for a woman or girl in the developing world via our partnership with AFRIpads. This kit helps create local jobs and empower the economy while also helping keep girls in school during that time of the month.”
Can you imagine what these girls have to give up? I know I can’t – and I’ll remember this every time I take my ability to leave the house during my period for granted.
I am excited that smarter solutions are being developed, with women all over the world in mind. Looking forward to seeing more from this company.
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:
I am still on a quest for the perfect dance bra. Those female dancers who are well endowed know what a pain it is to not have proper foundation garments that will hold everything in place for the athleticism of Lindy Hop, while trying to maintain a sense of style and not have to revert to support that’s the equivalent of a straight jacket for your chest.
I took a ballet class over the summer and looked for a leotard with proper support. After dredging through a number of ballet forums on this topic, the general conclusion was that you would have to wear a bra under your leotard if you wanted proper support. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t bought a sports bra since high school and my body is definitely different at this point in my life. I really had to dig on the internet to find specific information on what sports bras are best for certain cup sizes, but finally came across a review of Moving Comfort’s Fiona sports bra. It looked sturdy, smooth, and non-threatening. I liked that it dipped in the back, instead of having a racer back, and the straps were wider set so that it wouldn’t show under my boat neck leotard. It also hooked in the back like a regular bra, instead of stretching and sliding over your head, which gave an added element of support.
After using it for ballet class, it slowly became the only acceptable sports bra I owned. While I don’t think this is the perfect Lindy Hop bra, I do think it’s worth mentioning because it has kept the girls in place better than any other sports bra I have owned. I put it on and forget about my chest, which is a fantastic feeling when you are jumping up and down during a jazz routine, or navigating your way through a swingout.
The pros and cons are outlined on Moving Comfort’s very user-friendly website. I would agree with the reviews that the Fiona is comfortable, moisture-wicking, snug fitting, lightweight, and stylish (in the sense that I could actually wear this under a lot of dresses due to the shape of the bra, having the deep V in the back and a scoop front). The only con I agree with is the uni-boob feedback (“flattens bust”), but that’s to be expected with a bra that doesn’t have separate cups. I disagree with the review about poor craftsmanship, as this is the sturdiest bra I own and I found the materials to be quality and comfortable. My only personal con is that I can’t wear this under a dress with a V neckline in the front.
Now that I have found this bra, I’m even more willing to try other bras on the Moving Comfort website. You can shop for bras by cup size (A-E) or by style, and each bra is different, based on what cup sizes it is best suited and for the level of activity it for which it was designed (low, medium, and high impact). There are a few styles with separate cups that I may explore for wearing under dresses. If you have tried one of these bras for dancing, I’d love to hear your feedback, as well.
I don’t like to use this blog for more outspoken opinions, but after seeing enough of this and blogging about options to no avail, I’d like to say something more explicit in hopes that something constructive may come of this.
For the record, at any dance event, I would prefer not to see any other follows’ hoo-ha, jiggly bits, cheeks, thong, sheer or lace underwear, or tanga. The last straw was at All Balboa Weekend this year when a follower in a competition wore minimal coverage undergarments that were visible when she turned. Someone commented that “She needed some Heinies” and several others agreed that, yes, it was distracting from her dancing to see so little there.
You can call me a prude, but I believe I speak for a number of follows (and maybe leads…maybe not) when I say that the allure of sharing your bits with the group is not there for us. Showing leg and some bloomer are great and I love twirly skirts, but there’s a line that is crossed and I believe a number of follows have no idea what this line is. It’s the line between your thigh and your bottom, and is carefully skirted by the opacity and size of your undergarments.
With hemlines on some modern dresses between mid-thigh and somewhere below the nether regions, it’s even more important to make sure things under your dresses are secure. I’m going to use amazing follower goddess Kara Fabina as an example – Kara wears shirts as dresses, garments that are so short that they were intended to be worn with pants underneath them. Kara does not wear pants with these dresses. I’ve marveled at how short she can wear them, yet I’ve never seen Kara’s hoo-ha. I approached Kara about this at All Balboa Weekend and her secret is that she wears a pair of tight fabric shorts underneath her shirt/dresses. The result is the opposite function of a slip – instead of adding flow, it secures and locks in both fabrics so that they do not move and her short shirt/dress stays in place.
There are many ways to go about this (My Heinies, granny panties, biker shorts, cheerleading bloomers, underwear that actually fits) but please, ladies, let’s keep things under your dresses secure and covered so you can show off your dancing as your asset.
I noticed yesterday that the My Heinies website has officially expanded their line of dancewear to include the shoes, hosiery, and hair flowers I mentioned in my previous post on My Heinies and their creator, New York dancer and instructor Carol Fraser. This certainly calls for another post highlighting these goodies, because now we have pictures. 🙂
Before we get to the goods, I want to point out that Carol does her homework. At week one of the Balboa Experiment, Carol brought in samples of everything and held a focus group to talk about what Balboa dancers look for in a shoe – heel shape, heel height, colors, styles, straps, where the shoe falls on the top of your foot, suede v. hard leather, and everything in between. The shoes now available on the My Heinies website represent the results of this group discussion, most of which Carol had overnighted to the Experiment house so that we could try them on in person, give further feedback, and have the option to purchase. The sample shoes remained at the Experiment house for weeks 2 and 3 to try out as well, and I’m sure she’s solicited feedback from a number of other dancers. Another great thing about using the Experiment as a testing ground was that it gave Carol an international perspective on what dancers would want to wear, not just dancers in the U.S.
Here’s what I love from My Heinies’ new selections of shoes, hosiery, and hair flowers (and don’t forget to check out the bloomers, I think Carol’s ordering a new batch very soon):
Last week I embarked on a quest for nude seamed stockings. I have little patience for wading through lingerie websites, so I solicited Facebook for ideas. When Kate Patsky declared “This is like finding the Holy Grail…” I knew I had a real shopping challenge on my hands; thus, I headed to the Stockings HQ chat forums to ask the experts/fetishists where I could find the Holy Grail. Stockings HQ is a lingerie website based in the UK that also hosts chat forums where people can share stocking info, pictures, and talk about…anyway, they were most helpful during my last hosiery dilemma, finding stockings for a Sally Bowles costume that would be period appropriate and fit my short legs, and they delivered yet again. One of the forum regulars recommended What Katie Did and I’ve been in love ever since.
What Katie Did makes beautiful reproduction and vintage-inspired bras, panties, girdles, corsets, stockings, slips, swimwear, and much more. I loathe most “vintage-inspired” undergarments because they are skimpy and not at all what was actually worn. What Katie Did has gone to the heart of the matter, reproducing things that are such rare finds, like fully fashioned stockings, bullet bras, 1940’s bras (which were just coming into the modern age of the bra), and different kinds of girdles so you can get your Joan Holloway on. If you really want a vintage look, then the next step beyond just the clothes are the foundation garments. Think about how your underwear selections change with what you wear and how that affects your shape and the way the clothes fit, then apply that to your dance dresses. What Katie Did goes further and actually improves the reproduction by eliminating discomfort and taking garments, like that 1940’s bra that probably did little to lift and support, and upgrading them to modern standards. If this sounds dull, like a conversation you’ve had with your grandmother, never fear! There are also plenty of skimpies and pretties on the website for everyone, and I know some burlesque girls who might find some goodies here.
From the website: “Founder and head designer Katie Halford has had a deep and abiding love affair with 1940s and 1950s fashion her entire adult life, but though the clothing was always fairly easy to come by, the appropriate undergarments were not. Her quest for the perfect bullet bra, the most authentic stockings and the firmest foundation garments, led to the development of her own collection, over ten years ago. And since then, thanks to her abiding passion, What Katie Did has been at the very forefront of the vintage revival that’s only recently come into the public eye.
On this website, in our London boutique, and in the glossy pages of our catalogue, retrophiles, vintage queens and lingerie lovers who appreciate the art of a circle-stitched cup, a wasp-waist, or a flash of fully-fashioned seam, can find everything their hearts’ desire.
We create and produce beautifully cut, high-quality and affordable undergarments, corsetry and hosiery inspired by the 1940s and 1950s. Our designs are based on vintage patterns, adapted only slightly for modern figures, using authentic fabrics and even old-fashioned production methods wherever possible. We’re proud of our close-knit team, high standards and enthusiasm for great customer service, all of which which have earned us fans worldwide, and led to What Katie Did being worn by stars as lofty as Claudia Schiffer and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks. But really, we make our beautiful lingerie for every woman, so she can look and feel like a bombshell, any day of the week.”
I don’t often get excited about underwear, but I am excited to try out some of these gorgeous things. Here’s what I’m loving:
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.