The shoe blessings runneth over and, while this vintage reproduction shoe company doesn’t appear to be directly marketing to the swing dance community, all signs point to it being a default winner – Memery, a UK-based company, is making reproduction shoes from the 1920’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s with leather soles (but also a vegan option) and they are lovely, in some classic colors and some unexpected colors. While it appears that they are getting a start on their shoe lines, it looks like they are off to a strong start, particularly with their 1940’s pump, which comes in six scrumptious suede colors and two heel heights (3 cm/1.18 inches and 6.7 cm/2.6 inches). This is definitely a shoe company to watch!
I’m excited to see more vintage inspired men’s trousers popping up from reproduction/retro brands on the Internet – as you may or may not know, the most searched for item on Lindy Shopper is men’s high waisted pants. The latest offerings are from Chester Cordite, who I featured on this blog in January of 2017 with suits and spearpoint collar shirts, but they have since added even more clothing options to their stock. However, I’m focusing on this particular pair of 30’s/40’s inspired twill trousers because they will likely be the most versatile for dancers in most seasons, depending on where you live – these are the most basic of basic men’s pants, but with all the little vintage details that make the difference: high waist, light pleat in the front (for mobility/movement, y’all, don’t get scared), braces buttons, machine washable, 2 inches to let out in the rear, and comes in five colors (khaki, cream, light gray, dark gray, and navy). Again, the UK is killing it with the repro trousers – if you’re like me and you simply cannot find pants to fit you in the US, the shipping cost and risk of a return are worth it.
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.
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!
There are any number of reproduction companies making 1950’s-inspired clothing, but very few that have been quite this incisive or referential to the designs that set the aesthetic for the following decade – I am, of course, referring to Christian Dior’s “New Look” collection from 1947 (which cast of the shackles of wartime austerity in favor of a “new” silhouette for women) and the most recent collection from UK-based clothing company Miss Candyfloss, which they have playfully named “Amour Fou.” If you need a little lift in your day, I recommend taking a gander at the MCF Fall 2018 look book highlighting this collection, it is pure joy and beauty of design and the models look comfortable and beautiful in their garments.
While I find most New Look skirts to be too full for my liking for dancing, I certainly appreciate this glorious aesthetic and MCF has nailed the look with modern takes on fabrics and shapes. For me and my dancing wardrobe, the separates in this collection really shine, as well as the overall color palette being versatile and so lovely for fall and winter. While I don’t love all the synthetic fabrics (in general), I can very much appreciate their washability and wearability for dancers – the design is so good here, I’m willing to break my own rules and add a few pieces from this collection to my own.
MCF started releasing portions of this collection on August 15 and some items are already sold out. According to their Facebook page, they will continue to post items through November, as there are so many looks in the book that it will take that long to get all of them up on the website.
I can’t pull photos from the look book, but here’s what I’m loving from what they’ve posted for sale on the website thus far:
It’s about time to start planning what to wear for New Year’s Eve (or, if you are me, you’ve been planning since you knew you were going to Lindy Focus months ago) for Lindy Focus, Snowball, or perhaps your local scene has a special event. This may be the trickiest night of the year to dress yourself because you want to look like you’re on a red carpet, but you also need to be able to move and sweat like you’re running a marathon.
I took one look at Nancy Mac‘s collection of dresses and immediately thought these would make great NYE dresses for swing dancers – luxe fabrics in movement-friendly cuts with vintage silhouettes. This U.K. based company (if anyone was in doubt, the UK is KILLING IT with the repro brands) was founded by two sisters, Hannah and Sarah McMahon, and their about page reads like music to my ears and my closet: “Designed to flatter, Nancy Mac dresses and stand-alone separates are cut with care from luxurious fabrics and unique prints. Every piece in the range is inspired by the belief that true style stands the test of time. We love making beautiful yet affordable clothes that you will want to wear and keep in your wardrobe forever.”
Did I mention that I have a velvet problem, in that I can’t resist it? Specifically vintage silk velvet? Because it feels like buttah on your body, inside and out, but then come the rips I seem to be forever repairing…with a newer garment (which I also own in silk velvet, because problems) fabric deterioration becomes less of an issue and I’m just over the moon about Nancy Mac’s velvet dresses because they look so wearable, on top of that silk velvet feeling. Other fabrics look almost as enticing, such as viscose crepe, silk viscose, and just plain silk. Do you feel fancy? Because I feel fancy talking about all these fancy fabrics.
Let’s not forget that it gets cold in the mountains of North Carolina and in Sweden in December – Nancy Mac also has gorgeous coordinating jackets, shrugs, and coats to go with their dresses. There’s also a collection called Mint Julep…it’s like they knew I was coming…
Here is what I am loving from the Nancy Mac website:
We should just start giving all our clothing money to the UK because I’m convinced this is where the giant hub of vintage reproduction clothing is located. Thanks to a Reddit thread about trying to find suits for swing dancing, I’m now hip to Chester Cordite, which offers “a modern take on classic styles from the golden age of 1930s and 1940s, producing limited edition suits and shirts with period influenced fabrics at splendidly affordable prices and all suits made in England.” Chester Cordite got its start with that same frustration of not being able to find the right suits in good condition, and since necessity is the mother of invention, we have this company producing wonderful suits and shirts.
The suits are definitely custom, in gorgeous fabrics, perfect vintage-inspired cuts, and are fairly reasonably priced for custom work. On an even more accessible level are their spearpoint collar shirts, which will give you an immediate vintage look (compare to modern shirt collars) for only 60 pounds (roughly $75 as of the date of this post), about what you would spend for a shirt at a nice menswear store in the U.S. The shirts also come in an array of solid colors and stripes, which I love for dancers because most menswear-wearing dancers I know don’t commit to a jacket the whole night and it’s nice to have something classic other than a white dress shirt to complete your look. All of the suits and shirts are paired with vintage ties in photographs on the website to give you an idea of how your vintage look will work.
There’s been so much going on in Trashy Diva land lately, it’s past time for an update. I’ll try to keep it brief and the drooling to a manageable minimum:
New print: Crimson Clover – a beautiful 1940’s inspired floral along with solid navy coordinates. Seriously, this is just screaming SPRING and I am READY. Available in some classic TD styles and what looks to be a newcomer, the Dolores.
March Madness – you know that thing about how Trashy Diva does limited runs of prints and once the dresses are gone they are gone forever? I can only think of one reissue since I’ve been a customer in the past 7 years, but this time TD is getting democratic about it and there are BRACKETS. Here’s a blog post showing the brackets thus far: http://bit.ly/1Ut6ns0 – we still have 3/4 of the way to go! The only way to vote is on the TD Facebook page, so get to following and check in every day to see which prints are battling it out to be reissued.
Possible new print – the 1930’s are my favorite decade for fashion, so when TD posted on their Facebook wall that the inspiration for their new print was this 1930’s dress I died in my shoes. DYING FROM JOY.
Desperately Seeking Trashy Diva Facebook group– I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this incredible Facebook group devoted to all things TD: discussions on new prints and styles, discussions on old prints and styles, how each style fits in terms of sizing, reselling or trading old TD garments, the classic “desperately seeking” posts (pleas from people looking for garments/prints), photos of group members styling themselves, and one of the most supportive group of women on the Internet. Divas from the store are also on hand to answer questions and the women in this group are devoted, attentive, and full of helpful information.
A quick note to note that you should be following Heyday! on their Facebook page because they will be posting a different sale offer every day, from December 1 until Christmas! This advent calendar of sales is great if you’ve been eyeing something in their shop and I can’t resist stocking up on their impeccable wide leg trousers. It’s brilliant, really – it keeps you checking in every day to see what will be on sale! Today’s special: take 10 pounds (roughly $15.00) off their adorable Judy dresses.
Now in its fifth year, OcTieBer is “a month long sartorial celebration of quality neckwear worn in a traditional style” – in reality, it is much more than the sum of this description: it is the encouragement of people of all walks, creeds, and genders to embrace classic style (or modern twists on classic style); it highlights accessories that we don’t often consider in our modern lives, unless you happen to be a lawyer or just really like wearing neck scarves or ascots; it encourages you to dig deep into your closet and pull out those neglected ties or challenges regular tie wearers to create new ensembles and be inspired by others; it may cause people to notice you in positive ways; it creates a sense of camaraderie within the OcTieBer Facebook group where novice and even professional dressers can share their creativity and efforts for the day or every day of October.
OcTieBer IS inspiring. The challenge is to wear neckwear every day for the month of October, but even if you only join us for a couple of days, I invite you to join us for the fun of dressing, learning from and being inspired by others, and being supported in your endeavors by a wonderful group of people.
1. Wear a collared shirt and tie each day (be it a long tie, bow tie, ascot, cravat, bolo, western double string tie or any other traditional neckwear that expresses your personal style). Preferably your outfit will be paired with a jacket, sweater, vest or other accessories that suggest why you’ve chosen that day’s tie.
2. Upload an image of your fine outfit with an optional description of the designer, type of knot, fabric, etc.
3. Share the love by encouraging your friends to admire your statement of personal style.”
I don’t know why it took me so long to write about 20th Century Foxy, because I’ve been eyeballing things on their website for over a year and I’m firmly convinced that I just need to buy a plane ticket and go shopping in the UK with all the great vintage repro I’m seeing. With a pun-tastic name, this line of womenswear takes its inspiration from the early to mid-20th century, citing the years 1925 through 1964 as inspiration. With an obvious passion for vintage style, 20th Century Foxy also has the goal of selling “top quality clothing produced locally and in ethical circumstances and using local or regional businesses where possible.” Further, they also want to appeal to a wide range of shapes and sizes – “there is the perfect outfit for every woman of every shape and that it will make her feel like a goddess.” YES THERE IS.
In addition to solid reproduction and vintage-inspired garments, they offer style guides for the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, with a bit of history, etiquette, key looks (with photos from the past paired with looks from the website), and a shopping list.
Here’s what I’d love to add to my closet from 20th Century Foxy:
I have been on the hunt for knitwear to pair with my Chloe Hong trumpet skirts to transition them into winter and fall. My conclusion is that most of the great knitwear I am finding is coming from the UK, so let’s start with one of my new favorite knitwear sources, Collectif Clothing. What’s this all about? From the website: “Established in the year 2000, Collectif is an independent 1940s and 1950s inspired vintage reproduction brand based in London. We create garments and accessories that are inspired by genuine vintage patterns, knitting patterns, and fabrics from our extensive archive.”
Of course there’s much more than knitwear here, and I’ve seen a few pieces pop up on other vintage/retro retail websites, like ModCloth and Miss L Fire (US shipping!). From blouses to knitwear to gowns to overalls, I love the variety available here – there’s lots of really good everyday basics to work into your wardrobe, casual or dressy, and you could put together an entire ensemble here or just pick up a few special pieces. Also, plaid…keep it coming, I can never get enough!
Well, I’ve died and gone to heaven – not only did my favorite dress company, Trashy Diva, just come out with a green “kimono print” made of green and candy and marshmallow fluff and everything I love, they are offering 30% off EVERYTHING on their website (sale, new, jewelry, Re-mix Vintage Shoes *COUGHCOUGH*) with the code BLACKOUT30. Dress and matching head scarf acquired as we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, leaving me with much to be thankful for!
The promotion ends Monday, December 1, so get your orders in for your holiday dresses now before the postal service gets bananas!
In case you missed it in person or on the live stream, Frankie 100 in New York played host to a fashion show during the Sunday night festivities! Take a gander at some of your favorite swing dancers modeling some truly spectacular vintage fashions from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s, both ladies and gents, starting at 46:20 mark on the video – a really gorgeous collection of everything from swimwear to eveningwear, Mutsumi Gee’s lovely reproductions, the vintage-inspired designs of Nicole Lenzen, the tailored menswear of Chloe Hong, even a segment devoted to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York! Special thanks to Voon Chew and Lainey Silver for their efforts in putting this together!
On a tip from DJ Kristy Milliken, I checked out Emmy, a Swedish company making vintage-inspired clothing – what I found was a really noteworthy clothing company, and here is why:
1. Their pieces really bridge the gap – you could mix and match a lot of these pieces with modern pieces or vintage pieces and they wouldn’t look out of place. Versatility is so important in a wardrobe.
2. Their pieces go together – they have sweaters to match the dresses/shirts/skirts, versatile basics, and coordinating colors. You could actually put together a mini-wardrobe just from their pieces and not be wanting for casual, dressy, beach, work, and so on.
I see a lot of repro and vintage-inspired clothing companies going for gold with their dresses (which is great, but not 100% of the time – what if I decide to go glamping?) and sort of half-heartedly offering a few separates or the other odd piece. There is definitely a trend away from this and I am hopeful that there is a demand out there, because I know I am wanting more and more to incorporate vintage and vintage-inspired clothing into my everyday life, not just my dancing or singing life.
So how did Emmy get to this point of versatility and so many different garments? With a focus on “feminine, well-fitted garments that embrace and enhance the female shape,” with a goal of suiting all body types and ages and a focus on quality to create garments that can be worn year after year.
Emmy has done a great job with their adorable and practical collections – here are some of my favorites from their Spring/Summer 2014 line:
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: