Dance Clothes and Shoes for Swing Dancing, by Mike & Mary Richardson

The Main Points

Dress for comfort, but dress nice – and don’t be afraid to get a bit dressed up!

o Men (leaders)Bring extra outer shirts and T-shirts!  Let’s face it, most men sweat when swing dancing….take care of your personal hygiene at swing dances.  Followers don’t like to dance with men that have big sweat spots on their clothes, dripping sweat from their face, arms, etc…
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o Ladies (followers):  Avoid sleeveless shirts and tank tops.  It is not pleasant to have to touch the damp skin of a partner.  Long hair should be put up or tied in a ponytail. It’s difficult to get into closed dance position when the lady has long flowing hair (hair can get caught in the gentleman’s right hand).  It’s also not fun to be hit in the face with flying hair (especially wet hair) during turns and spins.
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o If you dance on a regular basis, you should invest in some good dance shoes designed for swing dancers, both for swing dances and lessons.  You really can’t get beyond the beginner level if you try to dance in tennis shoes (not counting tennis shoes that have chrome leather applied to the bottoms), work type shoes, climbing boots, ballroom- type dance shoes, etc…Comfort is Key!
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o Unlike most other dance events that are rather sedate and calm, swing dances have more up beat and up-tempo music and will get you “warmed up” in a hurry.  After a night of swing dancing, we sometimes hear people remark that they feel exhausted and drained.  We suspect that feeling may come from wearing clothing that just makes you too darned hot and dance shoes (or street shoes) that don’t provide cushion or support.
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o If one wears good dance shoes and comfortable clothing, a good night of swing dancing will leave you with a feeling of gentle fatigue.

A word about these recommendations for the beginner, and those taking our group classes

We don’t necessarily recommend that people new to swing dancing buy a lot of shoes or clothing until they’ve gotten some experience with swing dancing and have an idea of what they want.  If you’re in a beginner level class, you don’t need any special shoes or clothing, but we do recommend the following:

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and are not restrictive to your movement (for example, long tight skirts on ladies). A good guideline is that anything is fine, as long as it’s comfortable and tasteful.
  • Wear shoes with flat soles (high heels are not recommended) that grip your ankle. Comfortable dress shoes, like loafers or wing tips with a leather sole, are also fine to start.
  • Wear light shoes without a lot of traction so you can spin with less strain on your knees and ankles.  (Note that hiking boots and similar type shoes that are “heavy” with lots of traction are not good.)

General Info on Dance Shoes

There are lots of different manufacturers and styles of dance shoes on the market.  First, let’s briefly look at some types of shoes generally available for dancing, but not particularly suitable for swing dancing.

Ballroom Dance Shoes.  Ballroom dance shoes have very little lateral and arch support, and often little insole cushion.  The soles normally have a very thin layer of suede leather on the sole.  Ballroom Dance Shoes are easily ruined if used on something other than a nice, smooth, clean wooden or tiled dance floor.

Character Shoes (named for their use in musical theatre by actresses/actors performing “in character”).  These shoes have a very generic look and almost always come with very hard, leather soles. Character Shoes do not have built in cushion insole.  Although not as “stylish” looking as ballroom shoes (they tend to make one’s feet look “clunky”), Character Shoes are sturdier and hold up better.  They are okay for dancing in night clubs where you can put them on in the car, walk in wearing them (no need for shoe bags), dance, and leave without having to worry about sidewalks, spilled drinks and dirty dance floors that would ruin Ballroom Dance Shoes.

Jazz Shoes.  Made for jazz and modern dance, these type shoes can be purchased with split sloes for more flexibility.  The soles will normally be rubber, chrome leather (suede) soles, or a chrome leather sole with a rubber heel.  Like ballroom dance shoes, these type shoes are light but lack much lateral and/or arch support.

Dance Shoes For Swing Dancers

If you do a lot of swing dancing, it’s certainly wise to invest in some dance shoes (and cushioned insoles) that provide comfort, support and the proper sole for slides, hops, jumps, swivels and spinning (especially the ladies, who often do a lot of spinning!).  Dancing can take a toll on your knees, ankles and legs if you don’t have good shoes.  Overall, you want shoes that let you pivot freely (to avoid knee and ankle damage), but not let you slip and fall.  Let’s look at some shoes made specifically for swing dancers.

Recommendations for shoes.  See the info below in section on “Where to buy….” for specific recommendations.

Vintage ShoesIn my view, vintage shoes are one of the best choices to make when looking for dance shoes.  Yes, they are harder to find, and cost a bit more than “regular” shoes.  But often times shoes from the 1930’s/40’s/50’s were made much better than shoes today, and of course, that vintage look is hard to beat.  A word of caution:  before you start purchasing vintage shoes, get educated on the subject; and talk to other swing dancers that wear vintage shoes to get their advice on where to get vintage shoes (a lot of times on Ebay/Etsy) and other any advice they may have.  Yes, that will take some time and effort, but it’ll be worth it!

Cushioned Insoles. A good pair cushioned insoles are worth their weight in gold. There are lots of name brand and off-brand insoles on the market. Some people will buy their shoes slightly bigger (perhaps an half size bigger) to give them more room. Insoles come in relatively flat versions and those with combinations of molded heel cup and arch support. You can even add a “flat” type cushioned insole under the combination type to really increase the cushion and support.

A note on Athletic Shoes with Chrome Leather Soles.
  Athletic Shoes?  Yes, some swing dancers wear athletic shoes.  These shoes have lots of layers of rubber and foam that really cushion and support your feet.  However, as we all know, athletic shoes are built to “grip” the floor, and if you try to dance (or do any turns or spinning) in rubber soled shoes you can easily hurt or injure your knees or ankles.  So what’s the solution?  Chrome or a hard leather sole.  Take a pair of your stylish athletic shoes (preferably with a flat sole, i.e. not running athletic shoes) to a shoe repair store and have chrome leather (note thin suede leather) or a hard leather sole bonded or glued on. This typically costs about $30. Once again, ask for the thicker chrome leather or a hard leather sole, and not the thin suede that is often used on ballroom dance shoes.

Note you can also use the “Chrome Leather” or “Hard Leather” solution on lots of other different shoes that give you good support, such as two-tone spectators, bowling shoes, vintage shoes, etc.  In Lexington, Bluegrass Shoe Repair off Lane Allen Road does a nice job of applying thick chrome leather or a hard leather sole to various styles of shoes (see info below).

Lastly, note that a big disadvantage of wearing tennis shoes with chrome leather or even a hard leather sole is that it’s difficult to do heel and floor slides.

General Info on Dance Clothes

The bottom line for what to wear to a swing dance: you should dress nice and tasteful.  Remember, dancing is a social activity and you’re interacting with other people, so try to look like you care!

Think about it…guys, do you think women will want to dance with you or be attracted to you if you’re wearing ratty looking blue jeans, or cargo pants, or sweatpants and a dingy looking t-shirt?  Ladies, do you think guys will want to dance with or be attraced to a lady that looks frumpy and dowdy?  It bears repeating, for both guys and gals – dress nice!

It’s “dressy” casual or business casual for most people at Hepcats swing dance events, although some like to get dressed up, and that’s fine!  People also tend to get more dressed up for Hepcats events with Live Music, such as the Hepcats Big Band Swing Dances.  Keep comfort in mind, and note that swing dancing keeps you movin’!  Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.  (To protect the dance floor, no boots, “spiked” high heels or similar type shoes are allowed.)

For classes.  Wear loose comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes.  We don’t recommend blue jeans because they’re too restrictive.  We also don’t recommend high heels or open, strapped shoes or sandals or flip flops.

Vintage Style.  Some people prefer to dress vintage at swing dances, i.e. wide legged pants, two tone shoes, “swishy” skirts or dresses, etc.  While this is never required, it is fun and adds to the overall atmosphere of the dance.  Where do you get vintage style clothes? Generally speaking, here, there and everywhere – see the info below.

Dance Clothes – General Info for Ladies (based on Mary’s experiences)

Skirts vs. Pants.  Generally speaking, I prefer dresses or skirts, as pants can get hot. Although some women wear long pants, I do not recommend heavy jeans.  Light weight Capri pants, or drawstring pants are not only comfortable, but also quite acceptable at swing dances.  Also, swing dancing does wonderful things for ones calf muscles. Why not show them off?

Shirts.  I prefer short sleeves. Sometimes leaders grab hold of the forearm instead of the hand and having hanging, long sleeves can get in the way.  I don’t recommend going sleeveless, or wearing spaghetti straps; armpits are not a women’s most attractive feature.  I also do not recommend anything backless.  Most leaders do not enjoy putting their hand on a sweaty back.

Fabrics.  I find that the newer rayon and nylon blends work very well.  Even when they get damp from perspiration, they tend to dry quickly.  Lightweight cotton weaves are okay, but cotton knits tend to hold moisture and can feel heavy when wet.  Some washable silks are ok, but do a small spot test to see if it changes colors when wet.  Anything “Dry Clean Only” is not recommended.

Whatever you decide to wear or buy, before you leave home or leave the store dressing room, move around in the outfit, raise your arms over your head, sit down in it, etc.  Does it ride up?  Does it show too much of the wrong thing?  You do not want to spend half the evening adjusting your clothing.

Hair.  Anything over shoulder length should be pulled back, or up or brought under control in some way.  Swing dancing is an athletic activity, and you’re going to perspire.  Leaders don’t enjoy begin smacked in the face by a wet mop!

Dance Clothes – General Info for Men (based on Mike’s experiences)

The Vintage Look and the Casual Look.  I like to dress vintage for most swing dances, so you’ll see me with a shirt, suit/jacket and tie (except for outdoor events).   The info below in the “Vintage Look” section gives some tips/pointers on dressing vintage for guys.  The info in the “Casual Look” section is for those occasions I don’t wear a suit/jacket and tie.

I also gladly give credit to my wife Mary for her advice and expertise on what looks vintage/appropriate/properly coordinated….. (although she is in no way responsible for any of my clothing faults!).

Some of the information about fabrics that applies for women is applicable here, although for whatever reason, men seem to perspire more than ladies. So staying cool and dry is a key consideration!

The vintage look (see section below).

The casual look

Shirts — First, let’s cover what I don’t find comfortable.

Silk.  Silk may be okay if you’re not moving around much, but silk (1) doesn’t “breathe” and soaks up perspiration, thus retaining a lot of body heat; (2) changes color as it absorbs perspiration, giving a very unpleasant appearance, and (3) loses its shape as it gets wet from perspiration.

Cotton.  Cotton, especially the 100% heavy-weight variety, is not very comfortable for swing dancing, for most of the same reasons that silk is not. Cotton really soaks up the sweat and after a couple of dances of even moderate exertion it makes you feel like you’re wearing a towel.

T-Shirts or Polo Shirts.  I don’t recommend T-shirts or Polo Shirts for dancing, even in an extremely casual setting. I really haven’t found a T-Shirt or Polo Shirt fabric that is suitable for dancing. If you decide to wear T-shirts or Polo Shirts, take extras so you can change when those get wet.

Shirts — What’s comfortable.

“Aloha” Shirts.  An exception to the “cotton” rule is the super-lightweight cotton “Aloha” shirts, worn in Hawaii and the Philippines. But beware, these shirts are made from a tightly woven cotton weave and are not the imitations found in many retail and on-line stores. These genuine “Aloha” shirts are not cheap. They can cost in the $40-100 range and can only be found in specialty stores. Also, the patterns on the shirts can be quite “busy”, so try to find Aloha shirts with little or no pattern.

Rayon and Nylon Blends.  I’ve found that the newer rayon and nylon/polyester blends are very comfortable for dancing. They dry quickly, keep their shape and hold up well after repeated washings. Look for shirts that are comfortable to move around in (especially as you move your arms upwards for underarm turns) and are “smooth” to the touch.

Plain T-Shirts Underneath.  I like to wear a plain v-neck t-shirt under my outer shirt. Surprisingly, this helps soak up the some of sweat, doesn’t retain too much body heat (if the outer shirt is un-tucked) and provides a “barrier” for helping keep the outer shirt dry.  I like to take extra T-shirts and outer shirts to dances to change as needed. Taking extras T-shirts and outer shirts is especially important for outdoor dances.

The “untucked” look.  If I’m not wearing a shirt, jacket and tie, I like to wear my outer shirt “un-tucked”; this allows a nice flow of air and helps keep the outer shirt (and me) dry.

Pants — see the info above in the Vintage Look section.

General Advice on Vintage Clothing

Some general advice on dressing vintage/vintage clothing that applies to men and women.

Authentic Vintage Clothing.  Authentic vintage clothing (i.e. from the 1950’s and earlier) in good condition can be hard to find, especially in the bigger sizes.  For a variety of reasons, people were generally smaller 50-75 years ago, both in height and in “girth”.  It’s not impossible to find vintage clothing in larger sizes, but smaller sizes are much more common.  And larger size vintage clothes often cost more.  But don’t give up, keep looking – part of the fun of vintage clothing is the thrill of the hunt!

A couple of other caveats.  A lot of authentic vintage clothing is made of wool or some other heavier type material and doesn’t “breathe” well (which can be a problem for swing dancing).  Vintage clothing can be fragile and not hold up well to the rigors of swing dancing.  Vintage clothing normally requires dry cleaning.   And as noted above, sizes for vintage clothes may run smaller, so keep that in mind if ordering on line from Ebay, Etsy or another on-line site.

Reproduction Vintage Clothing.  There are several on-line retailers that sell reproduction shoes and  clothing.  This especially applies for shoes (see info below).  Thrift stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army) are a good source for clothing that is older, although not exactly vintage, but has a vintage look.  (For the ladies, note that wide shoulder pads were popular in a lot of dresses and shirts from the 1980’s, giving that clothing a vintage or 1940’s look.)   

o How to get started with vintage clothing.  (1)  See the info below for places to buy vintage clothing.  (2)  Note that Mike & Mary Richardson have a good collection of vintage and vintage style clothing, so get with us and we’ll be happy to share any info we have and get you started in the right direction for vintage clothing.

Mike’s info & advice for men for vintage clothing

General Advice for Men.  (1)  As previoulsy noted, authentic swing-era vintage clothing in good condition, especially in the larger sizes, can be hard to find.  I do have some authentic vintage clothing items:  ties, shoes, suits, jackets, pants, etc…  Depending on the dance event (and often at non-dance events when I’m about town) I like to dress vintage, primarily a 1930’s or 40’s vintage look, or a vintage inspired look, if you will.  My wife Mary also likes to dress vintage, and we often get compliments on our clothing choices (although Mary is in no way responsible for any of my fashion mistakes!).

(2)  Always consider the rarity and condition of your vintage clothes and how much wear and tear those vintage clothes will endure if you wear them swing dancing.  For example, if you are going to a summer street dance or some other type of outdoor summer dance (where you will sweat a lot!), you probably shouldn’t wear your good vintage clothes.  Stick with the vintage reproduction type clothes for those events.  And of course you wouldn’t want to wear your hard to find vintage shoes on concrete or some other similar dance floor surface.
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o Jackets.  For  jackets I prefer a vintage jacket or sport coat, or some type of vintage inspired jacket with a vintage looking pattern:  a houndstooth, herringbone or checked type pattern, with a wide, swing-era style lapel if possible.  Generally, you want the width of your tie to be in somewhat the same proportion as your jacket lapel.  Jackets are one of the items that you can somtimes find at a thrift store, Goodwill, etc…KuppSuit

o Suits.  For suits, I prefer a 1930’s or 40’s vintage suit, or a vintage inspired fine wool doubled breasted classic style suit, preferably with a pinstripe, and with the peak and wide lapel, a very classy look!  Suits are harder to find at thrift stores, especially the double breasted variety.  And note you’ll need the services of a good tailor to fit almost any suit you buy second hand, and for most suits you would buy off the rack.

Pinstripe suits (generally grey/dark blue/brown) were worn a lot in the swing-era, but those type swing-era vintage suits are hard to find (especially in the bigger sizes).  If you do wear a suit, stick with the tradtional colors, and not any “over the top” colors/color combinations.  Keep in mind tyour goal should be to dress and look vintage, and not “cartoonish”.
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For summer events, a seersucker suit can be a nice vintage look.  I don’t wear zoot suits; vintage zoot suits are pretty much impossible to find, and the newer ones are generally heavy, cost a lot, and are not comfortable (for me) for dancing (plus my wife tells me zoot suits don’t look good on me!).

V,M,3[1]o Pants.  I often wear vintage pants from the 1930’s & 40’s; once again, they can be hard to find in the larger sizes.  Keep in mind that pants in the swing-era had a much fuller and generous cut than pants that are worn today.  For vintage inspired pants, I usually go for a dress pant in a solid and contrasting, but complimenary color to the jacket I wear, in either (1) a fine wool fabric (my first preference) or (2) a Microfiber or other man made material (the man made fabrics are fairly easy to find on-line, and cost about $40-$80, but I really prefer a fine wool, or other natural fabric).

I sometimes wear the wide legged wool pant style, about 20-22″ around the botton.  Wide legged pants have a very nice vintage look, and the wool pants with the wide legged style will normally cost more (and are harder to find), around $90-$120.  These type pants give one a nice swing-era vintage look, are a tad heavier than regular width pants, but I find they keep your legs cooler due to the increased flow ofV,M,4[2] air.  Note:  the pants should be cuffed, not straight.  If you get the pants cuffed, ask for a 1.5-2.0″ cuff; that will give the pants a bit more of a vintage look and the increased weight will help keep the pant leg straighter.

Note you can find the pants made of man made fabrics in a variety of colors, but stick to the basic classic colors.  Remember, the goal is to look vintage/classy/stylish, and not “cartoonish”.

ManinSuitBe careful of heavy wool pants.  I find that a lot of the heavy wool blend pants retain a lot of heat and sweat when dancing, although they do hold their shape.  If these heavy wool blend pants get really wet, they get even more heavy.  Once again, go for the wool pants with a light feel/fine blend.

Khaki or other casual type pants would seem to be a good choice for swing dancing but they really aren’t, and they don’t look 1930’s/40’s vintage.  I find these type pants soak up sweat and rapidly lose their shape.  And sweat pants, “gym” pants, cargo type pants or pajama type pants are really not appropriate for a social dance event.

Some pants made from cotton/polyester blends are nice for outdoor swing dance events.  Ensure the fabric has a “light” feel to it and that it appears it will hold its shape.

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Some vintage ties, c. mid-late 1940’s/early 50’s

Ties.  Ties have an interesting history (but I digress!).  Vintage ties are one of the easier vintage items to find, are generally affordable, and really give your clothing some “pop” and color.
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I like to wear vintage swing-era 1940’s/early 1950’s ties with a “bold”, “geometric” or “art deco” type pattern and a bright color.  V.M,7[1] There were a multitude of different colors used for swing-era ties.  Ties from the swing-era were generally about 44-52″ in length, shorter than ties worn today and did not cover the belt buckle area (which is opposite of the general rule for today).  Ties with a “geometric” or “art deco” type pattern were generally more prevelant in the mid 1940’s (generally post WW II) to about the early 50’s.  Striped ties were more common in the 1930’s to the end of WW II.  I normally don’t wear striped ties, since a tie with a geometric/art deco type pattern is generally more identifiable as a vintage look.  Solid color ties and ties with an “all over” pattern really don’t have that vintage look.
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Shirts.  I normally wear your basic white or off white dress shirt, always long sleveed, and often with french cuffs.  Dress shirts with a thin pinstripe and/or with a bit of color can sometimes be used to compliment and/or contrast with the tie/the ensemble you wear to enhance your vintage style.  Beware that shirts with a lot of color or a busy pattern can be difficult to “match up” and may even “over power” your ensemble.  A dress shirt with french cuffs gives a very classly look, although those shirts are a bit hard to find, and normally cost more.  Plus you’ll need cuff links for a french cuff shirt.
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Shoes.  My first preference is to wear vintage swing-era shoes from the 30’s/40’s/50’s.  Men’s shoe styles didn’t really change that much from about the late 1920’s to about the mid-to-late 1950’s.  Along with the tie, vintage shoes can really give your outfit that vintage look.  Two tone spectators (black and white, brown and V,M,5[1]white) are classic swing-era, along with spectators with a ventilated and/or mesh look.  If/when you buy vintage shoes on line, make sure you check the measurements, and examine the pictures closely for condition.
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For those that want to purchase non vintage two tone/spectators shoes, a couple of recommendations.  (1)  The web site Shoe Passion has very affordable two tone shoes of very good quality.  Don’t forget to get back the VAT (value added tax).  (2)  A less expensive option is this web site – a nice selection of two tone shoes with a thin sole, colorful and a bit flashy, and a bit on the “costume” shoe side.  A couple of notes about these shoes…….Stick with the Brentano style thin soled basic classic colors:  black/white and brown/white (burgandy/white is okay).  Other “bright” and “wild” colors and the patent leather styles really don’t look vintage.  As noted above, remember the goal is to look vintage,  not “cartoonish”.  Also note it’s ‘s my understanding that the leather on these shoes is “corrected grain leather”, which makes them non-porous, similar to rubber or plastic (a reason why they are fairly inexpensive).  So the leather doesn’t really “breath” and your feet can get hot and sweaty./
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Hats.  Generally, I only wear hats to outdoor events.  Having served in the military for over 26 years, I still can’t bring myself to wear a hat indoors!  The classic fedora style of hat gives one a nice vintage look; for the summer a Panama straw hat is a nice option.  And for a 1920’s Charleston look, try a boater hat.  As with clothes, vintage hats from the swing-era can be expensive and hard to find.

Accessories
.  While you don’t want to go overboard, accessories can really add that something extra to your style.  A pocket square, a boutineer, a tie clip or tie bar adds a nice touch (although I personally don’t wear tie clips or tie bars that often when I’m dancing; and I don’t like tie pins, why stick a hole in your good vintage tie!).  And for french cuff shirts, go with vintage and classic looking cuff links.  A tip from my wife:  when dancing, wear cuff links with a rounded edge and not a square edge; the square edge can scratch your dance partner more easily.
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A few references:
o Everyday Fashions of the Thirties, As Pictured in Sears Catalogs, ed. JoAnne Olian.
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o Everybody Fashions of the Forties, As Pictured in Sears Catalogs, ed. JoAnne Olian.
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o Fit to Be Tied:  Vintage Ties of the Forties and Early Fifties, Dyer, Rod, & Spark, Ron.o 20th Century Neckties:  20th Century Neckties:  Pre-1955, Roseann Ettinger.

Gentleman’s Gazette.  I’ve found this web site to be very useful for information and advice for classic men’s clothing and styling.  Our society in general is casual about so many things, and men in particular often lack even the most basic understanding of clothing and styling.  This web site (and a few others), my experiences in the military, and most importantly sage and learned advice from my wife Mary have helped me gain a better understanding of this subject (although my wife Mary is in no way responsbile for any of my fashion faux pas!).

Mary’s info & advice for ladies for vintage clothing

Info to follow.

Where to buy clothes, shoes, vintage clothes, etc…

Most people get vintage clothing at either on-line retailers, thrift stores or vintage stores.

On-Line Retailers (mainly shoes)
o DanceStore.com.  Swing dance shoes and clothes; and other items, to include general dance attire, DVDs, etc.  This web site sells Aris Allen shoes.  These shoes come in lots of different styles and colors. For the men, Aris Allen has several styles with an all-leather sole & heel, which allows them to slide easily on the dance floor, and they have a couple of models in a wide size.  For the ladies, they make several styles of the early 1940’s wedge shoe.  Aris Allen’s normally cost anywhere from $70-120.

o Re-Mix Shoe Company.  Reproduction vintage style shoes.

Note:  Re-Mix Shoe Company is often a vendor at national level weekend workshop events, i.e. All Balboa Weekend.

o Savoy Swing Dance Shop.  DVDs of vintage dancing, instructional DVDs, and some vintage style shoes and clothes.

o Muffy’s.  On-line source for Saddle Shoes.

o Spectator Shoes for Men.  A nice selection of thin, all leather soled two tone spectator shoes for men at a reasonable price.  A couple of notes about the shoes on this web site:  (1)  It’s my understanding that the leather on these shoes is “corrected grain leather”, which makes them non-porous, similar to rubber or plastic (a reason why they are fairly inexpensive).  So the leather doesn’t really “breath” and your feet can get hot and sweaty.  (2) Stick with the Brentano style thin soled basic colors, black/white and brown/white (burgandy/white is okay.  All the other colors and the patent leather styles really don’t look vintage (remember, you want to look vintage, and not “cartoonish”.

o Classic Shoes for Men.  This is an interesting web site, and even though the shoes on this site are expensive, there is some good info on the web site about antique and vintage shoes.

o Bleyers Bleyers are made in Germany, specifically for swing dancers.  Bleyers used to be much more popular with swing dancers, but I hardly ever see swing dancers wearing them these days, probably because of the introduction of Aris Allen shoes, changing tastes toward vintage and other reproduction type shoes, and the exchange rate.  If you search the web you can probably find a retailer that sells Bleyers.  These shoes are lightweight, provide good shock absorption, but are a little deficient in lateral support.  There are several different styles of Bleyers, i.e. two-tone spectator, saddle shoe, etc. for both men and women.  They normally come with a synthetic type sole.

Thrift stores.  Check out Goodwill or Salvation Army (there are at least 6 Goodwill Stores in the Lexington area).  These type stores are generally better places for men to find clothing items than women.  Typical costs in these stores are $5 for a jacket, $10 for a suit, $3 for a pair of pants or dress shirt, $1.50 for a tie.  A great deal, if you can find what you’re looking for in your size, and in good condition.  Note:  before buying any item at a thrift store, always try it on and check it thoroughly for holes, tears, stains, etc. 

Vintage stores.  You can find some 1930’s/40’s style clothing in vintage stores, although a lot of vintage stores generally specialize in 1960’s (i.e. the Mad Man look) and 1970’s styles of clothing (which is of course easier to find).  Clothing in vintage stores is normally in good or better condition, but generally the better the condition, the more the item will cost.

Some local vintage stores of interest:
Street Scene, 2757 Regency Rd., Lexington, KY; 859-260-1578.  A variety of vintage items, a lot of 1960’s & 70’s items, not a great selection of items from the 1930’s, 40’s or 50’s. 

Feather Your Nest Antiques, 1317 West Main Street, Lexington, KY; 859-381-1505.  I’ve found some nice vintage items at this store.

Fox House Vintage, 512 E. High St., Lexington, KY; 859-784-0537.  A smaller shop with some nice vintage items.

Pops Resale, 1423 Leestown Rd., Lexington, KY; 859-254-7677.  Mostly vinyl records and such; some vintage clothes, although most of the clothes are 60’s/70’s.

A few others of interest we’ve visited in our travels:
Talk of the Town, 9111 Reading Rd., Cincinnati, OH,  45215-3231; 513-563-8844.

Casablanca Vintage, 3944 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati, OH,  45223-2639; 513-541-6999.
Hi-Bred Vintage, 2807 Woodburn Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45206; 513-240-4664
Pixel 19 Vintage Clothing, 211 Klotter Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45219; 513-476-2333

 

Sweet Lorain, 7105 Lorain Road, Cleveland, OH; 216-281-1959.
Chelsea’s Vintage Clothing, 1412 W 116th St., Cleveland, OH 44102; 216-226-9147.
 

On-line retailers (mainly clothes).  Here are a few of interest.

For the ladies:
o www.ModCloth.com.  Lots of cool stuff for the ladies.  This link also provides coupon and discount info for  ModCloth.
o www.shabbyapple.com.  Slightly expensive, but you can usually catch a few good sales.

Mostly for ladies, some stuff for guys:
o www.heydayonline.co.uk.  A British vintage company that allows you to purchase vintage patterns made for your sizing.

For guys:
o American Vintage Classics.

For guys and ladies:  Ebay and Etsy – shoes, clothing, etc…most of us are familiar with those two sites.  A big advantage to these sites is their search options.

Tailor Services and Shoe Repair.  You can find a good shoe repair and alterations shop both inside one building off Lane Allen Road:

Bluegrass Shoe Repair, 820 Lane Allen Rd., Ste. 136, Lexington, KY, 859-278-3031.  A good place to get that hard leather (or chrome leather) affixed to the bottom of your shoes.  They also have a nice selection of shoe polish and other shoe related items. 

o Alterations & Sew Much More, 820 Lane Allen Rd., Ste. 143, Lexington, KY, 859-276-0226.  An alterations shop that does good work at a good price.