The Vintage Look and the Casual Look. I like to wear vintage clothing for most swing dances I attend, so you’ll see me with a shirt, suit/jacket and tie (except for outdoor events). For info on Vintage Look, see this link. 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 fashion mistakes!).
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 this link.
The casual look – see below.
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. And 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 can be 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. This helps soak up the some of sweat, doesn’t retain too much body heat and provides a “barrier” for helping keep the outer shirt dry. I 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 (and followers really appreciate that!).
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.