Swing Dance Clothes

pygmalion said:
That's my dilemna. I definitely want to learn lindy, but hey, I'm much more of a black cocktail dress kind of gal. To me ratty T-shirts are for cleaning the garage. No offense intended, lindy hoppers. But what's a more formal kind of person to wear? To fit in, but not TOO much? :lol: Anybody have recommendations?
Could you do the quirky op-shop slightly suggesting vintage (but not too much) sort of look?
Hey - I know what I mean! :D



Well-Known Member
:lol: I know what you mean too. Semi-retro might work for me. Good suggestion. Thanks. For sure, the baggy T-shirts and pants don't. BTW, Merlet, a dance shoe company from France, has some really pretty ballroom shoes perfect for a forties-era retro look. :D Oh oh. That Christmas wish list is getting long. I have a feeling a few pairs might spill over to my birthday list. :lol: :lol:
I don't wear ratty T-shirts while dancing... and don't see many people who do actually.

Clothes are loose to facilitate and enhace movement. The key is to be comfortable so you can relax, move and have fun. I'd say those are the major objectives of the lindy hopper. Of course people want to look nice (which definition varies from person to person of course). I personally go for the cute sporty girl type of look. This works mainly because I buy my shirts in the boy's department-- which I adore. I seldom if ever dance in jeans even though I suppose I could since I don't wear any of my pants tight. I don't wear baggy clothes (except that ratty T when I'm painting)... but loose... they fit.

I'm under the impression that lindy is the most casual of the dances we discuss here. I'd say dancing ability has much more to do with popularity than clothing. If you can cut a mean rug and feel comfortable doing it in a black cocktail dress... nothing is saying that you can't! Go for it!

You don't need a "look" (although you'd probably develope one anyway) to go hopping.


May the swing be with you!
NO ratty T-shirts for this lindy hopper! :evil: :lol:

There are lots of different styles of dress for us. Like Swing Kitten said the main goal is comfort. And with that in mind, you need to think about how are these pants going to feel when I start dripping in sweat? Will this shirt go with these pants when I need to change because I'm really sweaty?

Now for the gals who like to look more feminine there is nothing better than getting decked out in swing garb. It's especially nice since the retro/vintage look seems to be back in style and you can get some cute stuff very cheap. I personally prefer the dresses that have the petticoats underneath. But cute sailor-type pants with cropped shirts and flowers in the hair are also a nice touch, along with the fabulous skirts offered at Dancestore.com This is just THIS lindy hoppers opinion...we are not sloppy dressers just because our dance can be kind of crazy at times. :D
SwinginBoo said:
NO ratty T-shirts for this lindy hopper! :evil: :lol:
None for me, either. The most casual I'll go is a bowling shirt with a pair of baggy, solid black military fatigue pants. Depending on the type of dance, or if I'm going to a nice club, I'll pull out one of my 10 zoot suits. I still enjoy wearing them and a lot of the older folks get a kick out of them.
Count me in (on the "no ratty t-shirt" Lindy club) :) I generally wear either jeans (since they have pockets for my keys/wallet) and a casual top or yoga style pants and a sleeveless top for dance classes or practice. I feel more feminine in a skirt but I save these for special events. I wear skirts all week for my job so I welcome casual wear after hours as well as dressing up more to go out. I view my Lindy time as a workout (except it is WAY MORE FUN than working out); therefore, I dress comfortably.
You'll notice all the lindy hoppers chiming all have different ideas of style, the common thread is comfortable and reasonably casual.

I tend to wear loose fitting slacks or jeans a t-shirt under a collared dress shirt which i usually leave untucked. For footwear I tend towards leather dress shoes or loafers.
My closet has undergone an amazing transformation. I had no dresses or skirts--none--for years and years. And now I have the world's coolest swingskirt (sixgore, below the knee, gabardine, twirls great) and four or five vintage or vintage-look dresses. And a pair of 40s silk pajamas that are great for dancing. And I find I like wearing dresses even when I'm not dancing. Amazing.

Social dancing I usually wear yoga/workout pants (lightweight) and a sleeveless or tank top (so I can be as cool as possible in a very sweaty situation). Or I dress up (as mentioned above), depending on the venue and my mood.

Either way I wear a little mascara and red lipstick. And I have six different cloth flowers that I clip in my hair in combinations of two or three.

I read Jenn's post the other night and went right to dancestore.com. I have two new skirts and some cool underpants (for those high twirls) coming this week.

This is fun.

Vince A

Active Member
No ratty T shirts for me either, but I do wear nice T-shirts or Polo-type shirts. I collect a shirt (always black) from each of the venues that I attend, and this is usually what I wear while wearing jeans.

Really baggy-legged jeans, but tight in the hips/butt area, or very wide-legged dance slacks. One final thing I wear is a "Kippy" belt. The look kinda says casual swing!!!

And of course, dance sneakers . . .
Just to stir the pot a little (and continue my never ending battle against the evil that is Bleyers non-Swivel shoes)...

Women did not wear two-tones or spectators in the swing era. "that was a modern invention in the eighties."


Seriousely if you want to dress like a vintage swing dancer you really should be wearing Keds or some other canvas sneaker. If you want to dress like in vintage like the average woman on her night out dancing then a low thick heeled or wedge, solid colored shoe is more appropriate.

Most people don't really care about looking "authentic", but if you really are attempting to look the part, you can get a much better looking, longer lasting, more accuarate shoe than a Bleyer spectator.


Well-Known Member
*giggle* Actually, my 73 year old Mom clearly remembers having a couple pairs of spectator pumps and some platform/wedgie shoes in the late forties. I just called and asked, for the sake of "stirring the pot." :lol: You may be right about what the swing folks danced in back then, though. Her shoes were strictly for church. :lol: :D

Edit: Oh yeah, and you're absolutely right about the heel height. She told me 1.5 inches. Nice solid, low comfortable heels. Looks like swing dancers have always been sensible about that. :D


Well-Known Member
Cool. I found a link, just like you knew I would. :lol: :roll: :wink:

Fashion history for lindy hoppers. Looks like Mom was behind the times with her spectator pumps. According to this page, they first appeared in the early thirties. Wedgies/platform shoes were quite popular in the forties. Even Mom, in rural South Carolina, had some! :lol: :D

Especially for dancing I try to wear a soft shirt or one with an interesting texture but nice to the touch. I consider that my lead will need to touch the back of my shirt and some of the shirts I see gals wear (esecially the ones with sparkles) I would think would be a little scratchy to deal with.

Also, while I think it's important to know what is historically accurate, I like the look of two tone shoes! If I have a nice pair of two tone wing tips you could bet that I would wear them. ... but the dance shoes I've seen come this way have not impressed me. The uppers are too soft, flexible, and slipperesque for my tastes. You can see the dancer wiggle their toes... no body and too thin. :shrug:
Dancegal said:
After a year and a half of swing dancing with hard leather soled shoes, I tried all-black Bleyers with the "Special Sole". I was disappointed - could not nearly spin as well in spite of the "spin spot" - unfortunately I had to dance in them for a while to figure it out.
Apparently I did not dance in them long enough - tonight I took the Bleyers to my Lindy hop class and danced at the practice time afterwards - and had a great dance night! I was even doing "shines" (continual swivels) which I had trouble doing before (well... I was practicing my "shines" at home wearing socks on CARPET :lol: ). I did slide some too (on the DANCE floor; no, did not try sliding on CARPET :lol: ). And took off the Bleyer insoles, shoe still fit fine (I had ordered a size 7/39 Bleyer and I normally wear 6 1/2). I guess I was just too accustomed to my hard leather bottom dance shoes.
I'm sorry, I wasn't clear at all, spectator and two-tone shoes themselves have obviousely been around for many years... the jitterbugs I know all denied dancing in two-tones (actually this includes the guys as well curiousely enough). The reference actually made by one was those were worn by the downtown crowd (Harlem being the northern point of Manhattan). The overabundance of two-tones in swing dancing seemed to come with the first revival of lindy hop in the 80's.

It'll be interesting to here from the experience of older dancers from other parts of the country.

I certainly shouldn't have phrased it as an absolute. It just begs to be proven wrong, and isn't hard to do.


Well-Known Member
:lol: I was just teasing about the spectator pumps. :lol: And you are absolutely right about the heels women wore. When I look at old family photos or old movies from that era, the thing that strikes me about the shoes is how clunky they were, by modern standards. Nice sensible, thick heels.
I just got my black swishy skirt and peasant shirt from dancestore.com. I love them! I love the skirt so much I'm thinking of shopping for a dressier top I could wear with the skirt for my New Year's Eve Big Band Bash party. And of course, I'm geared for the Great Southwest Lindyfest in March! Yep, building up the Lindy collection.... :D :p :D


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