Thursday, 21 February 2013

Lindy Hop and the Hunt for The Perfect Shoe

I think I may have finally (after 3 years) found my perfect swing dance shoe. I'm 175cm tall, so am not interested in wedged dance shoes. These are £75 at Revival Retro boutique in London. Unfortunately they don't have suede soles and my knee's been playing up, so I think I'll have to go and have a look at them. They also only come in full sizes, but it looks like my search for a decent red swing shoe may have come to an end. I'm currently wearing black plimsolls with suede soles which are incredibly comfortable, but not so pretty.

This is not a search I have taken lightly. Oh no. A few shoes have been tested and failed along the pathway to shoe enlightenment.

I have Johnsons/Remix red Laura Sandals which are lovely but with my slightly dodgy knee the soles just aren't slippery enough. I did wear them to Goodwood Revival though where all the girls I met, wincing in their 50s heels on dirty ground, commented how comfortable they looked. (They are!)

I also have these Aris Allen tweed wedges which have suede soles and are great, but I'm just not designed for heels, and one of the buttons is stuck on with chewing gum after I had a wardrobe malfunction mid swing out one night.

My true shoe loves are these two pairs of Re-mix shoes I bought from Revival (and I'm not going to tell you how much they were). I bought the black and brown Deco ones at the London Swing Dance Festival a few years ago and everyone looked at me impressed and asked 'can you dance in those?' I replied 'No. But they're not dancing shoes. They're wearing shoes.' The dancers looked at me shocked. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a 1920s Mary Jane.

My other Remix love is Eva. I bought her in green, but the leather is very soft and after wearing them just once, to a fancy dress ball, they had little tears in the leather on the heel. So even though I'm having major lust after her in cherry red, I'm just not prepared to spend them money on them. Which is a shame because she's beautiful.

Another swing dancing wardrobe problem I have is decent hair accessories. I have a small selection of lovely hair flowers and a few nice clips. But there are a lot of ugly fake flowers out there. It's a tricky thing because you can't wear anything too big and headband fascinators are out because they need to be firmly attached. The practicalities of vintage clothing for dancing in is a minefield (I think there's another post in that?)

So this week, inspired by pin tucks I created a felt bow (or 5) to wear in my hair for dancing. They're millinery weight felt which is much stronger than your craft shop felt. It's not too big, it sits flush to the head (so can't be knocked out by clumsy boys) and I think it's got a different art deco take on the humble bow. It comes in  a variety of colours, can be bling-ed, and can be made a bit bigger for special occasions. What's not to love. I'm road testing it tonight so I'll see how it goes.

Update: I found it

Yes, I found the perfect dance shoe. I bought it at a weekend event, immediately danced 3 classes in it and then several hours in the evening with no problems. Not only is the shoe gorgeous, but it had zero teething problems, unlike every other pair of shoes I've tried dancing in (sole slipperiness or lack thereof, stiffness of soul in wedges, blisters - you name it, I've had it). I can only imagine that it the shoes are made using voodoo magic. Ladies, please put your hands together for the Terry Smith saddle shoe from Morellos

Here it is pictured in green. I bought it in the same colourway but black and white. The black has an ever so slight navy tinge which makes it look a lot softer and more of a 'real' shoe, as opposed to fancy dress look that most black and white jazz shoes seem to have. They're made in England in genuine leather (big plus), and mould nicely to your feet. The soles are leather and quite thin so you get the same connection to the ground you get when wearing plimsolls, but are also spongy enough for comfort. They give you enough slip on the dance floor, but can also be worn outside to and from the event without ruining them. The shoes a very petite feminine style, so even though they are saddle shoes, they are unmistakeably girls shoes which is very important to me, and the piecing, holes and top stitching detail is really lovely. I also really like a lace up dance shoe, as they fit much to your foot and you don't ever have problems with your foot moving at a different time to your shoe. They come in many colour combinations, including animal prints, suedes, etc so even though they didn't have a red and white option in my size when I bought my pair, I can still buy a second red pair. Relief!

The sizes are a little odd, I'm somewhere between a 6 1/2 and a 7, but they don't do half sizes. The 7 was considerably too big and the 6 was snug (am not sure what their sizes are based on but I've never had this problem with any other brand). Because they are made from good quality soft leather I bought the size down as leather moulds nicely to your foot, and have not had problems with rubbing or blisters or anything like that, but I would suggest trying them on if possible before purchase.

And even better, they are only £60 a pair! Try finding anything of similar quality on the high street for that price.

I have somehow managed to lose my black suede sole dance plimsolls but am thankful to have not only found a replacement pair of everyday dancing shoes, but an improvement in that they look good enough to wear to events.

A male friend I was with also bought a pair of their men's shoes and was similarly impressed with the results.

I also bought a pair of Rocket Originals Nancy shoes in red. I was no so pleased in them. The sole is very stiff which makes dancing your toes quite difficult and the leather is heavy so that they pinch around the toes, even in the right size. I think they'll need A LOT of wearing in around the house before they are suitable for anything else. But they are pretty... and if you think they look too similar to my Johnsons shoes above to be a sensible purchase, I will simply respond that a girl can never have too many pairs of red shoes!


  1. Love this! How are the Terry Smith saddle shoes holding up now, a couple of months on?

    1. Thanks Sara. I'm still loving them. It's been a bit strange getting used to the slip of the soles on different floors, but I think that's a fairly standard problem for any new dance shoes.

    2. Yeah that's about par for the course! One of my most slippery pair of suede-soled shoes because sticky and squeaky on a super-freshly polished floor once. That was confusing. My favourite sole is a raw thick leather like men's dress shoes, but finding flattish danceable ladies shoes with such a thing is remarkably difficult..

  2. Great post. I'm still looking for the perfect lindy hop shoe. (found the perfect ballroom shoe but not lindy).
    I'm just too picky. I want a thick stubby cuban heel (no bigger than 1.5cm high), Laces so I can adjust the tightness of the shoes as my feet do tend to expand a little as I dance, Padding/arch support or else my feet throb the next day, just enough slip on the sole. Needs to come in half sizes. Oh and they need to look nice too.
    The nearest I get is my tap shoes...but not sure what reaction I'd get lindy-ing in tap shoes. lol!