Those ubiquitous Gap ads proclaim that khakis swing, but lots of female converts to the retro dance craze are opting for the duds that did it the first time around: full-skirted, tight-bodiced, calf-length frocks from the late '40s and early '50s. Vintage dresses let you "move and yet look feminine, beautiful and graceful," says actress and dance-floor demon Penelope Ann Miller. "They flatter a woman's body," she adds. "They make you feel it's good to have hips."
Which makes them perfect even for folks who have no intention of jitterbugging. "The '50s were the last time clothes were really pretty," says Hollywood fashion stylist Cary Fetman, who has tucked Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sarah Jessica Parker into vintage threads. Singer-actress Deborah Gibson calls the old-time outfits "simple, classy and fun all at the same time."
Meanwhile, hipsters of both sexes are scouring boutiques to "do the look from the hair down to the shoes," says Cameron Silver, owner of the L.A. vintage store Decades (Cameron Diaz and Téa Leoni are customers). "It's part of the fun of the swing movement. You put your '50s clothes on and you just seem to dance better."
Steven Cojocaru in Los Angeles and Cynthia Wang in New York City
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