+  Edited and photographed by Iké Udé, author of Style File. Selected as one of Vanity Fair’s 2009, 2012 and 2015 International Best Dressed Originals.  +

special guest/HEIDI ROSENAU: vintage dancer. #1 in thirteen acts



What impresses one the most, upon seeing Heidi Rosenau, is the ease, the aplomb and the grace with which she wears many of her smart attires. But hers are not just any smart attire but rather a collection of fine, rare vintages from the 1920s thru WWII period. This sartorial bracket, as it were, informs and defines Heidi’s particular style and sensibility.

A standout, the redhead works in one of New York’s most super prestigious museums during the day, in the position of marketing and media relations. Her real passion for life, though, is authentic swing-related dances of the 1920s through 1940s, namely Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, and Collegiate Shag.  Her dance partner is none other than her husband, Joe McGlynn who has danced with Heidi for the past six years and is as equally invested in vintage clothes but mixes his with reproductions and classic modern pieces. Just yesterday, they performed as featured vintage dancers at the Brooklyn Museum in conjunction with the exhibition, Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties.

An avid reader, she enjoys writing, traveling, classic American film of the 20s-40s, hiking/long walks, antiquing/flea marketing, attending history events like reenactments, visiting museums, and adores her two pet guinea pigs.

In the course of the next thirteen days, frequent theCHIC INDEX to savor in full lady/Ms. Heidi Rosenau’s finely wrought and individualized style. Indeed, style is a mode of autobiography, especially so with her.

Thank you,

Iké  Udé /October 28th.

(PS: Heidi was once featured in a double post prior to this special feature, thus I skipped the regular standardized questionnaire, as it were).


the interview:

What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
Circa 1938 rayon dress with bakelite zipper pull
1930s red leather kid pumps
Anchor pin
Hair flower-clip

How did you find the various items that you are wearing?  
I wear only head-to-toe vintage from the 1920s through WWII period.  Assembling each outfit is a challenging quest involving unexpected sources, different cities, etc., and I love sharing the results.  We all see elements of past fashions repeated in contemporary design, and I hope my sense of style illustrates for others useful points of reference and a sense context.

Additionally, the nautical dress is a reflection of my long-abiding interest in the 1930s and 1940s—music, dance, films, art, and general history (channeling a bit of Ginger Rogers in “Follow the Fleet” here?)  I also wanted to share with you the exquisite tailoring, shape, and special fabric (crisp sharkskin rayon) used in this look.

And as traditional as the sailor look may appear, the garment’s long frontal zipper was a conspicuous statement in the late 1930s, when the “slide-fastener” found its way beyond underwear into outerwear.  And isn’t the exposed zipper back again in a host of wonderful ways? Ha!

Did you compose this outfit spontaneously or was it planned ahead of time? 
They whole thing came together suddenly with the arrival of the dress.  Red, white, and blue clothing and accessories combine well together and I had a lot from which to choose…but the risk is overdoing it.  An outfit to be included later in the series also has a patriotic color-way.  That one is styled as I wore it for a specific occasion; with the white dress here however, I have used a lighter hand, by my standards.

Where do you normally shop for clothes and accessories?
The quest for vintage clothing keeps my eye on flea markets, vintage stores and shows, antique collectives, and online.  No easy specific answer… which is part of the fun.

How much role does money or the lack thereof play in one’s endeavor to dress very smart or beautifully? 
The development of my style point of view came from a lack of money; in fact, when in high school I discovered thrift shops and vintage clothing stores side-by-side in San Francisco.  Exploring the endless variety on offer through these stores lead directly to how I dress today.  Now that clothing from my favorite decades have become harder to find, I splurge once in a while, but I still find treasures at reasonable prices.

What special recommendation would you give somebody who admires your style but don’t know where or how to start?  
Style is a personal creation, an attitude, a reflection.  If you like vintage clothing, try a few eras, see what you feel comfortable and confident wearing.  Experiment!

Name seven famous personages—past or present—who you would invite over for dinner/drinks because of their impeccable individualistic elegance?
Fred Astaire
Katherine Hepburn
Wallis Simpson
Diana Mitford
Cary Grant
Myrna Loy
Louis Armstrong (for good conversation and warmth of spirit).

As a result of your style, what is your impression of how you are generally perceived in public?  
I believe that I am perceived in a positive light for having a strong and highly individual point of view. Walking around in full vintage will make you stand out, even in NYC, and often leads to warm and delightful conversations with strangers.  I can feel a little tested by open-mouth gaping stares, but that experience has made me consciously improve my bearing (“own it, sister”, I tell myself).

And how would rather the public perceive you?
I’d love to be seen as an impeccably dressed lady of her own mind wearing beautifully tailored clothing.

Presently, what do you think accounts for the poor appearances in how people generally dress or don’t dress?  
Lack of self-awareness concerning proportion and fit leads to a lot of poor choices!

In retrospect have you ever worn something that you now find particularly regrettable?
Regrets? I regret some of my non-vintage 1980s choices, but isn’t that what being 16-years-old is about? Fortunately, there is no digital record of my worst transgressions.  And, most importantly, I think I learned from them.

In the end, do you dress to: (a.) please others, (b.) please yourself or (c.) hopefully be in agreement with everybody?
b). I dress to please myself.

Posted in Elements of Style, Heidi Rosenau, Uncategorized | 28 Comments

28 Responses to special guest/HEIDI ROSENAU: vintage dancer. #1 in thirteen acts

  1. Cecilia Bonn says:


    I had no idea of your dedication towards wearing vintage from head-to-toe from the 1920’s to WWII. That certainly puts the extra Hop in your Lindy.

    Congrats on such exceptional style,


  2. Martina says:

    Grest interview. Can’t wait for the rest. You definitely “own it”, Heidi!

  3. David Folkman says:

    Marvelous article about an especially marvelous young woman.

  4. Ben says:

    Tres chic, Heidi!!! ‘-)

  5. Bobby says:

    Great Style!

  6. Heidi,

    As usual, you look fabulous. You’re an inspiration. When I grow up, I definitely want to be just like you 😉 (in another life, I suppose…)

  7. Heidi has extraordinary style on the dance floor, so it’s no surprise that even when she is posin’ her style comes through. I can hear the music, and the effect is completely uplifting. Oscar Wilde said that if you couldn’t create a work of art you could be one: seems to me Heidi has gotten rid of that dichotomy.

  8. rikomatic says:

    Heidi, as always, you are a vision.

  9. Holly Van Voast says:

    Heidi is one of the most fabulous and dedicated New Yorkers we have, Joe McGlynn too!

  10. Sarah says:

    Absolutely gorgeous and original!

  11. Jeanette Reilly says:

    Heidi, You are the bees knees!

  12. Emily Vanston says:

    That’s our girl!!!; Heidi is a treasure in the NYC swing community; so glad her fabulousness is being shared on a wider stage!

  13. Deborah Grisorio says:

    Heidi is a pleasure to watch. She radiates joy when she dances. May she dance for kings!

  14. Laura says:

    I can’t wait to hear more of what Heidi has to say about style, both vintage and how it pertains to modern fashion!

  15. Diana Velazquez says:

    I met Heidi a few years ago, on the dance scene. She makes everyone around her want to be better. Her style is infectious. I want to dance and dress better. Heidi attention to detail is flawless and precise. Heidi is not only preserving classic styling, but introducing an era of design, that is truly American. The Jazz Age has been lost or forgotten, but Heidi lives and loves this era. Great taste seeps from every pore. Own it, girl.

  16. Cynthia Millman says:

    Heidi is a lovely person as well as a lovely dresser. It’s always a great treat to see her outfits, and Joe’s. She’s a walking (and dancing) work of art.

  17. Loved the interview! I’m looking forward to more. I enjoy going to events that Heidi attends both to watch her dance and to see what she (and Joe) are wearing. She’s true to her era in dress, dance, and etiquette. Sometimes I think she’s been transported via time machine.

  18. Don says:

    Terrific coverage of an amazing lady, smart in every way.

  19. Alicia says:

    So glad more people now have the chance to enjoy your endless creations!

  20. Sallie Stutz says:

    Heidi and Joe looked right out of the flapper jazz age at the Museum’s opening Thursday night and she looks ready for Fleet Week in this NYC photo. Congrats!!

  21. Laurel says:

    I first saw Heidi and Joe at the Governor’s Island Jazz Age Lawn Party in 2008. Their impeccable sense of style, fabulous dancing, and their friendliness are a continuous source of inspiration to those of us who are part of the Lindy hop and Balboa dance communities here in NYC. Very glad to see this coverage of Heidi’s wonderful ensembles!

  22. MaRCIE aDLER says:


  23. Virginia says:

    You never cease to amaze.

  24. Elisabeth says:

    I have known Heidi since high school and contrary to what she says, she had terrific style in the 80’s. But I love how she dresses now and I can’t imagine her wearing anything else. Go Heidi! And beware, I might just have to scan a picture of you from high school!

  25. Heidi is my vintage clothing hero!

  26. Renate says:

    Lovely to get these news – though far away from Berlin and the 1920ies I recognize some family elements of those times – fashion (gave many of the ancestors their job including one of the first “mannequins”, pretty as you are). It is time that I see you in reality some time soon.
    Love to Heidi and Joe from Germany, Renate
    who will send a copy to offline big sister

  27. Ruth Regehly says:

    I enjoyed to read all this. So beautiful, the boys didn’t believe such a beauty could be their mother’s cousin…! Good luck & lots of love, Ruth

  28. gretchen says:

    Absolutely darling- whatever the era. Just could not be cuter! These pictures are a joy to see.

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