Pinup Essential: Cultivating a Pinup wardrobe

When you are new to a style, it can be overwhelming to get started.  Where do you start?  How do you know what to get first and how do you start building a new wardrobe without breaking the bank?

If you have come this far, chances are you are drawn to and considering adopting the pinup style.  Congratulations on your first steps toward this fabulous, classy, and timeless style and possibly the lifestyle!  I am a bit biased, but I happen to believe that the pinup, retro, rockabilly, or whatever you want to call it is the greatest and most flattering style for all women.  The style revolves around femininity and embracing YOUR womanly shape, regardless of size.  By taking a quick browse around the vintage reproduction websites, you can see that women of all shapes and sizes look fabulous and feel fabulous when rocking these dresses.  I like that I can walk the line of being totally sexy, yet demure and classy at the same time.  That is something that’s almost impossible to pull off while wearing modern fashion, things that are either too tight, too low, too short, or often a combination of the three.  I am a college student, so I see girls walking around campus with everything hanging out, I can’t imagine they are very comfortable!  It’s amazing how in a sea of bare skin, I am the one who turns heads wearing a wool pencil skirt and a twinset!  It’s either that or they look very sloppy like they just rolled out of bed.

The best place to start when building your new wardrobe is to shop your closet and find things that already work.  Chances are you have been collecting things for some time that are retro inspired or are classic enough to incorporate into the “new you”.  Lets start with the basics, your wardrobe foundation.

You will need:

a pencil skirt

http://www.jcpenney.com/dotcom/liz-claiborne-essential-skirt/prod.jump?ppId=pp5001631554&catId=cat100250097&deptId=dept20000013&N=100530035

this one from JC Penny is $25 and available in a bunch of basic colors.  They are a little bit short for my taste and for true 50s style, I would prefer right under the knee for a more classic length.

http://www.pinupgirlclothing.com/dixiefried-perfect-pencil-skirt-black.html

This one is almost the same, but more expensive.  It is a little tighter, a little more sexy.  It all depends on your budget and how many places you are wanting to wear it.  For example, the office might not appreciate the extra tightness.  Pick your favorite neutral color, a color that goes with everything else in your already existing wardrobe.  Probably black or gray to start with, then add fun colors later.

I get most of my pencil skirts from thrift stores, they are true vintage and are very affordable.

an a-line or circle skirt or dress

This one is from Vivien of Holloway, here is the link http://www.vivienofholloway.com/en/category/no-pocket/50s-circle-skirt/1867/.

http://www.pinupgirlclothing.com/doris-skirt-in-black-sateen.html

This is the Doris skirt by Pinup Girl Clothing. I have my eye in this one in black and I already have it in the atomic turquoise print.  I love the fit of this one and the fullness, it is really stiff so it holds its shape even without a crinoline underneath.

Unlike most of the items in this list, circle skirts and dresses are not super readily available at most stores.  This will be an item that you will have to splurge a bit on or spend a lot of time scouring eBay and thrift stores.  Its a good idea to become well acquainted with thrift stores, both in person and online, they will become your best friend for the pinup look.

a cardigan

This is such a basic wardrobe staple that chances are you already have at least one.  Most of mine are thrifted and solid colors.  But there are some really cute, rockabilly ones out there if you want to add some extra personality.  The cardigan is great to keep the cold away, to cover up your arms for more modesty/professionalism, and it gives you that “sweater girl” look that was so popular in the 50s.

t-shirts, tank tops, blouses, etc.

these can be literally whatever you want: band tees, plain t-shirts, tank tops, wife beaters, pretty much any top that you want to wear.  I would never buy plain shirts from the vintage reproduction sites, I don’t think its worth it.  I get a lot of basic t-shirts from Target.  I did recently purchase some Vamp tops from Pinup Girl Clothing and they are fabulous, I got the mint, purple, and peach ones (reviews and pictures to come shortly).  But they are a bit pricey so they can be something to work up to, once you are commited to wearing vintage/pinup all the time.

ballet flats

These are a vintage gals best friends! Ballet flats have a very retro look without having to walk around in high heels all day.  I found a pair of black patent leather ones at Payless last year for $15, I’ve been meaning to go back and get some more (if they still have them) but I haven’t gotten around to it.  Your best bet is to find some in a neutral color, black shoes go with almost everything, and try on a few so you can find ones that are comfortable.  It defeats the purpose to wear flat shoes if they pinch or rub your feet raw, so much for comfort!  Spring is the perfect time to stock up on ballet flats and espadrilles, they will be all over stores right now.

These are the ones I have:

http://www.payless.com/store/product/detail.jsp?catId=cat10088&subCatId=cat40116&skuId=084079100&productId=68790&lotId=084079&category=&catdisplayName=Womens

They have them in a few other colors, and for $17 you really can’t go wrong.

wedges or espadrilles

Wedges are great, they are more comfortable than stilletos and are very true to the 50s.  They are widely available this time of year and can be found in closed or open-toe styles.  there are some really cute pinupy ones at payless right now like these: http://www.payless.com/store/product/detail.jsp?catId=cat10088&subCatId=cat440044&skuId=130436065&productId=72713&lotId=130436&category=&catdisplayName=Womens

killer heels

These are the most fun, but also the most frivolous.  They can be anything that you adore, let your personality shine!

These are mine:

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One pair of many! I should buy more practical shoes, but whats the fun in that!

I have been wanting these for awhile: http://www.pleaserusa.com/ProductDetail.asp?div=CAT&dpt=BURLESQUE&ctg=&STYLE_CD=TEEZE%2D08&PROD_CD=TEE08%2FRW they remind me of Mini Mouse 🙂 and all of these are fabulous: http://www.pleaserusa.com/ProductDetail.asp?div=CAT&dpt=BURLESQUE&ctg=&STYLE_CD=TEEZE%2D10G&PROD_CD=TEE10G%2FBP

a wiggle dress

This is usually the first step into pinup-hood.  A lady will purchase a wiggle dress and they are stunned by how fabulous they look, so they go deeper into the look and often never look back.  This is where the vintage reproduction lines are the best place to go.  Pick your favorite color, whatever makes you feel beautiful and sexy, and rock the hell out of it! I am a huge fan of Pinup Girl Clothing, the Vamp dress and the Erin dress are wonderful wiggle dresses.  They come in a wide range of colors that will tickle any fancy.  http://www.pinupgirlclothing.com/erin-dress-berry.html

I have the tiger print Vamp and can’t wait for an occasion to wear it, I’m thinking car shows and I’m hoping to get called for a Pinup contest in June and this will be my secret weapon 😉

http://www.pinupgirlclothing.com/the-vamp-dress-in-tiger-print-by-deadly-dames.html

Bettie Page clothing has some great ones  http://bettiepageclothing.com/dresses/style/18

Stop Staring is wonderful, but a little more pricey than the others.  Though the quality is great http://www.stopstaringclothing.com/sunshop/

I recommend searching eBay, there are always dresses from these brands on there, usually very lightly used (ie tried on and doesn’t fit or worn to a wedding and never again) and you can sometimes get a major bargain.

That’s really all you need for the basic beginners wardrobe, everything from here is built on this and expanded, you will find your favorite silhouette and collect more of that type.  For example, you may love the way pencil skirts look and find yourself with a collection of 20 pencil skirts.  That’s great!  The best part of this and any “alternative” style is that it can be whatever you want it to be, there are no rules!  Enjoy your road to fabulous!

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eBay finds series 2:Floral and Gold

Today was really nice out so I took the opportunity to get out of boots and a coat, hooray!  I wore a dark floral, A-line dress with a matching fabric covered belt.  I topped it with a gold Lurex cardigan.  Both of which I purchased off of eBay.

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I was nice and warm thanks to the weather, i have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of nice weather so that I could wear this dress.  I love it so much.

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It was most likely made in the 80s, but it has a very 50s vibe to it.  I wore a crinoline underneath to give it more poof, but it isn’t necessary.  I ended up winning it for $13.08 plus $7.00 for shipping.  It is great quality and it really good shape, no spots or tears.  The seller is a store, they may have an actual store too but I’m not sure, here is the link: http://myworld.ebay.com/shantilly-lace-vintage/.  They currently don’t have any listings but I’ve seen a lot of nice stuff in their store.  Shipping was really fast, and when the package arrived it smelled amazing.  A lot of vintage clothing tends to have that “old lady” smell, I don’t mind it but some people don’t like it.  When I opened the package, I could smell the laundry detergent so I know that the dress had been recently washed.  That was a nice bonus.

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This is a close-up of the cardigan, it is really shiny in person and a wonderful gold tone, with little mother of pearl buttons.  It is also in great shape, I’ve worn it a few times and haven’t noticed any issues with it.  It was $25 with free shipping.  Hint: look for free shipping, a lot of sellers will offer it.  I always set a maximum for each item, what the most I would be willing to pay for it.  Sometimes I will forget about the shipping cost and go over my max, oops! Its always a good idea to keep the shipping cost in mind when bidding.

I wore green vintage shoes, they came from a thrift store.  They are suede with a bow on the front.  Adorable.

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I also did my hair in victory rolls today, I often put my hair up to get a few extra days between washes.  I wear my hair down and curled for the first 2 days after washing it, then put it up for a day or 2.  I try not to wash my hair more than twice a week, mostly to preserve my hair color but also because it isn’t great for your hair to wash it everyday.

I hope you’re all having a nice weekend, enjoy the SuperBowl tomorrow.  The quarterback for the 49ers graduated from my university, so my town is going nuts!  I don’t watch football so I will spend the day doing homework tomorrow.

I have been so far behind in posting.  I think I said earlier in the month that I am currently taking an accelerated class.  It is part of a mini-term, they stuff a 16 week class into 3 weeks.  It has been so hectic and busy.  I am in class from 9 am until 1 pm, then come home and read and write papers until midnight or 1 am (the latest I’ve been up is 3 am finishing homework that was due the next day).  I am exhausted! On top of that I have been trying to keep up on my January 1950s housewife challenge.  All things considered, I have been doing a damn good job 🙂 I start the normal semester on Tuesday so it will make it a little easier, at least I will have more than one day to get stuff done.

It has been so cold were I live, it makes it worse that we don’t usually see weather this cold.  Nobody knows how to drive in the snow.  One of the water pipes in my house froze on saturday, we weren’t able to get it thawed until sunday afternoon.  It was awful, I couldn’t wash dishes or laundry, and we didn’t have  a shower for two days! Not pleasant.

I bought a couple vintage dresses on eBay so I will be posting pictures as soon as i get the chance.  I love eBay, if you look hard enough you can find some amazing pieces.  I got 3 or 4 dresses for the price of one new repro dress.  eBay is the thrift store of the internet, so you have to approach it the same way.  Sure, some things wont be in perfect condition.  But there are some diamonds out there to be dug up.

I will get back into regularly posting this weekend, until then enjoy your week.