How to achieve the perfect pinup look!
The 1950s reigns supreme as one of the most glamorous era’s of our time. Both men and women were always dressed to the nines and there was never a need for an occasion. Women wore hats and gloves and bags that matched their shoes and dresses. They even had fashionable undergarments and stockings to match. Men wore suits and embraced bow ties, tie bars, and lapels. Women pin curled their hair and men were clean-shaven with their neatly greased pompadours. Everyone looked sharp so it’s no surprise why this era continues to inspire people today.
One of the most common questions I receive as someone who also embraces 1950s fashion is: How do I pull off the pinup look?
Most women think it’s a truly difficult task to look like a 1950s pinup but it’s actually pretty simple. You do not have to wear vintage to achieve the perfect pinup look. There are tons of modern-day clothing that fit the mold of 50s fashion. You can even make a modern outfit look retro with the right accessories. It’s all about being creative and not overthinking it. For example: a pencil skirt that is high-waisted is the perfect pinup staple. Anything high-waisted is perfect for a pinup look so this means, skirts, jeans, shorts, and etc. It automatically gives you a 50s look instantly and since it’s trending right now, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding items that cinch at the waist to give you that hourglass shape.
But lets start from scratch here. I am going to give you a simple guide that I use to achieving the perfect pinup look..
- Colours & Patterns: Yes, yo can still wear all black, but if you’re feeling adventuresome, go for bright colors or pastels! Don’t shy away from bright red, pink, yellow, blues, – make a statement with your outfit! Classic patterns to look for are big florals and polka dots, which are a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring.
- HAIR: One of the things I hear women say the most is: “How do I achieve pinup hair to go with my retro outfits?” There are tons of YouTube videos of women doing quick and easy hair tutorials that are extremely informative. I even have some! (Vintage Vandalizm YouTube) What really helped me was the Retro Hairstyling book. This book broadened my horizons with tons of new and amazing hairstyles to fit my retro style. Just remember, practice makes perfect. You can always try to attend classes as well. His Vintage Touch is an incredible hair stylist who specializes in retro styles and teaches classes all over the US. I have been to his class and can tell you, first hand, this man is a genius. His class was fun and extremely informative. You can follow him on instagram via @hisvintagetouch to see where he will be touring next.
- Makeup: Retro makeup is pretty simple, all you really need is red lipstick, blush, and eye liner. Don’t know how to do a cat eye for the life of you? Check out Pinup Doll Ashley Marie, she has some great tutorials you can follow for pinup makeup (and hair too!). The most important thing to remember when it comes to ‘50s pin-up beauty, find the right black mascara that make your lashes pop, a good eyebrow pencil to clean those bad boys up, a classic red lipstick that makes your smile sparkle, and eyeliner to give you that perfect cat-eye look. People always ask me what my favorite go-to products are and I would have to say Sephora’s Liquid eyeliner in Black Noir and their Matte Liquid lipstick in red. It’s the absolute best!
- Retro Tops: You can turn any top retro if you style it right. Take a regular blouse, just tie it at the waist, pop the collar and roll up the sleeves and you’ve got a great retro basic. However, above are some really distinctive styles you should look for that really embody the 1950s and that’s sun tops, peasant tops, bowling shirts, and bustiers. Many of these can be found at Pinup Girl Clothing, Tatyana Boutique, Unique Vintage, Mod Cloth, and Top Vintage.
- Retro Bottoms: High-waisted bottoms really define this era and will really bring out your curves. Some staples are circle skirts, pencil skirts, high-waisted shorts, high-waisted pants/jeans, and capris. Luckily it’s the style this season so you don’t need to go to a specialty retro store to find it. I love what Bernie Dexter is doing this season. She makes capris in both denim and cotton and plays with patterns too!
- Retro dresses: A wiggle dress is a tight-fitting dress that falls to your knees or just under. If tight is not your thing, look for something with a full skirt or circle skirt on the dress. A circle skirt is when you lay the bottom out flat, it will make a full circle, which is what ads to the volume without the need of a crinoline. The dresses above show what a circle skirt dress and wiggle dress looks like. These are by Tatyana Boutique. The best thing about dresses is that it’s easy to throw on and all you have to do is worry about the accessories. I happen to belt everything so I usually do a belt, a purse, matching shoes, and I keep the jewelry minimal.
- Retro Jewelry: The perfect retro staple in regards to jewelry would be pearls. They literally go with everything and can class up any look. For more advanced pinup folk, they go for the celluloid, Bakelite, or Lucite jewelry which you can find on Ebay or Etsy but these things are not always the easiest to find, but when you do, you know you’ve found a piece of history.
- Retro undergarments: This is fairly important for many of us girls who love the pinup look. There are some really great and affordable shapewear out there that really enhances the way we look in our outfits. Rago (image above) makes some pretty amazing pieces and What Katie Did is great too. When I need help, those are my favorite go-to brands. What Katie Did also has really great stockings which means you can get everything in one place. Secrets In Lace has wonderful silk slips and exceptional stockings as well and they are Dita Von Teese approved ;).
- Retro Shoes: As long as your shoes are classic and simple, they can be deemed retro eg a classic pump. However, some 1950s staples would be the springolator or polly shoes which are simple mules everyone wore during that era. They came in all colors and designs and some even had Lucite heels. These aren’t the easiest to find but every now and then I see modern stores make them and I also find them in regular thrift stores. If you have the money to spend, Remix shoes also makes them along with a ton of other really great styles. If you are on a budget, Bait also makes really amazing retro shoes in all kinds of designs and colors. My favorites are their saddle shoes and wing tipped flats. Other staples are tie-up wedges or flats and my favorite, the peep toe pump (Christian Louboutin makes the sexiest peep toe ever!).
- Retro eyewear: Look for cat eyeglasses or a mod round shape. Modern companies are still making cat eye/round eye sunglasses today and you can pretty much find them from designer to affordable. They are an easy addition to level up your look.
- Retro Hats: Look for Vintage hats on ebay, they come in all designs, shapes, sizes, and are the perfect accessory for any retro look. As a hat person I will say, a hat is the icing on the cake. This accessory completes a retro look. You can also try hair flowers or scarves to create a retro look too.
- Have FUN! Don’t think you must have the pinup style perfect and to the T! Do the pinup style YOUR WAY and if you want to have the full experience, book yourself a cute pinup photoshoot where you can take images like the pinups in the 1950s. That’s something that will last you a lifetime!