Monday, 15 June 2015

Baby Pinup - How to Get Started

Every retro blogger seems to have their own version of how to get started with the pinup look. We know what it's like to love the look but feel unsure of how to get started. And even once you are armed with knowledge of what to get and where from, plucking up the courage to make it happen can be scary.

Little bit of background on myself - I moved from the US to Australia to be with my husband when I was just shy of 18. My style back then was rather dark - long red hair, dark lipsticks, lots of black and jewel tones. I married into a culture that believed you shouldn't marry out of it, so no one was very accepting of me, save for a few. In fact, most were downright cruel, and I was gossiped about, isolated, belittled and dealt zero understanding or compassion from most. Sure, I was awkward and made alot of dumbass comments, having come from a completely different country and culture, but I was alone and very few tried to genuinely reach out to me or help me feel safe.

I say all of that to say this - I discovered the pinup look amidst all of that and I dove right in anyway. To this day many of those women gossip about me and how I am "too dressed up", "vain", "conceited", "snobby" and any other insults they can think to throw at me. I. dont. care. And neither should you! If you feel more at home in coiffed curls and swing dresses, then you rock it, honey! You are unique. You are amazing. And you absolutely deserve to dress how you feel. Don't let anyone in a messy bun and flip flops tell you that you don't know how to dress (there's nothing wrong with either of those things by the way, I only point them out to say that someone from the opposite side of the style spectrum isn't going to understand you. Who cares?). Be brave. <3

Now then...., the heart is willing but the wardrobe game is weak. Not a problem! Here's my list of top picks to help you get started with your pinup wardrobe!

Red Lips

My mother used to be an Avon lady, and one of the things she used to say to her customers all the time is that there is absolutely a shade of red lipstick out there for you. Many women have this misconception that red lips don't suit them. If that's you, you just haven't found the right shade!

One comment I hear alot is that baby pinups are afraid of smudging their lipstick. Shy of, say, black, red lips are basically the hardest to maintain, and wearing it the first few times can make you afraid to even eat for fear of it somehow making its way across the entirety of your face.

To put yourself at east, I suggest you start with a matte lip. This will prevent much of the smudging and give you lasting wear. Ruby Woo by Mac is basically the most universal shade of red ever. It suits just about anyone who tries it, so I suggest you do too.

Black Swing Skirt

Leopard wiggle dresses. Floral skirts. Cherry print bonanzas. It's all so tempting! But wait, baby pinup - you need your basics first. If you go and make a bunch of purchases of dresses that are so beautiful and loud that it will be easily detectable if you wear them over and over again, you're just going to get frustrated with the rest of your non-retro wardrobe.

A black swing skirt is totally essential. My favourite is the Black Jenny Skirt by Pinup Girl Clothing, but there are several less expensive options that can help you get started.

High Waisted Thrills Skirt by Steady Clothing - stretchier than the jenny and very comfortable.
Queen Bee Skirt by Doll Me Darling These girls have a special place in my heart because they are located in El Paso, Texas! I lived there for half my life and would definitely be shopping there 24/7 if I was still there
Doris Skirt by Pinup Girl Clothing - Same quality as the Jenny but no gathering in the skirt - great for those ladies who like a cleaner finish, especially in prints.

Black Pencil Skirt

Pencil skirts can be paired with t shirts for a casual look, or dressed up for the office. The sexiest thing about a pinup wardrobe isn't cleavage or leggy skirts - no, it's all about the silhouette and giving the appearance of a small waist. So grab yourself a high waisted pencil skirt. Black is the most basic, and red or navy would probably be the next steps to grow your wardrobe.

High Waist Pencil Skirt by Le Bomb Shop - Check out the adorable bow detail in the back!
Plain Fiona Skirt by Collectif
Black Label Skirt by Pinup Girl Clothing
Perfect Pencil Skirt by Dixiefried

Ballet Flats

If you're in Australia, chances are you wear your fair share of thongs (thats code for flip flops, fellow Americans. Confused me too at first!). Now, each to their own, but thongs are not going to work with your pretty red lips, swing skirt or pencil skirt. So, for an equally comfortable and casual look, grab yourself a few pairs of ballet flats. Black for starters, and white, red, or any other color to build it up. You can grab these anywhere, and those in the US are especially lucky as you have Forever 21s and Charlotte Russe's full of gorgeous flats for cheap!

Black Heels

To be perfectly honest, I wore black heels almost exclusively until a couple of years ago. They go with most anything, they're classic, and they can be found just about anywhere. Here's a few retro options to get you started.

Bettie Ankle Strap Peeptoes - Believe it or not, these are the most comfortable heels I own. The platform is exactly the right height that it takes most of the stress off of the balls of our feel, the ankle strap holds it firmly in place, and the bow at the toe is adorable!
Bombshell Heels by Pinup Girl Clothing


Please, please, perdy please, don't put long sleeves on under your short sleeved dresses or tops. It distracts from the neckline and arms of the dress you're wearing. Put a cardi on over it! Equal warmth, 100x more style, much cleaner finish. I promise :)

Most likely you already have a cardigan or two, but if you don't, places like Old Navy, Charlotte Russe, etc will have them. For my Aussies, Forever New!

Retro options include:

Tootsie Crop Cardigan by Doll Me Darling - I am about to order the lilac version of this. These are adorable! Just the right length, cute sleeves, various shades. Who doesn't get excited when your favourite item comes in every color of the rainbow. Eek!

Swing Dress
Now this one can go two ways. It is always worthwhile investing in a good, solid colored swing dress. The dresses below are amazing, high quality, tried and true options.

Heidi Dresses by Pinup Girl Clothing
Jenny Dresses by Pinup Girl Clothing
Ellenor Rose Dress by Miss Candy Floss
Scrumptious Dress by Pinup Girl Clothing - So comfortable, you will finally get why pinups always laugh when people ask them why they don't just throw on a comfy pair of jeans - duh, no need!

You may be running low on money by the time you get through this list, and affordable options will start to seem really appealing right about now. There are some beautiful, good quality options that are kind to your wallet and your wardrobe alike! Here are my favorites:

Karen Dress by Ixia
Donna Dress by Heart of Haute
Lucy Dresses by Le Bomb Shop - comes in every color of the rainbow and then some! (Review for the Lucy Dress can be found here )

Wiggle Dress

As with the swing dress, a wiggle dress is always a good investment. Here are some options on the higher end:

Million Dollar Baby Wiggle Dress by Stop Staring
Lydia Bengaline Dress by Collectif

and the more budget friendly side of the spectrum:
Twisted Bust Pencil Dress by Le Bomb Shop
1960sWhite Wiggle Dress by Unique Vintage
Mod Wiggle Dress by Unique Vintahe


Just like with false eyelashes, it took me quite some time to work a petticoat into my wardrobe. These are optional for baby pinups in my opinion. Your wardrobe will work perfectly well without them for the time being, and these are what really throws a wardrobe into retro neverland. If you're nervous about the pinup look to begin with, a petticoat may make you feel like a fluffy something or another. It also may make you feel like an absolute princess (as it should!). Depending on which end of the spectrum you fall under, you may or may not want to grab one now. I would start with either a black or white one.

Be careful of wearing pettcoats that are too short for your dress or skirt - you can end up with an awkward overhang. Some pinups like to wear theirs just above the length of their skirt so it doesn't show, and others (like myself) wear it with a bit peaking out under the bottom. Either way is fine!

Jennifer Pettiskirt by Malco Modes
Super Cute Black Petticoat by Pinup Girl Clothing


Lastly, we have tops. Chances are that you already have quite a few tops in your wardrobe that will work, but if you don't, here are some options.

High end:

Melanie Top by Glamour Bunny
Pussybow Top by Bonsai Kitten
Peasant Top by Pinup Girl Clothing

And less expensive options:
Classic Bombshell Top by Le Bomb Shop

I truly hoped this will help one of you with your pinup journey!

What was your first retro clothing purchase and why? xo, Miss Betty Doll


  1. "You may be running low on money by the time you..."!!! Great list, Bethany! I am still starting out, as so I only dress occasionally in my pinup clothing, but I agree with the things you have on your list of starter items. BASICS is definitely the way to go to incorporate more vintage inspired style into your existing clothing. (Cherry Dollface has a good series of YouTube videos on the topic, as well.) I second the purchase of cardigans at Old Navy. They often have specials and sales, several colors and easy fit. They are stretchy so sizing down is must if you want them to be more fitted.

    PUG was actually the first brand of this type of clothing that I stumbled upon. I've always admired the feminine details of clothing from the 40s, 50s and 60s but I never thought it would be a possibility especially since I'm a fuller figured woman, and real vintage would likely be very expensive and small. Any plus sized items may not be of the style that I am looking for. When I saw PUG, I feel instantly in love with their style. Next came Tatyana (when it was known as Bettie Page Clothing). The first vintage inspired items I bought came from Tatyana, because they were sale items with an all sale items half off discount (final sale). I picked two wiggle dresses--a solid aqua one with a ruffle hem (I guess more of a mermaid shape) and a velvety rose print one. I've had lots of sizing issues buying modern style clothing online and this was no exception lol. Both of them were too big despite consulting the size charts. Anyway, I think the aqua one I can still wear, belted. The rose one is just too big and loose but the cups were too small (how does that happen?!). I guess spending $50 in total for both and shipping isn't that much of a loss in the grand scheme of things, don't you think? ;-) To be honest, I have no idea as to why I picked those dresses as I was never much of a bodycon dress kind of gal, lots of insecurities about my shape and figure in general, especially at the time when this purchase was made.

    Fast forward to June 2014. After many months of drooling over the pretties on PUG's website and IG, I saw that they were hosting a Yard Sale in which I can buy seconds at a greatly reduced price. (I was on it.) I got my buns to the sale bright and early and searched each of the racks in the sizes I thought I would wear, based on the size charts online in the styles I liked. I looked for Heidis and Erins...but I didn't find any in the size and color I needed, except for a mint trimmed in black Heidi. The friend I went with, I was given specific instructions that she needed to go home with a pretty dress (per the boyfriend as she just become a new mommy and needed something nice to feel more like herself again). She didn't find anything so I sacrificed the Heidi I found (we are close in size), because her happiness and well being was more important than my closet. (So selfless, I know!) The first two PUG pieces I went home with: Monica dress in Teal and Deadly Dames Tie Me Up in Black Sateen. (I mean...Monica for $60?! How can you say no?) I didn't originally go for such dressy pieces, but I did have some special events to attend in a few months so that is how I decided on these pieces. I was so skeptical about the Monica (again, still not confident to wear bodycon), but it was spectacular on!!! I was hooked. Needless to say, I've been wanting nearly everything they've come out with since. (Sorry for writing a novel on your blog!)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, doll! I was so happy to get to read through it <3 I can't believe you've been able to attend a yard sale - so jealous! It's my dream to attend one at some point. If I still lived in Arizona or Texas I would so do a road trip down there just for it!

      I bet you chose bodycons because you know that you can rock them ;) Just have to find the right size!

  2. How truly sad that in this day and age, you still faced such discrimination initially from the family that you married into. I'm deeply sorry that you had to endure that.

    Way to go on holding true to your own (fabulous) sense of style and continuing to rock such awesome looks no matter what. I second that stance entirely!

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Oh Jessica, I know you do! Your style is perfection come rain, shine, good day or bad day. I admire you xox


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