Having been a full time retro girl for a number of years now, it can be easy for me to forget what it was like as a beginner, especially when my routine is so ingrained in my lifestyle now days. But recently, as I recovered from surgery it highlighted just how much effort I put into my overall look (there was a period of a few days there my hair didn’t even see a brush to be honest) and reiterated to me why this can be so daunting to ladies who are new to retro or wanting to start working towards a vintage wardrobe whether that be sometimes, part time or full time. So I wanted to break down my top 10 tips for beginner pinups that I wish I’d been told when I started, as it can be daunting at first!
- Allow yourself to be a beginner.
The first one is probably the hardest.
Especially now days in the world of social media where we are often only greeted with images of ladies who have been doing retro for years!
We were all beginners once. We’ve all had the cycle of working out what works for us, what aspects of vintage styling we enjoy and having been afforded the time to nail our look. Social media is also a bit of a ‘highlight reel’ of people’s lives so you don’t necessarily see the things that don’t go so well. Being a beginner is tricky, especially with vintage when there is so much to learn and understand: hair, makeup, styling, underpinnings, accessories, etc. Please let yourself be a beginner and take things slow! Don’t overload yourself and let yourself have your failures as well as your triumphs because we’ve all had them. All retro girls have been through that cycle!
- Try and tackle one thing at a time!
When I first wanted to get into dressing pinup, I found it really overwhelming. There was so much to learn. When I first started I focused on just the clothes, namely dresses as I couldn’t even begin to face skirts and tops and the coordinating of the two.
So I’d wear just a retro dress with maybe matching shoes. No petticoat. Nothing else accessory wise. In my early days of pinup my hair was never curled as I was still figuring out what worked for my hair and I rarely wore red lipstick (I found the idea of a bold lip SO scary!). Just getting up the confidence for this first step was a big deal. The second thing I focused on was eyeliner. A pinup holy grail. Initially taking me upto an hour to do on its own, now days I can do it in 1-3 minutes. Practice really does make perfect and while something may feel impossibly hard when we start. Its ok to work retro into your wardrobe a bit at a time. Whether that’s through simply doing something small like adding a brooch to your outfit or starting with something simple like a dress, one step at a time can help reduce the pressure that we can sometimes feel to jump in as well as not overload ourselves to try and get everything right first go!
- Understand your aesthetic will grow and change
One thing I didn’t expect when I got into pinup, was how much my style out evolve over time. Really coming into my stride as a redheaded pinup with bright red hair wearing very rockabilly prints and big faux bangs, I would have laughed if you told me a few years down the track I’d be rocking some Marilyn vibes and some more feminine looks. But for me, one thing I love about the fashion is the evolution one’s look changes. My primary style revolves around pinup, but even so its grown as I’ve learnt more which has lead to a more polished overall look. As I’ve learn all the different elements such as working out how to set my hair for a nice curl set, getting my makeup right, my growing love of foundation garments and of course having grown my wardrobe, I’ve gotten better at putting styles together. And its ok to have your style evolve. It shows how much you’re learning and growing, even it evolves outside of pinup! Enjoy fashion, it’s a creative means of self expression and play with what interests you and what you enjoy! Don’t do something simply because others are doing it. Make your style your own!
4. Practice really does make Perfect!
We hear this one all the time and as a beginner it can be infuriating, especially if you’re struggling to learn a new technique or get something right. But practice really does make perfect. My own pinup journey reflects this. I’ve gone from spending literally hours on my hair and make up to have my attempted heat set flop and my makeup being mmmm ok to being able to do shoot level hair and make up in an hour. My morning routine I’ve got down to a 1 hour art (thats shower, dressing, makeup and hair. I also select my outfit in the morning) but its taken me 3+ years to get to that point. No one gets as good at their hair as Dita overnight and no one nails every outfit all the time. My best advice is to practice when its not important (I used to trial hairstyles on a chill day so if it messed up I wasn’t left in the lurch) and to not be afraid to try different products and techniques. Now days there was so many options product wise and there are different techniques. If one doesn’t work, try a different one!
5. It doesn’t have to be new or expensive to get into!
One thing a lot of girls freak out about with pinup when they first get into it is the cost. I know, it looks expensive! But in a lot of ways, pinup is different to fast fashion and I view my clothes as an investment. For one thing, unless you’ve evolved outside of wearing that style I can keep wearing things again. Things don’t really ‘trend out’ in retro fashion as its all centred around the same era so you’re not chasing trends like in fast fashion fads. Also when something does phase out, I normally sell it on and reinvest in something new, as most retro clothes hold their value. Secondly, if you don’t have the money to spend on new stuff second hand repro retro clothing is just as good. Ebay and with the wealth of Buy Swap Sell pages on facebook, you can often find gems in these places when searching by brand names or just keeping a good eye. My first 2 years of building my wardrobe was done completely with second hand ebay purchases and it was amazing for building my confidence to take the step to buy new from some of the more expensive brands. I’ve got things in my wardrobe I bought 5 years ago I still wear which is wonderful. I also suggest signing upto the newsletters and following brands you love on social media, as you can often pick up some absolute bargains in sales too!
6. There is no size limit or prescribed ethnicity to being a pinup
As a girl who entered the pinup scene as a size S/M at the age of 21, I still thought I was too fat to be a ‘proper pinup girl’. Now at the age of 27, having gone through a period of health issues with endometriosis and putting on 25kg I call that complete and utter crap. I Style definitely is not a size and the most important thing is that you feel confident and fabulous in what you’re wearing. With more brands now days in the retro scene catering upto a size 4XL (and some higher) and others down to an XXS, its opening the door more for larger and ladies much much smaller than the norm to be embraced by this style. I’ve also seen a growing number of models from varying ethnic backgrounds than when I first started following retro girls online which is awesome to see. I’m also seeing more and more brands using varied sized and backgrounds of models too which is wonderful. Pinup is for any lady who wants to be a part of it, irrespective of anything about her physical appearance.
7. Dabbling outside of pinup doesn’t make you less of a pinup
Now while I consider myself a full time retro girl, I do occasionally like to dabble in my first love of alternative fashion. And this is perfectly OK. You don’t have to be dressed retro all the time to be considered a retro girl. We live in a world where its not always practical for the roles we play in our lives or what we feel like enjoying. As I said earlier, fashion should be enjoyable and fun! Don’t ever let anyone try and talk down to you for not fulfilling their ideals about how you look. Make your fashion your own and embrace your unique you!
8. Make Youtube/tutorial books and bloggers your friends
With the amazing thing that is the internet, we have so many resources now given to us on varying ways to style things, products that work for us and helpful hints and tips. If you’re a newbie I encourage you to find books on retro styling, subscribe to youtube channels that post tutorials. Attend workshops in your local area if they’re available to you! Follow accounts of gals you admire and ask questions if you can’t find the answers. I’ve personally learnt so much through YouTube and through the books I’ve purchased as well as having attended a few workshops myself! The information you can learn from these is invaluable! I cannot stress that enough.
Also despite being a blogger myself I still follow a slew of other bloggers. Why? Well one to support other smashing ladies (blogging is hard work!) but because I like to read reviews before I make purchases too. Bloggers are a great source of information on the fit and quality of brands to help you find what works for you as well as tutorials, tips and styling advice.
9. Another woman’s beauty/success doesn’t detract from your own
As women its all too easy to drag ourselves through the metaphoric mud of comparison when we see another babe smashing goals or nailing looks. Please try and remember that being a retro girl doesn’t mean your in competition with every other retro girl who has an Instagram. Its not about who gets more likes or comments or followers. Pinup should above all else be fun, uplifting and enjoyable. Please don’t be afraid to step back from people or accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and take care of your mindset when you’re using social media. You are allowed to be your unique self, there is no prescribed mould you must fit. Let yourself bloom in your own right without comparison. Harder said than done but important. I’ve made so many amazing friends through the online pinup community and had some not very nice encounters too. Make your space yours, do your thing and let yourself shine like the star you are, while remembering its ok for other stars to shine brightly too.
10. Just have fun!
I said this before and I meant it with all my heart! I dress pinup because it makes me happy. It lets me express my creative soul in a way that makes me feel compete and its always felt like coming home to me. It doesn’t have to be serious. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as its making you happy and you’re enjoying the experience, that’s all that should be important. Remember there is nothing negative about failure: its proof you’re trying and if you enjoy it and work at it, you will get better at the things you want to achieve and learn.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed this post. Its something a bit different outside my usual ‘review’ style post but I want to start bringing more of this kind of content to my blog!
Let me know in the comments if you found this helpful and what other kinds of things like this you’d like to see!
Til next time darlings!