The Basics of Pinup Styling
So, what makes a pinup girl look like a pinup girl? There are a few keys to a retro or vintage look that can give you "that" look without too much effort!
- Curls. Straight hair is a pinup "don't." Hot rollers are a fabulous way to do this on your own.
- A deep part. If you are going to leave your hair down, a deep part looks retro with no effort.
- Red lips. Line them with lip liner just outside your natural lip edge before you apply lipstick.
- Winged liner. Pinup eye makeup is usually simple. A thick upper line and no lower liner makes the eye look wider and more open. Minimal shadow also helps the eye appear bigger.
- Fake lashes. They are necessary for extra "oomph."
- Matte everything. No glitter, sparkle, shimmer or strobing on your face. Pinup makeup is matte.
- Shapewear. Most pinup girls aren't actually hourglass shaped... that's done with proper foundation garments. Spanx are great, corsets are better! I recommend push up bras. And I mean push UP, if you are busty, you should be able to rest your chin on them. Lol!
- Wardrobe. Think full skirts and fun colors! Pencil skirts and wiggle dresses are another great option! Pinup wardrobe doesn't need to be expensive to photograph well. I've created a list on Amazon of affordable pinup options. Think bold colors and big, graphic patterns along with classic retro styling like fitted waists, narrow belts, full skirts and sweetheart necklines
You'll need lots of product, most likely. Hairspray and thermal setting spray both help! I suggest Redken Hot Sets #22. Spray each section of hair as you roll it. Backcomb the roots of every section to tease it before you roll it as well. Section the hair, spray with setting spray, backcomb the root to tease, then curl and pin the roller. Roll hair before you apply your makeup to let the rollers cool. If they cool first your hair will hold the curl much better. Roll them backwards AWAY from your face and create a deep part when you start sectioning the hair. I swear by Target's cheap Remington Hot Rollers with pins, not clips. Roller clips leave indents while the pins keep your curls secure yet smooth. If you've never set your own hair there are some great tutorials on Youtube. Give it a few test runs before your shoot.
Volume is what can make it or break it. There is no such thing as "too big" when it comes to pinup hair, or photoshoot hair in general. Tease it til it can't be teased anymore. Then tease it some more. If you pull it back on both sides, fluff it up for fullness first. Tightly pulled back hair will look harsh.
When you are planning your pinup makeup, simple is better! Start with primer under your foundation! It helps your foundation lay smoothly on your skin and also helps it last longer. You'll want a full-coverage foundation with a matte finish, no shine. Contour is helpful and so is a good dose of blush. Your eye makeup needn't be complicated, simple neutral shades are best. The key is a dark upper eye line and, if you can, winged liner completes the look. Liquid liner gives you a sharper edge and mousse linger applied with a brush is easy to control. Avoid dark or heavy shadow unless you are experienced with eye makeup. False lashes are a must, too, and I provide them! Here are some IDEAS on Pinterest!
- Primer first for best foundation application.
- Full coverage foundation with a matte finish
- Basic contouring, not too heavy.
- Blush in a pink or rose tone usually works best because pinup girls wore rouge, not modern blush.
- Neural eyeshadow. No shimmer or glitter.
- Winged liner or at least dark upper liner.
- No lower liner. Just mascara on lower lashes.
- Line lips before you apply lipstick. Line slightly outside your natural lip line if you want fullness.
- Red lipstick is a must!
- If you must have gloss, just a tiny spot on the center of your lower lip is best.
- Powder your skin and bring powder and a brush for touchups to avoid shine.
Pinup Wardrobe Styling
There are lots of great sites out there for pinup wardrobe! Pinup Girl Clothing is a great one, though it is pricey. In order to help you find affordable, fun, suitable pinup options, I've created an Amazon list for pinup cliens! Pinup Amazon Client List
Color is KEY! Bold colors and big graphics photograph best. Tiny prints will get lost. Planning each outfit around a single color is great, too! I suggest red, hot pink, aqua, lavender, purple, black, white, yellow or other statement colors. Polka dots are great! Plaid is too! Black and white polka dots are versatile and all they need is a colorful belt and shoes in any color you like!
Wiggle dresses are great, as are pencil skirts and blouses. Pinup dresses are fun and readily available now that 50's styling is so popular! Dresses with full skirts are classic! Avoid strapless styles, at they rarely look authentic. Costumes are also a blast to shoot, so think about career or hobby-inspired costumes (nurse, teacher, cowgirl, etc)!
Places to Shop
- Pinup Girl Clothing - Expensive but truly beautiful, unique designs
- Unique Vintage - Great options in a wide price range
- Doll Me Up Darling - Cute, offbeat, rockabilly designs
- The Atomic Boutique - A wide range of brands and a great place to start looking
- eBay - Check seller location before you bid. If you are buying from China make sure you have at least a month before your shoot. Also, order 2 sizes up with Chinese sellers unless you check the size chart very carefully. They run SMALL.
- Amazon - This is an often overlooked source but my FAVORITE for inexpensive pinup dresses and a huge variety of options! If you have Amazon Prime you can have your order in 48 hours, which is great for last-minute planning!
- Pinups Wardrobe List - This is a carefully curated Amazon list, made by me just for my pinup clients. These are brands I have personal experience with and recommend. Remember, CHECK SIZE CHARTS because sizing varies widely from one brand to another. Also, these are affordable options on the cheaper side. While they aren't flawless or high-end, they photograph nicely, especially if you choose the proper undergarments.
Wardrobe Tips & Tricks
- UNDERGARMENTS. I can't stress this one enough. The reason pinup girls on clothing websites look like hourglasses is because of the foundation garments they are wearing. Underbust corsets are obviously ideal and create the most extreme hourglass shape. If you want a beautiful, functional, yet affordable corset option I suggest Orchard Corset and their line of steel boned corsets. Don't bother with plastic bones, they don't accomplish much. These Orchard Corset Steel Boned Underbust Options will give you waist reduction as well as an hourglass shape.
- SHAPEWEAR. If you don't want to invest in (or suffer through wearing) a corset, that's totally fine! In that case, I suggest Spanx or other decent quality body-suit style shape wear that will smooth out panty lines, bra indents, or any other lumps or bumps under your clothing. This is particularly important if you are purchasing inexpensive pinup clothing from overseas. Proper undergarments can make a $20 dress from China look just as fabulous as a $100 dress from a higher-end site. Many of the Amazon and eBay dresses are actually cut quite nicely, the fabric is just super thin. Shapewear solves this problem and makes cheaper dresses look great!
- BRAS. Push up is your friend. Regular bras won't give you the lift you want for the cleavage most pinup dresses are cut for. Push-up bras with heavy padding are fine, even for larger busts. You can also use silicone fillers (chicken cutlets) for fullness and lift. Don't bother with the expensive options at places like Victoria's Secret. Joann Fabrics sells Tailor's Bra Inserts that are fabulous and, with their 50% off coupons, they are super cheap! You can get them for $10 or less, compared to the $75+ dollars you'd spend at a specialty store.
- STRETCH. A little stretch in your clothing is good! You want a good, snug fit. A dress/outfit that is too big will result in wrinkles and bagginess.
- FITTED STYLES. Fitted styles are best. Let me repeat... FITTED STYLES. Lol! Don't try to hide behind empire waists, flowy skirts or loose tops. My curvy girls, trust me on this! Rock your curves and flaunt your shape, don't try to hide it. Loose clothing lacks that va-va-voom factor we all want! If you have a specific concern, talk to me!
- STOCKINGS. Thigh-high stockings are, of course, a pinup classic! Pantyhose are great if you aren't going to do the classic stocking flash. They make legs look smooth and make skin look flawless. Pay attention to color and try to match your skin. Thigh-highs are the modern stay-up option lined with silicone. They tend to be tighter and squish the thigh. Stockings, sometimes called "soft tops," are old-school and require a garter belt with straps to hold them up. They look fabulous but can be hard to find and will require you wear a garter belt as well. If you want to do the stocking flash, you'll want soft tops and garters.
- HEELS. The higher the heel, the taller you look! Peep toe styles are great for pinups! Platforms are great for making your legs look longer, even though they aren't authentically vintage. If you want authentic retro looks, t-straps and Mary Janes with kitten heels are great. If you are going more modern, the higher the heel, the better! Bring shoes for each outfit and I have tons to lend in the studio, too! Thin heels are far more desirable for pinup than chunky heels, so plan accordingly.
The Big Day
- Hair Removal - Don't forget waxing or tweezing (eyebrows particularly) and shaving or waxing for legs, underarms and bikini line. Waxing should be done a few days ahead of time to avoid redness and shaving should be done as closely as possible to your appointment. Shaving that morning not only allows for the smoothest skin, but it also doesn't allow time for razor burn to develop.
- Nails - Come with nice, neat nails… fingers AND toes. No polish at all is better than chipped or very dark polish. Red is great for pinups and french manicures are timeless and match everything.
- Tanning - Try to avoid tanning and spray tans. Tan lines are incredibly difficult to edit out (and sometimes can't be), so try to avoid them if you are going to tan. Spray tans cause an orange tone to the skin under studio lights and also leaves pale spots on the back of the knees, inner elbow creases, inner thighs, etc. If you choose to spray tan please be aware of this because these generally cannot be edited out.
- Prep - Drink plenty in the days leading up to your shoot and stretch well to help your body prepare for posing. It's hard work and you'll be sore the next day! LOL! That lower back arch for popping your butt out is harder than it looks!
- EAT. Seriously. Trust me on this one. Posing is HARD work and you are going to need energy. Eat before you arrive. I suggest a decent sized meal but something is better than nothing. Carbs and protein are best for the longest lasting energy.
Remember, above all, this is supposed to be FUN! Don't overthink it and don't stress or worry! I'll walk you through all the poses and expressions and I'm here to help you and make this a great experience! If you have questions or need help planning all you have to do is ASK!
Can't wait to meet you! See you soon!