Pin Up Girl Problems: A.K.A. Why is Pin Up Culture Problematic?

pinupmeme

One of the many things I love about modern pin-up culture is that it is diversifying. There are so many gorgeous models who are ‘plus-size’, of colour, alternative (i.e. heavily tattooed/ pierced). I think these are all stunning and magnificent things that traditional, mainstream pin-up images were lacking. Increasingly, the online presence of these pin-ups is body-positive, supportive and inclusive. It seems to be a community-spirited affair that encourages women to build each other up, rather than compete in damaging and pointless ways.

Discouragingly, some media targeted at vintage lovers is very unhealthy. For example, many ‘Pin-up’ memes glorify alcohol abuse, materialism, bitchiness and even violence. I think it unwise to understate what damage these messages can do. They are, perhaps, intended to be bold exclamations of “empowerment”, but for who? Personally, the empowerment that I’m looking for doesn’t come from undermining or criticising others. Nor does it depend on toxic sarcasm or alcohol abuse. These memes promote inebriation, rather than liberation. They also suggest that female empowerment is incomplete without misandry.

Perhaps these modern interpretations  intend to reject reducing women into mere sexual objects, as per the war-time origins of pin-up culture. However, the repetitive portrayal of pin-up women as man-hating bitches with stunted or repressed emotional capacity is only feeding already harmful female archetypes.

Pin-up is for anyone and everyone that wants it. Lots of good work towards this has already been done but the media representation, and even that of retro and vintage-reproduction companies,  is making a laughing stock of pin-up. Social media’s output regarding pin-up culture is shallow and judgemental – the opposite of the sentiments which attracted me. There is so much emphasis in the community on sharing pursuits outside the fashion and beauty elements. Likewise, there is a huge focus on self-care and spreading positivity that are entirely missed in harmful memes and images.

For me, pin-up culture is far from superficial. It’s about feeling good in yourself and helping others to do the same. It’s not about drinking to oblivion, slagging off other people’s appearances or cutting away human emotional depth and genuineness.

I’m a pin-up girl and I’m proud of what that means. We can write our own definitions, especially when they have been mistaken by others.

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A girl in a red dress: ‘Me Before You’

 

My Film Flavour of The Month is Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke) in ‘Me Before You‘. Warning – plot spoilers!

She is the most adorable thing since the beginning of time. Her style is modern, nostalgic, feminine and fun. She mixes total madness that shouldn’t work (and totally does) with sophistication. Emilia Clarke gives her character warmth, sensitivity and genuineness -her wardrobe only makes you love her more. She is quirky, imperfect and determined, qualities which all come through in her clothing choices.

There are definite hints of 50’s styling in Lou’s wardrobe, right from her tootsies to her midi cut, but there is always a little twist taking the traditional to a new, unique level. She rocks nautical looks, neck scarves, Hawaiian dresses, t-bar heels… But her looks are never cliched or dated; she is a new vintage kind of girl. She’s as goofy as Lucy Ball and as smooth as Lauren Bacall but as utterly original as either of them.

Part of Lou’s overall appeal is her dedication to her own sense of self. Her clothes are bright, bold and unabashed – they don’t really fit in her small home-town. At the beginning of the film she is in a suffocating relationship with someone who does not understand who she is or what she wants, however good looking he may be (played by Matthew Lewis). She has a strong sense of duty and works hard to help her family make ends meet, but there is a continuous strain between her loyalties to her family and to herself. Despite a difficult beginning, Lou grows close to her employer, Will (Sam Claflin), for whom she is a caregiver, following a motorcycle accident which has left him quadriplegic. She helps him to live, rather than to just exist in his own body. They go on trips, to the races (for which she has an equestrian ensemble) and on an exotic holiday. Her optimism, however infectious, cannot go so far as to change Will’s mind or his decision to end his own life.

In a bittersweet kind of way, the end of Will’s life is the kick-start of Lou’s. He gives her and her family the financial freedom to move forward, and frees Louisa to focus on her own ambitions, rather than the minutiae of staying in the black. Lou brings Will out of his, understandably, self-absorbed way of thinking with a not-so-subtle ‘you don’t have to be an arse’. Will shows Lou the realms of possibility that she has started to turn her back on – french cinema, university etc. They may be as clashing as some of Lou’s pattern heavy outfits, but they compliment each other well.

Sometimes, you just need someone to let you know that they do make bumblebee tights for adults. And, sometimes, you need a film to be so bittersweet that you can cry, smile and feel hopeful all at the same time.

 

See also: Flavour of the Month: Brooklyn

 

 

Travel Chic: How to stay glam on the road

Staying a style icon whilst travelling or going on holiday with limited luggage can be difficult. Maintaining a varied, kick-ass  wardrobe with just a few pieces is no mean feat when you’re on the road. When travelling, keeping comfortable is the main aim, along with making an entrance.

A few rules of thumb:

  • Want vs Need: Pack only what you need – don’t be over-stuffing and huffing and puffing at stations and getting your hair in a frizz. Unless you’re going to Mars, there will be shops if you get snagged tights or period panties.
  • Put a cape on it: Travelling is tiring so build a blanket into your outfit. Wear a cape/ wrap/ shawl or pashmina. Light enough for a megabus sauna and cosy enough for a chilly train ride.
  • Now, neutralise: Outerwear in neutral colours is great because it goes with everything. I tend to opt for my grey woolen blazer and matching beret.
  • Put on your dancing shoes: One pair is quite sufficient. Brogues are a good all-weather, walk around and smart option, although a reliable sandal is good for hotter climates.
  • Colour scheme: Take outfits that revolve around one or two colours to make accessorising easier.
  • Accessories for all occasions: You only need a couple of things – maybe one square scarf, one belt in black or tan and a hair flower in a match-all colour like white or cream.

 

Happy adventuring!

Garden Party Perfection

Be a May queen with these Garden Party inspired looks to thrill and delight! Whether its a barbecue, afternoon tea or a jolly picnic, get inspired, Your Majesty! Comment on your favourite below.

 

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing…

 

Get your Rockabilly on! Sometimes you just need a pattern overload so go dotty for this polka-dot power play. Good with a dramatic winged eye, pillarbox red lips and a Rosie The Riveter bandana do’.

Halter top (Actually a dress): Armstrongs Emporium, Edinburgh.

Skirt: Lindy Bop.

Petticoat: Purchased at Wartime Weekend @ Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield.

Cropped swing jacket: Armstrongs Emporium, Edinburgh.

 

Cotton Queen Dream

 

Day time/ Night time transition – keep it sweet with a boater or straw sunhat, or dress it up with a fur stole for a more elegant vibe. Matching gloves complete every garden party look – dead cert.

Dress: Mooch Vintage, Sheffield.

Faux fur stole: Armstrongs Emporium, Edinburgh.

Gloves: Car boot sale.

Handbag: Pi-Ku Collective, Edinburgh.

 

Crowning Jewel

 

Take pastels up a notch by adding jewel colours in complementing or matching tones – see this pashmina in royal purple and turquoise/ teal birdcage hat. Work with typical vintage styles like this tea-dress with a sailor-style collar.

Dress: A New Shop, Sheffield.

Cardigan: Primark.

Hat: Charity shop.

Gloves: Armstrongs, Edinburgh.

Pashmina: A loan from my mother.

 

Bring me sunshine

 

Hello, buttercup!  Bright is mighty. Smile back at the sun with some bright yellow. This dress has a gorgeous fitted bodice with scalloped edges and a skirt that can be left as it is or given a lift with a crinoline! Add pashmina or cardigan to keep it casually elegant. Effortless!

Dress: Armstrongs, Edinburgh.

Pashmina: On loan from my momma.

 

Tennis, anyone?

Be the cat’s pyjamas, the cream of the crop in this mono ensemble. Pleats add a 20s tennis feel, whilst sweet sheer gloves and a double breasted shirt over a lacy number adds glamour… You won’t be able to get enough of a good thing here, so add pearls and a brooch in ivory as well. You’re good to go.

Skirt: Mooch, Sheffield.

Gloves: Armstrongs, Edinburgh.

Blouse: Warehouse.

Lace camisole: Charity shop.

 

Push it real good

 

If you’re a trousers kind of gal, you can’t go far wrong for a vintage look with pedal-pushers or crops like these. If it’s not a skinny cuffed capri, then a more tailored look like these are excellent and work well with other tailored pieces in neutral colours. Let the accessories bring the colour.

Trousers: Charity shop.

Blouse: Lulu’s vintage fair.

Belt: H&M.

Bag: Zara.

 

Hula honey

 

Theme party? Hello, Hawaii! Get your huge hair flowers in, fashion a shawl against windchill or sunburn and get your hula on! This look is amazing with a playsuit in florals or amazing hula print like these shorts! If you’re feeling adventurous, just wear with a bikini top…

Shorts: Mooch, Sheffield.

Top (actually a leotard): Armstrongs, Edinburgh.

Shawl: Fabric from Leeds market.

Hair flowers: Available everywhere!

 

Go and be butterflies!

Golden Girl: Pin-up Princess for the night

Not all that glitters is gold, but it is surely a statement colour. Whether you’re rocking parrot perches or a floor length goddess gown, gold is meant to catch the eye. Good on you. Gold is not just for queens (although you are one). It’s a colour to stand tall in, to say an unequivocal YES, I am here. YES, I am entitled to this space. YES, I look so good tonight.

Let’s see you, Golden Girl!

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Dress from Mooch Vintage, Sheffield

Pendant from Armstrongs Emporium, Edinburgh

Shoes from Dorothy Perkins

Hairpiece handcrafted by me

Make-up by me

Hair by the gorgeous Jennifer @ Curly Woo Hairdressing

Oh, you crafty minx!

hairclip

Here’s one I made earlier…

 

So, to ease you into this post about getting your mitts busy, let’s go back to 1943 and a philosopher and psychologist, Maslow. He created something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He said that human needs can be categorised into different levels, ranging from Physiological (food, water, sex, shelter…) to Self-Actualization which is where things like morality, spontaneity and CREATIVITY come in.

 

‘According to Maslow’s model, when we desire to create, when we desire to delight ourselves and others by bringing something new into the world, we are actively expressing one of the highest aspects of our human potential.’ (Source: austinhillshaw.com)

 

So, my crafty little minxes, by getting crafty and creating something, you are entering a hallowed land of higher thought. Transcend with me (and ignore Maslow when he says you need to master all the rest before you can create – you can do whatever you damn well please) and let your therapy be of your own making. Literally.

 

Here are some ideas for projects you could get your teeth into:

  • Time for a change: Take a dress or cardigan that you’re a bit bored with and change its buttons for some new jazzy ones. Try a different colour or shape. Be bold! Sewing on a button is super easy but if you’ve never done it there are a squillion youtube tutorials.

 

  • Sleep easy: Get crafty in the bedroom with lavender sachets or even monogramming your pillow cases, you fancy-pants you.

 

  • Draw your attention: Get a liquid chalk pen (really cheap at crafty shops) and doodle on mirrors or windows. Makes you feel like a naughty child which is an added bonus.

 

  • One at a time: If you’re not feeling up to a whole undertaking, try just knitting one row, or stitching a few stitches. Slow and steady, right?

 

  • Bake and make: Baking is a particular kind of joy. Indulge. Or make a beautiful soup and make lunch an event.

 

  • Mix it up: Make an old-fashioned mix-tape for a friend or yourself – you could go the whole hog and put it on cassette… or maybe a Youtube playlist would be more practical… A friend of mine did this for me recently and it made me feel like jiggling.

 

 

  • Pop art: Brighten up your world. Sand down a photo-frame and zap it neon! Good for a languid summery day. Take juice breaks.

 

  • Fascinating: Make a hair piece or fascinator. Use an old comb or clip to bedazzle. You should probably add glitter.

 

Whatever you do, make like Maslow!

Vintage Vloggers

I like to catch snippets of ideas whilst I’m doing other things, like styling my hair, or doing my make-up. If I’m not watching a TED talk, I’ll be fan-girling over a vintage vlogger or two.

Here are my favourites and the reasons why:

  • Cherry Dollface: An all-round nice broad. Funny and genuine, she does a lot of life-hacks, day in the life, OOTD and make-up tutorials. Also has excellent hair.

 

  • PinupDollAshleyMarie: Voluptuous, immaculate and stylish. Excellent at wardrobe envy. I love her haul/ styling videos and cute bloopers.

 

  • A Vintage Vanity: Adorable geekery to be had! Jennifer is a crafty lady, handy with a sewing machine as well as a curling tong. Retro ramblings and tea-time are not to be missed.

 

  • Vintagious: Lots of great hair tutorials and a ‘What Would Marilyn Do?’ beauty section with helpful quick tips.

 

 

Get inspired!

How to shop vintage: tips and tricks

thrift

Dressing in a particular style should be fun; it is an extension of yourself. The 40s/ 50s vibe that I love is a confidence boost and something that I enjoy. When I shop, I try to remember these rules of thumb to find fantastic retro pieces:

 

  • Charity shops: Always my number one port of call. Can’t be beaten for price and you’re doing a good turn by someone else, too. Win-win.

 

  • Money talks: On that note, visit the charity shops in affluent areas of your city – that’s where you will find more high-quality pieces.

 

  • My size: Ignore sizes when shopping vintage; anything can be belted, slouched, reworked into something unique and wonderful.

 

  • Try me: always, always, always check and double check with vintage. Try everything on and check it out from all angles.

 

  • Quality: Find a really good vintage shop in your area that excels in customer service and hand-picked gems. It’s worth a bit of an extra journey to find that one bobby-dazzler.

 

  • Pick your battles: You can’t always wear 50’s ballgowns, but when you can, splash out a little for something incredible.

 

  • Beg, borrow, steal: Ply your family with chocolate/ alcohol/ favours and raid their wardrobes. Your mother definitely has an 80s skirt suit in there somewhere. Also, try freecycle.

 

  • Vintage Fairs: Currently all the rage and rightly so. Time-travel and snap up lovely tidbits – what’s not to love? Look out for Lulu’s vintage fairs across the UK.

 

  • An outlet: Try outlet stores or designer warehouse-type-places that have discounted designer clothes.

 

  • It’s all in the audience: Look in shops intended for an older clientele, like BHS, for example. They will often have items with a more vintage feel. And comfier shoes.

 

  • On-the-line: For accessories Etsy is a good shout. Ebay has some good stuff, too!

 

And, last but not least, don’t be shy! Be yourself!

It Blue My Mind…

Beat the blues with these vintage vibes! ❤

Casual with Cashmere

Keep it casual with a short-sleeve cashmere and dark wash, high waisted jeans - very Rizzo.

Keep it casual with a short-sleeve cashmere and dark wash, high waisted jeans – very Rizzo.

Surprise me

Take something which might be too dressy and do something different. Bright leathers or a denim with an unusual wash work well for this look.

Take something which might be too dressy and do something different. Bright leathers or a denim with an unusual wash work well for this look.

Prim and proper

Pick a complementing colour, like this pastel pink. Pastels work beautifully with classic demure 50s styles.

Pick a complementing colour, like this pastel pink. Pastels work beautifully with classic demure 50s styles.

Overload

Style your main piece with other items in the same colour. Optical illusion!

Style your main piece with other items in the same colour. Optical illusion!

Keep it in the family

Use accents in the darker tones of the base colour, like these navy accessories.

Use accents in the darker tones of the base colour, like these navy accessories.

Let me know which looks you love!