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.

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!

Victory! Vintage hair-styling to dye for…

 

Photo credit to Jessie Clark (JRCPhotographic)

Hair and Make-Up by our kid, Jennifer (Curly Woo Hairdressing)

 

Recently, my babe of a hairdresser, Jennifer, who styled me for my Golden Girl post, did me up like a Vampire-Pin-Up-Badass! After she’d made me into a Jean GreyRogue hybrid, that is. I didn’t get super-powers, but I did get a sweet little cinammon swirl on top of my head which is all I’ve ever wanted in life, really. So I decided to write about hair, glorious hair…

No matter how good your outfit is, a kick-ass coif will kick up your whole look into transcendence. It is the ultimate accessory and it’s right there on your bonce. You can be anything you want, too – beekeeper, poodle… you name it.

I’m a novice at more complicated styles, like victory rolls, and tend to keep things simple with a Marilyn swoop and a pin curl or two. If I’m going for a more casual style, a pompadour or bandana makes life easier. For a quick fix: add hair flowers for instant hula goodness, you Tiki princess super-star!

My favourite way of styling is a wet set, because it feels much more authentic and holds well for a day or two. It gives as much volume as you could possibly want, too. It can take a hammering from the paddle brush until you get the curls just right. A setting spray or lotion makes for a strong hold, if your hair tends to lose curl easily. My issue is frizz-control – it’s a little unruly at the best of times! Serum and spray are the way forward for wayward curls, although I’m not a fan of the overly sleek vintage look, partly because its so much effort, partly because it doesn’t feel authentic to me. I take it easy for the every day. I save back-combing for special occasions…

 

Top tips for vintage dos:

  • Call in the experts: Find a hairdresser that specialises in vintage styling – it all starts with the cut!
  • Patience is a virtue: Getting used to doing a wet-set takes practice but you will get quicker at it, and re-setting the second day is a doddle, but at first it’s a right pain in the pompadour. Muscle memory, baby. If you’re using a heat tool for pin-curls, it’s important to let the curls set until they are completely cool so get the kettle on.
  • Tips and tricks: If you’re a beginner (like me!) or are starting to try more difficult styles, watch Cherry Dollface’s Do’s and Don’ts video.
  • Girls just want to have fun: Enjoy it! If you’re not used to teasing your hair or wearing it up, it feels weird at first. I did a bit of a suicide roll the other day and it felt HUGE! But it looked awesome!

 

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

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!

Pink Lady: Three Ways!

Today’s theme: Pink. With a capital P. We’re going classic fifties shapes and variations on a theme.

Here are three different looks with a touch of pink.

Take me for a spin...

Take me for a spin…

Lovely for something different on a night-out. Great for swing-dancing or just feeling like a big floof princess. The volume of the skirt is playful, balancing out the sexiness of the nude corset and lacy cami. Warning: takes commitment.

A night on the tiles.

A night on the tiles.

For a slightly less radical approach add a cardigan or coloured sheer shirt on top of the corset and swap the choker for a nylon neck scarf in matching tones. Bubblegum princess, we have lift-off.

Oh, Marilyn!

Oh, Marilyn!

Inspired by that picture of Marilyn Monroe. It’s sexy but understated. You don’t need much with this – just a bit of statement sparkle…

Classy and bold.

Classy and bold.

For those mid-week blues – add Pink! Demure enough for work, but still bold and fun. Classic cinched-in waist comes with the pencil skirt and an instant vintage vibe.