Pinup on ANY Budget!


In this post I’d like to examine the opinion that “dressing pinup/vintage is expensive” or “I love that look but I could never afford that dress”. I come across this idea often, both in real life and seeing comments on social media. And while that certainly COULD be true, it doesn’t have to be. Let me explain!

Apples with apples, and quality over quantity.

I agree, that most vintage and vintage reproduction clothing costs more than your average chain store at the mall. But most women I know who don’t wear pinup or vintage style clothing don’t shop exclusively at lower end shops! They shop at higher end chain stores like Max, Decjuba or Country Road, make the occasional splurge on a NZ or overseas designer item and supplement their wardrobe with basics from cheaper chain stores or fun places like Kmart. And that to me is comparing apples with apples… and I think the cost would be pretty similar, or even less expensive to wear vintage style (especially if you follow my handy tips below!).
There are also the women who fall into another camp and I used to be one of these! The exclusive thrift, budget and sale shopper! Now thrifting is an awesome way to find unique and quality clothing at ridiculously cheap prices. I did find however that with budget and sale shopping I ended up getting caught in a cycle of buying something cheaply (since that was all I could “afford”) that might not be great quality, or wasn’t quite right in fit or otherwise… and either not wearing it or having it fall apart or look tatty after only a few washes or one season. So I’d rinse, and repeat… It took many years for me to develop the self control to be able to resist the sale and save up for a better quality yet more expensive item! And it might not even be that more expensive… but it was still hard to pry those extra few dollars out of my hard core budget minded wallet! There was still that voice in my head “surely I could find this cheaper somewhere else….” But when I gradually changed my habits it was a revelation and I actually spend less rather than more – because I bought things that lasted, and that I really liked to wear! I’ve also discovered that with careful and creative shopping… you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great wardrobe ūüôā

Here are some tips, a quide if you like to building a pinup wardrobe… no matter what your budget!

1. Shop smarter when buying new! Join online communities and mailing lists

Love a particular vintage reproduction brand, or have your heart set on a particular dress or fabulous pair of shoes? Make sure you follow brands you like on social media like Instagram and Facebook, and join mailing lists. Most popular brands like Pinup Girl Clothing, Collectif and Wheels and Dollbaby have very good sales a few times a year, even 30 or 50% storewide, as well as individually reduced items. Many brands also offer loyalty discounts to return customers! Shopping on the other side of the world can be an advantage too, since we can exploit the end of season sales being the opposite season ūüôā Warning, all that exposure to all this pinup goodness can be a double edged sword… see Number 5 below!

2. Have fun exploring new sources – genuine vintage, thrifting, swapping, 2nd hand repro and chain stores!

I think one of the most fun things about dressing in vintage style is how many different sources there are out there! And for me, there is something very satisfying about finding something really unique, or nabbing a super bargain. There is great genuine vintage out there, if you can find something in your size! Online, on sites like Etsy, and in vintage stores and boutiques, curated vintage garments are a treasure trove of unique pieces, often at very reasonable prices. Quality of genuine vintage is, of course, often excellent, since the garment has already withstood the test of time! Thrifting is one of my favourite things to do. By thrifting, I mean looking through charity shops and markets, getting a bit down and dirty sometimes… trying to uncover a treasure! Obviously this requires more time, to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak… but this is one way you can find some true bargain gems. Swapping with friends or online groups is an alternative too, especially if you have items that are too big or small but in good condition. Quality vintage reproduction brands can be bought second-hand online – through facebook groups and sites like Trademe and Ebay. Often, you can pick up something in near new condition, or even with tags, at much less than the cost new. Just be careful to check feedback on sellers… although I have been lucky and never had an issue. Last but not least, keep an eye out for vintage styles in unexpected places! Often chain and department stores have good basics like cropped cardigans and blouses, very cheaply. Malls can be good sources for cheap and cheerful accessories too!

PhotoGrid_1407826471015This is an example of an outfit put together from many different sources! The felted beret is locally made from shop called Wintergarden, and was a deal at $20. The striped top is from Kmart, the pussy bow blouse underneath is from a mall chain store, the white vinyl belt is from Pinup Girl Clothing (I always add a few accessories when I do an order from PUG), the skirt is Rock Steady (and I got it on sale at Rita Sue Clothing) and the shoes are Mi Piaci, bought from their outlet store at DressMart and were 70% off! Most of my outfits are a hodge podge of vintage, vintage repro, chain store and thrifted pieces ūüôā

 4. Maximise what you already have

I’ve touched on this in a previous post… but I’ll say it again! Accessories are a pinup girl’s best friend! Instead of buying a new outfit, go “shopping” in your own closet. Try putting together pieces in new ways and colour combos you haven’t tried! Follow fellow vintage lovers on social media for a wealth of inspiration! If you are like me, there are probably things lurking in your wardrobe you haven’t worn in a while and almost forgotten about… all they need is a fresh look ūüôā I am always amazed at how something like a printed skirt can be worn so many ways by changing shoes, belts, cardigans, scarves and jewellery! Try mixing patterns and prints and pairing colours in new ways! If you have items that don’t fit anymore, look at alterations, which can be surprisingly inexpensive. Even if you are not sewing inclined (like myself), outsourcing works too ūüôā If you love the fabric of a dress but it is too small, think outside the box, it might make a nice skirt!


Here is an outfit based on a¬†dress that I found at a thrift store. I loved the tattoo print, but the bodice was much too small… actually it consisted of 2 triangles that wouldn’t have covered my nipples! So I simply cut off the bodice and… instant skirt! Confession… I didn’t even sew it, I just fold over the top and wear a belt… lazy!

The cardigan I’m wearing I bought on sale at a shop at my local mall, and added the cute iron on pink sequin cherries from a craft store!


5. Don’t get carried away (This is a biggie!)… Have a “wish list” and be organised

I think one of the reasons it is so easy to spend a lot of money wearing vintage style is that it’s seriously addicting! There are just so many beautiful vintage brands and designers and I am always discovering something new. And there are so many beautiful pin up loving gals as sources of inspiration, it’s very easy to get caught up in seeing something new and fabulous and “needing” it. I think there is also a feeling that we put on ourselves, that we have to wear something unique and different every day… and if I wore a different dress every day that would get seriously expensive! I got into a very bad shopping habit in this way, and one of the tricks I have learned is to make a “wish list”. Look at what is in your closet. Sell, swap or give to charity what doesn’t fit or you don’t wear. Make a list of items you really want or love… that would either be a super wardrobe staple, or maybe just something beautiful you want for a special occasion. Planning out what I REALLY want instead of impulse buying is something I found really helpful! Just because that dress looks fabulous on someone else, or is on sale/limited edition/don’t have a flamingo print dress in my wardrobe… doesn’t mean I need to buy it. Sounds simple right!? For instance, here are a few things on my wishlist at the moment… and I’m not going to rush out an buy anything (or everything!) on it. BUT I may keep an eye out and use some of the tips I’ve mentioned to get my hands on something on that list – eventually. And if it’s in the budget… which at the moment, means probably not for a long time!



The items on my wish list aren’t all specific items! Some are basics, some are just things I love! They are – something in harlequin print and/or a Jenny dress from PUG, a black wiggle skirt like the Kinky ruffles skirt by Deadly Dames, a playsuit for summer like this adorable pineapple print on from Glamour Bunny, a novelty print skirt in something cute – love this foxy print from Hell Bunny, a Monica dress from PUG, a summery frock like this Watercolour print swing dress from Stop Staring, a pair of BAIT shoes in coral, a brooch from Luxulite and Modcloth’s cropped cardis, in several colours ūüôā Well a girl can dream right!

6. Be practical… but not too practical!

I just had to pop this one in here! There is definitely something to be said for trying to be practical. Choosing items that will be able to be worn with a maximum number of other pieces in your wardrobe, and that are great foundation pieces is a very good idea. However! I can’t say how many times I’ve ended up with something I liked, rather ¬†than LOVED because I over thought things and bought something I thought would be more practical in my wardrobe… and sure it probably was. I have plenty of lovely things I wear all the time because of this! But there is also a magic in having something in your wardrobe that’t NOT practical. Something special you just absolutely fell in love with… just because… even if it didn’t match anything you already owned. Because you know what? You will probably wear that a lot too… simply because you love it. So be practical… but trust your instinct ūüėČ Although if you do this too much, you will end up with a shopping problem! Delicate balance…. ah first world problems…

7. Start local, and keep going back!

If you are just starting to build your pinup wardrobe, or want to dabble by just getting something fabulous for a special occasion, I can’t recommend enough going into your local (or nearest) pinup style boutique, if you are lucky enough to have one! This is a great way to try on a variety of brands and styles, see what suits and fits you, and buy something you really love. Living in Auckland we are lucky to have the amazing Rita Sue Clothing, which has recently moved to St Kevin’s Arcade in downtown Auckland. I bought my very first Pinup Girl Clothing dress here, and while shopping online can be great, you can’t beat “real life” shopping… and being able to talk to and have help from ladies who have knowledge and passion for vintage clothing and lifestyle! Often they can order in a size or colour and you never know, you might just make some new friends in the vintage community ūüôā

Hope you enjoyed these tips! And if you would like to see my daily outfit posts, follow me on Instagram… I post what I’m wearing and details there most days!

Natalie xxx

How to be an (Im)perfect Pinup

I love clothes. And accessories. And putting together outfits. And dressing up! I would love to look like a perfect pinup every day! However sometimes (my)¬†life just doesn’t work that way. There are days when I feel like making a little extra effort… and then there are the days I just can’t be bothered!¬†And when it comes down to it, the honest truth is I’d rather sleep or an extra half hour than get up earlier to give myself more getting ready time (I tell myself it’s efficiency, not laziness!). Not to mention, when you have an eager¬†4 1/2 year old assistant, sometimes it’s best to keep things¬†simple! If I left the styling choices to her, I’d be decked out in velvet, sequins and sparkles every day, as well as wearing those¬†beautiful but rather impractical shoes to do the grocery shopping…

This post is about being able to look great and feel good everyday… without¬†having to take a lot of time or costing a fortune! Glamour and style don’t have to come at the expense of practicality and comfort… sometimes imperfection is well… just perfect. It’s all about balance! Sometimes my lipstick is smeary or not there at all, but you also won’t find me leaving the house in trackpants. Or ugg boots. Or… I can’t even say it… crocs. Or anything polar fleece… you get the picture!


S o here are my 5 key ingredients in the recipe to being the (im)perfect pinup!

1. Foundations

Comfort, comfort, comfort!
Well fitted and comfortable undergarments¬†and if you like,¬†shapewear will make you look and feel good! I personally can not wear a bra or pair of panties that digs into me in any way shape or form… this tends to make me very grumpy! Get a bra fitting if you haven’t had one in a while, many of us wear the wrong size, and¬†if we fluctuate in weight,¬†so¬†too do our bra sizes.¬†Undergarments that fit well will give you a nice shape and line under your clothing…. and feeling comfortable is the first step in feeling sexy and confident in my book. It’s hard to feel fantastic if your knickers are riding up your bum or your bra underwire feels like its drilling a hole into your armpit…

2. Good maintenance goes a long way!

This idea works pretty well for me in many aspects of life! Doing a little often, and keeping up with things saves that mad¬†scramble when the mother-in-law is coming to visit on short notice and your hovering up cereal crumbs, throwing dead flowers out the window and hiding unwashed dishes in the oven ūüėČ

vintage-women-ads-1Likewise, getting your brows tinted and shaped regularly, find an¬†“easy-care” hair style that suits you and keeping your cut and colour maintained¬†means you are starting from a good foundation and minimal effort is required, unless you choose to make it! Most weekday mornings my hair and makeup is pretty simple. On the face, tinted moisturiser, concealer under the eyes to hide those ever present dark circles, a bit of blush or bronzer on the cheeks,¬†and mascara and and lipstick… total time around 5 minutes.¬†If I have time, I’ll do eyeliner and flicks to get a nice retro look. Of course there are plenty of mornings when I only wear tinted moisturiser. When my brows are nicely groomed, I still feel good even with an (almost) bare face. I love to spend time¬†putting a nice face on and¬†practising vintage makeup¬†looks¬†but for me this just isn’t practical every day.¬†Or¬†maybe¬†I AM¬†just lazy! Hair is usually a bit of sea salt spray for texture, and¬†a hair flower and a few pins, or a head scarf or a hat! Head scarves and hats are my best friends on bad hair days. Poof, bad hair be gone! A head scarf tied in a 40s style, or a cute beret in winter are¬†a couple¬†of my best¬†grab and go hairstyles – no effort required!

3. Rules, Shmulz

Love vintage, but don’t want to have to put together a complete “look” every day?¬†¬†Or keen on¬†adopting a vintage style¬†but don’t want to go crazy and replace your whole wardrobe at once?

Throw away the rule book too. There are a million and one different one ways to wear and love vintage styles!¬†You don’t even¬†have to stick to one era. Mix modern clothing with vintage reproduction, thrifting finds and¬†genuine vintage and the possibilities are endless! And there’s nothing wrong with making a modern look your own with¬†some vintage flair.

4. Essential wardrobe pieces

It’s always good to have some key go-to items in your wardrobe, that match well with everything, look good and fit comfortably! And no¬†those favourite pants that totally fit last winter but you have to undo the top button to sit down don’t count! There’s nothing that feels worse than wearing something too big or too small, no matter how much you love it! Depending on the garment, clothing can be taken in quite inexpensively. Or think outside the box, a dress that is too tight in the bodice might be easily transformed into a skirt. Swap or sell items that don’t fit and can’t be altered, and invest in some good wardrobe staples.

Here are some of mine!
A good pair of high waisted trousers in a neutral colour – black or brown. I love a 40s style pant like these from Heyday vintage. They are also not difficult to find vintage and good condition for a very good price.


Heyday vintage

And these black sateen high waisted pair¬†(link here)¬†from Pinup Girl clothing are some of my all time favourites! I am planning on doing a post soon on vintage style pants ūüôā
A swing skirt, you can change the look so easily with different belt and petticoats (if you like a full style)
A good pencil skirt
Cardigans! The most versatile piece of a pinup wardrobe, there are so many different colours and styles, and these can be found either luxury, or super cheap. Plain colours can be dressed up with a pretty brooch, or even an iron on transfer and new buttons from your local craft store.
A cropped jacket and a long swing style coat for cooler months will cover most bases!
Basic pinup style tops in easy to co-ordinate colours like black, red and white to layer or wear one their own. Chain stores can be a great source, Pinup Girl clothing has some beautiful styles such as the Vamp and Zooey tops in a range of easy to co-ordinate colours.
And lastly… a slinky robe to feel glamorous at home in! There are some days when you just want to get home and let it all out… and lazy weekend days¬†you don’t feel like getting dressed at all. A robe says I’m not lazy, I’m going for the movie star glamour look ūüėČ My all time favourite is the Bettie robe from Bettie Blue’s Loungerie, or for a bargain try¬†lingerie outlet shops or online on etsy or ebay for vintage finds, there are some great deals to be found!


5. Have fun, and accessorise!

Wear what makes you feel happy! Colour can be a great way of livening up your day. If your more of monochrome girl, add some colourful accessories. Accessories and trying out new combinations of colour are a great way to maximise your wardrobe and get more wear out of pieces you already have. I’m a complete sucker for a pretty new dress, but if I can resist the temptation I am often pleasantly surprised by what I can come up with from¬†my own wardrobe! The same dress, with a pretty cardigan over the top can¬†take on¬†a completely different look. Or add a brightly coloured belt and matching shoes. Online inspiration from personal blogs (cough cough shameless self promotion), instagram and pinterest¬†are a perfect way of seeing your own clothing in a new light! Thrifting is great for finding unique accessories, and even buying a pretty new scarf, brooch or belt won’t break the bank. Here in Auckland I love Rita Sue¬†in St Kevin’s Arcade for a great range of retro and vintage styled accessories – from jewellery and handbags to locally crafted lovelies such as fabulous hair fascinators¬†from Pop That Cassette!

Hope you enjoyed the post and thanks for reading!

Natalie xx