Vintage for Every Body

Every woman experiences body image issues, Whether temporary or long term, caused by self-doubt or caused by society, I think we can all agree – being self-conscious sucks. Comparing ourselves with other women, particularly those flawless and airbrushed models seen in the media, contributes to a downward spiral of unhealthy thoughts and dissatisfaction. There’s a lot of romanticizing of other eras of body and weight ideals, such as how Marilyn Monroe’s “size 12 (or 14, or 16) body” was the “norm” and a desire to return to that, which I feel is a dangerous – and frankly, foolish – mindset to hold.  The argument is that our perception of beauty as a society now prefers waif-thin girls over the hourglass shape of the 1950s, but that ignores plenty of thin, beautiful women from the years past while also turning a blind eye to the weight and diet issues that women in our target eras might have faced.

Weight Loss 1900sWeight 1925  Weight loss 1940

Just like today’s crash diets, complicated food systems, and diet pills, the vintage decades provided their own “instant gratification” solutions that promised to rid you of unwanted weight. And just like today, the “Golden era” was a society that relied on creating insecurities for monetary benefit. I’m sure there were plenty of women out there who desperately reached for “sanitized tape worms” or amphetamine at the urging of ads such as these. A well-known example: Judy Garland was cruelly exploited by studio executives who first-handedly caused her addiction to amphetamines, or “pep pills,” for energy and weight loss (and then, to combat their side effects, barbiturates for sleep).


Women then, like women now, came in all body shapes and sizes. Though the hourglass figure was indeed praised, I don’t feel it is any less desired in our modern times. Famously buxom stars such as Betty Brosmer and Jayne Mansfield quite clearly boasted this figure, but even before photoshop, Brosmer’s 18 inch waist, or Mansfield’s and Monroe’s slightly less drastic 22 inch waists, were quite a difference from the average 25 inch waist of the 1950s.

Marilyn thinMarilyn M

Marilyn herself, upheld as the ideal 1950s hourglass figure and the focus of many extreme claims, was a real woman with a fleshy stomach – I think that’s more important to remember than focusing on what dress size she may or may not have been. And like many of us, her weight clearly fluctuated, her celebrated tiny waist disappeared and reappeared, though she is considered no less beautiful by others for that.

Weight gain 1940s Weight gain 1960s

Alongside the weight loss ads stood weight gain advertisements, which used “skinny” as an insult. These products claimed to quickly pack on ten pounds and bring along a sudden rise in popularity and sexual appeal. I’ve found evidence of the above “Wate-On” product from the 1930s through the 1970s. Existing all at once, there are images telling you to both gain weight and lose weight. So what does this suggest about a societal ideal, after all?

September vogue 1956 Sunny Hartnett

Contrary to what people may proclaim about the 1950s body, many models from the fifties were quite thin with a very straight figure. No less celebrated and famous than the hourglass-shaped Marilyn, Audrey Hepburn was a tall, thin actress with a small bust (she reportedly wore a 34A) and slim hips. I don’t see any negative comments about her figure from the era that apparently idolized Marilyn’s style of extreme measurements.

Audrey Hepburn Audrey

My point is that there were women of all shapes and sizes in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. Betty Grable’s legs were insured by her studio for $1 million. The waifish Audrey Hepburn existed alongside the buxom Marilyn Monroe. There were stunning burlesque performers boasting bodies that look like an approximation of our modern ideal, those with a slim and well-proportioned figure, as well as those with some banging hips that I could only dream of. All of these bodies existed and everything in between – and all of these bodies are equally “vintage.” Which means, so is yours.

Janie Gregg 1940sSherry BrittonEthelyn Butler 1955
Janie Gregg (1940s), Sherry Britton (1940s) and Ethelyn Butler (1955)

My absolute favorite images while searching for content for this post are those showing the stars with a little bit of realism and humanity. Jayne with visible flesh, Marilyn with thick thighs, a cute little belly pooch, and a large scar on her torso – if we should be claiming anything about this era of bodies, it shouldn’t be that Marilyn was one size or another, or that hers and Jayne’s figures were the only kind admired in their time. It should be that it was an era full of real women with real bodies, straight figured and hourglass shaped and everything in between. Some had more of a backside and large bust, others had little bust at all; some were admired predominantly for their legs and others for the entire package. All are beautiful.

Jayne mansfield Marilyn MOnroe by Bob Beerman 1950

Marilyn Monroe with gallbladder scar 1961

I find myself comparing my own body to the more extreme measurements of the pinup body, when there were absolutely women like me in my favorite decades. And there were also women like you. Why pick and choose, when we all have a vintage body?

I’m leaving you with a little bit of Hilda, who was the star of a pinup series drawn by Duane Bryers from the 1950s through the 1980s, alongside a piece by Gil Elvgren. Not all pinups look the same!

hilda20 Gil_Elvgren8780c76bcaf5198dce7783abda4cfa10

How do you feel about the commonly touted “vintage/pinup body”? Do you find it to be limiting like the modern ideal?

Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

A Two-Piece Challenge

Hi darlings! If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that I challenged myself to mixing and matching a 1950s two-piece ensemble for this entire week. That meant SEVEN DAYS of variations on the same outfit! For me, that’s almost unheard of, but I wanted to see how many ways I could wear this pair of pieces.

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Above is the full set, in all its vintage glory! It is light and airy and wonderfully comfortable to wear, which makes it perfect for the crazy heatwave we’re having in Southern California. Check out the below remixes for full views of each day’s outfit! For some of the days, I took inspiration from @hilaryrushford’s #StyleMeSeptember challenge, so I’ll note that below.


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The theme on Wednesday was “Bisous from Paris,” and the checked skirt and blue cardigan felt very French country in my mind (I was inspired by toile for the blue color). My skirt is 80s vintage, in its second incarnation, and my sweater is thrifted. It was actually cool enough that day to get away with it, but not since >,<




Theme: “Skirting the Issue,” aka the easiest challenge in the world for me. With my me-made cotton blouse and a breezy skirt, how can I go wrong when the heat spikes?


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“Vintage Vixen” – another no brainer. Pretty much everything I wear is vintage or vintage inspired, so this was the easiest challenge day! I think this combination was my absolute favorite from the week – this blouse is even better mixed with a little color!


DSCF0836 DSCF0835 DSCF0838IMG_3581The theme was “Falling for Florals,” so double points this day with my Tatyana floral bolero, worn as a top, and a hair flower! Underneath it all is one of the most spectacular vintage full slips I own, but I rarely wear since it’s yellow. Fortunately, it worked perfectly for this outfit!


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The challenge title for this day was “Borrowed from the Boys,” which to me translates to… not a skirt. Since my shorts and blouse are so close in color, I paired them with a bright scarf belt – which used to be my mom’s necktie in the 80s 😉 recycle, reuse, #WomensFashionArmy, etc etc! Sadly I think this will be the last run for this pair of shorts, as they’re fitting me a little tight lately…


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I apologize for my mega awkward photos, but the sun was so brutal I couldn’t stand getting anything better. This was my day without a theme, as I found picking the coolest top in my repertoire to be the most important thing! I paired my skirt with a vintage sunflower blouse and Bakelite bracelet.

This challenge was really fun for me because it showed just how many outfits I can get by adding two matching pieces to my wardrobe. I never felt like my outfits were “getting old,” even though I was rewearing either the same top or the same skirt every. Single. Day. For me, this is evidence that we truly can make GREAT use of our wardrobes. If you feel like your outfits are getting a little stale, but don’t want to or can’t buy more items, try to think outside the box with your combinations. Better yet – start a challenge, like the one above!

My favorite part about my little self challenge? Realizing that I could travel in total chicness with minimal packing. Every outfit above is so vacation-worthy!

How are y’all doing? What items in your wardrobe do you mix and match most often? Check in below!

Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

Vintage, Pinup, Retro, Rockabilly… What’s the difference, anyway?

I’ve lately been pondering how very many distinguishing titles there are for us gals in the vintage-loving community. The nostalgic aesthetic can be taken very different ways, after all! The look of the fifties and sixties has been stretched to great heights, even to the dramatic niche aesthetic of psychobilly style. While I won’t be discussing that particular one here – I feel it reaches slightly beyond my understanding and my goal here on The Homemade Pinup – it certainly emphasizes the diversity of the past fashions when combined with modern tastes.

What’s the difference between all these groupings? Where do you fit in the range of familiar titles? Read on to see my understanding of the four most common labels below – and why they matter, anyway!


Come On Get Poppy MCCarlotte Heels by Miz Mooz RCrafty Cooking Dress MC
Come On Get Poppy Dress from Modcloth, Miz Mooz Carlotta Heels from Ruche, Crafty Cooking Dress from Modcloth

I begin with what is, in my mind, the broadest of aesthetic styles. Modern brands that recall this look include Modcloth and Ruche. “Retro” styling is quite often signified by the words vintage inspired. Consequently, it is appropriate that this wildly popularf trend picks and choses from past elements of fashion to create a look that lightly recalls the eras from which they come. Think ruffles, fit-and-flare dresses, soft hues, and quirky elements like tights, hats, and chunky heels or charming little ballet flats. These looks often include shorter hems and more whimsical patterns than their vintage inspirations. “Retro” is the most expansive and flexible of our related labels and fittingly appeals to a vast amount of individuals, whether they ascribe to other vintage tastes or not.


Spotted Lady Dress - SteadySteady Swallow Capris - Sourpuss Day of the Dead dress HT

Spotted Lady Dress by Steady, Steady Swallow Capris at Sourpuss, Day of the Dead Dress by Hot Topic

The “Rockabilly” aesthetic is never one that I aspired to, but is nevertheless one that I feel I understand – a great testament to this fashion’s pervasive effect and distinct styling (I know the least about it, though, so forgive me if I don’t represent it perfectly). The rockabilly look is fascinating because it goes far beyond that – beyond just a look. Rockabilly styling extends into music and lifestyle as well! Some rockabilly clothing brands include Sourpuss and Steady Clothing – even your neighborhood Hot Topic tries their hand in the rockabilly game. The rockabilly look is powerful and bold, featuring bright primary tones, classic patterns or animal print, stiletto heels, and details such as skulls, bows, and swallows. The beauty styling can include unnatural hair colors, piercings, tattoos.. Where other aesthetics may not display much in this area, in rockabilly these elements shine. Cherry Dollface is a figure who really exemplifies this style in my mind! Rockabilly fashions can include many of the features seen in the category below (“Pinup”), or none at all, making it a very flexible aesthetic. A cool feature of this is that you don’t necessarily have to buy specific brands to get the look, but can, for example, supplement with a striped or polka dotted shirt from a discount store or wear your favorite pair of jeans.


Lauren Top Harlequin Jenny PUG Lauren Top, DD Capris, HeadscarfMid Century House OBSLauren Top and Harlequin Jenny by PUG, Deadly Dames Capris by PUG, Mid Century House Skirt by Oblong Box Shop


The beautiful Jessica of Pinup Persuasion rocking an equally beautiful flower by NicCoCo Creations

I often find “Pinup” to be the hardest aesthetic to pin down (pun intended ;). Made famous particularly by cult brand Pinup Girl Clothing, as well as by small businesses like The Oblong Box Shop and NicCoCo Creations, this style has created countless mega idols like Miss Rockabilly Ruby, Miss Victory Violet, Jessica of Pinup Persuasion, and of course Amanda and Katie of Junebugs and Georgia Peaches. It is women like these, and many others, who serve as constant inspirations to a world of pinup mavens. The modern usage of pinup, however, strays from the pin-up art that originated the term. The modern label doesn’t necessarily recall the sensual and suggestive artwork of Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas, though our usage today does indeed retain some of that fantastic sex appeal.

The greatest thing about this aesthetic is how wonderfully figure flattering the cuts of most garments are. Skirts emphasize the natural waist, dresses hug the curves, and tops embellish what nature gave us. Common themes include circle skirts, chiffon headscarves, cleavage, and novelty prints. Shoes are often less vintage and more, well – sexy! The hair and makeup are decidedly modern with a solid vintage inspiration, featuring exaggerated elements like fluffed up curls and large victory rolls (hello, suicide roll). Though I sometimes have mixed feelings about the pinup aesthetic for myself, I absolutely adore how confident and beautiful women clearly feel when dressed in this fashion – and select pieces can be carefully chosen from these well-known brands to create a truly authentic vintage look! Which leads us to…


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1940s Chinos by Freddie’s of Pinewood, Pencil Skirt and Swagger Jacket by Vivien of Holloway

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Miss L Fire “Mildred” Shoes, photo by Mode De Lis, Claremont Oxfords by American Duchess

Finally, vintage is the look that is perhaps most particular, since it attempts to recreate the look of eras past. This is the style that I love best and try to work it into my daily life. Branding is more difficult, since true vintage is the best way to go if authenticity is the goal, but several niche brands such as What Katie Did, Miss L Fire, and Rocket Originals offer beautiful and faithful representations of vintage pieces. Clothing can be far more difficult… it is quite challenging to get the right vintage “feel.” Freddie’s of Pinewood, The Original Bad Girl, and Vivien of Holloway offer some lovely repros that look the part; if perused and purchased carefully, Trashy Diva, Pinup Girl Clothing, and even Unique Vintage can help fill in your wardrobe (though the latter toes the line of retro, pinup, and vintage all at once). Fortunately, vintage shoe companies are quite plentiful, with even more offerings from Re-Mix Vintage and Royal Vintage Shoes to complete the look. The best (and worst) part of vintage is that it requires some hunting, whether for true vintage or repros, but I think the thrill of the perfect find makes it all the more exciting!

So why does it matter?

Well, in short, it doesn’t. How you dress should make you happy, regardless of labels and titles. But as much as labels can limit us, they can also give us the opportunity to meet and bond with other individuals who feel the same as we do. How many of us have met good friends through the retro, rockabilly, pinup, or vintage communities? I’d say a very large amount, and that’s the beauty of this. Though initially about dress alone, we can create lasting connections that mean so much more than the clothes we put on or the way we do our hair. A particular aesthetic also brings with it a particular lifestyle and community, so I consider (these) labels to be a very good thing after all. With labels can come self-discovery and awareness, after all. Putting ourselves “in a box,” as labeling is often viewed, can indeed be truly positive if it extends so far beyond clothing.

Dovima Ballerina dress UVThe absolutely dreamy and decadent Dovima Ballerina Dress by Unique Vintage, I’m sure named after the famous model Dovima!

Do you fall under any of these categories? What are your favorite brands for your favorite aesthetic?

Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup