The look of the 50s and 60s has been stretched to great heights and lovingly created new branches of vintage for all of us to enjoy to this day. When it comes to probably the most flattering styles around, pin up and rockabilly fashion can easily get mixed up to any vintage novice but there’s nothing to fret about! We will show you the distinct differences between each of these styles and some style tips on how to look flawless. Let’s find out a bit of background to these gorgeous vintage styles first.
The Pin Up
Pin up art began in the early 20th century, labelled as “innocent” drawings. During the early 1900s, society began to oppose the fashion repression of previous decades (aren’t we glad they did!). What was then considered “sexy”, these pin up art and illustrations began popping up in magazines. With 1930s illustrators like Alberto Vargas creating playful girl drawings, the illustrations soon adorned walls of garages, shops and bedrooms. These prints were pinned on all sorts of walls, hence the alluring girl drawings named “pin ups”. Interesting, huh?
The pin up phenomenon exploded in the 1940s due to World War II. Drawings of pin up models were printed and sent to soldiers all over the world, with almost every soldier having a couple of pin up posters stuffed into his bag! Pin ups were a reminder to the men of what was waiting for them at home, used as a therapeutic tool to remind them of their loved ones and instilled excitement for their trip home. They also often were said to cheer up the soldiers serving in the war and used as a good luck charm, giving them strength and soon being painted onto airplanes to bring them luck.
Bettie Grable was one of the most famous pin ups to be admired within World War II. A very popular pin up model, prints were often idealised depictions of Grable and helped illustrate what a “sex symbol” should look like.
Soon taking the form of photography in the 50s, magazines like Playboy featured pin up photos on a regular basis. The infatuation with the pin up spread so rapidly that these once “sexual” images become acceptable in a short amount of time. The sense of fun and innocence that adorned the posters was endearing and can be found still in pin up inspired art today.
Common themes included circle skirts, chiffon headscarves and a bit of cleavage, which was unheard of in the fashion from previous decades. The style of the pin up is truly flattering – skirts emphasised the natural waist, dresses hugged the curves and shirts embraced what, well, was on top! Shoes turned off the traditional and turned on the sexy, with flattering heels and sleek patent finishes. For the first time for many women, these beautiful beings were confident in their own figure and showcased all of what they loved about their body for the world to see.
The rockabilly style all comes down to music. The term ‘rockabilly’ is actually a term coined in originally in music, a combination of ‘rock and roll’ and ‘hillbilly’, but I think you already worked that out! This signified the early combination of rock and country sounds in the West. Made popular by iconic artists like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash in the 1950s, the post-WWII generation was excited to push the boundaries and experiment with a new wave of edgy fashion to go with their new music choices.
The pin up paved the way to the look of rockabilly, with trends like hip-hugging skirts and petticoats making their way into rockabilly style guide, but rockabilly grabbed that pin up flare and gave it a twist. The look was a symbol of a musical style and a generation’s ideal of individual expression. Rockabilly let the wearer express their true colours. The pin up girl of the 40s had instigated the racier Bettie Page types. Bettie Page movies were on the rise and novel covers with Pulp Fiction features inspired the youth of the 50s to add a little spice into their wardrobe.
The rockabilly look is bold and powerful. Bright primary colours, classic patterns and animal print – the style was meant to have an element of shock factor. The youth of the 50s were quick to embrace the sounds and style of rockabilly, with two social classes beginning to emerge. There were those less willing to rebel, against both their parents and society. This look was a more clean-cut style, with full skirt dresses and low heels or flat shoes. Almost an exaggerated look of the 40s, the girls who weren’t willing to embrace their own Bettie Page teased their inner rockabilly with bright red lipstick and bold coloured accessories. Those who gad a social (and economic) background allowing them a bigger realm of rebellion took the rockabilly style to its limit. With crazy colours and novelty prints, girls shunned full circle skirts and dresses which didn’t show off their body enough. Opting for a more scandalous pencil skirt and a tight sweater, there wasn’t much left for the imagination. Stiletto heels were the final touch.
No matter the era, rockabilly fashion inspires all generations even if we don’t exactly know it. In the backseat of our minds, the rockabilly is a ringleader in our own personal style ventures.
Now, for the looks! With a little help from our Revival Vintage wardrobe.
The pin up can be a hard style to pin down (pun intended). As much as there are integral pieces considered crucial to the pin up look (like circle skirts and cleavage-teasing shirts), the aesthetic is anything that flatters your figure so don’t be afraid to stick strictly to the guidelines, because there aren’t really any! We’ve chosen our blue polka dot swing dress, a classic look for any pin up. With a shirt swing collar and shirtwaister style silhouette, there isn’t anything that wouldn’t flatter your figure. Complete with a built-in cotton linked black petticoat, pair it with a classic 50s headscarf and our 1950s cream vanity case to make those heads turn!
For you all you red lovers, the rockabilly is for you. Think bright and bold – that goes for pretty much everything! If you’re a dress lover, our 50s postcard print dress is truly fabulous. The postcard print is unique and different to make you stand out in true rockabilly style, with the layer or red net built in for a touch of extra volume. If you’re looking for va-va-voom volume, pair it with one of our petticoats. Don’t be afraid to hug them hips though. Our red and black pencil skirt will give them hips some love, with the black accents making it the most fabulous finished piece. How gorgeous is the walking slit? Those black buttons just add an extra bit of finesse!
Happy styling and make that confidence shine!
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