Our first two model shoot! Outfits need to somewhat coordinate, height differences call for creativity in posing, two faces and bodies to get just so…but more opportunity for fun and interesting scenes or stories to tell! I look forward to more multiple model shoots.


Pinup embraces cultural participation. Glamor models walk in and out of photo shoots and are done. Pinup is a lifestyle, a growing lifestyle for many folks. We have certainly met some interesting characters and have come across many flavors of Pinup depictions. Look back at my blog posts and note the progression from cheesecake to rockabilly then alternative.

Thus far, we have aimed toward classic pinup scenes and poses also known as cheesecake shots. Generally that entails a blown-out background and token prop with sweet or slightly humorous poses. Alternative Pinup may portray similar scenes, but less smiles, more drama and simpler costuming. Similar to glamor but with vintage flair. Alternative Pinup seems to be the most popular right now, models boasting body ink, colored hair and piercings of all sorts. We recently had my hair and makeup done by The Hair Maverick in a more modern dramatic, alternative fashion and are pleased with the results. Serious as opposed to smiles and “woopsie” poses feels weightier and more deep to portray. I am equally fond of both, but also learning that the former has wider appeal, especially among women.

Rockabilly Pinup we also dabble with a bit, for who pursuing vintage fashion has not purchased a pair of high-waist pants or shorts and embraced big Texas hair?! This is a fun style and the scene is full of wonderful people, many of whom are into their classic cars! Sometimes men are featured in this photography, and very often a vehicle. Musical influence from the South and Country music bring this style close to home. Rock music coming out of the South in these decades earned a different casting to ideas of “white trash”. I’m comfortable with owning that.

Two more genres that are not my taste are Psychobilly and Fetish. Both on the dark side, Fetish Pinup features leather bedroom clothes or lingerie and bondage type scenes while Psychobilly evokes images from vintage horror films or murderous broads. No thanks, I’m not a fan of the dark side.

Boudoir was very popular for a while, bedroom and lingerie scenes from any decade, oftentimes military wives want to take these for their husbands to cherish while away on TDY. Culture hand in hand with these shots are burlesque shows which have also grown in popularity in recent years.


Pinups of yesteryear are inspiration for the type of photography we are today pursuing. Pinup meaning a printed image informally push pinned onto the wall, or in this tech world displayed upon a screen perhaps in social media. I did a little homework to expand the knowledge base for what we seek to emulate. I enjoy the paintings or drawings which seem so timeless, so cute and willingly embraced. But perhaps these images in their historical context were not viewed as they are today. I romanticize this art form serving our soldiers and our country during the second Great War and readily idealize generations passed. Is that accurate? Does it matter? The Pinup Portal features a concise history of Pinup which makes for an enjoyable read. Written at least a decade ago, this page also points out the fact that much more explicit or leude material is readily and countlessly available for anyone seeking. Is sweetness removed and therefor craved in present day? A longer read goes farther back on the history and makes interesting notes on erotic art forms. I have a hard time calling it that. There’s nothing new under the sun. One is left to wonder, do we even consider this 1930s-50s classic style of art recreated to be erotic today? I’m gonna go with “no” at least for myself, or else I wouldn’t be pursuing it. Should I find these questions I must ask disturbing and my mind in need of altering?

Here’s My Car!

Our first shoot outside the home studio! Cars reflect surroundings and can call out decade discrepancies. Next time we will choose a more timeless location such as the countryside or Downtown. I am beginning to see how “Car Show” is a season in pinup circles. Surrounded by other classics is much easier to not get “called out” when photographing such a large object! Car photography is its own art form. Fortunately, the California Auto Museum periodically offers classes and Shane hopes to attend the next one.

Stella Mae the 1948 Chevy Stylemaster joined our crew in Fall 2013. First five years of marriage owning one car, we decide to acquire a second vehicle. New SUVs are family friendly but lack appeal of generations past. I grew up with classics, thanks to my dad who spent all free time in the garage. I call Dad and ask the chances of finding an old car with “new guts”, something pre-1950s but updated with modern safety features such as a steering wheel column that won’t impail the driver in case of accident. Dad restored a 1953 truck with similar standards, how I knew such a beast may exist. We thought to buy a car in about six months. Dad found a car within the first week!

Dad is her caretaker so long as we foot the bill. Car clubs like to see pre-1972 parts and our girl was restored in the 1980s with contemporary features. No show queen here, but we enjoy her ride.

I Want the Look

How can you get the look? If you are a seamstress, Decades of Style is actually the name of a pattern company in Berkley, CA. I enjoyed the pleasure of modeling one of their aprons several years ago in a fashion show. Wonderful resource they are, McCalls and Simplicity also resurrect vintage patterns. Then there are gems such as Laurie Tavan, seamstresses and creators of enormous talent you can hire to commission garments of you dreams.

Many girls can achieve a pinup photo outfit by simply raiding the swimwear or underwear selections presently possessed. Tight fitting garments such as these readily create timeless appeal. Want a more modest look to be worn on the street? Shop afoot and find pieces everywhere: thrift shops, discount mega stores, malls and department stores can offer many options. High-waist designs, button-up blouses, circle skirts and wiggle dresses, as long as you know for what to look then no formula is required to dress yourself. Follow The Vintage Doll on Facebook for more ideas building your pinup wardrobe. You can do it! Even on a lean budget.

Those of us who want a wardrobe now without all the legwork, online shopping can be your best friend. But even with limitless designs at your fingertips, there is that issue of fit. This is where brand allegiance, something I previously never understood, comes to the table. Find your size in a brand, and now you have a clue to key in the search engine. Where to start finding the brands that work for your bod? Allow me to indulge my online brand shopping experience.

Vintage reproduction clothing first hit my radar thanks to a Unique Vintage email from my sister-in-law. Three years of eying their wears, I finally made my first purchase just in time to discover our second pregnancy. Another year later, and I went hog wild. The brands I have encountered thus far include:
Unique Vintage house brand – Measuring a 28″ waist I originally ordered a Medium which was way too large for my 34″ bust. Not thinking the 26″ waist would zip up, I ordered some dresses 50% off and was sent to the moon when they zipped up like a glove. Measuring your waist can be tricky, and I tend to get a different measurement each time. 26″ is the smallest I have measured, but my clothes look good so I don’t mind them being a bit tight. Many items made in USA, many are also imported from China if you care.
Bernie Dexter – According to her size chart, these dresses are also a bit small and are a tight fit, but look amazing. I like the bust to waist ratio. Highly recommended for gals with smaller bust sizes. Pricey, but designed by Bernie Dexter the pinup model and made in USA
Rock Steady Clothing – Disappointingly inconsistent in sizing and cheaper quality materials used. You may see this one on the rack a Ross? I totally love my high waist pants and shorts from these guys and also have a lovely dress, but there was no way their capris made in the same size were going to even have the zipper touch. I phoned customer service and learned that inconsistent sizing is a regular experience. Made in USA
Stop Staring – Highly recommend! These dresses lend a hand to tuck in your tummy, as long as you get the materials that stretch. Some garments are noted to have no stretch, which in my case means I order one size up. I am thrilled with the rompers I have from this company in the size up and they are so comfy! The dress I have one size up, however, is far too large in the chest which leads me to conclude that busty women will be thrilled with this brand. Designed and made in USA
Voodoo Vixen – I am between sizes and had difficulty making this brand work. Imported, from China if I recall?
Grace Karen – Search “50s Housewife Dress” on ebay, and a slew of Chinese made adorable dresses will pop up who may not say Grace Karen, but chances are…. I was very disappointment but only because it did not fit me! The quality is equal to if not better than American made garments hanging in my closet. The design of the halter dresses provide generous ways to grow and shrink. The price cannot be beat. Most of the other clothes I ordered were dry clean only and I am pretty sure these dresses can be washed at home. The good news is, fit my sister like a glove! These dresses run very large and if you’re ordering the halter dress I recommend getting one size smaller.
Lindy Bop – About the only vintage dress seller we could find on Amazon. Super cute and varied styles, the target price is also lower than many others. Imported from China via the UK. Update: LindyBopUSA
Hell Bunny – Found at Hot Topic, Amazon and eBay, I have no outer garments but only a slip. Its pretty, but for the $70 price tag I was disappointed to learn it was made in China
Malco Modes – AMAZING slips! We ordered petticoats from all sorts of companies on eBay and WOW! Malco Modes beats all the others out of the water for variety and quality. Their factory is in Tennessee so they are made in USA and have been for decades!
Bettie Page Clothing Company – IMO top quality designs and product. I have two jumpers and a dress and am oh so pleased. If we weren’t out of money, I would visit a store in SF and try this stuff on in real life. Online ordering, I found the size up from my measurement looks as great as the size down which is snug. Choose your look and comfort level! Made in USA
Pinup Girl Clothing – I found this company after our buying binge. Hurt by that monthly credit card bill, it may be a year or more before we can gamble on a new mail-order brand. I cannot testify or vouch for sizing, but they are made in USA
Bear Flag Republic – I dig their name, and some of the brands mentioned here were purchased from this store site
OFABZ – LOVE this swimwear! Designed and made in USA

Decades of Style

Look at pinup illustrators of the decades, note the year of the drawing’s publication. Chances are, you need a footnote to distinguish whether you’re looking at late 1940s or early 1980s. Sears catalogs of the nineteen thirties, forties, and fifties coupled with a bit of swimsuit fashion research could stand to guide today’s fashionistas in better discerning what to wear. Depression era thirties boast mid-length A-line skirts, jumpers, and utilitarian shoes. Glimpses of the fabulous fifties are foreshadowed. The silver screen and Westmore family guide fashion and women. Heavily influenced by film, styles in hair, makeup and clothing remain guided by Industry. The Westmore beauty concept likely influences even your ideals of appeal.

The forties demand utilitarian style as the world is at war and rationing dictates shorter hemlines. Rules are in place limiting the amount of material to be used in constructing a garment. The war is over in 1948 and The New Look in Vogue magazine, cinches a womanly waist and busty figure. Liberated, designers celebrate and are generous with material popularizing the circle skirt and return of full length evening wear. Before studying the everyday fashions found in the Sears Catalogs, I thought myself an equal fan of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. A quick study, however, reveals strong preference for the extreme femininity of the 1950s. Whole subcultures, Rockabilly most pervasive, testify to the intrigue of this decade’s style.

Where’s My Car?

In a previous post I mentioned that we own a 1948 Chevy Stylemaster. We are still working on getting it in tip top shape. Last time I drove Stella Mae, every time I turned off the engine I had to jump start with a battery pack. The time before that it rained and I got two puddles on the floor under the windshield, one forming in the speaker and the other dripping through electrical wire onto the gas pedal. We recently took time to find out the tires, which look brand new, are in fact thirteen years old. Additionally, Jay over at American Pastimes informed me that I need a new steering wheel or else I will look like a gal with a pair of shiny new shoes carrying a ratty hand bag. Windows, tires and a steering wheel add up to somewhere in the $1000 ball park. Projects and outings have to wait. Where are the pictures? Coming soon!

No, I Do Not Look Like This Daily

My family and I would be miserable if I did. Once per week at most, once every two months at least, I play dress up and take photos usually coupled with an outing. This is my hobby and distraction from chores. A recent attempt to acquire a daily vintage hair style, inspired by this video tutorial landed with four heating devices plugged in yet not properly used, one broken curling iron, and a mess on my head. Furious with failure, I also have something to add to the list “to improve”. If this were easy, would it hold my interest? Meanwhile, I have a fantastic excuse to slip off to the beauty parlor and learn to enjoy what both my grandmothers ritualized for decades. Frugality kept me away from beauty salons for years, but now I value such industry and relationship. Every week of Nonnie’s life that she was well she had standing nail and hair appointments. The two gals most recently frequented by Nonnie afforded her a visit during her last weeks of life and performed their services one final time free of charge. More than beauty is happening in the salons.

I may only wear makeup once or twice per week, but oftentimes I do wear these clothes. When I put them on, I feel beautiful and this feeling initiates an attitude adjustment. If I don’t enjoy the good stuff now, then when? And whatever were these garments’ purpose? I have a mom bod and these clothes help me embrace that. Women learn with time how to accentuate their best features, or do they? A post regarding fashion is in the brew. Mom bod for me is a pouchy tummy and stretch marks, so I switched to one-piece and high-waist swimwear which I love! Ladies, your waist is the smallest part of your torso anywhere between the hips and bust. Accentuate that with a belt, wherever on your torso it lands! Hint: oftentimes that’s closer to your bust than modern teen targeted styles suggest.

Posture is another piece of the total look. Let’s admit we slouch. We stare at screens, bend over to care for littles, and ride in cars. Concerned after my last labor and delivery, research landed me to this site which creates an excellent call to women to correct our postures. The Porch restaurant in midtown Sacramento recently hosted The Crescenzt Katz. Watching these guys play is sheer pleasure. The expressions conveyed in face and body whilst wielding their instruments of choice are viral. Music in real life, ain’t nothin’ like it. I want that kind of transcendence in my hobbies, even if most days that simply means correcting my posture.