Those of you who know me in real life know that I have a rather specific way of dressing. I love mixing vintage elements into modern styles to hopefully reach a classic result. The only problem is that vintage, retro, rockabilly, and pinup clothes and accessories tend to be on the expensive side. So how do you incorporate vintage and pinup elements into your style without going broke? Let me share a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned.
1. Buy cheap basics. A lot of people seems o believe that only alternative stores have clothes that work with this style, however, both Target and H&M do fantastic pencil and wiggle style skirts for 5-20 dollars (especially if you go there when they have sales). Here’s an example of a knee-length figure fit skirt form H&M for about 15 dollars. And here is one from Target that’s very work appropriate if you work in an office environment, again for 15 dollars. I’d also recommend this coral top that looks like it could have been sold at a pinup store but is sold at Target for 7 dollars on sale. I’d recommend checking Target for flats or other basic shoes (I’ve bought cute black flats there for 5-10 dollars) and H&M for dresses. Two pinup style dresses from H&M, both below 50 dollars can be seen here with a very cute off the shoulder number in black and a more formal white dress with black details here. For plaid shirts, try Cotton On. Don’t be afraid to look for stand out items in regular stores, it can look just as beautiful as things bought in specialist stores and you can save a lot of this given that a pencil or wiggle style skirt can easily cost you 50 dollars from some of the more pinup focused brands.
2. Accessorise I own more hair flowers than I do necklaces. A high pony tail with a flower or two on top instantly looks like you’ve made an effort that morning. Hair flowers is one of the few accessories that I find can be bought quite cheaply from regular pinup/alternative stores and that are instantly recognised as a pinup and vintage feature. Classic (fake) pearls are another classic accessory that adds a vintage tone to most outfits. But the single best accessory that is classic, timeless, diy, and cheap is a good manicure. I’ve reviewed a fantastic red polish on this blog before and for 2-3 dollars, it’s a great budget beauty item. Hot rod red always works, but also consider light blue, natural pinks and beiges, and for a more edgy look, dark green. I personally don’t have my ears pierced, so I’m not an expert on earrings, but they are also a kind of accessory you can find for a very low price. Accessories are a chance for you to add a lot of personality to an otherwise neutral piece.
3. Be nice to your hair. Hair salons are expensive, as are hair tools, and various hair products. My single greatest tip for saving up on all of these things is to stay away from heat. Don’t buy a hair dryer or curling iron. Shower at night and let dry while you sleep. Not blowdrying your hair means that your hair experiences less stress and wear, which in turn leads to the quality of your hair improving and you won’t need to have it cut as often. Rather than using a curling iron, learn how to use cold foam rollers with a spray, enjoy looking weird during the night and brush out gently in the morning. Getting ready for an event? Wear the rollers for an hour while you get dressed and do your makeup, use a decent hair spray and it will last that night. A lot of women didn’t have access to fancy tools such as hairdryers, straighteners, or curling irons during the 30’s-50’s. Take a note from them and decrease the amount of products, tools, and wear you expose your hair to. Use simple, gentle styles for everyday wear and spend your energy and time on dressing up for special events. Why not channel the beautiful Veronica Lake?
4. Buy antique. No matter if it’s online or in a store, prices tend to be lower if you’re the second, third, or ninth owner. Good quality garments are made to last for decades and if you are lucky to find one that has been well cared for, it can last you a very long time. Try to avoid stores that label themselves as “vintage” if you’re on a budget. Look for second hand, pre-loved, or used. The main thing that stands out about “vintage” stores tends to be the price, there are of course exceptions but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. One of my favourite places to look for garments that have been owned by someone else before me is antique stores. It’s more hit and miss but you can really strike gold. Antique stores seldom use garments as their main source of income and therefor they gain less focus when they price them. I’ve bought a Balmain scarf for 10 dollars at an antique store. They tend to be good for handbags as well. If you are the kind of person who wears fur, buy them antique rather than new. Antique furs are already in circulation, we don’t need to be bringing more fur (and the horrible side effects of that part of fashion) into existence, so use what is already there.
5. A few points on winter clothes. If you live a part of Australia (or you know, the world) that get quite cold, an item worth investing in is a winter coat. Although they tend to be fairly expensive, it is cheaper to buy one of these than to buy a whole new winter wardrobe just to keep warm. Abiding by tip number 4 on this list, I bought this coat today. For 68 dollars. In an antique store. It is warm and eccentric and that’s all I need. Combined with the right basics and makeup, it will look a lot better.. Other good items to buy for winter are cardigans (easy to style vintage and doubles as jackets in the summer), scarves (can be used for hair styles when they’re not around your neck), knee or over knee high socks, stockings and tights (unless you’re like me and allergic), and skinny jeans. Skinny jeans with a somewhat high waist can look quite pinup like if combined with say a cherry print top.
6. Prioritise Versatility. Buy clothes that can be dressed up or down with accessories. Maxi dresses are seldom incorporated into vintage/pinup fashion but they are fantastic for this specific purpose. A maxi dress with a knitted cardigan makes for a comfortable casual outfit. A maxi dress worn with high heels, red lips, and a statement necklace can be an excellent stand in for an actual gala dress. I almost always bring maxi dresses when I travel, and when I went to Malaysia, it paid off when I found out that an event we were attending had a more formal dress code than I had expected. This dress is one I usually wear casually, either when it’s a bit cold for a shorter dress or when it’s time to book that appointment with the beauty therapist… I wore it to a community festival today paired with a rough cardigan and wedges. By having pieces you can wear to almost any occasion, you have things to fall back on. Blazers are another very versatile kind of garment and one worth investing in. Black wedges with a two inch heel can be worn to almost anything. In short, buy garments you think you’ll be able to wear as often as possible. .