How to Become a Pin-Up Model in 8 Steps

The retro subculture is fascinating! Music, fashion, and lifestyle come together in one of today’s fastest-growing alternative cultures. If you are interested in pin-ups, you probably already have an interest in vintage and retro cultures, which give a contemporary twist to the lifestyles of the past.

What is a pin-up model?

Pin-Ups were the models that illustrated advertising posters in the late 19th century, the concept gained more notoriety in the mid-20th century in artworks by George Petty, Alberto Vargas, Zoƫ Mozert, Earl Moran, and Gil Elvgren. In this type of art a (real) model was used for the creation of illustrations of cute girls, half-naked or in provocative sensual poses.

Hollywood actresses in sexy pictures or posters were also considered pin-ups, because their beauty was on the walls of those who admired them. So we can say that basically pin-ups were poster models, models, and actresses who took sexy pictures.

Pin-Ups de Alberto Vargas, Gil Elvgren e Earl Moran

But since then, mainly due to musical subcultures, the concept of the pin-up as a woman object has been subverted, it has changed drastically. In alternative culture, pin-ups became models, not necessarily sexy, but models of style, of representation, of empowerment. Nowadays many consider pin-up the simple fact of adopting retro aesthetics with care.

Diva Akasha with psychobilly pin-up style

How to become a pin-up model in 8 steps?

1 – Start by choosing your style & era

For beginners we recommend that you read first “How to Dress in Retro Style” for those who want to take the first steps in adopting retro style and don’t know where to start”. There are five tips on adopting retro fashion that will be of great help to those who want to become a pin-up. Among the topics listed, one of them involves choosing your favorite decade.

Of course you may like more than one era, but when putting together looks, try not to mix eras that are so different. For example, avoid mixing 1940s and 1960s, because they bring very contrasting silhouettes, running the risk of creating a contemporary look instead of a retro one. Remember that respecting the historical silhouette makes all the difference in the success of your pin-up look.

Retro Universe Pin-Ups for the 2016 calendar with a 1950s silhouette

2 – Use lingerie with old patterns

Lingerie is the basis for a good silhouette. Try to use lingerie that is similar in cut to that used at the time you are reproducing. It is okay to wear contemporary lingerie, just make sure it does not mark the body in the wrong place. For example, a 1950s look requires high-waisted panties and structured bras, while a 1960s look allows for low-waisted panties and simple cotton bras with no support methods.

3 – Use Pin-up accessories and make-up

Research the type of shoes, jewelry, costume jewelry, hats, and other accessories of the era you are interested in. Research the makeup. Remember pantyhose, since bare legs were uncommon. Analyze shoes from each era to match the silhouette of the clothing. Look for current/retro versions for all these items.

Ideal make-up, accessories and shoes for the pin-up style

4 – Do vintage hair styles

Hair is a relatively important part of pin-up hairstyles. Learn the differences in hair from each era, and how to do hairstyles as well as develop modernized versions for everyday use. There are several videos on You Tube that will be helpful in your learning curve.

Retro Hairstyle (Photo: The Freckled Fox)

5 – Retro clothing

Most period pieces were made of natural fabrics, you can find synthetic fabrics that give a similar fit, by the way, being retro is just that, a retelling of the past, so don’t worry that you are not faithfully following 100% the period fabrics. Although it is possible to find retro style pieces in the “adult/professional” section of department stores, there is the option of social clothing stores.

In case you cannot easily find retro-looking clothes, one of the options is to look for a trusted seamstress and present her with your references. See if you already have some garments that can be refashioned or adapted to the style and make modifications with new seams. Another option are the thrift stores, it is necessary not to have prejudice and to understand that the reuse of clothes is also a sustainable practice.

Ca Rutledge for her brand Raibow Unicorn

6 – A good cut of clothing

The contemporary pin-up is impeccable. Therefore, it is necessary that the clothing and shoes have good quality and a good cut. In those days it was a woman’s obligation to always be elegant and presentable, and somehow this still holds true today. It may sound outdated today the social requirement that a woman must always be “presentable”, so it is important that being a pin-up is a personal CHOICE and not a social obligation.

You can be a pin-up on any day you want, you don’t have to be pin-up every day! That is the freedom we have these days: the choice! But if you’re not interested in a flawless and very deliberate look, no problem, psychobilly and gothabilly pin-ups have a more defiant attitude and you can take inspiration from them.

Miss Daisy for the Sky Lovers editorial

7 – Do not exaggerate

Retro is up-to-date, you don’t have to go out on the street from head to toe looking like a character from the past (check here for some tips to avoid looking like a costume). You can and should create your own style based on what you like by adapting hairstyles, shoes, and clothes.

8 – The pin-ups were models, get inspired to take pictures

So how about grabbing your cell phone and practicing poses, faces, and mouths? Choose your best angle, your best light, and shoot yourself a lot! And of course, don’t forget to put in the comments a link to your photos, we would love to know your model side!

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