Pin-up inspired retro styles are the ones most replicated today. People call vintage hair styles "pin-up hair". Repro brands always tend to have the sexy sarong dress and cherries-on-black-or-white dress that easily scream pin-up. It seems like pin-up is the most accessible kind of vintage, the kind of retro style people can understand at a moments glance. There is nothing wrong with this of course! Pin-up styles tend to be glam, over the top, and gorgeous, but what about the rest of vintage?
Still, perhaps I have some deep seeded prejudice against pin-up. As much as I admire the fun aesthetic, I can't forget that it was once primarily created for the male gaze. I mean seriously, that pin-up up there ^ , the blonde wearing next to nothing nothing and hanging over the stove? Every man's dream right, blonde sexpot making him dinner. It's kinda revolting to a modern feminist. Pin-up is undeniably sexy, sometimes very naughty and sometimes more innocent. Some girls flash a little leg, others are nude. The fact that pin up images were originally published broadly in men's magazines is enough to turn me a bit off.
Still, time has past, and 60+ years on, the pin up has been re-made. Many modern pin up models, and burlesque stars too, have a majority female fan base. Us ladies are re-claiming the very imagery that was once used against us. There is a sort of badassery to putting on a frilly dress, patent leather high heels, and still flat out refusing to make anyone's dinner. (Disclaimer: If you enjoy making your spouse dinner, this is not me hatin' on you, it's the classic stereotype I don't like, not you). I could go on forever! Though I think the topic of feminism vs. retro style is one I will save for another time, because I care deeply about both.
That pin-ups are seen as inherently sexual does pose a conundrum for me though. When someone says to me "cool pin-up look!" I usually take it as a compliment, but I also hope that my vintage style doesn't mean I get automatically associated with pin-up in a broader context. I don't want to be anyone's pin-up, I dress in vintage styles for myself, not for the male gaze. I wonder if because the three things (retro => pin-up => sexy) are linked if it is a bit unavoidable. There are times I go for a more pin-up look, but even then I am doing it for me, because it is a look I enjoy. Does that make me a bad feminist? I don't think so. Dressing however we want is a bold new thing in the realm of being a woman. Or am I overthinking everything?
Where do you stand? Do you find pin-up girls inspiring? Do you aspire to a more pin-up look or to something akin to a more average Jo (Jane!) vintage kinda-look?
I for one wish repro brands would give us everyday vintage lovers a little more well-- love! I want basic solid color 40's dresses in practical modest cuts, actual real separates like wool skirts and simple blouses, 1930's anything! I mean every brand offers the polka dot halter dress, but where are all the real wardrobe staples? I assume because many girls want to have one pin-up style dress in their closet even if they normally wear modern clothes, it is a better bet financially for repro brands to cater to the larger customer base. Us everyday vintage gals are perhaps not the biggest slice of the market.
Comments are welcome, like I said, I could go on about this stuff forever! I know some people hate the word feminist and by association this post may be a bit controversial, but I like to think this is a safe space for discussion! I found some other interesting reads on the same subject and have linked them below :)
The Politics of Pin Up and the Image of Femininity
7 Reasons Pinup Fashion Is Actually Feminist Even If The Time It Originated In Was Not
War Goddess: The Varga Girls, WII and Feminisim