In our Part One of our Pinup Fashion For All Generations, we met two fabulous teenagers who were just beginning to discover their sense of style. Fast forward to the next generation, we have a couple of young budding fashionistas who have taken their love of pinup/vintage and incorporated their passion into their careers. As we grow older, our lives bring new chapters and challenges. In today’s Part Two of our mini series, we will meet a first time mom finding how to balance motherhood, a career with her sense of style, a full time college professor with a longtime passion for vintage and a mom who recently dove into the pinup/burlesque lifestyle…proving age is nothing but a number.
“I’m in my late 30s and I think both my work and casual vintage/pinup styles suit me and work for me. I feel comfortable in my skin and in these clothes. I don’t think there is an age limit to be able to rock the vintage/pinup style clothing, it suits so many different ages, body shapes and sizes, and ethnicities. Why do I need to change my style just because I get older, or because I am a mum?
I work part-time as a Senior IT Consultant as well as being a stay at home mama to an active 20 month old girl. I do pinup modelling when I can (under the name Anna Mei) after I fell in love with the vintage/pinup style many years ago before I became pregnant. At that time I had long hair and used to do victory rolls every day and wore pinup style clothing to work. I cut off my long locks about 6 months after giving birth. It became annoying for me to put it up all the time and I didn’t want to do the “mum bun”! The other reason was I also wanted to donate my chopped hair to Beautiful Lengths, an organization that makes real-hair wigs from donated hair for cancer patients. My mother-in-law was battling inoperable pancreatic cancer at the time and it was something I wanted to do for her. Since then I have been trying to find a way to merge my short shaved hair with the pinup clothing. At the same time I was struggling between being a mum and trying to find the person I was before I became a mum. I think things are now starting to click for me.
A lot of my work style is on the conservative side as I work with clients. But I have been able to wear a lot of my vintage and pinup style clothing successfully. Pencil skirts, swing skirts, cute tops and cardis. I always get so many compliments about the clothes I wear and how beautiful they are.
On weekends and the days I am at home with my baby girl I am more casual and dressed more in the rockabilly/punk style. High-waisted jeans, cigarette pants, fitted tshirts and jumpers. Totally different style to what I wear to work! A mum, but still true to me and the style of clothing that I love.
I still manage to do the winged eyeliner and mascara pretty much everyday. I even have started wearing my hair flowers again, which I used to do before giving birth. I can even now do vintage styles with my short hair and it works great with the shaved hair too!!
I had a photographer recently call me “punk”. I’m happy to take that! I can be a pinup punk as well as a mama!
“In generations past, being a woman in her forties usually meant acting and dressing like a responsible adult. A parent in sweats. A working professional in suits. We still crack old age jokes when someone we know hits 40, but the 21st century is proving that early middle age isn’t what it used to be. While it’s still important to take our responsibilities seriously, it doesn’t mean we have to give up our individuality or our personal style.
Vintage “lifestyle” suits forty somethings very well, because it offers lots of room for individuality without any of the…weirdness? While I still retain some of the gothic sensibility I had twenty years ago, I can’t pull off the neon-colored ponyfalls I used to sometimes wear. As a friend of mine once said, “I figured that once I turned 40, doing 1950s would be a good compromise between the goth kid I used to be and the adult everyone thinks I am.”
I’m 41 now and a college professor by trade. My job doesn’t have much of a dress code, and my students and colleagues tend to enjoy seeing people wear clothes that are professional, yet a bit outside of the norm. I don’t have children, either, so I don’t really have to think about wrangling any little ones (unless you count my cat, Madame Leota). My daily style fluctuates, but I’ve always had a distinct vintage sensibility. Most of my clothes are vintage or vintage style, and my vintage clothing pieces run the gamut from the 1920s through the 1990s (I’ve owned the 90s stuff since they were new, ha!). One of the great things about collecting vintage is how versatile it can be – people lifestyles in the 50s and 60s, for example, were not so different from ours that it’s impossible to find something that suits just about any purpose or occasion. While stuff like workout clothing, for example, has evolved for the better, everyday cotton dresses and formalwear from decades ago can still be very wearable.
I’ve been wearing historic fashion well over twenty years now (we’re talking everything from reproductions of very old designs like regency gowns,1880 natural form gowns, and 1912 tea gowns to both repro and real vintage from the middle 20th century), and I’ve collected vintage accessories and decor since I was a little kid. In the mid-1980s, my Yiayia Lois gave me a great pair of turquoise cat eye sunglasses with silver confetti flecks and fabulous green lenses. It was so amazing that one of my parents’ friends – a woman who curated historical displays for Sotheby’s – tried to buy it from me for a 1950s fashion exhibit. I still have the glasses, but now they’re just one piece of hundreds of vintage items I now own. I collect a little bit of everything, from vintage bakelite cherry jewelry to Emma Domb formalwear to Hawaiian dresses and sportswear by iconic labels like Alfred Shaheen and Kamehameha. I’ve got my Yiayia Sally’s early 1940s bead-appliquéd dress (that sometimes actually fits me!), too, and an assortment of chic late 1970s fashions that people think is weird given my interest in midcentury stuff. But it really isn’t, because as a four-year-old back in 1979, I yearned to be a raven-haired Nagel girl in a Halston dress. I do have black hair and I do own an original 1970s ultra suede Halston dress, so I guess I did do right by my preschool self to some extent.
My primary area of interest is vintage “New Look” fashion, the postwar, full-skirted look made popular by Christian Dior in the late 1940s (a silhouette that more or less regularly cycled through fashion until about 1964). Full and circle skirts work well for my body type as I have a pretty extreme pear shape. A moderate bust and a small waist make me a great candidate for a lot of 1950s fashions, but wide hips and a large butt basically limits me to full- or tulip-skirted options. Luckily, there’s quite a bit of that. My other challenge has been my overall size. As someone of “in between” size for most of the recent past, my “top” proportions are relatively small, while my lower regions are and probably always will be solidly plus-sized. Once again, New Look comes to the rescue.
But my interest doesn’t stop at the clothes and accessories. I own a unique vintage home built in 1963, which I am filling with vintage furniture and decor. Some of my furniture was inherited (my grandmother’s painted 1930s bedroom set and dining set, for example) while other pieces were collected by me (like my Heywood-Wakefield kneehole desk and side table collection, and my beloved 1950s fiberglass-shade lamps). For the last four years, I have been gradually making my home into a vintage haven, and the journey isn’t even close to finished!
Several of my other hobbies have roots in the mid 20th century, too. I love midcentury tiki bar and restaurant culture, Disney and Disney theme parks (Disneyland has been around since 1955, and the Walt Disney Company has been around since the 1920s), and midcentury music (R&B, rockabilly, exotica, jazz, you name it!). And whether I’m visiting Trader Vic’s for my birthday, collecting vintage Disney kit skirts, or jiving with my dad, it all intersects with vintage fashion and it’s all appropriate for a wide variety of age groups!”
In one of my favorite vintage Shaheen dresses, a butterfly orchid tapa print.
I’m a Disneyland fan (and ex-castmember!) – me in a vintage-inspired Haunted Mansion maid disneybound outfit. (Photo credit: Gretchen Burneko/NerdBound)
In vintage-inspired clothing by Pinup Girl Clothing and Heart of Haute, in my own back yard!
In Stop Staring!, posing with some of my vintage furniture.
“I discovered pinup several years ago. I do burlesque and the two complimented each other nicely. I started taking baby steps into the pinup world. I loved the style, and I loved the inclusiveness. That was just a few years ago, and now I feel like I am in it with both feet. What I loved about the pinup style is that there is something for everyone. There are so many different styles of pinup. It is not one size fits all! The other women that embrace the pinup style have been nothing but supportive. Since I am not a 20 something, I am a little more subtle or reserved with my pinup style. I love the look of the pencil skirt and seamed stockings (I find that incredibly sexy). For every day it could be a circle skirt or a fit and flare dress. I love shoes! I especially love shoes that have a retro or vintage look. They tie everything together. I do feel like this is always going to be a learning process. I love educating myself about the world of pinup. It could be makeup techniques, how to do vintage hair or even history of pinup. The knowledge that I have gained through books, old movies, blogs and pages is priceless to me.
I am lucky that my paying job lets me work from home so I have no dress code. I dress for my activities. Activities could be anything from school events for my children, volunteering, dinner out, errands or dance classes or workshops (I am an avid dancer). I love deciding what I am going to project for that day. I believe that your style should make you happy. It shouldn’t feel like a chore to get ready. I find that I love the time that I spend getting ready.
I live in a part of Iowa that is not all that familiar with the pinup world. When I am out, I am somewhat of a unicorn. I am constantly stopped, and people want to talk about what I am wearing or how I look. I must say it has all been positive so far. They are interested in the style of clothes, hair and even makeup. I love the positive response that I have received. I have to travel to meet with other pinups, but I have started to make those connections. Pinup is more popular in the neighboring cities but maybe I can inspire someone to give the pinup style a try here in my hometown.”
We could not have asked for more inspiring women to share their stories of how they found balance as they enter a new chapter in their lives. They are proof that the media is dead wrong! Women over Thirty DO NOT HAVE to conform and stop wearing what they love. Stay tuned for the final installment…Pinup Fashion For All Generations ~ Part Three: Fifties & Sixties.