What is Pinup to You?
Apr 25, 2023

What is Pinup to You?

Well I guess you have landed on this blog post because you have an interest in pinup, vintage, rockabilly - all that jazz (or should I say rock and roll!). You may have heard others say they are a 'Pinup' or their style is 'Pinup' or mention the 'Pinup Community'. But what really is 'Pinup' anyways? (BTW get ready to read the word 'Pinup' a few hundred more times). Let's blow to skirt up on what is 'Pinup' to you?

Over the ages 'Pinup' has changed, from the time of having pictures that were literally ‘pinned up’ on a wall to now being part of rockabilly, Kustom and vintage culture. Just as 'Pinup' has changed, how we identify as a 'Pinup' and the differences we all place on the meaning of being a 'Pinup', change as well! (Which I’ll tell you my personal experience in just a minute, and I will stop with the quotations now!)

I believe it is important to identify what pinup means to you and accept that this term might mean different things to other people. It is also important to accept that this meaning that we all create from pinup has fluidity and may change, just like your style, over time. 

So what does pinup mean to you? No doubt you have a connection to that meaning, a memory of finding that perfect outfit, that feeling of excitement from dressing up, trying different styles to see what feels and looks amazing for you! We all have a unique pinup story to tell.

I am always bedazzled by the differences and individuality of each pinup. I love to observe the fluidity in the style and to watch the story of their pinup journey unfold.

Pinup can be part of your identity as a way of self expression.

Pinup can be the lifestyle you need to come out of your shell, to boost your confidence and meet new people.

Pinup can be the reason you get up in the morning, to put on that outfit in order to tackle the day ahead.

Pinup can be that part of your identity which you cling onto, to get you through your work week and establish a sense of self outside of your career.

Pinup can be a transitional phase. A necessary journey to experience the new, forget the old, and create a new life for yourself.

So take the time to reflect - what is pinup to you?

Now time to get personal - what is pinup to me? 

When I first came across the term it was when I was invited to a vintage and retro clothing market by some work colleagues. It was at a time of my young adulthood where I did not have any secure identity or style and always felt somewhat out of place in modern fashion. I would torture myself trying on all the styles from the shop windows and beat myself up as to why the clothes just didn't sit right on my body or why I couldn't feel confident in any of the clothes I wore - like I was just playing a part in society. 

I saw a girl at this market (I say girl - she was the same age as me) posing in front of the camera for her boyfriend to take an outfit photo. She was wearing a stunning floral dress with a big wide skirt, twirling a parasol and highlighting her Marilyn Monroe inspired short curly hairstyle. She looked just so damn happy, vibrant and confident. I thought - I want that. So I decided to try on one more outfit, not one in the fast fashion shopping center mannequin-ed windows, but an 'old style' dress with a big skirt and a nipped waist, suggested by a lovely elderly market stall holder from a rack of vintage items. 

Being someone that always hated my curves, growing up in the waif model idolisation of the late 90's, and always wondered "why was I punished and made like this?", the feeling I got when I looked in the mirror is one that has stuck with me all these years later. 

"Hey, I look nice" 

While I didn't have the confidence to buy that dress (dude, it was vintage 1950's so you can guess the price tag), it did send me down the rabbit hole of finding out what the style was and where I could try out more. I was no stranger to the films and stars of the 1950's with my Pop displaying endless Elvis and Marilyn memorabilia in his home, but I had no idea that you could still actually dress like that! That people were able to find clothing in that style AND wear it out on the streets, even attend large gatherings together and enjoy the cars and music of the time too! Mind...blown.....

pinup photo by Bexterity

(Pinup photoshoot by Bexterity) 

I finally felt confident in my body, I finally felt accepted for my weirdness and eccentricities, I finally felt happy within a fashion that would allow me to explore and express my individuality. THAT is what 'Pinup' was for me. 

Nerd pinup photoshoot

(Chemistry nerd photoshoot with Say Cheesecake Photography) 

Many years later, 'Pinup' has been my conversation icebreaker, my job, my suit of armour, my escapism, my style, my creative inspiration. 

Miss Hg Mercury modelling Cherry Bomb Vintage Couture dress

(Modelling for Cherry Bomb Vintage Couture taken by Mark Greenmantle Photography)

My pinup has changed, it has remained fluid. A few years ago I would have said it is the glue that bonds me to a community, an excuse to get out of my introvert shell and meet new people. Thanks to COVID and the cancellation of regular events and car shows (that are only just now in 2023 picking back up in momentum) I honestly did have a slight identity crisis. If I didn't have an event to go to, was I really still a pinup?

pinups at car show posing with Sunshine Coast Pinup School car

(With Maddi Hadland at a car show taken by Korsos Photography)

At the end of 2019 I had already started the process of going back to my natural dark blonde hair after many years with Marilyn Monroe platinum blonde and Bettie Page black. I was starting my journey to accept and feel comfortable with myself, the whole package, with and without hairstyles, makeup and pretty clothing. Now I can say that pinup and vintage is my daily aesthetic and constant influence. It shaped me into the woman that I am today, the experiences it afforded me, lessons I learnt and the friendships I have made. 

pinup and unpinned photoshoot

(Pinup and Unpinned Photoshoots at Pinup HQ - self portraits)

So what is pinup to you?

Have you ever allowed yourself the opportunity to just sit with yourself (pinned or unpinned) and evaluate what this style, Kulture, community etc. is to you? 

Renae xo



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1 comment

I struggle daily with my skin issues. And when I do my hair and put on an amazing dress, petticoat and heels.. (I’m not great at the make-up) I know people will stare and look but at least it’s my outfit that got your attention not my skin….


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