How to "Dress Pinup" for beginners

So you’ve seen a few good looking girls in full circle skirts, gorgeous wiggle dresses or skinny jeans and heels. And now you have decided that the retro look is for you. But you don’t have a lot of cash to get started. The good news is, you don’t need it!

Op shops will be your best friend! It's taken me years to get my wardrobe together and I'm still adding to my collection. Taking the time to find tops, cardys, jumpers, hair scarves, bags, shoes and accessories in op shops will help you save money. Trademe can be good but watch for retailers from overseas selling ripoffs and poor quality.

There are also loads of buy sell pages, join them all. Vintage, pinup, rockabilly, accessories, jewellery and more. Try searching for them or here are a few of my favourites:


Colours. Stick with what you like or interchangeable colour pallets. White, black, navy blue, and red would get you off on a good start. These accessories will go with most outfits. Good to start with basic colours then add yellows, pinks or light blues or whatever colour you fancy most. Black and white were definitely staples in my wardrobe. Now days I’m a pink and blue girl.

Look for some basics such as swing or circle style skirts, basic cardigans and tops you can mix and match with bottoms. Then with accessories look for colourful bangles or necklaces.

I used to match my accessories colours or patterns to my outfit or I’d match my accessories such as a cute pink necklace and earrings with a milkshake brooch. Below I'm wearing a singlet top from Jay Jay's, a Glassons cardigan, an old bandana in my hair and a handbag from Cobalt Heights. This was taken at the first ever Rebel Round Up in Rotorua 5 years ago. It is now held in Central Hawkes Bay each March.


Next I would start with jewellery in your core wardrobe colours. Lay out your three favourite dresses and see what might match.

Retro Jewellery (my business) offers colour matching where you can send me pictures of dresses to match. And I offer old school laybuy. I have reproduction vintage stuff and true vintage items as well. Bangles, earrings, necklaces, brooches and more. Check out my blog on bangle stacks to get you started.

A great place to get inspiration from is local car shows and events. That’s where you see “pinups in the wild”, make friends, can shop the market stalls and get an idea about how you want to dress and where to spend your money etc.  I put on an event each winter called the Winter Warmer and that has 25 stall holders from all over the country who come together to sell in one place. Some girls have wardrobe clearouts and it's a great place to shop, try on and meet a few new friends. 

Any of the NZ businesses would be grateful for your support. Of course, if you want jewellery I have both reproduction and vintage at affordable prices at Retro Jewellery. Below are a few of my favourite stores:

Two Lippy Ladies or Retro America for clothes, cardies and petticoats. 

Retro Jewellery for shoes and jewellery

Retro America also sells handbags, menswear and accessories.

Retro America is located in Sanson, beside Viv's Diner and has Womens and Mens clothing with a more Rockabilly vibe. They source items from America and carry Suavetica so can help with hair styling products too.

I found that my original pinup style I started with has changed so much and I have spent lots of money on clothes over the years, which aren’t my style anymore. I've grown in confidence and added wiggle skirts to my wardrobe and more form fitting clothing. What I'm saying is, if I’m not reaching for it anymore, out it goes for sale. Sell it and reinvest your money in something you love. I wear my op shop finds or bargains from buy and sell pages alot more.


Oh, and get some crop cardigans for winter. Layers are your friend in any season. The op shops or even Glassons cardys are fine. Two Lippy Ladies sell the cropped MAK ones that are fabulous for completing your look

I get inspiration from instagram and often find favourite new brands or second hand resellers from others tagging them in their posts. You could also look into capsule wardrobes for inspiration. A great way to make 10 or so items into many different outfits.

I hope this has been helpful and given you ideas of where and how to start. Give it a go, feel free to send me pictures via my instagram or the website, and I hope to see you at an event or market soon!

Miss Cecelia Rose xx 

1 comment

  • Carrie

    Love it, lots of great tips! I especially liked the idea of using basics from high street brands and opshops. Your style definitley changes over time so recycle that wardrobe!

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