We get asked a lot about where to find affordable pinup and vintage inspired clothing, or comments that dressing in this fashion must be really expensive.
While I do love my 'special' dresses from higher end vintage inspired designers, I also love a good bargain.
So whether you are just starting out in pinup fashion, or don't have a large budget to build up your wardrobe, here are some finds from modern or cheap shops that won't break the bank. Which should allow some wiggle room to invest in more accessories to dress up your clothing and create many different looks from just a few staple items.
Lucky for us, silhouettes from the 50s and 60s are making a come back in modern clothing trends. This means that you can easily find cropped tops, high waisted shorts and skirts, wiggle skirts and dresses (often called bodycon) and the fit and flare dresses and full skirts in 'every day' shopping center shops.
The first outfit I have put together features high waisted royal blue pants ($19.95) and a grey crop top ($4.95 marked down from $9.95) from Temt. Accessorised with scarf ($8) and hair flower ($5) from the Sunshine Coast Pinup School, and red Jazz shoes from Kitten D Amour (yes, not really budget friendly - but I'll address that in a bit). Total outfit cost = $38 (not including the shoes).
I love this top. it is constantly in the washing basket because I wear it so often. It is comfortable, stretchy, but fitting. The length is perfect for my waist line in that I don't have to tuck it in to high waisted skirts or pants and it only shows that tiny bit of (ultra white!) skin.
To be honest the pants are not perfectly fitted for my body shape, but the stretch in the fabric means they are comfortable and they also have pockets.
Teamed with a MAK cropped cardigan ($39) from Louella De Ville Boutique, it is a great year round outfit.
The next outfit features Temt once again with a black and white top ($9.95) and mustard bodycon skirt ($9.95). I have teamed it with a beaded necklace from Susan Jane Jewellery ($20) and one of our head scarfs ($8). With black Gatsby shoes from Kitten D Amour (this style has now been replaced with the Jazz shoe on their website). Total outfit cost = $48 (not including the shoes).
I am obsessed with the colour mustard at the moment and this skirt is super stretchy and comfortable. The only thing I find with 'modern' clothing is the hem lines are just that tiny bit too short for my liking. The top is a great staple and can be mixed and matched with many different colours.
The next outfit features a baby pink cropped top from Temt ($4.95 marked down from $9.95), black skirt from Ebay ($22.20), petticoat from Ebay ($17.72), belt from Louella De Ville Boutique ($15 - ages ago), beaded necklace from Susan Jane Jewellery ($20) and one of our head scarfs ($8). Pink Jazz shoes from Kitten D Amour. Total outfit cost = about $88 (not including the shoes).
My mum taught me, if you like an item of clothing - get it in a couple of colours. Hence why I bought two of the cropped tops from Temt. With Ebay purchases (mainly knock off, China/Hong Kong based shops) you do have to take a little risk, I have ordered items off Ebay in the past that have simply never shown up or has been nothing like what I thought I ordered. This skirt is available in a wide variety of colours and patterns, and is one of my go to casual skirts, because, pockets - need I say more?
It is a little shorter though, and I did struggle to fit my petticoat under it as I personally don't like my petticoat to show. The belt is actually hiding how I had to roll up the petticoat on my waist. But it looks great without a petticoat as well for more of a casual look. The petticoat creates nice volume and is lined. I have found this a great staple in my wardrobe when I just want to add that volume. I did however, tear a bit of the tulle with my shoes last time I wore it - hence the uneven hemline.
The last outfit features the same grey cropped top from Temt ($4.95 marked down from $9.95), a handmade circle skirt (about $25 in materials plus time), petticoat from Rockabilly Retro ($65), beaded necklace from Susan Jane Jewellery and two of our hair flowers ($5 each). Black Gatsby shoes from Kitten D Amour. Total outfit cost = $125 (not including the shoes).
If you (or know someone who is) handy with a sewing machine. Making your own vintage inspired skirts is not only budget friendly, but it also allows you to develop a unique look. I made this skirt from a basic circle skirt pattern using a science themed fabric. I love that my collection of 'Nerd Skirts' are unique to me and allow me to inject some of my passion and quirk into my fashion.
The cost of this outfit increased due to a higher quality petticoat. If you love to wear swing skirts and dresses (and the full feeling of a petticoat, and twirling like a 3 year old) then you need to invest in a petticoat. You can get them in all colours of the rainbow. But it is very budget friendly to get just one higher quality petticoat in either white or black to match your entire wardrobe.
Plus, the fuller and softer the petticoat, the more fun (and comfortable) it is to wear.
Now, the SHOES! No, I am not leading you astray with my budget friendly outfits to then add $149 shoes on top. I have learnt the very hard way that if you are going to invest in one wardrobe item, invest in good quality COMFORTABLE shoes. I have thrown $30 here and $40 there on shoes that feel alright in the shop or around the house, only to have you wanting to cut your feet off at the end of the day after wearing them for more than a couple of hours. I wear these shoes from Kitten D Amour to every event (you will start looking at my feet now won't you!). They are extremely comfortable, with a sensible heel and a cushioned sole. Kitten D Amour have recently gotten into the shoe game and offer a wide variety of styles and colours, to which they keep releasing more styles every couple of months with new clothing collections. Before I was comfortable wearing heels, I had a very large collection of ballet flats, places like Rubi Shoes, Target, Kmart and Big W are great for stocking up on simple flats for under $20 each. Nicole Jade Boutique also stock a large variety of vintage inspired heels (and the great thing is you will find her stall at most pinup/rockabilly shows in South East Queensland).
I also feel I should mention a US based online shop that I have been a fan of (but yet to purchase from) - Le Bomb Shop. It has many budget friendly options and I have heard nothing but good reviews. Jay Jays also stock a good range of high waisted denim shorts and jeans.
So here are my tips for when you go out hunting for your budget friendly pinup wardrobe staples. Decide on your look and the style you feel most comfortable or yourself in (or choose a decade, I tend to lean towards the mid to late 50s and early 60s). Will you get more wear out of shorts/pants, wiggle or swing skirts or dresses? Then decide on your colour pallet and get staple items that you are able to mix and match. It is always great to choose block colours with a mix of some black and white and throw in a novelty print here and there. Once you have your basics then you can have fun creating different looks with accessories.
All of the clothing and accessories in this blog post were purchased with my own money. Hair flowers and Head Scarfs are stocked by us the Sunshine Coast Pinup School and available to purchase on this website here. I have provided links to where I have purchased my items. I do apologise if some items I have shown are now out of stock.