Red pout, perfect curls, curvy figure—you know who she is. But here’s something you might not have known: while we can all picture the classic pinups of the WWII years and the high-flying fifties, the history of our beloved pinup girl goes back much earlier. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, the pinup dates all the way back to the 1800s—with the invention of the modern bicycle!
History lesson aside, it’s safe to say that the classic pinup girl look is still going strong today. Just take a look at Buzzfeed’s roundup of pinup Instagrammers for proof. One thing that makes the look so popular is the way it changes with the times. Yes, it’s those classic, vintage touches that give the pinup her power—but she updates her look to stay current.
So how do you create a modern pinup? We’ll take you through it, from makeup basics to expert styling.
The Pinup Hair
First things first—it’s not a true pinup without those perfect rolls.
Going for that 40s look? Patriotic victory rolls are perfect—and, as an added bonus, pretty simple to master. The sky-high bangs of the 50s are another easy bet. And you’re in luck, because we covered how to do both in our post on retro hairstyles.
Basically, the key to pinup hair is volume. You don’t have to get complicated with your curls—just make them big. Classic pinup hair tends to be smooth-as-silk with no frizz in sight, though with summer coming we all know that won’t last long (thanks for nothing, humidity).
Perfect pinup hair is ideal for a vintage-themed styled shoot, but you can also make the look a little more modern. Try styling those victory rolls a little looser and messier. Colorfully died hair also brings a modern touch to a set of vintage curls.
Curls, volume, and a frizz-free ‘do are pinup staples, but the fun doesn’t end there! A bandana, a big bow, or even a vintage hat can be the perfect accessory to complete the look. If you’re struggling to get the volume or you can’t quite master the curls you wanted, any of these accessories can save the day.
The Pinup Makeup
Now that you’ve got your curls down, it’s time to move on to a vintage-inspired makeup look. Most of these techniques you’ve already mastered. The red lip, the sharp cat-eye, and the thick lashes are classics that are just as big today as they were at the height of pinup.
Classic pinup curls never have a hair out of place, and the skin should match. Primer, concealer, and a good foundation are all essentials in achieving a flawless base. You’ll also need a bright blush to get that signature rosy glow.
But remember, we’re channeling this style for a new era. For a modern pinup look that’s a little more laid back, you can always just stick with a few dabs of concealer and a bit of blush.
Start by neatening up your brows. After learning about classic pinup hair and skin, it’s probably no surprise to hear that this look favors bold brows with not a hair out of place!
Next up is a basic shadow application. Once you’ve primed your lids, cover them with a white, beige, or champagne shadow to help widen your eyes. A dark brown shade blended in the crease completes the shadow—or, for a modern twist, try adding a little bit of color.
And of course, no pinup would be complete without the signature cat eye. Stop for an everyday touch of vintage style, or go all out by finishing the eyes off with a thick set of false lashes.
Do we really need to say it? A sharp red pout practically defines the pinup look. Paired with those classic cat eyes, though, don’t be afraid to switch it up for a bold berry- or brown-toned lipstick instead.
To give the color some staying power, blot the lipstick between layers, then dust on some translucent powder before adding another layer of color.
The Pinup Style
You don’t need to go full vintage to pull off pinup hair and makeup, but a few era-appropriate pieces are always fun additions to the look. Instead of overhauling your entire closet (goodbye, groceries for the next month), take a look at what you have already. Prints, classic pieces, and vintage staples can help you complete your modern pinup style without making you look like you’re on your way to a costume party.
Look out for…
- Vintage prints. Polka dots, stripes, cherries, and animal prints have a vintage vibe that’s easy to translate into an everyday outfit.
- Classic pieces. A pencil skirt or simple blouse pairs well with anything. Bonus: if you need to dress up for a job interview, you’re set!
- Vintage staples. Don’t splurge on a whole set of pinup-inspired tops. Instead, go for a knee-length skirt or high-waisted jeans. They’ll keep that vintage vibe while pairing easily with anything else in your closet.
Whether you’re creating a special look for a client, creating the concept for a styled shoot, or practicing something new on yourself, you don’t have to follow all of these rules to a T! Instead, pick and choose some pinup hair, makeup, and style essentials for a look that channels the pinup vibe—with your own modern twist.