Calendar Girls – The history and fashion of vintage pin up girls

calendar girls

Calendar Girls – The history and fashion of vintage pin up girls

What is fashion without glamour? Clothing is a statement, a reflection of individuality and sometimes can even be seen as art. It’s time revive classic pinup style looks for a new generation of Dita-inspired glamour girls.

Vintage has never gone out of style; in fact it seems to only grow in popularity as high street stores such as Topshop add racks devoted to secondhand threads. It’s never been so trendy to pick up bargains from charity shop displays, and the fascination lies simply in the glamour of bygone eras. The roaring twenties, flapper thirties, and even swinging sixties were a time of glittering larger than life Hollywood screen starlets with furs, jewels, and suave leading men. Even today, names such as Marilyn or Bettie send thrills down our spines; these weren’t just women, they now have become ideas of beauty that have passed on into legend.

Pinup girls: Better Than Cheesecake

Collecting pinups as small images cut from magazines or newspapers may have started as early as the 1890’s, but it wasn’t until WWII that the craze started to pick up steam. Sexy, idealized versions of women decorated many a serviceman’s locker, as they dreamed of the girls back home. Silver screen star Betty Grable was one of the first of the true pinups, but the trend ran to illustration too. It was at this time that the world would fall for the lovely corseted Gibson girl, with her S-curved hourglass figure and piles of pinned, curly hair. Alberto Vargas is also considered a master of the classic pinup style, creating now iconic paintings for Esquire Magazine and later, Playboy.

These slim, red-fingered vixens inspired many of the more modern pinup style artists such as Olivia DeBerardinis and Rion Vernon. Olivia, born in 1948, would become famous for her stylish interpretations of the legendary Bettie Page while Vernon has redefined the pinup genre with his increasingly popular His work can now be found mass produced in shops such as Hot Topic, and prints are available from both artists online.

While pinup illustration is visually stunning, nothing can quite match the flesh and blood women that could sets hearts aflame in a single photograph. The lips of Clara Bow, tumbling locks of Brigitte Bardot, Bette Davis eyes and figure of Marilyn Monroe have stood the test of time, and surely must have paved the way for the superstars and supermodels of today; each and every one different, and surely with their own unique flaws, but timelessly beautiful and captured for all time, to the delight of future generations.

A modern homage to the retro glamour girl

As we embrace the styles and trends of earlier eras, it’s only natural that the pinup has made a major resurgence in pop culture. Dita Von Teese has made 1940’s vintage her signature look, inspired by the glamour models of that period. Starting out as a stripper, the woman born as Heather Renee Sweet would later reinvent her look based on the photographs of Bettie Page, donning elbow-length gloves, corset, and a saucy fringe. After a stint as a alternative model, Dita, a nod to silent film star Dita Parlo, created what is credited as one of the very first internet modelling sites. She is an accomplished burlesque performer and a supporter of the New Burlesque movement, which emphasizes the stylish, sensual parts of performing rather than the crude and overtly sexual. New Burlesque, and Dita Von Teese herself, draws inspiration from true vintage burlesque players such as Sally Rand and Lili St. Cyr. In fact, Dita’s feathered fan dance, shown on the cover of her bestselling book Burlesque and the Art of the Teese, is directly linked to her love for Sally Rand, who made the routine famous in the 1930’s.

It may also be said that pop singer Christina Aguilera has embraced New Burlesque, tiring of a reputation that in the past could be seen as extremely over the top. In recent years, however, Christina has also embraced the vintage lifestyle, and now shines in her inspired costumes, vampy lips and apple red nails. Though she’d been flirting with the pinup look as part and parcel of her many, many reinventions, Christina seems to have now found her niche, blazing back onto the scene with her critically acclaimed Ain’t No Other Man video, which is heavily influenced both musically and visually by classic elements. Her newest single, Candyman, is a throwback to pop music from the ’40’s and 50’s, and promotional art features Aguilera in a vintage pinup girl style.

You don’t have to be famous to be a calendar girl, though, and you don’t need the body of Dita or Christina. In fact, you can fake your way to an hourglass figure with a bit of know-how. That’s a story for another week though–stay tuned for your guide to corsets!