How to be a Pinup on a Budget

I’m not going to lie, pinup can be really expensive (you hear that? It’s my credit card crying itself to sleep), but it can also be done on a budget. After years of wearing vintage and styling myself as a modern pinup, I’ve learnt a few tips and tricks to keep the budget down.

If you are starting pinup from scratch it may seem like you’re about to scale a mountain. Sometimes when starting a new hobby or interest, it may seem like there’s a lot of things you need to start feeling a part of a community (start up costs in a way). For pinup especially, it’s easy to see so many established individuals in the community who may appear put together and flawless in their styling which is really intimidating for newbies. It’s worth rememering that every pinup started with a budget wardrobe, questionable eyeliner and wonky victory rolls so don’t get intimidated and give up too soon. I hope these tips help you save a few dollars and feel fabulous along the way.

Miss MonMon photographed by Michelle Keyt

Shop your wardrobe: if you’ve been interested in pinup or vintage, there’s a high chance you may have a few pieces in your wardrobe that can be tweaked or worn to look more of a vintage style. Simple ways of wearing your modern clothes in a vintage style include tucking shirts into your midi skirts or jeans with a belt, wearing a midi skirt over a cute short dresser reaching for simple styling and colour themes which are iconically pinup. I do plan on writing a whole post on this topic soon so keep an eye out. For now, check out my simple retro styling guide.

Op shops, thrift stores, vintage stores and markets: it’s not always the easiest way to find new vintage or pinup pieces but it’s certainly budget friendly. Keep in mind that clothing items can always be tweaked, dyed, shortened or changed to appear more vintage. Shopping for vintage and pinup in op and thrift stores takes a lot of time and patience but it can really be rewarding.

Online: one of the easiest ways to find vintage and pinup clothing is online. By searching through sites such as Etsy, Amazon and Ebay, you can find some great vintage and reproduction pieces for all sorts of budgets. Many of these sites offer search restrictions where you can factor in your budget which is really helpful. Check out my online vintage shopping tips for more advice. It’s also worth noting that if a vintage item looks a little too good to be true, it may be just so. For more tips on this topic check out this post on buying fake vintage online.

Buy/Swap and Sell groups: it’s totally worth joining a few vintage and vintage retro buy/swap/sell pages on Facebook. Many groups are brand specific which means you can find some great bargains, trade items and hunt your vintage unicorns.

Classic styling: Even with jeans and a cardigan, the simple styling you use can really make you look and feel more like a pinup. In terms of makeup, a red lipstick can really be a budget friendly way to push the vintage vibes. Other beauty things you can grab include red nail polish and a good mascara. These items can be picked up cheap from a pharmacy/drug store so you don’t have to break the bank.
I’d also recommend picking up some curlers which can be done from somewhere like Target or Big W for a few dollars or you can even make your own curlers. Check out my DIY curler making method here as well as my homemade curling/setting spray to keep those dollars in your wallet.

DIY: Now is the time to whip out your hot glue gun, glitter and optimism. It’s pretty budget friendly to hot glue some hair flowers together onto a bobby pin, sew up a bandana, hair scarf and hair bow. If you can sew, making your own pinup and vintage staple pieces can be a fun activity especially if you can get cheap fabric.

Petticoat: it may sound like a weird thing to buy, but a cheap petticoat can be a cheap and easy way to add vintage flare to your styling. Petticoats help you achieve the iconic vintage silhouette and it can definitely be done on a budget. Places such as Ebay and Amazon can be great to snag a bargain petticoat but I would recommend updating to a good petticoat (such as Banned or Malcomode) when you can as cheap petticoats can cause health issues (thrush yuck!) and can be a bit itchy.

Miss MonMon. Photo by Seng Mah.

No matter what you spend on your outfit, never give anyone permission to make you feel bad for what you paid for it. If someone does make you feel bad about your budget, they clearly aren’t a nice person and not worth your time or space in your mind. Pinup is a state of mind, if you feel like a pinup bombshell whilst wearing an outfit from the op shop or Target, you do you and you rock it! Please never feel pressured to spend more than you want to and remember that curating the perfect pinup wardrobe takes time.

I know I can say that my first few pinup items came from eBay and they were cheap rockabilly style retro dresses. I still have them in storage and it’s nice to see how far I’ve come. The photos I have used for this blog are some of my early pinup pieces; the cardigan was bought at a warehouse sale, the head wrap was from a friends small business and the pants were a thrift find. I felt like a pinup and it doesn’t matter what others thought of this outfit. Oh and yes, I still wear this outfit! The vintage lifestyle is a journey that is yours and yours alone; you should never feel pressured to buy a new outfit, dress a certain way, be coerced to only wear true vintage or follow some silly rules of style. Do pinup your own way and if you only want to stay budget friendly, that’s no ones business but your own.


Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.

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