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FORGET pastels, or organza frou – if you’re wondering what essentials should be in every pin up girls wardrobe, it calls for a bolder colour pallets and floral designs this year. Think outside the box; your pin up wardrobe is an expression of self – an expression of vintage beauty. Here are our pin up wardrobe essentials.

Pin up is unapologetically feminine and dressing authentically in 50’s styles complements this, whether you’re going for casual, corset, floral, polka dot or stripe!

Starting a pin up wardrobe can be tricky – key to starting is versatility. Purchasing items that complement each other and can be reused to create a completely different look. This way, even if you only have a limited number of dresses and accessories, new and fashionable looks can be created with ease.

I would suggest to start with dresses and skirts. The true pin up items are difficult to find on the high street so we recommend starting with them as they are the backbone of any outfit. It is always possible to find retro tops at high street stores. This is a great way to complement your best dresses – with high street essentials.

Pin Up Wardrobe Essentials

Money can be tight when you’re just getting into pin up. Everything I pretty but you’re unsure where to invest. I recommend going for a staple swing dress. Below is a beautiful dress you can wear on its own or with an overcoat in winter.

  •  Versatile enough to create different looks but will still make you stand out on its own. Below is a personal favourite rockabilly dress.

Vintage1950's Mid Calf Solid Red Pin Up Rockabilly Retro Dresses


  • A dress with a some detailing can also hold versatility. More of a polka dot style.

1950's Style Polka Pots Expansion Bow Vintage Dresses

  • Looks with these two dresses can easily be altered. With the first rockabilly dress you can wear with or without the belt – then you can style it with cardigans, gloves, necklaces and pin up curls. If you decide to go with all four variants you will have created a completely new look.

Solid Red Rockabilly pin up retro dress

Style is something that is incredibly personal and meaningful to us because it defines much of our interests. Our style can reflect our personal hobbies, the struggles we’ve been through or it could be centred around our defiance for the current popular trends in the industry. Either way, having your very own style is almost like forming your own identity, an alter ego that can empower you with confidence.

For many women (and even some men) a style that will never go out of fashion is the vintage pin-up. Popularised by burlesque performers and actresses in the 19th century, this vintage style is characterised by its sexuality, boldness and playful nature. Much of the pin-up art in the world typically have female models wearing a low-cut dresses and posing in a variety of suggestive ways, and that hasn’t changed much in modern times.

The quintessential pin-up wardrobe centrepiece will always be the dress. Whether it’s something casual or a more daring corset, the dress is what you’ll be focusing on most of the time. Every vintage fashionista should own multiple pin-up dresses for various occasions, so let’s take a look at some pin-up wardrobe essentials.

Picking Your Dresses

First, let’s talk about dresses. Your dress will most likely be the most important piece of your pin-up fashion because it replaces both your top and bottoms and will stand out more than anything else you wear (unless you have an amazing hairstyle!), so pick wisely.

Embracing Your Curves

Pin-up style is all about showing off your curves, both on your hips and on your chest! Your clothes need to enhance your body to create a desirable hourglass figure. The dresses should hug your figure tightly (which is why it can sometimes be difficult to find the right dress!) and skirts should ideally reach down to your knees. If possible, you’ll want to try on a variety of dresses to see what you look like with it on.

Thankfully, buying online is also a possibility now despite the worries surrounding the sizes and fits. Plenty of online retailers now offer refunds and returns with incredibly generous guaranteed periods. In addition, online pin-up dress retailers understand the importance of getting the right fit, which is why you’ll always have bust, waist and hip measurements to compare. Your best friend when buying online will be a tape measure, so go ahead and invest some change into one!

Picking Colours and Patterns

It’s totally fine to be the proud owner of over a dozen dresses—especially if they’re all in different colours and patterns! However, if you’re just starting out with your pin-up wardrobe essentials, then you may want to pick a couple of colours and patterns that are more versatile. For example, neutral colours such as black, white and lighter shades are perfect because they can fit with most hair colours and accessories. If you go for something bold like a deep red or a pastel blue, then pair them with neutral patterns like white dots or stripes. Try and stick with primary colours because they blend a little better with other colours, making it nice and simple to pick the rest of your outfit.

For patterns, try to pick something lighter in colour that isn’t too loud or over the top. If you want a floral dress, then try to pick one with a lightly coloured background (or just white) then focus on brighter flowers such as red and green. The more bold you are, the more the colours can clash. The best way to find what works best for you is to simply try on lots of different dresses. If you’re trying to limit yourself to only a couple of dresses, then you’ll need to pick a few patterns and colours that can fit a wide range of outfits and occasions. In short, you’re going to end up buying a lot of dresses, but you can start your wardrobe off by picking versatile pieces to give you more choices.

Paying For Authenticity

Some people would love to own real authentic pin-up dresses that were created many years ago, but they simply aren’t readily available. Luckily, you can get the same feeling by wearing reproduction dresses and outfits that aim to replicate the same nostalgic patterns and designs that were popular many decades ago. One day you might be the lucky owner of a vintage dress that isn’t just made in the style of pin-up, but was probably worn by a pin-up model from that era! However, for now, don’t worry about buying “authentic” dresses that cost several times more than the perfectly acceptable dresses you can find on websites and stores.

Casual Dresses

Casual vintage dresses are easy to find and are a great starting point for most vintage fashion enthusiasts. They usually aren’t too revealing or difficult to wear and they’re definitely affordable for more people. You’ll find that swing dresses have lovely shapes that don’t have to fit too tightly to your body. They come in a wide variety of patterns, colours and prints, so be sure to look at different stores to pick something that really stands out. If you want something safe, then a simple white or black casual dress is good enough. Feeling a little bolder? Then go for primary colours like red or blue. If you’d like something classic, then you could consider wearing the classic polka dot patterns or even a leopard print. These are incredibly versatile dresses that can be worn casually on almost any day. If you’re feeling bold and want to show off your curves, then a v-neck style dress will be the perfect match.

Corset Dresses

Now we’re getting a little more daring. Corset dresses hug your figure much more tightly than casual styles so they’re not recommended to be worn for too long. Corsets embody the burlesque style that was associated with pin-up culture. Corsets are typically worn together with lavish jewellery such as necklaces and earrings because corsets themselves can be fairly dull in comparison to the more colourful offerings that you’ll see in dresses. The back is fairly low-cut and most of your upper chest and shoulders will be exposed. It takes a lot of courage to wear a corset and look fantastic in it, so it’s not recommended for beginners or anyone that doesn’t like to show off a bit more skin. Remember to wear a corset together with some jewellery to compliment it and you’ll be fine. There are many different patterns colours and choose from, but you won’t get the stand-out designs that you’ll see from other pin-up dresses.

Floral Style

Floral dresses are much like casual dresses in that they usually don’t expose much skin and are perfect for beginners. However, floral dresses usually involve a lot more colour which can make coordination difficult if you aren’t well-versed in colour theory. The idea is to try and pick a neutral dress (such as black or white) but pick flower patterns that are red and green. This is the most common style of floral dress because the colours match well with most skin and hair types, but it still gives off an innocent and cutesy feeling if that’s what you’re going for. Some floral dresses can get loud and colourful, but you can start your pin-up wardrobe essentials by picking something a little more modest to help you build up confidence.

Polka Dot Style

Much like casual dresses and floral styles, polka dot dresses are incredibly popular due to them being relatively safe choices for starting your pin-up wardrobe. They have simple designs that don’t speak too loudly, yet they’re comfortable and allow you to express your love for vintage fashion. Polka dot styles are typically great in colour and because so much attention is being brought to the dress itself, you don’t need to worry much about accessories to go with it. Polka dot style dresses are fantastic choices for almost every situation, but the more colourful they are the more confident you’ll have to be to look comfortable in them.

Stripe Dresses

Stripe dresses are a little more daring not because they’re revealing or show off too much skin, but because they usually contain lots of unique colours, patterns and design quirks that scream for attention. If you don’t like to stand out, then stripe dresses are not for you! They do, however, allow you to express your sense of fashion much louder than the other style of pin-up dresses. Whether it’s a simple red and white vertical stripe pattern or baby blue and white with a flamingo print, these styles are far more interesting to the eye. As long as you feel comfortable wearing a striped dress with a unique print, you’ll find that they will define your fashion sense and your friends will relate you to your love of vintage pin-up fashion.

Finishing Up Your Wardrobe

Now that the dresses have been explained and talked about, let’s talk about the rest of your pin-up wardrobe essentials.

Fitted Tops and Skirts


There are some people that don’t actually enjoy wearing skirts. Whether it’s because they don’t feel comfortable exposing parts of their body or if they just don’t like the feeling of it, there is the option of mixing and matching a skirt and a top.

For the top, pick something that can be tucked in for a high-waisted look that is typical of vintage pin-up fashion. Despite not wearing a dress, you still want to focus on showing off your curves with clothing that fits you well. Prints and polka dots are great options here especially if you mix them with simple bottoms, so you can be a little more daring with your style than if you were wearing a full dress.

For the bottoms, high-waisted trousers are a must for a casual vintage outfit. You can match the top with a similar bottom, for instance, a leopard print fitted top with matching trousers. However, this can look a bit strange so it’s best to mix and match different patterns and colours. Denim is also great for bottoms and you can be adventurous with the types of patterns.


To go with your dress, it’s a good idea to pick some stockings if you want a little extra kick in the sensuality department. You can never go wrong with black stockings of various transparencies. It’s a neutral colour that tends to go well with pretty much any colour. However, if you’re a master of colour coordination then you can always go with something a little different. If you want to be economical, then just pick some seamed stockings and buy them bulk for the best value.


A handbag can add extra functionality to your outfit as well as some style. When it comes to accessories, your handbag is most likely going to cost you the most, but it can also add a lot to the style of an outfit. Make sure the colour blends in well with the rest of your outfit. For instance, if you’re wearing a polka dot dress then it’ll look great when watched with a polka dot handbag. The bags should be small in size, they should have bright colours and they need to look vintage. Solid primary colours like red also work very well.


And to finish it all off, we need the right footwear. If you want a simple choice, go with neutral colours like black or white. If you’re willing to spend a little more, then you can pick some ballet flats or stilettos in colours that match your outfit. It’s important to remember that you should stick with a colour scheme if possible. If your dress is red, then you don’t want to be wearing blue shoes because they will contrast too much. Instead, picking a set of glistening red heels will add to the red theme of your outfit and enhance it. If you only have the money to invest in a single pair of heels, then pick a neutral colour like black or white and you’ll have heels that can be worn with anything.

We hope we’ve helped you identify all of the pin up wardrobe essentials, let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed something!

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