Pin-Up Style: What We Can Learn From the Hotties of Yesterday

Jane Russell, Bettie Page, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, and Jayne Mansfield -- what do all these ladies have in common?

Come-hither glances, dangerous curves stuffed into eye-catching bathing suits, and retro clothing tailored to their bodies.

They were all pin-up girls and they were all so very much sexier than their closest equivalents today. Playboy women like Pamela Anderson, Kendra Wilkinson Baskett, and Jenny McCarthy have nothing on retro sexpots.

Sexual images today are full of fake boobs, peep-hole stripper clothing, and fried hair, but just 60 years ago it was the teasing and subtlety that got men all hot and bothered. These were the women who straddled the line between virgin and whore with aplomb and I have been taking my style tips from them for years.

Here are some tips we can take from a generation of women who put us to shame:


Show your best asset: For the pin-up girl, it was all about the curves. And when I say "curvy," I mean large chests, small waists, and larger hips -- parts of us that would be considered figure flaws by today's rigid standards. Some ideas to emulate if you're also a curvy girl: pencil skirts, short cardigans, belted waists. These same articles of clothing can be used to create "curves" where there are none. If you don't like your mom tummy, but love your toned glutes and hamstrings, then work a retro bikini with a high waist. Put a splash of color on your best asset. Have a tiny waist? Make it pop with a bright red, patent leather belt around an otherwise conservative, but slim-fitting black dress.

Curly hair is sexy hair: Women with natural curls spend a lot of time and money trying to tame them. The pin-up girl never did. She worked the waves well because the most important question was: what would men like? A recent poll in the UK showed that 43 percent of men preferred our hair long and wavy. Score one for the ladies! So let's stop all the teasing and pulling and start letting our waves dry naturally to work our natural body.

Work with the body you have: If a pin-up girl had chubby thighs, she didn't care. She would roll up her sexy thigh highs with the seam up the back and work the thighs she had with a smile. There was a lot more jiggle back in the day. These ladies were not triathletes. But the look was touchable, sexy, and soft -- three things that you can achieve at any size.

Confidence is sexy: It's a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Pin-up girls walked that line with ease. It's the attitude that says, "Yes, I know I'm sexy and that you like it, but I don't take it too seriously." Look hot and then relax and let the men come to you.

Bold prints are your friend: I went through a phase where I worked one piece of animal print into every outfit -- a leopard belt buckle with white jeans, a pair of leopard print heels with an otherwise conservative outfit, a zebra print wrist cuff with a neutral skirt and top. Cherry prints work the same way. These little pops of personality tease a man and make him want to know more.

Work it if you got it: Have toned legs? Then grab a flowy A-line skirt and a pair of high espadrilles and show off those muscled calves. Be proud!

Dress like a woman: The pin-up girl knew that things like shoulder pads and boxy, flowy cuts didn't show off curves. These are the kinds of trends -- maxi dresses, rompers -- that women wear for other women. If you want to pull a man in with your clothing, think skirts, tighter shirts, and a little bit of skin.

Wear light perfume and makeup: Pin-up style was all about engaging the senses:

  • Visual: with bold prints and a little skin
  • Tactile: with touchable waves and smooth skin
  • Auditory: with bold laughter
  • Taste: cherry prints and bright lip gloss (flavored is best)
  • Smell: have a signature scent (or don't -- changing it up can be sexy, too). Men love anything with vanilla in it, so try to get a sense of what your man likes to smell and then apply that to your pulse points.

Tailor: Fitted clothing is sexy clothing, so plan on getting a good tailor. The pin-up girl didn't look "poured into her clothing" by accident. She had someone custom-fit her clothing to best suit her body. She knew all women had different body types. And also, it's a myth that bigger women should wear bigger clothing. Be proud of what you have and tailor your clothing to fit it, not hide it.

Always smile: The most important thing a pin-up girl wears: a smile. Look in the mirror and give your best come-hither glance and top it with a friendly smile. Work it until you give enough of an idea of what's there, but not enough to give it all away.

What do you learn from pin-up girls?

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