It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or if you are a long time pinup or vintage enthusiast, everyone loves a good a deal. We can’t have everything we set our eyes on but with a few helpful tips and tricks you can grow our wardrobe without breaking the bank. While every person will have a different idea of what is affordable I’ve put together a guide based on my own experience.
Less Expensive Retro Brands and Sites
Lindy bop has really cute styles a range of novelty prints and solids. Boleros and tops run between $25.00 to $35.00, Dresses from $40.00 to $60 and Skirts around $40.00 and petticoats at $35.00. While I haven’t actually tried this brand, I’ve heard rave reviews from other bloggers. Just make sure you pay attention to the size chart for each item as sizes to vary according to style.
Chicwish is a site that I just learned about over at Junebugs and Georgia Peaches and I fell in love immediately. I actually just placed an order for both the 2nd and 3rd skirt listed above. Before heading over there yourself please note that chicwish is based out of China and is not a retro site. The only thing that really caught my eye were the skirts, but there are plenty to choose from so I’m not left wanting! The skirts appear to run on average $30.00 to $50.00.
Steady has a bit more of a rockabilly feel to it with dresses from $50.00, Skirts from $40.00, tops from $30.00. While I wouldn’t consider any of their items knock offs you can find garments that are similar to ones being sold at other retailers for a much higher price. While using cheaper materials Steady still manages to make beautiful items at an affordable price.
Le Bomb had to be one of the most affordable shops on this list with tops ranging between $18.00 and $30.00 bottoms between $25.00 and $45.00 and dresses $25.00 to $55.00. It was really hard to chose just 4 items to feature do to the number of various styles offered. While I haven’t tried Le Bomb myself many other pinup bloggers have been raving about their tops. From the looks of it many of the items featured in the shop are made from inexpensive materials meaning that they are thinner and more susceptible to showing wear. If you cycle through fashion quickly or are looking to try something new this is a great place to shop.
JBR doesn’t have a vast selection of clothing, but they do have a bunch of gorgeous dresses averaging at $55.00 a pop. Most of the clothing is more casual, but there are a handful of dressy items. Aside from the beautiful dresses they have to offer you can find skirts, tops and coats though there is a very limited selection of styles.
Voodoo Vixen just fits into what I’d classify as “budget” pinup clothing, but I had to include them because they make quality garments at a lower price point. Dresses start at $50.00, cardigans and skirts at $40.00, shorts at $35.00 and tops at $30.00. The style of their clothing rages from cutesy to vamp, so your sure to find something you like. The best thing about Voodoo Vixen is that they have a nice selection of dresses that you could consider event or evening wear (no gowns though, were not talking gala fancy) which a lot of the other budget brands just don’t offer.
Stocking Up on Basics
A basic cotton t-shirt or cami can go a long way, paired with more eye catching skirts and cardi’s you can cut down the price of your wardrobe while still maintaining the aesthetic. I tend to buy my basics including the 3 styles listed above at target. Their Merona brand makes a nice t-shirts that are made from a nice thick cotton in a multitude of seasonal colors.
Pumps can be bought on the cheap just about anywhere and they often act as the cornerstone to a pinup look. All of the above are from payless, which has sales very regularly on top of the already low prices.
Bloeros and cardigans may be a little more difficult to find, but I’ve managed to find some gems at department stores. For example the two boleros above are from JC Penny and Macy’s respectively.
If you can manage to save money by suplemting your pinupstyles with inexpensive basics you can save up money for those really unique items. This was a technique that i used for the first few years of trying to build my wardrobe, and it really works. I still pair basic camis and tees with my circle skirts for those more casual days.
Beyond basic tops you can also find various pinup style skirts at department store the first 2 are from target and cost $25 each, the shorter circle skirt is from JCPenny and costs $40, the longer skirt is from Macy’s and costs $43.00. The silhouettes that you see in pinup clothing are common, and you can find affordable options just about anywhere.
There are a few accessories that we automatically associate with pinups. Seamed stockings, hair flowers, bold red lips, cat eyes and victory rolls all belong to this signature look. Utalize them and spend save up your money!
There are a couple of books that will help you achieve the perfect hair and makeup, but also look around on youtube you’ll find tons of great tutorials. I’d recommend the LisaFreemontStreet youtube channel, and Laura Rennels’ books on hair and makeup.
Seamed stocking are easy enough to come by these days, the ones above are from Leg Avenue and cost $12 or under. I would however recommend investing in your stockings. I’ll be the first to admit that Leg Avenue doesn’t really do it for me, try looking at a hosiery retailer like My Tights for better quality.
eBay, Second Hand and Thrifting
You can make some really great finds on eBay, swap boards and thrifting. 90% of my slips are deadstock or vintage off bought from eBay, I also have a wonderful 1940’s silk suit that I purchased for $35 off of eBay, as well as an older PUG Birdie dress that I got for $25. It’s really a matter of looking around and finding what works best for you. I’ll admit that while there are a number of swap and sell boards I’m not one to trust them, I’m scared to death that I’ll end up being scammed. I used to constantly thrift while in college, but there aren’t many nice thrift shops in Philadelphia and I much prefer to shop for what I know I want then to find something at a charity shop.
Kiss Me Deadly – They put end of line items in their shop, get the best prices by purchasing directly through them.
Queen of Heartz – Highly discounted items from the retailer themselves.
What Katie Did – Seconds and end of the line items directly from the retailer
Bernie Dexter – Occasionally Bernie will post items in her own eBay store, but you can find tons of second hand items at a great price.
PUG – Great for second hand items, you can also find a lot of discontinued beauties here.
Stop Staring – Great for second hand, I recently purchased a Stop Staring dress for $20. Easily the biggest discount you can find on eBay
Desperately Seeking Trashy Diva – https://www.facebook.com/groups/482231541833428/
Hell Bunny Swap/Sell – https://www.facebook.com/groups/hellbunnybuyswapsell/
Wheels and Dollbaby Swap/Sell – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1375969455995891/
If you opt to thrift, make sure to cycle through everything. Most thrift shops are charity and the people working there may not understand sizing or value. Some shops might have a vintage area, which makes life easier but don’t discount what you can find in the racks!
Haunt the Sales Rack
I highly doubt that you have a disposable income, I know that I certainly don’t. However that doesn’t stop my from going on spending sprees a few times a year. The trick really is to haunt the sales rack, I’d say that at least 50% of my clothing was purchased at a discounted price.
Trashy Diva has a big sale at the end of each season, during their end of summer sale I purchased 3 dresses and a bolero which came to less than the cost of one dress at full price. However, they do have a fairly full stock of sales items year round.
Modcloth is one of those sites that you really have to dig through to find the perfect item, particularly when it comes to sales. It is worth it though, I’ve seen really gorgeous $100 and up dresses get marked down more than 70%.
Heart of Haute has a sales rack, that they stock with seconds, end of the line items and samples. Sometimes they’ll even put one of a kind items up. Keep an eye out unique pieces tend to go fast!
Unique Vintage, much like Modcloth you have to dig through to find the perfect frock. Unlike Modcloth UV has a clear pinup image so you’re more likely to find cheap clothes that fit your style here. UV has mega sales, I regularly spot items for under $30.00 and they offer huge discounts. Right now they’re having an up to 90% off sale.
Pinup Girl Clothing I won’t lie to you and say that you’ll get mind blowing sales from the PUG site, but I will say they certainly help soften the blow on more pricey items. You’ll see the most savings on off brand items and accessories, all PUG items in the sales section are end of the line, so if you see something you love buy it before it’s gone. If you want access to more sales sign up for the newsletter!
Collectif boasts an amazing sale section, the longer the item stays the more it’s reduced. I’ve found items for as little as $8.00 which you have to admit is crazy. Sales item tend to be limited in sizing.
Tatyana dresses are one of those things that I won’t always purchase at full price, I find that better quality at similar prices is found elsewhere. However they have amazing sales that allow me to justify my spending. I have purchased 4 wiggle dresses from them in the past 4 months each for the reasonable price of $60 or less. They have frequent promotions so make sure to sign up for the newsletter.
Save for Those One of a Kind Pieces
One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is to save for those one of a kind pieces. If you adore the latest coat form Collectif or cant live without that Bernie Dexter novelty print save up for it and buy it. Finding cheap options is always nice but if you don’t treat yourself once and awhile you’ll never be satisfied. Quality retailers and designers like Pinup Girl and Trashy Diva are well worth the price, and their clothes will last you.
What Works for Me
I know that it isn’t possible for everyone to dive head first into the pinup realm, but it is possible to slowly build your wardrobe. When I first started out I was fresh out of college and rapidly gaining weight, I had no money and no confidence. Over time I slowly navigated the retro waters and found what worked for me. Now I’m still not making much money but I do have a growing wardrobe full of fabulous retro and vintage pieces. Don’t for one minute think I go out and buy everything I post in my articles! I carefully plan my purchases around my needs and preexisting wardrobe.
- I try to weed out items from my wishlist that are too similar to what I have already.
- I have a categorical system for organizing my clothing and purchases, if one category seams fuller than the other I can’t buy for it. These categories do overlap so they can act more as guidelines then strict rules, but it helps me keep everything in check. My categories are as follows:
- Burlesque/Pinup related (For attending or working shows or friend’s parties)
- Events/Weddings/Holidays (A little more conservative than the former category)
- Work appropriate (Modest clothing can be colorful or printed)
- Business appropriate (Modest clothing that is simple and conservative no prints no outlandish color)
- Casual/Lounge (For hanging out/running errands/working from home)
- I started off by building a basic wardrobe out of all season dresses and separates, adding cardigans and tights where needed. This gave me the most bang for my buck so that once I felt I had a good base I could buy what I wanted without feeling like I could hardly wear it. Side note: I’ve spent so long focusing on this that I have a hard time purchasing seasonal item. I’ve managed to get some nice summer appropriate clothing this past year, now I’m focusing on winter.
- If I don’t absolutely need it, but I love it and it’s on sale for a really good price I buy it. I never deprive myself if the money is there.
- When purchasing separates, I makes sure that I can wear them with multiple other items in my wardrobe.
- One can never have enough black, red or navy.
- I try and buy from places with good return policies so that if it doesn’t fit or live up to my expectations I can return it.
- I learned that quality doesn’t always have a high price, but even if it does it worth it.
- On the other hand high prices don’t mean that items are high quality. If I really like a company but their price isn’t equivalent to the the quality I only buy items on sale.