Sarah Forshaw (@Forshawsarah) and Miss Amy May (@miss_amy_may) are southern belle and southern brit pinups, respectively, who found one another on Instagram part way through their pinup transformations in mid 2013, at which point they tentatively, then all of a sudden, become devoted and divine friends. Bonding over their urge to bring full on glamour to their every day lives, their shared opinions on cake, and their fierce nerd hearts, the two quickly began to look upon one another as fabulous sisters–who simply hadn’t met yet outside the confines of the interwebs. Due to finally meet IRL to share many squishy hugs and swing-skirted spins in fall 2015, they’re opening up their friendship and their closets to you in this shared blog post while they eagerly await their meeting.
Amy: I’ve always adored the glamour and style of the 1950s and the elegance of those Old Hollywood screen sirens, an admiration that Sarah shares. It was not at all unusual for us both to yearn for 50s style dresses we spotted in movies set in that era, wanting the shelf busts, the full circle skirts, the juxtaposition of both structure and fullness. But it almost never occurred to either of us that we could ever adopt that style in real life in our modern world. Given that our admiration for the decade revolved most intensely around the clothes, it may come as a surprise to learn that our pinup journeys both began with our hair, almost by accident.
Sarah and I had both done some damage to our hair in recent years: Sarah with extended use of straighteners, and myself with a one off use of wet-2-straight straigheners that damaged my hair so fully that my natural curl was unable to form from then on out, my ‘lion’s mane’ as I called it, a full head of wild ringlets, instead hanging limp, lank and stringy. Unbeknownst to one another, strangers on different continents, we both did a little research into non-heat methods of setting our hair and found pincurls.
Personally I can say it took me a while to get the knack of pincurls, and longer still to find a setting lotion that worked best for me, but I kept practicing and began to look into retro hairstyles more and more. I attempted victory rolls, as did Sarah, but while Sarah is much better at them than I we both find we tend to get one perfect pert roll and one sad limp roll that won’t stay up in place even with a dozen hair grips. Pincurls are our true loves, and we’re both fine with that.
With our pincurled tresses continuing to improve, we next changed our makeup because a wonderful retro hair do on a fully modern canvas can look a bit out of place. Learning the art of winged liner was a scary next step, but over time our flicks became measured and we learned which wing angles were flattering on us and which were not. For me, red lipstick still seemed too dramatic a statement, almost as though that alone declared ‘Yes, I am very fancy, I cannot deny it!’ So it was with an almost pinned-up face that we each updated our wardrobes–with a throwback.
I began with circle skirts, cheap, thin ones created by dancewear companies, a step above costume circle skirts but far below the PUG beauties I sport today. I paired them with ‘normal’ tops I found on the high street, and for a long time my number one concern was in finding my clothing inside a narrow budget because I couldn’t commit to the more expensive repro wares that I was worried I would buy and then cast aside if the pinup look didn’t stick. But it did. I should have known it would. Because along every step of my journey, through the hair to the makeup, and finally to the clothes, my confidence began to grow. I eventually added in that red lipstick, and when I made my first purchase from Pinup Girl Clothing–that was it. That was the moment I became a pinup. Not because I’d splurged on a reproduction brand name skirt for the first time, but because the feeling it gave me was the feeling I was searching for–the sensation that I had found my style, my niche, the look that made me feel polished and elegant and glamorous whether I dressed it up or down. I stopped making small concessions to certain situations by tampering down my style, I wore the red lipstick whenever I wanted to, even when it was over the top, even when it meant I drew a dozen pairs of eyes as I walked down the supermarket aisle in full retro glamour while surrounded by people in jeans and sweats and yoga pants. I was finally transformed, my style metamorphosis complete. I had arrived as the leading lady in my own life.
Sarah: Well lo and behold, mine and Amy’s stories are practically the same yet again, much like many other things about us. Both of us lost weight and gained confidence, and nothing gave us more confidence than dressing pinup. But here’s the thing: I don’t really think it was the physical change of style that made the difference, not completely anyway–I think it was because of what was going on in our heads and our hearts. We finally had the courage to dress the way we wanted to dress, and were worlds happier because of it. Think of it as exercise for the soul. The end product you want is beautiful but getting there is difficult. Yes the process requires practise, research, money, and enduring a lot of attention. But isn’t doing what’s right by you the most important thing?
At the beginning the stares made us both uncomfortable and maybe even a little embarrassed at times. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe my hair reminded people of their grandma’s but not in a good way, or perhaps if I had lipstick on my teeth, or something else equally dreadful. But as we continued on our paths to pinup we learned to no longer feel judged and self conscious. Instead we learned to take the stares and whispers to mean maybe, just maybe, people liked what they saw, but even if they didn’t it didn’t matter, because being different isn’t something to be ashamed of. The moment you stop caring about how people perceive you is the same exact moment you learn that your own opinion is the one that matters the most. So if a swing dress and petticoat make you feel like the goddess you are then by all means wear it to pick up your groceries; if a wiggle dress makes you feel unstoppable then stop waiting for “the right occasion” and just wear it!
Society is so incredibly rule-centric, it dictates everything from what we should eat, to what we should weigh, what we should earn, and how many magazines have you seen with taglines like “How To Dress For Your Shape” or “What Hair Color Is Right For Your Skintone”? Hundreds, if not thousands. Well guess what? I don’t care about those rules and neither should you. You’d never let a stranger come into your home and tell you how to live, so why should you let media, peers, or anyone else have a say in your life? Because that’s the thing, it’s “yours” and no one else’s. Life is too short and there are too few “appropriate” occasions to dress the way you want to dress. One of my favorite things Queen Dita has ever said is when people would snarkily ask her what she was dressed up for, she’d respond with a simple statement that encapsulates everything I feel on this matter, “I’m dressed up for life”. So the next time you feel judged or insecure about your style choices just ask yourself What Would Dita Do? That is mine and Amy’s new mantra in life as pinups, and we feel it’s opened us up to endless joys, both big and small.
I swear you’ll be a much happier person when you start living your life for you. The pincurls and pearls make me feel like the me I always wanted to be, I look forward to getting ready for the day, I’ve reverted back to the joy I felt as a child playing dress up! And I have made some of the greatest friends of my life because of it, Amy is undoubtedly my soul sister and it genuinely upsets me to think about a life without pinup in it, because if I hadn’t found pinup I wouldn’t have found Amy, I wouldn’t have found my old child like happiness, and I wouldn’t have found my true self. The pinup style is so much more than the pretty dresses and glitzy jewels, it’s inner beauty shining through to the outside, it’s the boldness to not care about standing out, and it’s a community of women who love and support each other.
If you’ve been entertaining the idea of joining the “Pinup World” consider this your formal (we like things to be fancy after all) invitation.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about how we become the little pinups we are, and we’d love to hear about you. Let us know in the comments about you and your pinup journey, whether it be beginning, in full flow or complete. We so look forward to hearing from all of you lovelies <3