Then to now: the vintage and pin up style

I’m so surprised I have found the time to finally sit down and write! I had no idea how full on this wedding malarkey would be so close to the wedding… and I’m very aware that in real life it’s all I talk about and think about! I’m annoyed at myself that I didn’t write a single thing last week so for that I apologise, but I could not find the time.
And while my life is so hectic at the moment, I see all the beautiful girlies I follow on Instagram all dressed up, whereas I’m either in my uniform or in my pyjamas doing lots of wedding admin! In fact, I’m particularly sad that I am unable to participate in the vintage fashion challenge! Maybe that’s something I can join in with in the future.

While I’ve been trawling eBay for more affordable vintage styles for the honeymoon (eBay is such a life saver sometimes!), I kept seeing all the old goth styles that used to be sold by the likes of Banned Apparel and Hell Bunny. I stumbled across a Collectif punk dress which I remember lusting over when I was 16 years old! It got me thinking… both Hell Bunny and Collectif are big players in the vintage and pin up fashions of the present day, but they started in more edgier and alternative fashions; what happened? How did the vintage inspired brands transform into what it is today?

I thought back to my own story and the styles that I used to dream of and wear myself. This means I will share with you some… cringey photos of me when I was… 17-18 years old. Oh dear.
Anyway, as you may have gathered from previous blog posts, I love rock music and back in the day (not that long ago actually), I listened to heavy metal like Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, Devil Wears Prada and so on. I still like to listen to this genre, but my heart has always belonged to punk rock = Blink-182, All Time Low, My Chemical Romance, Yellowcard etc. I would be what the naughties called an ’emo’ and so I wanted to dress as such – wearing black, heavy eyeliner, skinny jeans and converses… not too dissimilar from today! But what I really wanted was a pair of tartan skinny jeans. Don’t ask me why, but I did! I found a brand called Criminal Damage and so my wish was granted…

tartan jeans
My Criminal Damage tartan jeans – circa 2011!

I still remember the online shops I used to browse and they are still around today! Soho’s Clothing, Attitude Clothing and Blue Banana. They had genre catagories listed on the website, such as ‘Goth’, ‘Punk’, ‘Steampunk’, ‘and that’s where I found ‘Rockabilly’. I did a bit of research and I loved the bandana and barrel roll look and I already loved the music from the music I grew up listening to and I love history, it ticked all the boxes, as well as being an alternative style.

Back then, Hell Bunny were making items like this…

Hell Bunny unicorn dress
Hell Bunny Unicorn Dress – bought in 2010 but this photo is August 2013

and this is the dress that inspired my to write this post – from Collectif Clothing (!)

Gothic Collectif Dress
Collectif gothic dress

I asked myself, why do these brands look so different today than 10 or so years ago? After some looking into, I couldn’t find a definitive answer but it did help me form an opinion on the matter of my own, of as to why these alternative brands may have embraced the full pin up culture as it’s seen today.

Looking back a little further than when I was a teenager, I found this interesting snippet from pinup-fashion.com about how the 40’s and 50’s was kept alive as the decades moved on –
‘While victory roll hair and and rockabilly music did not stay strong through the 1960’s, the vintage lookΒ  returned with full force in the 1970’s and 80’s as a new generation embraced what had become classic fashion.’

You’ll often find true vintage items that seeming look from the 40’s and 50’s but when you really look at the different components, they are 1970’s or 80’s. Of course they’re still true vintage, but not from the era you might first have thought!

Of course, Rockabilly has been around since the 50’s and has been carried by lovers of the decade, primarily through the music. I read a couple of interesting articles in the Vintage Life magazine about Elvis and how his individual style influenced many generations and of course, that love of Elvis never went away.

From my memory of 8-10 years ago, Rockabilly and it’s close sibling ‘Psychobilly’ fashions both seemed to stem from gothic style backgrounds, with skulls and zombie prints (anyone remember the zombie unicorn dress from Hell Bunny?!) but also featured the classic anchors, swallows (you can guess where my blog name came from!), as well as cherries and polkadots. Halter-neck mini dresses were popular and so was a more ‘modern’ cut than we see today.
Pin Up styles were also around then, that were much more feminine but there wasn’t as many styles back then as there are now.

I think personally, the rebellious teenagers (such as myself!) were starting to grow up and grow out of the more stand out alternative styles, like my tartan skinny jeans! But pin up and rockabilly was just that little more clean cut but still an alternative style. We could still be individuals in this more grown up part of our lives. Of course, a lot of people in the vintage scene had grown up loving old things and so developed that style a little more naturally than me!

FB_IMG_1525804245272.jpg
Hell Bunny dress – photo September 2016

So perhaps, brands such as Hell Bunny and Collectif grew with us and maybe there wasn’t such a demand for gothic and darker styles as there once was. Of course, these styles do still exist and are very much readily available on the websites I used to visit and new genres have emerged, such as Pastel Goth (this one eludes me a little!). I even found the zombie unicorn dress on the Hell Bunny website, still for sale! Perhaps I don’t see these edgier styles as I’m looking for different things compared to what I was back then.


I think it’s important to remember that we are all individuals that can express ourselves in whatever fashion we feel comfortable in!

Do you think the brands have changed and why do you think that is?
Do you still see the edgier side of vintage or do you like to style yourself that way? I’d love to know you’re individual style!

4 Replies to “Then to now: the vintage and pin up style”

  1. It’s so interesting to read this. I’ve found that there is quite a large crossover of emo as teens who are pin ups as adults. It took me way too long to build up the courage to dress this way, but there’s so many options these days compared to my early 20’s. I’m just glad I finally plucked up the courage xx Love seeing your style evolution xx

    1. Thank you! It’s interesting to find out how everyone got into the pin up style! I’m glad you found the courage, I love your style! Sorry for the late reply, I’ve barely had time to come on here to read! Xxx

  2. So funny and interesting – it seems so many of us vintage gals used to be goth/punk/emo, etc! I used to dress in more goth and punk styles myself (I still have my old bondage trousers and a safety pinned top or two! I can’t bear to donate them quite yet, I loved my punk days!). I love your tartan jeans, by the way, you looked adorable then and you still do now!

    I don’t know why Hell Bunny, Collectif, and the like, changed from more goth/punk clothing to vintage/rockabilly, but it is really cool to think that they kind of grew into vintage with us! πŸ™‚

    1. I really wanted to email the brands and ask, but I didn’t have enough time before writing this – I may ask in the future though! I have a few things I still can’t part with, though they barely fit anymore- especially the tartan jeans! And I completely forgot about the safety pin craze! I had giant safety pins on everything haha!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *