How to Become a 1940-1950s Pinup Model

Written by michelle powell-smith
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Retro pin-up styles are becoming more popular in fashion, pop culture and advertising. While high fashion still favours gaunt, tall models, more companies are looking for curvier bodies and a great sense of personal style in their models. Pin-ups of the 1940s and 1950s were feminine and sexy. Today, pin-up models often work in burlesque as well, and may do lingerie modelling. Confidence is critical if you want to work as a pin-up model.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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  1. 1

    Research pin-ups, calendar girls and the styles of the 1940s and 1950s. Take a look at modern pin-ups and modern burlesque, including Dita van Teese, Sabina Kelley and Bernie Dexter. Be sure that you know and can comfortably wear pin-up style clothing. While most pin-up models are curvy, they are toned. There is a marketplace for larger pin-up models, especially if they have a great sense of personal style.

  2. 2

    Perfect your look. The pin-up girls of the 1940s and 1950s each had their own trademarks. Emphasise your best features. Wear pencil skirts and high heels if you have great legs or snug 1950s sweaters to make the most of your curves. Keep in mind that part of the retro pin up look is the right undergarments. A waist cincher and bullet bra will give you a true pin-up look.

  3. 3

    Find a photographer. To start working as a pin-up model, you need a good portfolio of photos. Look for an experienced pin-up model photographer, hair stylist and make-up artist for the best retro photos. If you live in a city with a rockabilly or burlesque scene, this can be a good starting point to help you find a photographer.

  4. 4

    Market yourself. You may be able to find jobs in your city working for independent clothing designers or photographers. If you have other skills, consider the possibilities of burlesque or other stage performance to further your work as a pin-up model. Pin-up modelling is being used more in advertising, so you may find more opportunities than you expect, particularly if you live in an area with a large rockabilly subculture.

  5. 5

    Consider hiring an agent. While not all modelling agencies work with pin-up models, some do manage models with an alternative, retro, rockabilly or pin-up look. Be especially careful of any contracts signed, and consider having an attorney review the contract before you sign. A reputable agent will not charge you money upfront.

Tips and warnings

  • Red lips are a trademark for nearly every pin-up girl.
  • Tattoos are typically quite accepted for modern pin-ups.
  • Make sure you can walk in your heels.

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