Preparing for a pageant

Preparing for a pageant

For the 1940’s Ball this year, I wanted to write an article from a different perspective. I’ve covered the event before as a journalist, but only as a mere observer with a camera, snapping away trying to grab the best outfits and scenes of nostalgia.

So, for the fifth anniversary, I am part of the pin-up pageant.

First thoughts? What did I get myself into?!?!?

After the initial panic wore off, excitement set in. Yes, it would be a lot of work, but being a pin up is more than just a cute outfit and a smile.

To prepare, I signed up for a pin up class and photo shoot at Femme Fatale in Denver. Jacki had me bring out my inner sass on camera before, but just for fun and to feed my fascination of all things vintage. This time, I was studying.

Looking back, the best pictures were not the closed smile and deep stare, but rather the fun, light-hearted and often times “goofy” faces.

Some of the most memorable images in pop culture embody that cheeky fun as well.

What exactly makes these images filled with playful images so iconic? It was time to do a little research.


The origin of pin ups in the United States can be traced back to the post-Victorian era in the late 1890s, which was striving to rebel against the previous standards of decency and beauty.

Women were looking for a way to express themselves following the previous restrictions that forced them to cover up and feel shame for showing the skin of their –gasp – ankles.

This attitude made way for the flapper era of the 1920’s. Fashionably liberated women cut their hair and shorten their skirts. It was time to party.

Pin up is not a mere sex symbolism, but a bold feminist act of eliminating the norm of women’s restrictions in a patriarchal world. –

Pin up, referring to the term itself, represented photographs or drawings, paintings, and other illustrations that emulated photos.

The art could be a calendar or torn out of a publication. It would end up ‘pinned up’ on a wall of some sort.

Popular artists of the time like Alberto Vargas are noted for creating the girls that eventually symbolized the 1940s era pin ups we know today.


The “Vargas Girls” were a huge hit. From 1942 to 1946, nine million copies of the magazine featuring these lovely ladies were sent to American troops.

The women brought hope to soldiers. Popular actresses to housewives sent over pin up images to help boost morale.

Eventually, the US Army Air Force unofficially let “nose art”, drawings of pin up girls go up on aircrafts. The girls were seen as “lucky charms” and a symbol of good fortune.


With that brief history lesson, I really started to feel the pressure.

I am torn between two identities I found at local vintage shops.

One look embodies classic Hollywood. Glamorous, classy and a dress that feels totally empowering. It’s light and fun, but also has an element that makes it VERY alluring. Channeling into a cross between pin ups of Hollywood and the paintings.

My second option is cheesecake. It’s cute, fun and totally 40s. It is reminiscent of the Vargas girls and their fun, carefree attitude that made them lucky charms.

Whichever look I choose, it’s ALL about the attitude. Representing resilience, class, and style in the face of adverse times and uncertainty. That to me is a true pin up girl.

So which option will I choose for the pageant? Can’t give away all my secrets … follow @TheVintager to find out Saturday!


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