Pinup Girl Clothing, also known as PUG, is a popular retro clothing brand created by Supreme Overlord/head designer Laura Byrnes, and handmade in America. It is also, in case you hadn’t guessed yet, my favourite clothing brand, hands down. Known for its top quality and beautiful designs, it’s either expensive or reasonably priced dependent upon your disposable income. For some, the product range is simply out of their typical price range, and for others it’s a closet staple that borders on an addiction. Cough cough.
For ladies new to PUG, especially international admirers, there’s several things they often have questions about, so I’ve done my utmost below to address every query I’ve ever been posed about PUG. If there’s anything I don’t mention that you have questions about then please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Rewards and discounts: My first piece of advice is that you sign up to their email newsletter via their website so that you’ll be the first to know when they have sales, release new items, or offer discount codes. Also, newsletter subscribers regularly get access to private sales that other followers aren’t aware of, so for any fan this is the number 1 step in making sure you’re in the know and not missing out. Also, returning customers will receive a flyer in their order giving them a special discount code for 10% off future orders as thanks for their custom.
Cost: The number one hang up I hear from PUG admirers is their worry about the cost. It’s true that for $40-62 for a top, $70-98 for a skirt, and $98-160 for a dress these aren’t your average mall prices. But these also aren’t your average mall clothes. These are quality pieces made in America, from specially designed or American sources fabrics, designed in house by PUG super team Laura Byrnes and Micheline Pitt who tweak and fit and re-tweak their items for months or even a year or more to make sure their clothing not only works and lasts, but works for every body. Team PUG mean it when they say they are designing couture for every woman and every body–their sizing runs from XS to 4X on a huge range of their products, they now also offer a wide maternity range in a lot of their customers’ favourites, and they are huge advocates for every woman being able to get beautiful clothing at a reasonable cost irregardless of her size. Women of every size can try on the same dress and find it fits them wonderfully, and honestly when was the last time you were able to say that about something you picked up at the mall, or even from some of the cheaper pinup brands? Fit is paramount with PUG. They are providing timeless styles in a variety of print and colour options that are hard for a lot of women to find locally–we dress in the past, essentially, and your average shopping centre is undoubtedly modern, making our clothing choices a niche market that come at a cost consequentially. So these clothes might seem a bit pricey at first glance, but when you consider the time and effort that goes into the design and production of each item, the cost of producing an American made item of quality, and the comparably low mark up they place on their products compared to your average clothing company, PUG definitely becomes worth the price tag. So maybe that means you personally can only afford to splurge on one staple wardrobe piece from them rather than a whole wardrobe full, but I can guarantee that staple piece will not only fit you well and last, it will also be one of your favourite things to wear ever.
Sizing: This is one of the most important things to get right with PUG, not only to ensure you are ordering an item that will be sized properly to show off your fabulous any-size body to it’s best potential, but also because if you’re ordering internationally there’s nothing more disappointing than waiting excitedly for an order that doesn’t fit and having to face a hefty return shipping fee or finding another way to recoup your costs.
As with most reproduction clothing companies, Pinup Girl Clothing size by measurements rather than dress size. To reproduction clothing newbies this might seem daunting but it’s the most accurate way to ensure you’re going to be getting the correct fit. The first thing you need to do is take down your measurements. Next, find the item you’re interested in on the PUG website and check the size chart for it. You need to check the size charts on every item you order to double check which size you will be because due to the construction, stretch (or lack thereof) and sizing of each item, sizes can vary slightly by an inch or so and what might be a size M in one dress can occasionally be a size S in another dress. Coming Soon items usually don’t have their size measurements listed until they’re released, so if that’s what you’re eyeing up don’t panic; when the product is out you’ll be able to check the chart and figure out your size. Assuming you’re looking at an item that is already in stock, check your measurements against the size chart and also note whether the chart mentions any notes on sizing, such as that ladies between sizes should order up to a looser fit.
If you are a woman who encounters the problem of being between sizes, there are a few things to bear in mind here. A note on the size chart like the one mentioned above doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t literally fit in the smaller size if you choose to size down, it just means the item doesn’t comfortably have a lot of give and you should size up if you want to be comfortable and ensure a fit; there’s a difference between squeezing into a skirt that does up but gives you rib area muffin top and sizing up for a skirt that fits more comfortably though it isn’t snug. In this specific instance of between sizes decisions it depends upon the fabric and the structure of the clothing in question, the way you like your clothing to hang on you (ie snugly or loosely,) and what type of measurement difference we’re talking about between the two sizes in questions.
At my current size with a 33 inch waist PUG often tells me to size up into XL, but having clothes that are loose on my waist adds extra visible lbs I don’t want to carry and I personally feel comfortable in tight waistlines and boned bodices, meaning that thus far I have managed to fit L across the board in PUG. Whenever I have sized up I have been unhappy with how loose the clothing becomes on me and I’ve had to sell the items on. Partly, therefore, I think it’s important here to know your own body, the way it fits clothes and the way you like to feel in those clothes. Bear that in mind if you are one of the women who fall between sizes on the charts.
The other two things you should do before deciding if you ought to size up or down is to check the product material and check the reviews. If a product is, say, the Jenny dress, then you’re dealing with a boned bodice that meets a heavily gathered waistband that does not have much stretch. Sizing down will likely not result in a fit. I can size down because I know I find the tight bodice comfortable, though when I’m carrying some extra weight than usual as I am now I tend to need help getting the zip over the bump of the skirt seam.
The reviews for products that run small or have no stretch will often tell you as such, and reading the experiences of other women who have dealt with sizing options or misfits can be incredibly useful in deciding your own sizing, so always check the reviews before ordering to help you make your decisions. However, if you’re dealing with a product that does have stretch, like the Heidi dress made of 97% Cotton and 3% Spandex, then a half inch or inch outside of the lower size category you’re stuck between is going to be a much more manageable sizing down and probably won’t require you sizing up.
My last tip if you’re really unsure is to take the measurements of an item of clothing you already own and love so that you know the measurements of your favourite fit. Take into account the potential stretch of the already-owned item you’re measuring and try to pick an item that has the same cut/fabric properties as the item you’re hoping to buy. If the tape measure says you have a 29 inch waist but you comfortably fit your 28 inch zipper-backed circle skirt then you know sizing to 28 inches isn’t out of the realm of possibility for you.
Know your body, know your measurements, read the charts and read the reviews. At the end of the day, if you’re super nervous about getting it wrong you can either contact the PUG team through their online messaging system to ask for help, or you can try to find PUG stocked in-store nearby enough to try something on in person, if that’s a possibility. If not and you’re an international customer worried about the return costs to America, try to find a PUG item stocked on a website shipping out of your country; return costs will be much cheaper than international returns, and even if you don’t buy the item that return cost will be worth the information you’ve gathered on figuring out your PUG size.
It’s worth noting that when PUG say they make clothes for every woman, they mean it, including you big-busted ladies. PUG accommodate the larger busom incredibly well, and one of the best features of PUG strapped dresses and tops is that those straps are adjustable, allowing you to alter the fit of your bodice and bustline according to what you’re packing and how you like to display those goods. If you have dizzingly fabulous proportions that don’t match up to a single size that will work for all aspects of your shape, ie the dress will fit your bust but swamp your waist, order for your largest asset and get the item tailored to fit you. Having a PUG item taken in somewhere on your person to accommodate the otherwise more ample part of your person is still likely to provide you with an item of better fit and quality than struggling to find options at the mall.
International customers (Delivery and Customs) : I’m UK based, so I’m part of PUG’s international customer base. There are UK websites that stock PUG, but the only place that stocks ALL THE PUG is Pinupgirlclothing.com, so I almost always order straight from them so I can enjoy their full product range and use my frequent voucher codes. Pinup Girl Clothing offer a flat rate $28 international shipping option, which sounds expensive but isn’t too bad in reality for several reasons. A) It’s the cheapest international shipping option I’ve come across from any pinup brand, as it is on average $10 cheaper than the other places I order from but it’s as much as $40 cheaper than some brands who will charge $75+ for shipping!(!!!!!) B) Shipped by FedEx, even this flat rate economy option will reach the UK within 4 days on average. Many a time I have ordered on the weekend and received my parcel by the next Wednesday, able to track the progress of my little package of joy online as it travels the Atlantic ocean to fall into my delighted arms. C) If you order over $350 account holders can use the code listed on their site to receive free shipping. So, really, it’s a super quick service at the lowest international cost you’re going to find, and if you have a friend or two who also want to order from PUG you can split the shipping costs between you to make it more affordable. During the Black Friday sales last year I placed an order together with 5 of my fellow British Belles, which brought the individual shipping costs down to a matter of dollars per person. Note that if you do split an order with a friend don’t forgot you’ll need to make sure to split the import fees between you fairly according to who ordered what. Which brings me to: customs.
If you’re an international customer the chances are that you’ll have to pay an important fee on your order. FedEx will deliver your package promptly then send you an invoice by post (snail mail) in the following 1-3 weeks. That invoice will contain the total import value fee and will offer you several ways to pay; by cheque, by card over the phone, by direct bank transfer, or by creating an account with FedEx online through which to pay. They give you several weeks to pay before they chase you up, so bear in mind that you will most likely be on the next monthly pay cheque by the time you have to pay customs, so make sure to mentally put that money aside in addition to the money you are spending on your order. Customs charges vary country to country, but to give you an idea of the thresholds and percentages a recent PUG order I placed with 2 friends which tallied $859.04 charged us £140 customs fees total, and my Black Friday order that contained $456.09 of on sale dresses split between 6 of us brought us a total customs charge of £69. If you order under a certain amount you won’t get charged customs fees, but this varies country to country so it’s best to look up the import laws of your country if you’re especially concerned about this additional charge.
US Customers: If you’re US based, in California in particular, and still have yet to indulge in your first PUG purchase, there are three things you need to know.
The first is that the lone brick-and-mortar Pinup Girl Clothing Boutique is located in Burbank, California. Apart from the obvious of stocking PUG in-store which allows you to try before you buy compared to ordering online, the boutique also has their own retro beauty bar where you can book to get your hair and makeup done in gorgeous vintage fashion before a big event or night out. Additionally, the boutique also regularly hosts themed social evenings for fans to attend, such as the Pinup Prom night, a great way to shop, socialise and style the night away with members of the PUG team and your fellow PUG lovers.
The second thing you should know is that PUG hold at least one (but sometimes more) huge annual Yard Sales in California that offer PUG at such steeply discounted prices that you pay no more than $60 for any single item, with belts available at $1, and all dresses for $60 and under. The Yard Sale features stock from discontinued ranges, sample items that were never mass produced, and even brand new ranges fresh to the PUG line, every single piece at an incredible price that makes us non-local PUG lovers almost (literally) cry with envy at our inability to attend.
The third thing you should know is that PUG also annually hosts the Pinup Parade in the Park, an event when fabulously dressed pinups gather at the Disneyland California park to meet, greet, ride the attractions and, of course, parade in style. There are scheduled meet and greets with the PUG team, freebies and discount codes handed out to attendees, and the chance to meet dozens, if not hundreds, of other stylish vintage ladies. Disneybounding as your favourite Disney character while incorporating a PUG item into your look also enters you into a contest to win PUG gift cards, something every woman wants.
Additional Instagram Submitted Queries
To me the above are the basics that cover all that I’m regularly asked about PUG, but when I posted a call for questions my Instagram the other day in preparation for this post I was asked how I feel PUG fits compared to the fit and sizing of other pinup brands, which is something I’ve not thought to address before. I consider this a specific subsection in regards to fit that might only interest those who are experienced with other brands and looking for comparisons, so this is skippable addition for the average reader who now feels more confident about finding her fit after reading the sizing review above. You can scroll on for the close.
Brand Fit Comparisons: There are a few brands that I haven’t tried, like Stop! Staring, so I can’t give as comprehensive a response to this as I would like, but compared to the big brands I do have experience with, this is how I feel PUG sizes up (ba dum cha! Thank you, thank you.)
Unique Vintage – Unique Vintage do offer clothes by other brands so some of the items they sell are not ‘theirs,’ but the Unique Vintage brand itself sizes true to size or maybe slightly small. If I buy Unique Vintage as a 32 or 33 waist I am an XL, and it fits snugly! When I’m more of a 33 waist it’s hard to do up their zips, but once it’s on the dresses are flattering and I’m not at risk of busting anything. Despite sizing me as an XL, I feel the UV dresses I own have less give to them than the PUG L dresses I own, but when you order from Unique Vintage you should bear in mind that not every dress they sell is of their own making so sizing might vary from brand to brand depending on what you’re ordering. Dresses by other brands I have bought through UV have sometimes sized very small or very large, and so following the size charts is crucial. With PUG, you get a more consistent fit across their full range because 90% of the clothing they sell is made by their own house brands.
Bernie Dexter – Bernie Dexter fits terribly on me, in my limited experience. Following their size charts in the past I have ordered XL to fit a 32 waist, but all 3 Bernie dresses I own in an XL are too big on me, leading me to believe Bernie Dexter must run a little large. It’s not merely that the waists are too large, needing to be belted, but also that the straps are too long in some dresses and cause my bodice to sit oddly where the straps begin, requiring me to knot the straps to tighten them as they do not have adjustable straps like PUG does. PUG also feels like they use sturdier materials and constructions, at a cheaper price, so if you’re a Bernie Dexter fan I would suspect you’ll feel you got a good product for a good price if you give PUG a try.
Tatyana – Formerly Bettie Page, Tatyana is another brand that requires you to check the size charts on every product to make sure precisely which size you need in their items. My Glam dress from them runs small and thusly fits snugly in an XL, but all other XLs I have from them are too loose in the waist, even though the size charts say I should be an XL because L is for 30 inch waists. I must therefore assume that Tatyana runs large apart from the occasional product sizing small, perhaps more so in their wiggles. Compared to PUG, ordering Tatyana is more of a gamble with sizing for me. Tatyana fans will likely find PUG to be more true to size when following the size charts, and also find that PUG is similarly priced.
Lindybop – If you are able to find a truly well fitting dress from Lindybop you must be one of the lucky few. I am all about finding ways to work on a budget and this is a great brand for pinups on a strict budget, but it has to be said that you really are getting what little you are paying for with these dresses. The waists run long and loose in most dresses, the arms are almost always tight even when you find it baggy everywhere else, but some pieces inexplicably size small and there’s often no way of knowing beforehand. In wiggle dresses the belt loops can sometimes sit strangely high, despite their penchant for making waists very low in swing dresses (and this is coming from a woman who has a long waist, theoretically the kind of person a Lindybop dress should fit well.) The skirts are never full circle skirts apart from the Audrey dresses and the occasional other rare dress, but usually they are just ‘full’ non-circle skirts at varying degrees of fullness. In comparison, PUG dresses are on a whole other level, which is to be expected at that price difference. If you are sizing down in an item that has full sleeves with PUG it’s possible the sleeves might feel a little tight but nothing too bad, and nowhere near as badly as I have experienced when ordering any dress from Lindybop. If you aren’t sizing down then sleeve fit won’t be an issue. PUG strapped dresses have adjustable straps which means there’s some room to shorten your bodice a little if you find the dress sits lower than you like. In general, I think the dresses sit at the average woman’s true waist. If you happen to be very petite it’s possible you might find a problem in the waistline on their dresses but as a 5 ft 7 woman I’m afraid that’s just speculation; I’ve seen plenty of pint sized pinups rocking their PUG so I’m inclined to think it’s not a common problem. PUG offer tons of full circle skirts and also gathered skirts that are better than a full circle, such as the Jenny. If you find it impossible to find a Lindybop dress that works for you without alterations, as I repeatedly find, PUG will be a refreshing true fit for you.
Hell Bunny – Hell Bunny tend to size large, so their L dresses are often a bit loose on me whereas PUG L fits me like a second skin. The larger sizing problem aside, Hell Bunny is a good brand for their price point, but if superior fit is important to you a brand like PUG has more to offer in addition to the superior quality.
Overall, the reason I keep coming back to PUG again and again and again is because their clothes fit me better than anyone other brand. That alone is the biggest selling point for me, but when you add in the fact that they offer such a wide range of styles, designs, colours and prints, there is almost always something I am falling in love with that I want to invest in. And with PUG, you are making an investment. These are clothes that will last and last, and if ever you size out of something or change your mind about it, you can sell it on second hand at a super respectable price because even in second hand condition these clothes are so desired and sought after that someone out there will want the PUG you are offering off your own back. Team PUG themselves facilitate these sales or swaps of their clothing, and other approved repro brands, through their Facebook Swap/Sell group and their Pinupgirlstyle.com Swap/Sell group.The fact that this company expends the effort to help members of their customer base connect and safely sell/swap both their new and used PUG to one another is a great indicator of what kind of company you are dealing with here: a company that cares, that cares their customers are finding what they want within their little clothing community. Because PUG really does have it’s own community.
From the Facebook groups to the Pinup Girl Style forum to the Instagram pages and hashtags, PUG fans not only get to interact with one another but even with the PUG team themselves. Laura Byrnes, Micheline Pitt, Doris May Day, Miss Rockabilly Ruby, and all the other lovely members of team PUG take the time to check in with their fans, encourage them, compliment them and make them feel included, which is something truly special. Because of this kindness and effort, in addition to their outspoken support of women of all sizes, the PUG community is one of great kindness, body-positivity, style and confidence, which is something truly wonderful to be a part of. If you want to order from PUG simply to own the clothes, that is totally fine. But if you also happen to like the sound of being a part of a worldwide network of happy, encouraging and fun stylish women, we’re more than welcome to have you join us.
I hope this has helped you get a better grip on where to start with PUG.
Much love from me and some of my favourite PUG.