We pinups love to get our glam on, so you’d think an invite to a wedding would be a lovely excuse to bust out our best finery and indulge in our utmost glamour. Depending on the formality of the wedding in question, the temperament of the wedding party and the guests, and the glam level of your aforementioned finery, sometimes, though, being a pinup invited to a wedding can be a difficult situation in terms of clothes.
The 50s style is feminine, classic and elegant, but it’s also equal parts glamorous, sexy and attention-grabbing. A swing dress that displays no cleavage and little leg can still easily make you the centre of attention by pure virtue of the fact that it’s an unusual style for anyone to sport head-to-toe these days, let alone factoring in the attention a petticoated full skirt is likely to garner.
In my daily pinup life I dress however I want and it doesn’t bother me to get stares, but as a woman attending a wedding I like to look both lovely and appropriate in the photos without being perceived as attempting to upstage the bride by out-glamming her or overdressing–never something I would do deliberately, but some people can come to weddings in rather casual dress, automatically making others looked overdressed by comparison. Given that, as it’s someone else’s special day, I prefer to dress as if part of the beautiful set dressing of the day as a whole so I can focus on sharing the joy with everyone rather than dressing intentionally to wow and then worrying if I’ve overdone it.
Thus, my personal rule with weddings for my own attire is that it’s easier to err on the side of caution and find a way to represent my true pinup self without inviting strangers to cast their own opinion. If you, too, share those same feelings when you get a wedding invite, I wanted to share with you my two top tips for keeping your style on point without unintentionally eliciting sharp tendencies in others. My two style rules for wedding attire is to dress sweetly or dress chicly.
There is absolutely no reason for you to give up your pinup sentimentality when picking your outfit for a wedding or reception, but if you opt for something demure or classically stylish then you’re likely to evoke a more wedding-appropriate vintage vibe than if you go full force for the glam or the kitsch. These days people are gleefully adopting fascinators at a wedding, but when you add a fascinator to a full pinup ensemble it can look burlesque and glamorous and fabulous–three things that the stylishly-challenged can get offended by. So, you don’t have to be scared of wearing a fascinator, but be prepared to have to tone down your look in other areas to soften your style overall. Maybe swap out your red lipstick for a softer shade, or wear a smart swing dress rather than a tight wiggle. Wear lower heels. Leave off the seamed stockings. It often only takes one tweak or two to achieve a quieter but still polished version of your usual look.
I’ve been to two weddings for friends so far this year, and I took a different dressing tact for each. To attend my friend Steph’s wedding in March I decided to go soft and demure in this feminine and wistful mint spotted Unique Vintage Garden State dress.
This dress would make a beautiful bridesmaid dress, but consequently there’s a chance it could be considered a bit bridesmaidy on a guest, so I wore my hair down in it’s usual pincurls brush out to keep a more retro vibe and to avoid a wedding-party looking updo. I didn’t want to add tons of bling to the outfit but also didn’t want to forgo sparkle altogether, so I added a vintage basket weave box purse and a crystal feather brooch. I swapped my usual red lips for a bright pink, then echoed that pink with the flowers I chose for my hair. I finished the look with a pair of cream satin heels that weren’t too high and were pretty wedding-neutral. Even though I didn’t have my usual 4 foot diameter of wearing a double petticoat and a big skirt, I felt like I was staying true to myself in a softer, quieter manner than usual which felt appropriate for the event and still got some lovely compliments from strangers who loved my dress or were confused but fascinated by my vintage purse.
Wearing softer colours, tulles, slimmer skirts, or dresses featuring feminine design details can create a more subtle vintage look that will leave you feeling pretty without standing out obviously amongst the crowd.
For my friend Andrea’s wedding in July I decided to channel an Audrey Hepburn idea of timeless class and chicness. White at weddings is a no no, and for a long time black was considered the same, but most modern couples have no problem with the latter, and many modern brides don’t care about the former much either. Knowing well the couple you’re celebrating is an easy way to gauge what might ‘fit in’ with the celebrators in attendance, and I knew that Andrea and her husband Paul would not take issue with my choice to wear my black and white colourblocked Amanda dress by Pinup Girl Clothing. I wore black peeptoe heels and no accessories with this dress to keep the look simple and understated so that I could wear a petticoat to allow my big skirt to be the statement of the look. I wore my hair down in pincurls, unadorned, and wore my usual red matte lipstick.
My big skirt meant I had to gather it and squeeze between chairs at the reception to get around–no worse than my usual daily routine getting in and out of the car, really–but otherwise I felt totally comfortable and utterly chic. Friends were complimentary of my dress, and when they convinced me to dance I laughed a lot at how dancing in a big petticoat can kind of make you feel like a swinging bell.
What it all comes down to is making sure you feel comfortable and confident . It is some else’s day and it’s polite to respect that, but you don’t have to do that at the cost of feeling like you aren’t yourself. If you’re attending the wedding of someone you know would want you to dress flat out because that’s you and they love that about you, then do it! But if you aren’t sure about where they would draw the line or whether you might confuse their parents or the conservative relatives in attendance, then I hope I’ve helped you see above that you can find ways to showcase your own personal style without feeling like stare-bait.