Pin Curling…and finding my groove

A few years ago when I came up with the idea for my “project:girl” I had no idea where it would lead. I hoped I would find my own style and some great looking clothes as well as learning how to do my own hair & make-up (beyond the pony tail & lip gloss). I have always admired vintage fashion and loved old movies but was never sure I could pull it off. Even then would I be able to give up my jeans? Or being able to shop at target? How the hell would I manage to do my hair so elaborately every day when some days I couldn’t find the energy to brush my teeth?

Last year I went to a vintage hair & make up workshop with a friend. I ended up being really disappointed. I felt I didn’t learn anything I couldn’t have found on youtube and I still couldn’t pin curl, apply red lipstick without looking like a clown or manage the winged eye liner. I tried a few times at home using online instructions but quickly became frustrated. At the time my hair was super long and given that I was still living my life in bed I had no energy. I could do maybe 1/4 of my head before my arms would be shaking. It seems getting fit, loosing weight and having more energy helps if you want to pin curl. After getting my middy plus hair cut done a few months ago (4.5in all over) I thought I would have more luck. Though I found I now had the opposite problem. My hair was too short for me to pin curl. Now clearly ladies in the past managed to do it at that length but as a beginner it was just too hard. So I forgot about it and got down to the business of exercising.

Then someone on the Fedora Lounge posted asking about getting Marilyn Monroe hair which led to these photos which show her and her fringe/bangs are put up in “standing pin curls”.  As I now had a very similar length hair to Miss Monroe I gave it a shot. I used this video from Lisa Freemont Street.

total crazy eyes…I was so excited I managed to put all my hair up in pin curls

And while I didn’t end up with Marilyn, I was super happy with how the set turned out

more 40’s peek-a-boo wave than Marilyn…but quite happy

But then I went for a run and my hair got all sweaty and I washed it out. Which led me to wonder how these vintage girls did it all. Did they really set their hair every single day? Again I turned to the Fedora Lounge where it seems everyone had their own “system”. Some people made their pin curl sets last days. Which got me thinking how many days could I get out of one set? Now for the sake of this “scientific” research I didn’t run for three days to stop my head from sweating…well that’s my story and I am sticking to it (I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that it is 5 degrees outside and our ducted heating was finally fixed). I got three days without even really trying.

Day 1

worn with my 50’s headband/hat

Day 2

curls have dropped a bit…but still a really nice set with just a good brush first thing. Don’t ask about the face though.

Day 3

My hair was a bit grotty after two days of styling products to leave it down. But after a full year of struggling with upsweeps (also known as victory rolls) it turns out pin curling hair before hand makes a massive difference. I put the bottom of my hair into two little pony tails with ribbon & felt like “Dorothy” all day.

Knowing that I can get at least three days out of a set makes me much more inclined to do it. It also took about an hour the first time and only 25 minutes the second time. So I think with practice I can probably get it down to about 10-15 minutes. I do credit a few things to the lasting of the curls. Firstly I did a wet set. Meaning I had a shower, washed my hair and set the pin curls while wet and slept on them overnight (I wore a headscarf to protect them a little). Secondly I used my Lindy Charm School Setting Lotion which is amazing for setting hair (I spritzed it on each strand before I curled it up). Lastly my good old bryl creme (found in the mens toiletries aisle at coles) which I used for a bit of shine and to tame the frizz. I actually didn’t use any hair spray until I did my upsweeps and spent day 1 on the foreshore of Williamstown (windy) and Day 2 out in Point Cook (windier).

On day 1 I popped into my favourite dress that everyone always asks me if it is vintage (it’s actually only two years old and bought at target). It’s a really pretty 50’s inspired floral blue dress (flowers are red and pink) with a fitted bodice and full skirt. I threw on a pink cardigan as it was freezing, a red belt over the top to nip in my waist and put on one of my (ridiculously huge collection) vintage cardigan clips as a brooch. With my favourite 50’s headband hat and my hair I felt amazing. I popped on some brown mascara, some benetint pink blush and a little pink lipstick and I felt like a million dollars.

On day two I was forced back to reality as that is really the only vintage style I have left that fits me. So I threw on an old favourite Leona Edmiston dress (I have about ten), some stockings & my leather italian boots. I used to love the dress, but my stomach stuck out and made me feel like I shouldn’t be wearing it. But my tummy has almost gone and my boots finally do up around my calves again. It was the outfit I dreamed of wearing all last winter. But I felt miserable. I felt like I was wearing a sack. Not because it looked “bad” but because I wanted full skirts and cardigans and 50’s ballet flats. Hence the face in the day 2 photo. I felt ridiculous. For so long I avoided wearing the vintage look as I thought I would feel ridiculous, instead I felt at home. Happy. Like I had found a part of myself I have been missing so badly. In the modern clothes I would have died to look “good” in a year ago I felt wrong.

So it seems the further I progress with my “project:girl” I am discovering more about myself. I always imagined a wardrobe of modern jeans and dresses with a few vintage dresses thrown in to the mix for variety. Now I am rethinking my whole wardrobe. Of course the other issue is I can’t (well I guess I could…but I am not going to) run out and just grab a few things. This week I didn’t loose any weight at all…but I lost a full 4cm off my waist. Until my weight/size stops changing I don’t want to spend money on clothes that won’t fit me in two weeks. Especially as I have a wardrobe filled to the brim with sizes 14 -24. I have no physical need to buy clothes.

Instead I think I am going to use this “opportunity” to try my hand at sewing some pencil skirts. I have a bunch of tutorials, a sewing machine, tonnes of fabric (all my girls sew, which leads to tonnes of offcuts) and now I am sleeping at night and being awake all day I can use that time to do something productive. Then maybe moving on to a basic dress. If I can do those then really…I can make my own wardrobe.

But that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as spending hours on etsy looking at vintage



6 thoughts on “Pin Curling…and finding my groove

  1. That is such a good look on you, I love it! I’ve just chopped my hair again but this post kind of makes me wish I’d kept it long so I could pin curl it. I think I would be awful at it, though.

    I can’t wait to see your sewing projects! 🙂

    • Thank you lovely. I really have almost no hair…maybe 5.5-6in all over. But it seems just the right length for pincurling.

  2. As much as I love my Leona dresses and my more modern stuff, I feel sort of soulless wearing them. Whereas the sight of my vintage pleated skirts and cardis make my heart siiiing. You know what I mean! After going through my wardrobes today, I have a box of modern clothing I’m going to get rid of, because I know they’re just not ‘me’!

    • I know! I still love my “claire” and my “debbie doll” leona dresses…but they are very very 50’s inspired. Everything else seems so blah. Good news is once I have the energy to list it all on ebay I should make a pretty penny toward a *new* vintage wardrobe.

    • Thanks lovely. It is amazing how I always felt so blah when I would go to the hair dressers and they would straighten it like everyone seems to love these days. Now I am happy with wispy curls everywhere.

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