Loving Lillian Madison Designs


I discovered Lillian Madison Designs through a Pinups of Color post on Instagram. I was so pleased to see an accessory that you could customise not only to your own style, but your own skin tone as well. I was not alone in my reaction as there were lots of comments from people who were so happy to see different skin tones being represented.


To many people finding an accessory in a similar skin tone to your own may not seem like a real issue. However growing up I never saw a doll that looked like me, make-up was swatched on skin tones I couldn’t relate to and when I entered the pin-up and vintage world, accessories still lacked diversity. Thankfully things are changing; many make-up brands are using models in a variety of skin tones, dolls are being made in different shapes and colours and Angelina of Lillian Madison is helping to diversify pin-up accessories. All of these efforts (no matter how big or small) help to show the world that there is not just one shade of beauty!

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In Angelina’s words:

There are so many shades of beauty in the world and I wanted to make a brooch to represent that.
I designed and created these cute Vixen Pinup Brooches to reflect every woman in every skin tone.


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I knew I definitely had to get my own mini-Cacao and, as a good pin-up wifey, I had to get Flo involved.

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When I showed her the brooches, she was really impressed by the amount of customisation you could have. You don’t just choose skin colour; you can choose hair, dress, shoe and jewellery colours too. If that’s not enough, you can even choose to add glitter to the different options at no extra cost. There are hundreds of  combinations to choose from – it was pretty difficult to make a decision!

Cacao: Skin Tone: caramel, Hair Colour: black, dark brown eyes, Dress Colour: green glitter, green shoes, Jewellery Colour: no necklace, gold earrings


Flo: Skin Tone: cream, Hair Colour: purpley brown, blue eyes, Dress Colour: red, red shoes, Jewellery Colour: white (pearls)


Each brooch cost $40 and was shipped in the US, though keep in mind that there’s an option for international shipping too – just be aware of customs charges.

Angelina’s customer service was great throughout. She thoughtfully sent us images of our brooches mid-production so we could see what they looked like before she added resin.


The brooches arrived in sturdy packaging with a lovely note from Lillian herself.


Each brooch comes with a date of creation, which is a nice touch. These brooches aren’t thin and flimsy but they aren’t too chunky either, they are definitely robust enough to withstand the strains of everyday life.


Upon receipt of our brooches, Flo and I obviously had to have a go at recreating the looks of our new mini-mes. Flo’s outfit is by Vivien of Holloway and my dress is by Collectif Clothing.

Thank you Lillian Madison Designs for creating brilliant brooches for different skin tones – we really appreciate your designs!



Getting the Most out of Your High Waisted Shorts and Gypsy Tops

Since the beginning of the year I have been weighing up any new additions to my wardrobe very carefully. This is for several reasons:

  1. Firstly, I am currently saving my pennies for a massive trip to Viva Las Vegas next year (wouldn’t it be a tragedy to return home from the US with any less than an extra suitcase full of Pinup Girl Clothing as it can be so difficult to get your hands on it in the UK?)
  2. Secondly, my wardrobe re-organisation back in January (see my post “How to Solve a problem like my wardrobe…”) allowed me to rediscover some lost treasures. And it really highlighted the sheer volume of clothes that I own. I cannot bear to part with many of them and despite my super organised methods of storing everything, I simply cannot continue the way that I am going. Before long I will definitely outgrow my home.
  3. Finally, Papow’s recent control in the shopping department had frankly been putting me to shame.

So, when Vivien of Holloway offered to let me try a new outfit from their collection I wanted to consider my choice very carefully indeed. Like Papow, I own a LOT of Vivien of Holloway dresses, skirts and halterneck tops…but I wanted to use this wonderful opportunity to try something completely new! I was looking for something that I could work easily into my existing wardrobe, to create a multitude of different looks that would keep me going all summer long! After much deliberation I settled on the navy sateen shorts and the classic white navy spot gypsy top.

Navy Sateen Shorts

In Vivien of Holloway’s words:

“These high-waisted wonders tick all the right boxes with their wide waistband and uniquely winged patch pockets. Our shorts are perfect for 1940s fans and 1950s girls alike, cut to hit at the most authentic, and flattering, part of the upper thigh and they look absolutely smashing when paired with one of our gypsy tops or sweetheart halterneck tops. We guarantee they’ll send temperatures soaring, even if the lovely summer sun deserts us.”

Now, my measurements are as follows: bust 34″, waist 27″ and hips 36″. With this in mind I went for a size 12 (waist 26″, hips 38″). The shorts are 97% cotton and 3% elastane and don’t have a great deal of stretch so I was worried about the fit. I have fairly narrow hips and unfortunately not much of a booty, and based on the size chart I was concerned that they would be too roomy in the butt, yet too tight at the waist. However the size 12 was completely the right choice for me. I can easily do the shorts up at the waist and the extra few inches of material around the hips actually makes me feel more curvy, creating a real 1950s hourglass shape on my very “rectangle” shaped body. If buying online, and you have any questions, I really urge you to contact Vivien of Holloway themselves. I have found them most helpful in the past with queries about the stretch of the fabric, size, how the shade of a particular piece comes out in real life in comparison to the photos online and which other separates in their range a certain item would work well with.

Navy was an obvious colour choice for me, as I am a massive fan of nautical designs and I could easily put the navy shorts together with a never-ending array of tops, belts and accessories that I already own to create a range of different looks.  These shorts retail at £45, a fair price I feel and only slightly more than shorts available from other reproduction vintage brands. I always say that the quality of Vivien of Holloway products is something else and I personally am yet to come across another pair with quite the same beautiful front pockets as the Vivien of Holloway shorts! Not only do these shorts work well in summer, they can easily be worn in the cooler months. I will certainly be pairing mine with tights and a cardigan. They truly are an investment piece for any vintage lover’s wardrobe!

Classic White Navy Spot Gypsy Top

In Vivien of Holloway’s words:

“Based on an authentic late 1940s, early 1950s styling! Made in plain and patterned pure cottons, the same elasticated neck, puffed sleeves as our other Gypsy tops. This is the original design with elastic around the waist for even gathering whether you wear it tucked in or out. Use one of our belts to emphasizing your curves to perfection. Wear yours off-the-shoulder paired with your high waisted shorts on the beach, or team with our 1950s Jeans or Capris for a bicycle ride in the country! Our range all mix and matches to perfection. Trimmed with Vintage Ric-Rac Made in London”.

 I went for the small (32-34″ bust, 24-26″ waist, 36-38″ hips) which fits beautifully despite my 27″ waist. The elasticated waist gives it that extra little stretch at the waist and so I would say if you are slightly larger at the waist like me, there is absolutely no need to size up! Vivien of Holloway‘s gypsy tops are 100% cotton and I found it particularly cool and in comparison to their more fitted halternack tops. I know I will be packing mine (along with my halterneck tops) as a cooler alternative for those extra hot days on my trip to Spain next month! Another feature that I love about this top is that the sleeves can be worn on or off of the shoulder. It can also be worn tucked into shorts or worn over the top of them. All you need to do is take a look at Vivien of Holloway‘s website to see the wide range of different designs available in this style, I defy anyone who says they can’t find at least half a dozen that they can instantly match with existing pieces in their wardrobe. The gypsy tops are also available in a midi and cropped style, providing an even cooler option at this time of year.

Getting the Most out of your High Waisted Shorts and Gypsy Tops

Since my aim here was to choose some staple pieces that work well together but also with everything else in my closet, I wanted to show you how I got on. I have put together a number of different looks using items that I am sure a lot of you already have kicking around at home to show you how you too can pick up a pair of shorts and a gypsy top yourselves and style them in many different ways.

First up, the Vivien of Holloway halterneck top. I am sure a lot of you vintage-loving ladies own one or two of these tops. The shorts here work just as well with these as they do with the gypsy tops. In this first look I styled my shorts with a red polka dot Vivien of Holloway halterneck top, an anchor print bandana I picked up at a vintage fair and Papow’s parasol from the US.

Next I teamed the shorts with Vivien of Holloway‘s red anchor halterneck hop , their 2″ elasticated white belt, yet another nautical print hair bandana and my navy patent court shoes from New Look.

I then put the shorts together with the Vivien of Holloway navy anchor halterneck top, a red bow waist belt from Sew Very Vintage and the same nautical bandana and navy court shoes as before.

Now one wardrobe staple that I am sure a lot of you own is the Collectif Dolores Top. They are available in a range of colours and designs and are another perfect match for the Vivien of Holloway high waisted shorts. Papow and I own a wide array of Dolores  tops, so I just picked one to show you how you can put this look together. The navy shorts work really well here with the navy and white polka dot Collectif Dolores top, a nautical waist belt and necklace from Primark, a hair bandana (made by yours truly) and my trusty navy patent court shoes from New Look.

Another combo idea: shirts! Who doesnt have at least one shirt in their closet? Here I have teamed the high waisted Vivien of Holloway shorts with two shirts from Matalan that I frequently wear to work. By tying the shirt at the waist its creates a more casual look. Again I teamed it with various hair bandanas (sewed by myself from recycled clothes) and my New Look court shoes.

Now a look at how the Vivien of Holloway high waisted shorts can just as easily be rocked with something from the high street as the repro brands. Here we have the Kelly Brook for New Look gingham top. This is from Kelly’s Summer range a few years ago, but if your want to get your hands on one keep your eyes on eBay like myself. I have managed to obtain a large proportion of her collection in this way (Kelly please bring back your collaboration with New Look I miss it greatly). I teamed these two pieces with a polka dot flower from Primark, a hair bandana from a vintage fair and once again my favourite New Look navy court shoes.

So as you can see the Vivien of Holloway shorts are an extremely versatile piece, and I assure you the gypsy top is no different. First up, I combined the blue polka dot classic gypsy top with the Vivien of Holloway navy sateen circle skirt, Hell Bunny navy waist belt and another of Flo’s handmade hair bandanas!

Lastly, but by no means least, the gypsy top works extremely well with both jeans and dungarees. I am lucky enough to own the Freddies of Pinewood Home Companion Dungarees that feature a removable bib so you can wear them as dungarees or jeans depending on your mood. I thought the Gypsy top looked good worn off the should with the jeans, but pulled up over the shoulder with the dungarees.

I am so pleased with these two new additions to my wardrobe from Vivien of Holloway I truly am. I hope I have shown you how you can wear these two beautiful pieces with a number of things that you likely already have in your closet and really get the most out of them throughout the year. If any of you have any suggestions on how to get the most out of your wardrobe Papow and I would love to hear about them, so please do drop us a line!

The Circle Skirt

The circle skirt…in my opinion the most flattering item in any vintage girl’s wardrobe (or perhaps I should say ‘wardrobes’).

I’ve always been a lover of bold bright colours, polka dots, stripes and nautical designs; monochrome and patriotic red/white/blue being my absolute favourites. For years I naturally swayed towards high street shops, where I could pick up such pieces and I always inadvertently chose items that gave a nod to all things yesteryear. It wasn’t until my first trip to Vivien of Holloway that my love of reproduction vintage clothing (in fact my love of all things vintage) really sprung into action. It was here that I picked up my very first circle skirt.


And what versatile items of clothing they are…one can create such an array of outfits with only one or two of these wardrobe staples (although why stop there?). Completely different looks can be created with or without the addition of a petticoat, dressed up with heels for an evening look or down with pumps or Converse – perhaps for dancing. Deeper tones with the addition of tights can be used in winter, while going bare-legged with some seasonal espadrilles may be chosen in summer. The addition of a belt really nips in any waist and creates such elegant feminine curves.


For a recent photo shoot Papow and I decided to go with a summery nautical theme and so naturally I headed stright to Vivien of Holloway! I decided to team their Navy Sateen Circle skirt with a Red Anchor Halterneck top, white petticoat and 2″ white belt.

20150627-IMG_0008.jpgIf lucky enough to be paying the shop on Holloway Road a visit, you will find the staff to be absolutely lovely and will help you with your measurements. If, however, ordering online, the size guide is also useful. In the past, I have found that I can switch between sizes of the same style dress or skirt depending on the material, so the contact us form on the website is my best friend when I’m ordering online. All my questions relating to size, stretchiness of the fabric and even colour matching between seperates are answered in a timely manner.

With such a wide range of 1950s-style circle skirts on offer at Vivien of Holloway…I’m sure it won’t be long before I head back to add to my collection!


Havana Heaven

This year, I lost my Pin Up Girl Clothing virginity. How was it? Mind-blowing…so I went back for more.


I messaged PUG to ask what they felt was a true wardrobe essential – the Havana Nights dress came highly recommended. I quickly invested (sorry savings).

For once in my life, I didn’t have too much trouble trying to figure out which print or colour to go for. Cool Toned Cabana Stripes screamed, “buy me!”. I checked the size chart and decided the large would be the best fit for me. There are so many colours in this dress; you could pair it with a huge array of cardigans, shoes and hair accessories. It felt like the perfect dress as I adore versatile items of clothing.


This dress is made of thick fabric, which hangs beautifully but doesn’t feel too heavy. You could easily add a petticoat for little extra oomph – if you fancy. Fastening with an invisible back zip, the Havana looks flawless from all angles. I must mention the POCKETS! I have a huge small obsession with dresses that have pockets. Though, sometimes dress pockets can be irritatingly small and useless. The pockets on this dress, however, are very generous – you might be able to survive without a handbag!


I paired this dress with a bolero from Monsoon and a pair of Office flats (appropriate for a trip to Reading museum, right?). It would be quite simple to dress this look down with sandals and a denim jacket. Alternatively, you could turn up the glamour with a pair of sky high heels and some vintage jewels.

For the budget-conscious, this is your go-to PUG item. Not only is it incredibly figure-flattering, it is so easy to transform you look. This dress is going to get A LOT of wear.