Independence and an Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny Red & White High-Waist Bikini

I’m never fully convinced it’s summer until the 4th of July. Most of the memories I have of this holiday are venturing out to the Hamptons with my Dad, listening to The Beatles or The Police the entire drive. Every year my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins would get together for a big lobster boil and fireworks on the beach, and despite my distaste for seafood, we always had a great time (albeit, I always wanted to release the lobsters from their tanks at the grocery store).

The past few years have been different, however. Anthony and I have stayed in Boston, grilling burgers and hot dogs, gathering with neighbors, eating ice cream and watching the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy, and gazing up at fireworks. This year was our quietest 4th of July yet, but we took some time to head over to Fort Independence where I could show off this stunning high-waist bikini from Red Dolly Swimwear.

Let’s get the obvious out there: I’m not comfortable in bikinis. I never have been and probably never will be. I struggle with my perception of myself, I have some cellulite, I’m neither skinny, nor overweight, which feels like a very awkward place to be, and I either obsessively exercise and eat healthy or give in to my desire for junk food.

But two things happened while wearing this suit. 1. I felt beautiful, which is something I never felt in a bathing suit before. 2. An elderly couple walked by as I was posing for a photo. The husband turned to the wife and said something along the lines of “look at that girl in the high-waisted bathing suit looking beautiful, just as you did in those.” These are the moments I love the most– bringing memories back to those who lived in the era that I try to emulate.

And now for some history. The bikini was invented in 1946 and was similar to what you might see today on a beach in Miami or Brazil: tiny, revealing the entire stomach and bum! These new bikinis were banned by most public beaches until the 1950’s, but they weren’t exactly the type of suit worn by your everyday woman of the 40’s.

For most women, the two-piece swimsuit was the perfect mix of a one-piece and a bikini. It maintained a sense of modesty that was so popular at the time, while revealing just enough skin to be seductive. These two-piece suits looked as if a one-piece has been split directly through the center. The top provided full coverage with either two spaghetti straps or a halter top, while the bottom started at the waistline and continued on to the bum, covering every inch.

Lucky for me, this Bella Red & White Polka Dot High-Waist Bikini from Red Dolly Swimwear is the modern embodiment of a 1940’s two-piece swimsuit. Every detail is perfect. The top is designed with a gathered center bust and thick straps, providing security and support. The bottom covers both the belly button and the backside, which I’m eternally grateful because I am not one to flaunt what little derriere I have.

If you’re looking for a more traditional pinup vibe, you can have padding sewn into your suit for an additional fee ($6.50), of which my suit contains (and it’s totally worth it!).

Part of Red Dolly Swimwear’s mission is to allow every woman to feel beautiful, confident and comfortable in their suits and boy have they succeeded. Their bathing suits come in sizes S-XL, with plenty of room to stretch. For reference, I’m wearing a L and my measurements are 36″ bust, 28″ waist, and 38″ hips.

And when they say all women, they mean all women, as in little girls and infants! Red Dolly has matching girls and babies swimsuits, so you and your little diva can go to the beach in style. And if their bathing suits alone aren’t enough, owner and designer Heather Stepanik creates matching headbands and swim skirts, which are another staple of the 40’s (and I’ve got my eyes on them).

Red Dolly’s swimsuits range in price from $46-89 and ladies, they’re worth every penny. I have never found a more comfortable bathing suit that I can honestly say I felt confident in. If you’re not into two-pieces, they’ve got gorgeous one-pieces as well. They’re based in the U.S., but ship internationally for around $16.

I can’t drive home this point enough: I am not a bikini person, I am not a bathing suit person, but I would gladly spend $86 for a suit that makes me feel as confident and sexy as this one does. If you’re not a bathing suit girl, either, I encourage you to give Red Dolly Swimwear a chance. As for me, I’ll be stalking that Bella Black & White Polka Dot High-Waist Bikini for my size and it’s matching swim skirt.

Special thanks to Heather from Red Dolly Swimwear for this tantalizing opportunity.

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Pillbox Hats, Cap Sleeves & A Tea Garden

While shooting outside of a small-town luncheonette in western Massachusetts, an older couple approached me and asked “1940’s?” I agreed and proceeded to explain that the 40’s was my favorite era for fashion. The gentleman smiled and told me that he was born in 1940 and although he was a child at the time, he could tell that my outfit was a reproduction of what he had seen growing up. In that moment, I felt both proud and validated that I was doing justice to my favorite decade, but I couldn’t have done it without the Carolyn Dress from Karina Dresses.

Karina Dresses was founded on the idea of creating high-quality dresses that allow women of all sizes to feel beautiful in their own skin. On top of that, they’re made right here in the U.S. They provide a wide-array of styles and patterns that dazzle the senses and ensnare the mind’s creativity for curating an outfit.

The Carolyn is the quintessential 1940’s Cap Sleeve Dress. The cap sleeve was popular during the 1930’s, but when combined with some padding it took on a whole new look the following decade. These new-age deep cap sleeves were generally found on afternoon-style dresses and were traditionally cut in one piece with the bodice of the dress, creating an upside down triangular piece of fabric that lead to the waistline. Nowadays, cap sleeves are almost always attached separately, as are the sleeves on this gorgeous Carolyn Dress in Tea Garden.

The neckline of dresses from the 40’s varied from square to keyhole, sweetheart to slit, and v-neck to round. Skirts were generally a-line and used very little fabric which allowed the light-weight design to flow flawlessly with the body. The Carolyn embodies all of these characteristics with a higher v-neck neckline and a simplistic a-line skirt that comes just below the knees.

Karina Dresses is known as “the original easy dress” and for good reason! Not only is this dress the perfect 1940’s replica, it’s also indescribably comfortable, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. Their dresses are made from breathable microfiber that provides an incredible amount of stretch and never wrinkles. Yes, you read that right, it never wrinkles (and I put this baby to the test, leaving it crumbled up in an overnight bag). Because of this amazing fabric, the Carolyn is machine washable and can be hung up to dry. Who knew such a gorgeous gown could require so little maintenance!

Karina Dresses come in US sizes XS-XXL. Each size has a range of measurements, for example I’m wearing the S/M, which corresponds to a 34-38 bust and a 27-31 waist. If you’re unsure which size would work for you, try their Best Fit Size Guide!

The Carolyn is priced at $108, as are all of Karina Dresses fabulous frocks, and in my opinion they’re worth every penny. I have never owned such comfortable dresses that require so little care and am consistently blown away by the quality of their products. The prints are beautiful, and the designs are extremely flattering and versatile.

So if you’re looking for that perfect afternoon Hollywood glam gown, look no further than the Carolyn Dress from Karina Dresses. And don’t forget to check out all of their other designs, including their signature line: Karina Signature.

Dress: Carolyn Dress in Tea Garden c/o Karina Dresses | Shoes: Swing Along Heel in Noir- Modcloth | Hat and Bangles: Vintage- Etsy

Dying to get your hands on a gown of your own? I’ve partnered with Karina Dresses to bring you the chance to win one dress of your choice! You can enter the contest here! Best of luck, dolls!

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A Starfish, Retro Sunnies, and Tug Boats

It’s hard to believe that summer is just around the corner. I’ve always loved spring, but I’ve obtained some of my fondest memories during summer, such as walking along the boardwalks of my childhood beach in New York and surfing in the warm ocean waters of Florida. While I don’t get to partake in too many water-front activities here in Boston, I figured I’d welcome this glorious season with an homage to my childhood in the form of an ocean-themed outfit.

And what better garment could I possibly have chosen as the center of this outfit than the Jenny Skirt in Mary Blair Green Boat Border Print from Pinup Girl Clothing.

I discovered Pinup Girl Clothing before I was comfortable enough dressing as the pinup I’ve always wanted to be, so I dreamily stalked their site for some time. I finally made my first purchase last year  and instantly knew this was the beginning of a love affair.

I stuck with their blouses for a while, but had my eyes set on the Jenny skirts. After purchasing my first one back in October it’s been hard for me to even consider buying any other skirt.

The design behind the Jenny is a conglomeration of several vintage designs from the 1950s, the most notable being the circle skirt. These were cut from a large piece of fabric in the shape of a very thick doughnut and were considered to be the least bulky of all of the “full skirts.” This pattern made it easy for the fabric to drape flawlessly over the hips and swing freely while walking or dancing.

The other notable inspiration for the Jenny comes from the gathered skirts of the mid-century. These skirts were made from large triangular pieces of fabric that were gathered into the waistband, creating a tight waistline and full hips. The waistband was generally bulky, which gave girls with smaller hips the illusion that they had vivacious curves.

The Jenny incorporates both styles flawlessly with a neatly gathered waistline and a length just below the knee. Made from cotton sateen it’s both sturdy and moderately light, allowing for a petticoat underneath for extra volume (but it’s not necessary) without feeling overwhelmed by fabric. And the best part? Pockets! You can never go wrong with a skirt that has pockets.

The Jenny retails for $98-104 depending on the pattern and is available in XS-4X. Their items tend to range in size, so always check their size chart. For reference, I am wearing a M, which is generally my size in Pinup Girl Clothing, but sometimes I need a L depending on the garment.

I realize that this may come off as a big ticket item for some, but the quality of their pieces is second to none and will last years if treated properly. If you’re a pinup on a budget, sign up for their newsletter; they’ll often hold flash sales or larger U.S. holiday sales throughout the year. As for me, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the delivery of my recently purchased Jenny.

Top: American Apparel | Brooch: Ocean Wish Brooch– Erstwilder | Skirt: Jenny Skirt in Mary Blair Green Boat Border Print- Pinup Girl Clothing

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Spring Fever, Asymmetry, and a 1940s Pencil Dress

With the passing of “Wiggle Week,” I had been contemplating branching out into the world of body-forming gowns. I’ve never been one to wear things that show every detail of my figure, but I’ve seen so many lovely gals fearlessly flaunting their fabulous forms and figured I’d join the flock. And what better way to start my wiggle collection then with this stunning Majken Minty Asymmetrical Pencil Dress from Miss Candyfloss.

Miss Candyfloss is a Swedish company that focuses on reproducing styles from the 1940s and 1950s. Their goal is to create timeless pieces that translate well into today’s world of fashion, incorporating both the class and seductiveness of midcentury and modern styles. All of their garments are made in Europe under fair trade conditions: nothing is mass produced, which ensures the quality of each piece, and maintains good working conditions with higher salaries.

As you may very well know, I’m a sucker for anything 1940s so when it came time to find a wiggle, the Majken Minty Asymmetrical Pencil Dress was first on my list.

The first thing that stood out to me was the neckline. Asymmetrical buttons were wildly popular during the later half of the 40s and were generally incorporated into full or half button-down gowns. The buttons were usually placed on the left-hand side of the dress, which you see here on the Majken, and were either black or white in order to stand out from the fabric.

The bodice of the Majken is cut to perfection. The gown hugs the hips, while highlighting a cinched waist through it’s matching belt, which was typical of dresses throughout the 40s. Skirts were tusually a-line with a slight flare towards the very bottom. You would occasionally see pleating on the skirt, but it was limited to a small percentage of the fabric. Here you can see pleating on the bottom-half of the back of the skirt, allowing for more room while walking.

Miss Candyfloss’s gowns are immaculately constructed out of impressively stretchy polyethylene and elastane. I simply cannot emphasize the quality of this dress. The design itself is sheer perfection in that it forms to each and every curve, creating a tantalizing silhouette from every direction.

One of the things I love most about Miss Candyfloss is that they’re a size inclusive brand, making each of their items in sizes XS-3X. For reference, I am wearing a size S, although I’m generally a M in most brands, and it fits like a glove.

Miss Candyfloss’s dresses range in price from €75-115 (about $84-128), which is phenomenal for the quality. They also design gorgeous skirts and blouses, and have a full sale section for the pinup on a budget. Shipping to the U.S. is about $6, which is one of the best international rates I’ve found, and takes anywhere from 5-14 business days.

Despite the fact that I am generally very self-conscious while wearing tighter articles of clothing, I feel absolutely radiant in this dress. Despite the fact that you can see the occasional roll along my side, I feel like a goddess in this dress. I’m truly convinced that this is the type of gown every woman should have in her closet: one that makes her feel incredibly sexy in her own skin.

Dress: Majken Minty Asymmetrical Pencil Dress c/o Miss Candyfloss | Shoes: Brown Leather Lace Up Oxfords- Office
Special thanks to Noemi from Miss Candyfloss for this swell opportunity.

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April Showers Bring May Flowers and 1950s Summer Dresses

It’s finally starting to feel like spring here in Boston and nothing means spring more than florals. I’ve been slowly building my botanical wardrobe in preparation and couldn’t pass up this gorgeous vibrant floral ‘Audrey’ swing dress from Lindy Bop.

I’ve featured Lindy Bop in several of my previous posts (you can find the most recent one here) and there’s a very simple reason: they’re fabulous! Lindy Bop offers one of the widest arrays of vintage reproductions for budget-conscious pinups. Their collection includes flattering 40s frocks, eye-catching 50s novelty prints, and sophisticated 60s suits, making it the perfect one-stop shop for all of your midcentury needs.

My favorite style from Lindy Bop is called the ‘Audrey’ Swing Dress, which closely mimics the classic 1950s summer dress. One of the defining features of the summer dress was bare shoulders, exposing more arm than ever before. Patterns consisted of Hawaiian prints, or images of sunny vacations, solidifying the “tiki print” as a 1950s design staple.

The ‘Audrey’ showcases the boatneck neckline, figure hugging bodice and full circle skirt of the original 50s summer dress. The skirt comes down just below the knee, even with a thin petticoat underneath, making it work appropriate (as are most, if not all of Lindy Bop’s garments). The belt is thinner than what you would find on a vintage summer dress, which would probably measure about 2″ in width, but I prefer thinner belts.

The Audrey comes in several fabrics, but the vibrant floral swing dress is made from a  stretchy, light-weight cotton that’s machine washable on cold. The dress is fully lined, which is typical of a Lindy Bop gown- a small detail, but one that goes a long way in my book.

Being extremely size inclusive, Lindy Bop garments come in US sizes XS-6XL and UK sizes 8-26. For reference, I’m wearing a US S, which is my typical size for Lindy Bop dresses, although I’m generally a M in other brands (my measurements are 36-28-38). Their clothing tends to range in size, and they’ve recently begun adding measurements specific to each garment, so I highly recommend checking the size chart before ordering.

I just so happened to grab this floral beauty on sale for $16, but Lindy Bop’s Audrey swing dresses generally range in price from $39 to $46 (insert shocked emoji here). Like I said, they’re perfect for the pinup gal on a budget. Shipping within the U.S. is $7 and free when you spend over $125. For those of you across the pond, Lindy Bop has a U.K. site that offers £3 shipping within the U.K. and free shipping when you spend over £70.

Over the past year and a half I have purchased at least 10 dresses from Lindy Bop, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. They offer the most wallet-friendly pinup clothes on the market and consistently impress with their unique patterns. Be on the look out for their sales, which they hold quite often, because when they have a sale it’s even more of a bargain than you could imagine. They offer up to 70% off of their already affordable pieces, so be sure to snag all of your favorites before someone else does (trust me, their dresses go fast). As for me, I’ll be stalking their site on a regular basis.

Dress: ‘Audrey” Vibrant Floral Print 50’s Style Swing Dress- Lindy Bop | Shoes: Swing Along Heel in Noir- Modcloth

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The BBRBF Book Club: Red, Blue, and the Lasso of Truth

Hello and welcome to another edition of the BBRBF Book Club! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review and the reason is because I couldn’t quite bring myself to write about our last book; in fact, it was a struggle to even finish the book. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, it just hit too close to home in regards to medical conditions.

Fortunately, this month’s book focuses on one of my favorite comic book characters: Wonder Woman. Here is the plot summary of The Secret History of Wonder Woman by  Jill Lepore:

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.

If there’s one thing that I can say I’m without a doubt passionate about, it’s women’s rights, so when I saw the opportunity to read about one of the most historically powerful, albeit fictional, women I was overjoyed. Wonder Woman was inspired by several influential figures throughout the women’s suffrage movement, including Sadie Holloway and Margaret Sanger, a famous birth control activist.

Interestingly enough, the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, was a bit of a misogynist despite being a committed feminist (weird, I know). He simultaneously lived and fathered children with two women, while participating in “cult of female sexual power” sex parties that were organized by his aunt. Perhaps misogynist isn’t the correct word, because his wife and lovers all willing participated in these sorts of events, instead let’s just emphasize the fact that he believed in “free love” outside of the restrictions of marriage (as did his wife, Sadie Holloway).

Marston’s exposure to suffragist culture led him to depict Wonder Woman as bound by chains in many editions of the comic; this being a common theme throughout suffragist imagery and publications. His goal was to make her the heroine of a new age in which women ruled. He, in fact, believed that the day would come when women would lead, as opposed to men (I, myself, wouldn’t mind seeing this some day).

After Marston’s death, at the young age of 54, his publishers ignored his original intent of keeping her as a “Progressive Era feminist” and began depicting Wonder Woman as a traditional housewife. Having been turned over to a new writer, she would be characterized as a babysitter or even a fashion model.

Despite these later depictions of her after Marston’s death, Wonder Woman has remained the greatest female superhero of all time. She’s extremely strong and agile, beautiful, cunning and intelligent and a symbol of empowerment to women everywhere. I highly recommend reading this book, as it goes into much further detail as to the people and events that inspired her. As for me, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the new Wonder Woman film coming out this summer.

And, as always, don’t forget to check out all of the other fabulous book clubbers’ opinions and inspired outfits: Sara (In a Nutshell), Kat (The Miss Information Blog), Kristina (The Eyre Effect), Noelle (The Classy Junk), Laci (Laci Fay), and Justyna (Hazel & Honey)!

Next month we will be reviewing Caraval by  Stephanie Garber, so stick around!

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Classic Necklines, 1940s Slang, and a Dolled Up Dame

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than the draping of a 1940’s dress over the female form. Designers at that time seem to have catered their gowns towards women of all shapes and sizes, ensuring that every dame could feel dolled up. This philosophy has persisted through the ages within the vintage-reproduction world, particularly within one of my favorite online boutiques: Doll Me Up.

Doll Me Up is a one-stop shop for some of the most popular 1940’s and 1950’s reproduction clothing brands, such as Hell Bunny, Voodoo Vixen and Lindy Bop. They’re wide selection makes it easy for gals to explore styles from different decades and find what they like best. Being completely enamored by the 1940’s, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the Ashcroft Dress.

The most eye-catching feature of the Ashcroft is the keyhole neckline that’s iconic of the 1940’s. The signature keyhole was made by cutting a triangular piece of fabric from the chest-area, ensuring that the point of the triangle was facing up. The remaining fabric, just below the neck, was fitted against the collarbones and either secured by a string or left loose. The Ashcroft took a more modern spin and secured the two pieces of fabric with an adorably detailed button.

The sleeves showcase another classic 1940’s design: the length of a straight sleeve with the flow of a cap sleeve. The bodice secures around each curve with seven gorgeous buttons, while the skirt flows out into the quintessential A-line. Tie the whole look together with a vibrant coral sash that matches perfectly with the tiny floral detail decorating the fabric.

The Ashcroft is made from a light-weight polyester that’s machine washable. While the bodice is lined, the skirt is not which gives the dress the ability to flow flawlessly in the breeze (one of my favorite traits of the dress).

Doll Me Up refers to any size above a medium as “lovely,” which plays into their theme of size-inclusive beauty. The Ashcroft is available from US XS to 4X Lovely. I’m wearing a size M, which is my normal size, and it fits like a glove.

The Ashcroft retails for $87.99 and comes in two prints: the one pictured and the Ivory Beauty Print, each one more beautiful than the last. Shipping starts at $5.99 within the U.S., $8.99 internationally, and free for orders over $150.

The Ashcroft incorporates all of the most popular styles of the 1940’s into one stunning piece. It’s gorgeous design makes it perfect for any occasion and work appropriate with some pinup flare. So if, like me, you’re keen on becoming a 1940’s dreamboat, then look no further than the Ashcroft from Doll Me Up.

Dress: Ashcroft Dress c/o Doll Me Up | Shoes: Brown Leather Lace Up Oxfords- Office
Special thanks to Krista from Doll Me Up for this swinging opportunity.

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