Introduction: How to Be a Pin-up Girl for Halloween

Picture of How to Be a Pin-up Girl for Halloween

Or anytime, I suppose.

I chose to do a Bettie Page version once I realized they made wigs. ;)

This is pretty involved costume, and I'm hoping you'll be able to avoid a lot of the mistakes I made!

Step 1: Pieces of the Costume.

Picture of Pieces of the Costume.

You'll need the following things for the costume. Personally, I had none of them. ;)

High heels
A dress or other outfit
Pantyhose (probably not fishnets. I tried, they looked trashy.)

The rest is really hair and makeup. You can do either a wig or curl your hair. I failed miserably with my hair, so I ended up going the wig route!

Step 2: Color Schemes!

Picture of Color Schemes!

I decided to buy a book for research, and I settled on a Taschen collection of Gil Elvgren's pin-up art. He's one of my favorites.

I decided to do black and animal prints with red.

Pink, light blue, and yellow are also featured prominently, or you could mix and match. All of those colors go well with black or animal prints.

In my case, I chose to use black and animal print for the main outfit, and I painted my fingernails red and wore red heels. I also wore a pinkish-red lipstick.

Step 3: Choosing an Outfit!

Picture of Choosing an Outfit!

You'll probably want to do a dress, or a pencil skirt and a nice top.

I chose two different dresses - a more conservative dress in an animal print to wear to work, and a sleeker, strapless number to wear out to parties. I've included pictures of both.

Try to go for something with a vintage shape because it'll play up your curves more.

You'll also need a push-up bra and some teeny underwear.

Pin-up girls don't have visible panty lines. ;)
The push-up bra will help with the curves as well! I chose to get a black bra to match the black strapless dress. This way i didn't have to fool with a strapless bra, because those are miserable!


Let me just say that I hate hate hate hate pantyhose. I chose fishnets at first, but I felt that they looked really trashy. So then I tried thigh-high pantyhose. Those were very uncomfortable. I settled on a pair of regular black pantyhose in the end and that worked out fine. Just make sure you pee before you put them on.

I ripped mine within the first hour of wearing them. Here's a nice tip: if you get a tear in them, dab some clear nail polish on them so they stop tearing. And it you get a tear on the top of your foot, simply put them on backwards the next time and it'll be on the bottom of your foot. :P

Step 4: Makeup!

Picture of Makeup!
This is really the hardest part of the whole costume. I know nothing about it, and I had to do a ton of practicing. I started a couple months before the big day.

I'd practice at night before I washed my face, and in the morning before I got into the shower. That way you can just wash it off and not walk around looking like a clown. I didn't worry so much about the foundation, because that's the easy bit.

The eyes are really the hard part and they took the longest!

As far as makeup goes, there was a ton of trial and error - I'll discuss that in detail in each of the individual steps.

The main things you'll need for makeup are:
  • nail polish
  • foundation
  • lipstick and matching lipliner
  • mascara
  • eye liner
  • fake eyelashes and glue
  • eye make-up remover
  • pointy q-tips
  • good face wash to get is all off with - Purpose works wonders, even took off eye makeup!
  • eyeshadow is optional

One thing I tried to keep in mind is to keep everything but my lips a neutral color. Every beauty magazine I read on my lunch breaks told me just that. Supposedly it's a rule of red lipstick. :P

Step 5: Base Makeup!

Picture of Base Makeup!

Foundation is probably the easiest. I would recommend buying a liquid foundation and mixing it with moisturizer! I used a ratio of 2:1 moisturizer to foundation and it did just fine.

Don't worry about getting the foundation on your lips or eyebrows, as it'll actually help with the later steps.

I used a light reflecting powder on top to set the foundation. It also makes you look quite nice in pictures. You'll be the most photogenic person out and about. ;)

Step 6: Lips!

Picture of Lips!
I bought three different types of lipstick. Lipstick is tricksy - especially red. It's really hard to get the right shade.

You can find them with blue undertones, pink undertones, purple undertones, orange undertones... and most times you don't know how they'll look on you until you actually try them on. Therefore, I wouldn't spend a ton of money on one particular shade. :D

The lip liner was just as tricky for me. I ended up finding a clear lip liner, which was a life saver. Red lipstick bleeds like crazy, and the clear lip liner kept it in place.

To apply lipstick and lip liner...
  • remember that it's fine to apply foundation to your lips - it'll act as a base.
  • apply the lip liner to the edges of your lips.
  • you can also apply the liner all over your lips, but I didn't worry about that. It's supposed to make the lipstick last longer.
  • then, apply the lipstick only to the fullest parts or your lips - don't try to get the corners of your mouth - it'll bleed and you'll look like the Joker. :P
  • press your lips together and rub them together for a couple seconds and the lipstick should be applied evenly and have migrated into the corners of your mouth.
  • if you feel that you have too much on, fold a piece of tissue in half and and blot your lips on it by pressing them together while the tissue is between.
  • you can apply lip gloss after, if you like. I didn't worry about it!

Step 7: Fake Eyelashes!

Picture of Fake Eyelashes!
You'll need a pair of eyelashes and some clear eyelash adhesive.

Once you can do this, you can do anything.

This was so hard for me because I can't wink. You can get around that, however, by tilting your chin up as much as possible and looking down. This will get your eyelids to lower while still allowing you to see what you're doing.

There are two important points when it comes to applying them:
  • don't overdo it with the glue
  • make sure the fake lashes are as close as possible to your natural lash line.

After you successfully apply these the first time, you'll be able to figure out if you need to trim them or not. You can use regular scissors to do this if you see they're overhanging the edges of your lash line. :)

To apply the lashes, follow these steps:
  • take the eyelash adhesive in one hand and the lashes (held by the lashes, not the lashline) in the other hand.
  • squeeze the adhesive tube just enough so that you form a bead and hold it there.
  • run the lash line of the lashes through the bead so that you get a nice light coating.
  • let the glue dry for a few seconds while holding it by the lashes.
  • then either close your eye or use the technique I mentioned above, and, using both hands, press the lash into place as close as you can to your natural lashline.
  • the glue will still have some give at this point, so closing your eye completely and pushing the fake lashes down onto your own and holding it there for a few seconds will help secure them.
  • if you find one end of the lashes has lifted (which seems to happen quite a bit.) you can use either a pointed q-tip or toothpick to smear a small amount of glue onto your eyelid, which you can then press the fakes into. :)
  • Now, apply mascara! This will help your real lashes and falsies stick together.

You can clean the lashes with soap and water and use them again.

Step 8: Eyeliner & Brows!

Picture of Eyeliner & Brows!

Second hardest bit of this costume.

I went through all types - pencil, powder, felt tipped pens, liquid liner... etc. Most of these were VERY hard to work with. I eventually chose a cream-based liner that came in a cute little pot. It came with this stubby little brush that was more frustrating than helpful, so I bought a nice liner brush at the drugstore down the street.

As my friend George says: Brushes that come with makeup are made of suck and fail.

There is really no good explanation for this eye look. Just follow the lower lash line out and up and the upper lash should swoop up slightly to meet the line coming from the lower lash line.

A good liner brush, pointy q-tips and eye makeup remover are your best friend here. And practice. You don't have to do yours as crazy as I did mine, I just though it was fun. :D

For the brows, you can use mascara. I tried brow pencils but had no luck. I found out that using mascara works wonderfully as long as you use a light hand. Make sure to only pass over a couple of times - any more than that and you risk

Step 9: Hair!

Picture of Hair!

Pin-ups are notorious for over styled, curly hair.

I have the straightest, finest hair of anyone I know. I talked myself into buying a hot roller set. I practiced with it for about a month, and then slowly came to the conclusions that, A: I suck at using hot rollers, B: The curl will never hold longer than an hour, and C: I get too annoyed having to sit around and stay still waiting for them to cool down.

So that was out. And speaking of that - anyone need a hot roller set? ;)

I chose to go the wig route because I love wigs and they're so easy. I bought a Bettie Page-esque wig at a Halloween shop and some wig caps at a local beauty shop. I had to trim the wig quite a bit to get it to the length I wanted, but it worked quite well.

Step 10: Nails!

Picture of Nails!

I chose to do mine on my own because it's cheaper.

I'm not very familiar with nail polish, so I painted mine a couple times beforehand just to see how it went. My only tip here is to make sure you allow enough drying time. I would give yourself at least fifteen minutes between coats and make sure you're using thin coats of polish.

Otherwise, you'll end up with bumpy, smudgy polish that chips off in a day. :P

You can use q-tips and nail polish remover to clean up any polish that ends up where it shouldn't be.

Step 11: Party!

Picture of Party!

You'll probably want to bring a little emergency repair with you that includes lipstick and eyelash glue, things like that. :D

And maybe a pair of flats if you'll be partying while standing!

Hope you enjoyed this instructable. It was definitely a fun costume to do!


HasanA39 (author)2016-04-05

find out the similar pic here

bree126 (author)2015-04-27

The reason I clicked on this was I could have sworn you were Lyndsey Way from MSI ( married to Gerard way of Mcr)

cherie.diazdtp made it! (author)2015-03-12

Love the pinup look

HollyMann (author)2013-08-15

you look gorgeous - love your eyes and eyebrows! ..and the dress too!

slicedcrayon (author)2011-07-20

You look great! Although I will say, you should have gotten a wide belt for the dress. Would have completed the look.

SRubicz (author)2010-10-29

Very cute, wish I had the bod.
Was glad you included those inspiration photos of the pin-ups, good thought.

SRubicz (author)2010-10-29

HAD to see what a pin-up costume would entail. Good God, girl, you are hot to begin with. You looked fabulous.
Loved those tightly curled bangs, "made" the look, well the dress too.
Saw something of a take-off on this, being a Jersey girl, teasing the crown of your hair into a "bump", wearing something lacey, a big cross necklace.
Happy Halloween !

kingmii (author)2010-07-14

Do you think a guy could do this?

jessyratfink (author)kingmii2010-07-15

Yes, and I fully endorse it! :D

kingmii (author)jessyratfink2010-07-16

Good because i want to look good for my towns gender guessing competition.

superMacaroni (author)kingmii2010-09-18

you need to find a big giant bra first

kingmii (author)superMacaroni2010-09-19

lol yea. It was a while ago and it went really well. I Won.

superMacaroni (author)kingmii2010-09-19

What size did you buy?

kingmii (author)superMacaroni2010-09-22

Im only a short 17 year old so i went with a C-cup

superMacaroni (author)kingmii2010-09-22


I was expecting a 45DDD.....

jello666 (author)2010-09-05

I think you did a wonderful job and look quite striking. You have the features of a 40''s movie star. Well done

Kryptonite (author)2010-02-15

Ha ha, looks like you had a bit of fun! I'm a guy so I don't do make up, I just clicked to see one of your Instructables I haven't noticed before :P

I've got to dress up for Cosplaying in August, but luckily no make up, and I'm using a wig.

Molten Boron (author)2009-10-05

Duh. Did you sign up just to post that? When you make an Instructable that is better structured and worded, come back and link to it instead of ragging on other people. Also, people who "live that glamurous style everyday" need something better to do, like work. And then use the money to feed starving kids in Africa. And build perpetual machines that will save us from the energy crisis. Also I think this is a perfect Halloween costume, now that I've met you. (Do you dress up as "normal people" for Halloween??)

emileekohan (author)Molten Boron2009-10-30

I think that girl may need  lessons in spelling and grammar to be "perfect." 

sassycrafter (author)2009-10-27

 Here's a good Instructable on using eye makeup for a smoky cateye look:

JuCo (author)2009-08-14

wow... 1) she did a pretty good job 2) there are no rules that say that you're not allowed to go as a pin-up for halloween (except, i guess, from weirdos that feel they have some sort of elite position in the fashion world) 3) if you really do yourself up "perfectly" everyday, since this is your lifestyle, then you're wasting half your life on your image. last of all, i'm happy that my cousin and many of her friends are pin ups... otherwise you might have given me a terrible first impression of the people involved in that scene.

jessyratfink (author)2009-06-29

It's hard to achieve "perfection" when you've never done the makeup thing before. I honestly think I did pretty well having no experience whatsoever and not quite having the facial features for it. I'm sorry you feel so strongly otherwise - but I promise you I'm never doing this again because it's too much work and far too uncomfortable. It's not for me. Especially if everyone else living the "lifestyle" is so catty. ;)

arnivore (author)2009-05-18

I'm totally going as a pin-up girl for halloween this year! :) Thanks!

jessyratfink (author)arnivore2009-05-19

Do it, do it! It's a lot of work, but very fun. And you'll look better than everyone else. ;)

arnivore (author)2009-05-18

I love gil elvgren! :)

Kaiven (author)2009-02-03

lol, recently learned about this in S.S. class

gmjhowe (author)2008-11-10

Good work! *waits for flood of 'your so hot' comments from non avatar/ible owning users*

DJ Radio (author)gmjhowe2008-12-16

*joins gmjhowe and RS*

gmjhowe (author)DJ Radio2008-12-16

yeah, the time has been, and gone.

DJ Radio (author)gmjhowe2008-12-16

crud, I missed the show!

frollard (author)2008-11-10

Great instructable - but even with your learnings I don't think I would make a very good pinup girl.

gmjhowe (author)frollard2008-11-10

Is that your desk?? what do you do that requires so many small monitors...

frollard (author)gmjhowe2008-11-11

I'm a 911 operator. :D I actually need more desktop space as we get busier.

gmjhowe (author)frollard2008-11-11

haha! crazy.

frollard (author)gmjhowe2008-11-12

I just realised you called them 'small' :D theres (left to right) 2x 21" (would prefer 24, oh well), 1x 19", and 1x 17 on a swing arm

gmjhowe (author)frollard2008-11-13

hmm, not too bad, the two 21" looked like 4:3 ratio 17 ones.

is that all connected to one computer? or do you use several?

frollard (author)gmjhowe2008-11-13

3 leftmost screens are 1 computer controlling them, and 3rd monitor is a remote desktop to another pc. That way we can use one mouse, but log into a separate workstation and run applications that could jeopardize the Computer Aided Dispatch program - the left 2 screens (CAD) are ALL that runs on that machine

the radio has its own tower as well.

I like how this threaded comment form doesnt derail much - or I'd feel bad having this conversation here :P

gmjhowe (author)frollard2008-11-13

well, if we continue soon it will end up really narrow and long, so i suggest we move to my orange board! so, my next question, what res are the 21" and 19"?? (you can get to my orangeboard by clicking my name)

jessyratfink (author)frollard2008-11-10

I don't know, I think you could vamp it up if you got yourself a proper wig. :D

frollard (author)jessyratfink2008-11-11

I'll hold off for now ;) thanks! it would really weird out my fiance'!!

Lithium Rain (author)2008-11-12

I'm sorry, I have to ask-why do you have to pee before you put on your hose, again? Pantyhose are easy to pull down if you have to...

I just find them endlessly frustrating, honestly. I haven't worn them but a few times in my life and I'm not used to them at all. The first day I wore them for eight hours, and I felt like I was in the bathroom for a half hour adjusting. :P

Oh, and also, I forgot to add - I couldn't find anything but control top! Do they make regular pantyhose anymore? That made everything much more complicated because they were up past my bellybutton, even with the smallest size. :P

Oh my goodness sakes alive, yes, they sure do make regular! Look in walmart, with all the lingerie. As a pantyhose veteran (wear them 3+ times a week), I've found that if they are the right size, you'll eventually stop noticing them, and they won't bother you much. So you may need to try a different brand, since this one's smallest size is too big. This reminds me, I have an awesome ible coming up... :D

canida (author)2008-11-10

So you're also going to be doing the "How to Apply Make-up" Instructable? ;) Sounds arduous.

jessyratfink (author)canida2008-11-10

I don't think I know enough yet! Two months of practicing and it still takes an hour to get all purtied up. ;)

Hey, hey, hey! I called that one! I just don't know what to use as a model. :D

canida (author)jessyratfink2008-11-10

Girl drag is entirely too much trouble.

KentsOkay (author)2008-11-10
Hehe, just for the grimacing red eye pic 5/5!
jessyratfink (author)KentsOkay2008-11-10

My solution to hating cameras is making awful faces. :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
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