Playful Promises Blog

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The Original Pin-up

The original pin-up girl, the Gibson Girl, started as a pen-and-ink illustration by Charles Dana Gibson in the late 1800's. His sketch was the personification of the ideal female and was transformed from one illustration into illustrated stories. The Gibson Girl lasted over 20 years, beloved by her American public, she defines the history of fashion particularly for that era.


Her alluring S-curve figure, exaggerated breasts and hips and a slim waist, was achieved through a swan-bill corset. The Swan Bill Corset was fashionable around 1900 and was described as the 'health corset'. The corset busk was inserted in the centre front of the corset pushing the torso of the wearer forward and allowing hips and buttock to protrude out, giving an 'S-shape'.


The Gibson Girls's striking figure inspired a new fashion for the late 19th Century. Even her hairstyle became a popular trend, piling her strands of hair high on top of her head in a chignon. Much like today's trend.



Camille Clifford

The Gibson Girl was drawn from life models posing, such as Gibson's wife Irene and Evelyn Nesbit an artist's model, however Camille Clifford was rumoured to have inspired the Gibson Girl's fashion and figure. Camille Clifford was known for wearing a high coiffure and wearing a waspie to create her signature hourglass figure.


The Gibson Girl was depicted as a modern and independent woman, attending college and waiting to find the correct man to marry. The Gibson Girl was not just a pin-up teasing and pleasing men, she was a heroine amongst women, she inspired women's fashions and inspired a modern way of life.


In later years, towards the First World War, the Gibson Girl was not included in the suffrage movement, she was slowly beginning to loose favor amongst suffragettes and by the onset of the First World War popularity for this imaginary character had fallen.


Women seeked a more practical and masculine icon to guide them through the First World War and with this women seeked a change in fashions and lifestyle.


During the Second World War, the Pin-up girl made a come-back. Real-life Pin-up girls as well as illustrations and artwork. Celebrities and models posed to encourage the troops. The earliest Pin-up is said to be Betty Garble.



A pin-up girl would feature on mass produced pictures which were 'pinned-up' and displayed as part of 1940's and 50's popular culture. The Pin-up image could be torn out of newspapers and magazines and were in the form of postcards and more memrobilia.


In later years glamour models became what was a Pin-up girl, models such as Betty Page were the modern day Pin-up.


We now enjoy retro-Pin-up girls, we are inspired by Pin-up models as well as now using male models as Pin-up boys!