Sunday, January 22, 2012

{Style Inspiration} Elvgren Pin-Ups

Pin-up art is usually noted more for the absence of clothing than its sartorial style, but there's actually a wealth of vintage fashion inspiration to be found here.

Gil Elvgren is generally recognised as the greatest ever pin-up artist - he was certainly among the most prolific, active from the 1930s through the late 70s!

Having graduated high school, the young Gillette A. Elvgren had initially wanted to be an architect - an ambition which his parents encouraged - and went to the University of Minnesota to study architecture and design. He also took art courses at the Minneapolis Art Institute, and it was there, in 1933, that he decided to pursue a career as an artist rather than architect.

He graduated at the age of 22 and was hired as an artist by Stevens and Gross, Chicago's most prestigious advertising agency, where he was taught by senior resident artist Haddon Sundblom (famous for his artwork for Coca Cola advertising campaigns).

In 1937, Gil began painting calendar pin-ups, and his career as a pin-up artist flourished from there. Elvgren's artist's eye bestowed his pin-ups with a great sense of colour and style, making them perfect vintage fashion study material. So for this week's Style Inspiration Sunday I thought I'd share some some of Gil Elvgren's best dressed gals.

A beautifully alliterative prim Peter Pan collar and puff shoulders with two-tone peeptoe shoes in 1939

Gorgeous lemon and burgundy colour scheme (and check out those shoes!), 1943

c. mid-1940s plaid jerkin and matching hat

1947 - little black dress (with the padded square shoulders of the pre- New Look period), big red hat.

1948 - classic gypsy blouse, full skirt and sash - clearly a favourite of Elvgren's, and a recurrent theme in his pin-up art. And again, the shooooes!

Go ahead and wear purple and red if you're an Elvgren pin-up! 1951

1953 - a faux V-neck or a V-neck layered over a round? Either way, I love it!

1959 prim pin-up in stripe blouse and red neckerchief.

1962 - sexy secretary style in button-down blouse (note the shape of the collar), red pencil skirt and matching red and white spectator pumps.

Classic nautical style - 1967



  1. I love a focus on the clothes! they are pretty great!

  2. I really love Elvgren, but I think by the mid 60s his style was looking very dated

  3. The girl who's stepping out of the car is one of my faves! I have been wanting her dress for quite sometime.

  4. I adore this work. Ahhhh... yellow and BURGUNDY!! *adds to memory vault*

  5. One of my ambitions is to make some of the clothes Elvgren's pinups are wearing. I have a book of his work with little bit of paper poking out all over to mark the ones I want to make!

  6. I absolutely love his work. I have the secretary pin-up card from a big deck of reproductions and it's hanging in my cubicle at work. I have no ink to spill and I don't always wear pencil skirts, but it speaks to me anyway :)



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