Perfecting the Pinup Poodle with Fanciforia Foxglove

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Perfecting a pinup poodle with Fanciforia Foxglove, another lovely guest blogger. 

Many modern pinup girls struggle with mastering the vintage up-do known as ‘The Poodle’. On first glance, it looks simple to do – just some Shirley Temple-esque curls pinned atop one’s head! But this style popularised by the likes of starlets Betty Grable and Lucille Ball, is much trickier than it looks and requires some fiddling, many bobby pins and a lot of teasing.

So here is my step by step pictorial guide to achieving this classic pin-up style using a standing pin curl set.

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Betty Grable

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Lucille Ball

Tools I use to create this look:

  • Setting spray – I use Mister Fantastic by Evo
  • A lot of bobby pins
  • Hairbrush – not too large
  • Rat tail comb or pastiche brush
  • Sectioning clips
  • Hair oil and/or pomade
  • Hairspray – I use Helmut by Evo and I also use Builder’s Paradise by Evo which is a ‘working spray’.

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Step 1 – Setting the hair for your pinup poodle

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Point your 1 inch section up high. Roll over two fingers. Spiral the curl under. Pin in place.

Section the hair into four parts so you have the crown (top of the head) two sides sections and a back section.

Start at one of the side sections, use your rat comb to select a smaller amount of hair about an inch squared.

Pull the hair upward and hold it tight so there is no slack.

Roll the end of the section around two of your fingers to create the beginning of a spiral.  Be sure to tuck in all the fly aways to avoid kinks. Roll the hair spiralling downwards towards your face and into itself, like a snail-shell and pin at the base of the head. Never twist the hair.

Be sure to create standing pin curls – not flat ones. Standing pin curls are slightly raised at the base of the scalp building in about an inch of volume. They look like a tiny victory roll. This lays the foundation for brushing out and shaping later on.

Secure the curl with a bobby pin.

Repeat until all your sections are pin curled leaving the top section last. Roll the curls in the top section towards the face.

I recommend setting your hair overnight, but if that’s not possible leave the hair to set for at least three hours.

If you want to ‘cheat’ you can use curling tongs or a wand to create standing pin curls. Make sure to pin the hair while it cools – at least half an hour or so.

Step 2 – Taking out the curls

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

View from the top. Taking out the curls. Shirley Temple moment. Sectioning.

Once set, take out all your bobby pins and enjoy your bouncy, Shirley Temple curls for a moment or two.

Now, for any other vintage style like the pageboy or even a Marilyn do – the next step would be to break the curls up a bit and start brushing through. We do not want to do this here – each lovely curl needs to be retained!

So next we section the hair again, the same way you did to set it. Two side sections, a back section and the crown.

Step 3 – Teasing and more teasing

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Spray the base with product. Tease starting from the base. Work up the shaft of the hair. Until you have a complete bird’s nest.

Focusing on the top section for now, take one of your inch sized curls that has been so carefully preserved – and spray the base with either hairspray or a root lift/texture spray.

Take your pastiche brush or rat-tail comb and tease the base in a downward motion. Be sure to not move the ‘comb up then down and up then down’ over and over – Just brush downwards so the hair gathers then start an inch above that and comb downwards again building little birds nests on top of each other one downward stroke at a time.

Repeat until the top section is a giant teased mess. But don’t freak out here! Keep going. It’s important to get lots of volume in the top section.

Step 4 – Shaping and pinning

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Hair oil onto the palm. Brush midway down the shaft. Pin in place. Retaining wall next to your hairline.

Using hair oil or pomade (or a combo of both) smooth each of your inch sized ends to about midway up the shaft.

Then use your hairbrush and run it through the each small one inch section to about midway – being careful not to run it through the teasing you’ve just done. This is to bring definition back to your hair.

Make sure you are keeping the sections small each time you brush through to create lots of little spirals.

From here we need to keep some of the volume by putting in some reinforcing ‘retaining walls’ with bobby pins. Lift the very top section by your hairline up and tuck some bobby pins under. Do the same along the sides or anywhere you feel needs extra support.

Keep smoothing and pinning until you have a good base to work with. Remember you can always re-pin and shift things around later.

Step 5 – Smoothing and setting

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Take a side section. Smooth it. Pin it. Spray it.

Take a side section and smooth it with hair oil/pomade and then brush it neatly along the side of your head until it meets with the curly top section.

Pin the section above the ear pointing the bobby pins into the curly mop on your head. The pins should be easy to disguise.

Smooth and brush the curly from the sides, finding a way to blend them into your curly poodle and pin them in place.

Repeat on the other side and at the back.

Use hairspray to smooth and set the sides and back.

Top tips:

  • If you aren’t happy with the placement of your curls, spend some time re-pinning and shifting them around.
  • You may need to use your teasing comb again to add some extra volume and fill in some gaps or balance things out.
  • You may also find you need to spend extra time smoothing the end of your curl in your palm to reduce fly aways and to create a nice little spiral. This is the fiddly and time-consuming part! Some days the curls fall into place, some days they need extra manipulation.
  • You will use a heck load of bobby pins!
  • Add hair accessories like flowers and a headscarf to complete the look, or even hide untidy bits.

Try a half up, half down pinup poodle to mix things up. Instead of pinning the back, keep that down and brush through to smooth it out like a page-boy.

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Pinup Poodle - Miss Charlotte Cake

Fanciforia Foxglove is an award-winning burlesque performer and self-taught vintage styling connoisseur. She is loved for her comedic, theatrical style and for paying homage to the Hollywood starlets of yesteryear both onstage and off.

She loves to infuse pinup style into her everyday wardrobe and thrives for the thrill of discovering vintage gems at op shops. She’s a vintage girl in a modern world, with the style of a silver screen queen but the sensibilities of 21st Century woman.

She is a purist when it comes to vintage styling and swears by the no heat method of pin curling. She teaches the art of pin curing as well burlesque and co-produces the comedy show Lip Sync Battles Wellington.

She is also involved with the coolest dog walking event in NZ ‘The Big Dog Walk with Lots of Dogs’ and works for Equestrian Sports NZ by day.

Follow her Facebook Page


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