Pinup & Vintage Style for the Budget Conscious – Miss Mabel May

Vintage Style - MIss Charlotte Cake

Today, I will be sharing with you my go to budget savers for wearing pinup and vintage style, as well as a few items that I consider staples in my wardrobe.

So I may have only started my vintage journey last year, but during this time I have been a university student. That means saving money wherever possible and keeping within a budget.

Do your research

Now I went all out and spent loads of money converting my whole wardrobe into a vintage style one in a span of around 6 months. However looking back I think perhaps taking more time and doing more research into what I liked, not just what everyone else was doing, may have lessened my need to buy so many more items. Whilst I love to shop, like I really do, I love nothing more than a bargain!

There are a number of stores in New Zealand that stock the same items, so hunt around and compare the prices. Whilst, I love being able to support local businesses, sometimes it is cheaper to buy directly from the overseas companies. Look out for sales as they are frequent and if you are prepared to wait you can grab some amazing pieces for an absolute bargain. Also look out for offers of ‘free shipping’, many companies in New Zealand offer nationwide free shipping on all purchases and it is a great way to save some money.

Op shops

I’m pretty sure that everyone already knows that op shops are like a vintage and pinup girls best friend. However, keep a look out as many stores now run special Vintage Sales and hold a lot of their best items for these specific events. You really can’t expect to find your dream items all the time, but for many of the basics op shops are just the perfect place to go.

I also wouldn’t discount Antique Stores. I have found some very competitive prices in some antique stores. Op shops are starting to catch on to the love of vintage and I am sure you have all noticed an increase in prices with regards to vintage items. So I definitely wouldn’t discount antique stores and fairs, as you may just find a real treasure for a great price.

Be open to other era’s

I’m going to be very honest here and admit that I started my vintage journey only wanting to wear 1950’s inspired or original items. This quickly changed, when I discovered the 40’s styles and how I loved to wear them. After watching Mad Men, I fell in love with the 60’s and I have always loved the 1920’s and 1930’s, but never thought I would wear it, but now I do.

The reason I say be open to other era’s is that restricting yourself, restricts the type of items you might buy. Being open to wearing other era’s opens limitless opportunities and you may find more items in op shops more often. I have yet to find a 1950’s style dress more 1980’s does 1920’s in an op shop, but have found loads of 1960’s pieces. Personally I love being able to mix it and wear things from throughout time.

Be mindful of makeup/beauty products

So before I wore vintage style I wore very little makeup. In my vintage journey I quickly discovered that makeup can be really expensive and it also happens to be the area where I probably save the most money. I’m sure you will have all seen those mailers advertising makeup sales, well I LOVE them. I will go along and pick up whatever red lipsticks I can find as I really can’t afford to be super picky. The same goes for hair spray. I buy whatever I find at the supermarket on sale. As much as I would love to buy the expensive products, for someone on a tight budget it really isn’t viable.

Now I have nothing against buying a beautiful expensive lipstick or two as I certainly couldn’t resist the charm of Besame. However, I try to wear it on special occasions and just use the cheaper stuff for every day so I am not constantly pouring loads of money into my makeup.

Another little tip for you pale skinned women (like myself) is to see what foundation and powders they have at these makeup sales. I usually find one pale enough for me there, as they aren’t often the top sellers.

Budget Pinup - Miss Charlotte Cake


When I started my vintage style journey I found out that my family had held on to loads of stuff from the past. Many of my gloves have come from friends and family members that think it is delightful these items are getting used again.
It is important to make sure that people are OK with giving the stuff to you and that you express your gratitude. I try to make sure that anyone who has passed on a beloved item gets to see or have a photo of me wearing and loving it. I love to learn the history behind items I have brought and wear them with pride.

It is not only physical things that family can give you, but loads of helpful tips and tricks, especially the older members of your family. My Great-Grandmother passed on some very useful tips for getting stains out and also about starching a cotton petticoat she gave me. Knowledge and stories are perhaps some of the most wonderful things that our families can impart on us.

Finally I have a couple of staple items of my wardrobe that I found created a solid foundation to build upon…

1. A plain block colour dress

For me this was the first dress I brought and it still remains in my wardrobe as it is versatile in its ability to be accessorised in different ways with any number of colours.

Pinup on a budget - Miss Charlotte Cake

2. A floral skirt

My floral skirt has a whole range of colours in it and I draw on these in my tops and accessories.

Pinup on a budget - Miss Charlotte Cake

3. Cardigans

I have at least 8 cardigans in my wardrobe that can be paired with dresses or pants or skirts. To begin with I brought bright ones that stood out. These proved to be less versatile compared with my black and white cardigans. I brought this later on and use them much more often.

Budget Pinup - Miss Charlotte Cake

I hope you all enjoyed this blog and can go forth with some useful tips!

I’m a vintage lover who lives and breathes the bygone eras of the 1920’s to the 1960’s every day. I’m a university student in New Zealand, which takes up the majority of my time. However, in my spare time I love to read, bake, ride my horse and study history . I’m also currently learning how to do cross stitch and sew.

Read more about the lovely Miss Mabel May on her blog 🙂 


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