A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Bettie Page

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Bettie Page

When you think of a fashion icon from the past, who is the first person that comes to mind? Marilyn MonroeAudrey HepburnEdie Sedgwick, perhaps? While all three of those women have enviable styles that we absolutely love, there are so many other fashionable women that have graced the history pages.This biweekly column focuses on just that: unexpected and out-of-the-box fashion icons from the past. We feature women who have not only made an impact, but also have distinct signature styles that we can still draw inspiration from today.

If you haven't seen them already, be sure to check out our other "A History of Style" posts on Amelia EarhartBillie HolidayJoan JettLouise BrooksDorothy DandridgeElizabeth TaylorEdith HeadMary Tyler MooreSylvia PlathEdith Bouvier BealeMarlene DietrichFrida KahloCyndi LauperIsadora DuncanPam GrierC. Z. GuestDebbie HarryJosephine BakerOsa Johnson and Jean Seberg.

This week, we'll be taking a closer look at pin-up model Bettie Page's sexy, sultry, and totally retro-glam sense of style. Read on to learn more about Bettie's life and unique style, then check out some outfit ideas to help you channel her look for yourself:

Bettie Page Style 1

5 Facts About Bettie Page

  • Bettie Mae Page was born on April 22, 1923 in Nashville, Tennessee. She was the salutatorian of her high school class and recieved a scholarship to Peabody College. Although she intended to become a teacher, Bettie soon fell in love with acting, eventually graduating from college with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
  • In 1949, Bettie moved to New York City where she hoped to find work as an actress. Although her acting career never really took off, Bettie began a lucrative career as a pin-up model. She was extremely popular due to her sultry, yet wholesome poses which later earned her the nickname the "Queen of Pinups."
  • Bettie moved beyond pin-up modeling when she began to work with photographer Irving Klaw, who produced a series of sadomasochistic and fetishistic films and photos featuring Bettie, which were considered quite scandalous for this time period. In fact, Bettie was at the center of a controversy when a US Senate Committee investigation was invoked against Klaw, which resulted in him being forced to close his business and destroy most of his film negatives.
  • By 1957, Bettie had permanently relocated from New York to Florida, although she continued to work as a pin-up model. However, the very next year Bettie became a born-again Christian and ultimately made the decision to retire from modeling.
  • After several decades out of the spotlight, Bettie's pin-up photos saw a resurgence in popularity during the 1980s. This renewed popularity resulted in Bettie -- who had claimed to be penniless -- receiving royalties from numerous sources who were using her likeness, which allowed her to live comfortably before passing away in 2008 at the age of 83.
Bettie Page Style 2

Bettie's Style 101

  • Sweet meets sultry. Just like her pin-up photos, Bettie's style was full of contractions. She mixed conservative pieces with skintight ones or rocked a revealing bikini in an adorable polka dot print for a style that was both innocent and full of sex appeal. Channel Bettie's style for yourself by juxtaposing different styles of clothing to create a one-of-a-kind look.
  • Queen of Curves. Bettie once said "I never kept up with the fashions. I believed in wearing what I thought looked good on me," which is a mantra we should all follow. For example, Bettie knew how to play up her hourglass figure with high-waisted skirts, swimsuits and shorts, or by adding a belt to define her waistline. Take note from Bettie's body confidence by learning to dress for your own awesome body.
  • Bangin'.Bettie's trademark short-cropped bangs defined her style just as much - if not more than - the actual clothes she wore. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Bettie's signature 'do has been emulated by everyone from Katy Perry and Dita Von Teese to Beyonce and Christina Aguilera. If you're feeling like you want to switch up your hair, try out Bettie's bangs for yourself or discover your own unique signature hairstyle.

Outfits for Inspiration

Outfit #1: Beach Bunny

Bettie Page Inspired Outfit 1


Product Info: Swimsuit- Urban Outfitters, Sunglasses- Urban Outfitters, Bag- Maurices, Sandals- Endless, Cover-Up- Topshop

Outfit #2: Pin-Up Perfection

Bettie Page Inspired Outfit 2


Product Info: Dress- ModCloth, Beaded Bracelet- Stella & Dot, Anchor Bracelet- Gorjana, Hair Clip- Forever 21, Sandals- DSW

Outfit #3: Retro-Inspired Chic

Bettie Page Inspired Outfit 3


Product Info: Top- ASOS, Shorts- Forever 21, Bag- Nine West, Wedges- Seychelles, Lipstick- NARS' "Roman Holiday", Earrings- Kate Spade

What do you think?

Do you find Bettie's style inspiring? What do you think of her look? Would you wear any of these outfits? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!