Retro Glamour: Dita Von Teese Costumes

by Tara_W

Channel Dita Von Teese for a costume party, Halloween or any day you want to add a little retro glamour into your lifestyle.

Looking for Dita Von Teese costume ideas? This page is dedicated to emulating Dita's famous retro glam style. While there are no official Dita Von Teese costumes, you can easily put one together yourself.

Learning about the fashion styles of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's will help you to create a glamorous and authentic pin up girl look. There are many great options for dresses and shoes.

Pin up makeup is an essential part of any Dita Von Teese look and there are tutorials for both light and dark skin.

Your hair is your crowning glory and there are many vintage styles to choose from. There are links to several tutorials as well as videos on this page to help you achieve your look whether you have long or short hair.

To finish off there are many excellent additional resources about Dita Von Teese and vintage style.

Dita Von Teese's Glamorous Syle


Dita Von Teese draws her inspiration from the Hollywood Golden Era (1920s - 1960s). She is especially drawn to actresses Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich and Rita Hayworth as well as pin-up icon and fetish model Bettie Page. But instead of trying to be these women, she takes elements of their style and blends it in a way that works for her.

Dita is her own stylist and does all her own hair and make-up and she makes her own wardrobe decisions. Trained in costume design she has been known to orchestrate every detail of her own photo shoots. It's so inspiring to see that you don't need a team of stylists to be on the 'best dressed' list. If Dita can do it, so can you!

So if you want to dress like Dita Von Teese, whether it be for Halloween, a costume party, or everyday wear, then do as Dita does. Be inspired by her, incorporate elements of her style into your routine, but make it your own. Do what works for you, your figure and your complexion. Pretty soon you'll have your own retro glamour look that others will want to emulate.

Dita Von Teese
Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese Clothing - Pin Up Dresses

Dresses Inspired by the 1930's, 1940s & 1950s

Starting in the 1930's women's clothing emphasized shapely feminine curves in stark contrast with the shapeless flapper dresses that had been so popular during the 1920's. Broad shoulders - enhanced by shoulder pads or puffed sleeves - were popular and helped to show off a slender waist. Dresses were calf length by day and ankle to floor length for the evening. Lower necklines were also popular. 

By the 1940's it was acceptable to wear knee length skirts or dresses. The emphasis on feminine curves continued throughout the decade and dresses were often cinched at the waist with buttons up the front and a pleated skirt. Polka dots became popular as did floral prints throughout the summer and solid colors for winter.

Fashion in the the 1950's was toned down and more conservative than in the 40's. Shoulder pads were gone, skirts and dresses were mid-to-low calf length and accentuated a slender waist. Skirts were either narrow or full.

Pin Up Girl Dresses from Amazon

You could easily imagine Dita Von Teese wearing any one of these beautiful vintage inspired dresses

Pin Up Style: Wiggle & Swing Dresses

Modern terms for retro style

When shopping for vintage clothing from the 30's, 40's and 50's you will often encounter the terms 'Wiggle Dress' and 'Swing Dress'.

Wiggle Dress - A modern term used to describe what was called a 'pencil' or 'sheath' dress. These dresses enhanced the bust, accented a slim waist and had a hem that was narrower than the waist which accentuated curves and created a 'wiggle' when walking.

Swing Dress - A dress with a skirt that flows out from a gathered waist. The dress could be halter-style or have short sleeves.

You can find a great variety of pin up dresses on eBay. There are also some darling vintage 'wiggle' and 'swing' dresses at Unique Vintage.

Pink Lace and Black Swing Dress

Pink Lace and Black Swing Dress
Pink Lace and Black Swing Dress

Red Wiggle Dress with Leopard Trim

Red Wiggle Dress with Leopard Print Trim
Red Wiggle Dress with Leopard Print Trim

Dita Von Teese Costumes - Shoes

Pin Up Footwear

You would never catch Dita von Teese wearing a pair of modern shoes. She has a very large collection of vintage shoes that suit her style perfectly. If you're going to put together a pin-up look then shoes that play the part are essential. 

Shoe styles during the 1930's and 1940's were chunky with rounded toes and thick heels. Throughout the 30's two-tone shoes were popular as well as lace-up shoes and medium heels with an ankle strap. Leather was scarce during the 40's because it was required for the war and so reptile leather and mesh became popular materials for footwear. Cork or wood was a popular material for soles. Typical colors were black, brown, white, red or blue.

The 1950's brought about a dramatic shift in footwear and shoes were v-shaped at the toes. The 'stiletto' became very popular during this decade and shoes were purchased to match the color of each outfit.

Dita Von Teese, 2009
Dita Von Teese, 2009

Elements of Pin Up Girl Make-Up

Pin up girl makeup up is all about the art of creating a flawless matte finish. You won't see shimmery eye shadow or lips.  

Dita Von Teese describes the color or her foundation as 'alabaster' which she believes is perfect for creating a vintage Hollywood look. But, if you are tanned or have dark skin, then you will want to start with a foundation that is closer to your skin tone. The second makeup video below is an in depth tutorial for creating a classic pin up girl look with dark skin. There are some excellent tips and the final result is stunning.

Pin up makeup features neutral eye shadow so the eyes don't detract from the drama of the bright red lips. A glamorous effect is achieved by creating a cat-eye with liquid eyeliner and adding false eyelashes. The eyes are framed by high-arching filled in eyebrows. 

Light pink blush is lightly applied to the apples of the cheeks to create warmth and the look is finished with a bright red matte lipstick. Typically the lips should be lined with a darker shade of red and you can use a hint of gloss in the center of your lips to highlight them.

Video: Dita Von Teese Pin Up Makeup Tutorial

Video: Pin-Up Girl Makeup Tutorial for Dark Skin

Dita Von Teese Beauty Book

'Your Beauty Mark' is Available for Pre-Order

Dita Von Teese has a new book about the art of beauty coming out January 28th, 2014. In her book she shares her beauty secrets from makeup techniques to her various red carpet hairstyles. She also includes her skincare, diet and exercise tips.

Your Beauty Mark: All You Need to Get the Hair, Makeup, Glow, and Glam is filled with full-color photographs and the beauty techniques are accompanied by step-by-step images.

Order yours today. Available for pre-order from Amazon. 

Creating Dita Von Teese Hairstyles

The best pin-up hairstyles for short hair are finger waves and pin curls. For medium and long hair you can really achieve any of the vintage hairstyles.

1930s Hairstyles

Hair in the 1930s was longer than the bob that was so fashionable in the 1920s but shorter than the 1940s and 1950s. Hair was either parted in the center or to one side and immaculately coiffed with feminine waves or curls framing the face. Two popular hairstyles during this era were the finger wave and pin curls.

Finger waves were achieved by working damp hair between the fingers shaping it with a comb back and forth into an 'S' shape and setting with hair lotion. No heat was used to during styling.

Pin curls were also created with damp hair. Small sections were rolled up around a finger, then carefully secured to the head with bobby pins. This style could either be worn as is or carefully combed out for a head of glamorous loose curls. 

1940s Hairstyles

During the 1940s fabric for clothing was scarce due to World War II so much emphasis was placed on creating elaborate hairstyles. Shoulder length hair was favored and often styled into soft feminine waves using the rag-curling technique. The 'deep part', hair parted above the eyebrow arch, was also fashionable.  Popular hairstyles during this decade were the victory roll and chignon. 

Victory Rolls came to represent the victory of WWII but they also served as an elegant way to keep the hair off the face. Although there are many ways to go about creating a victory roll, most techniques involve parting the hair, curling the hair away from the forehead into a loop, securing with bobby pins and spreading out the loop to form a roll. This style could have one, two or many rolls on top of the head and and rest of the hair could be worn long or pinned up and secured with a scarf.

The chignon was a popular up-do that involved gathering the hair into a twisted bun at the nape of the neck. The hair was often wrapped in a scarf to keep the hair secure since many women were working in the factories while the men were away at war.

Rita Hayworth (Soft waves, deep part)
Rita Hayworth (Soft waves, deep part)
Marlene Dietrich (Finger waves)
Marlene Dietrich (Finger waves)

1950s Hairstyles

During the 1950s the war was over and so was rationing. The women were no longer working in the factories and this decade resulted in very feminine and very glamorous and elaborate hairstyles. In addition, hairspray was invented leading to all new possibilities. Accordingly, volume was the key to most hairstyles of this era and often it was piled on top of the head in a beehive, bouffant or pompadour.

The term bouffant comes from the french 'bouffer' meaning 'to puff'. Hair was styled by back-combing and spraying with hairspray to create volume. The bouffant was the precursor to the beehive.

The beehive was achieved by teasing and piling the hair on top of the head into a cone shape, sometimes worn with a headscarf. This look could either be worn with all the hair piled up or with half the hair in a beehive and the rest worn down.

Pompadour hairstyles involve sweeping back hair from the face and setting it high above the forehead. The rest of the hair can either be worn in loose waves or swept back as well.


Betty Grable (Pompadour)
Betty Grable (Pompadour)
Dita Von Teese (Beehive)
Dita Von Teese (Beehive)

Video: Dita Von Teese Hair Waves Tutorial

Video: Dita Von Teese Inspired Hair

Pin curls and a French twist

Video: Victory Rolls Hair Tutorial

Poll: Which Era Will Inspire Your Dita Von Teese-Style Clothing, Hair and Makeup?

Dita Von Teese Costume Ideas

Further reading about Dita's style and beauty routine

Dita Von Teese Style 
This is an excellent resource for those looking to see what types of clothing, hairstyles, makeup and accessories Dita has worn. This site has hundreds of pictures of Dita sorted into categories (handbags, shoes, clothes, accessories, jewelry, hair, make-up).

Dita Von Teese's Column at XOJane
Dita is an active columnist with XOJane. Reading her articles on skincare, hair care, and dressing glamorously is very informative for anyone wanting to add a little retro glamour to their beauty routine. 

Resources for Vintage Fashion

Read more about the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's

The History of Shoes
This is a great website detailing vintage shoes from antiquity to the 1980's. 

Glamour Daze Vintage Fashion Guide
An informative guide of men's fashion and women's wardrobe and beauty from the 1900's to the 1960's.

Vintage Fashion Guild 
A fashion timeline from 1800 to 1970. Each section is accompanied by photos of retro fashion.

Updated: 09/30/2013, Tara_W
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Dita Von Teese Costumes Commentary

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WriterArtist on 05/24/2014

The retro era costumes keep coming back again and again. They are stunning.

Tara_W on 08/30/2013

@WriterArtist I agree, I absolutely adore this look.

dustytoes on 08/29/2013

This look is great if you have the body for it!

WriterArtist on 08/29/2013

The retro costumes and the pin-up girls can give a run to the modern trends. They are so glamourous.

Tara_W on 08/24/2013

@MaggiePowell I'm sure you could. It's just a matter of finding what works for you and your own individual style : )

MaggiePowell on 08/23/2013

The vintage lifestyle has a serious following here on Alameda, where I live. I love the glamour, just never thought I could pull it off...

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