Last month Jaimee Beck was crowned winner of Miss Pinup New Zealand, the pageant that celebrates vintage style and women of all shapes and sizes. Now the 29-year-old pinup model and lover of 1940s glamour, who goes by the stage name Velvet DeCollete, is encouraging other women to get out of those black clothes and embrace glamour and femininity.
A typical Sunday can be really hectic for me. I’m a fashion designer by trade, I make bespoke wedding gowns and I also co-produce events. An average Sunday for me can be anything from seeing clients and doing consults to packing down after a massive event. If I’m really lucky my husband, James, and I will have the day off together, we’ll watch a couple of movies and I’ll spend four hours cooking a roast. My roast of choice is pork because I love the crackling. I’ve got it down to a fine art.
Op shops call my name – I can’t drive past one without stopping. If we’re out on a Sunday and we’re going past an op shop there’s always a massive swerve so we can stop. I find a lot of my clothes and accessories in op shops. I’m a big fan of upcycling and mend and make do. If I want a particular item or if I need an outfit for a special occasion, then I make it myself. My No. 1 tip for op shopping is to try stuff on. You’ve got to take the time to try clothes on, otherwise you can flick straight past something amazing and never know.
I love the glamour of pinup, but it took me years to find the confidence. I have always admired women who dress in the vintage style. It was my mum who first exposed me to it when I was a little kid; she often dressed in clothes from the 1940s and 50s, but it wasn’t until three years ago that I had the confidence to wear it in my everyday life. I’m naturally a very shy person, so I started doing burlesque classes to raise my confidence – thankfully, it worked and that was the catalyst that gave me the confidence to wear vintage. Women in the pinup community are also really supportive and encouraging when it comes to wearing glamorous, over-the-top outfits that exaggerate your femininity.
Just like everyone else, I wear jeans and a T-shirt, but I do it my way. Rather than your average jeans I have reproduction 1950s-style jeans and blouses that I wear daily as my run-around clothes, so that even my average hanging-out clothes still look quite retro. I mostly find jeans online, but there are a couple of stockists in New Zealand I use, such as 19black and Kabella Baby.
I can spend up to two hours doing my hair and makeup. I don’t do that every day, but if I’m going out to dinner or getting dressed up for a photo shoot then I’ll put in the effort. Liquid eyeliner is a musthave to achieve that classic 1940s cat eye flick. I love to put my hair up in the victory rolls hairstyle, which is two voluminous curls of hair that sit on top of the head. To get the look you set your hair in hot rollers, then backcomb the heck out of it and set it with a lot of hairspray.
New Zealand women are very conservative dressers on the whole. We wear a lot of black clothes, jeans and T-shirts and I think we’re a little afraid to really express ourselves through fashion. Modern fashion takes away some of our femininity. Chucking on trackpants and a hoodie is so easy and it’s comfortable, even I’m tempted sometimes, but it doesn’t boost your confidence the same way as wearing something that makes you feel special.