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Genres of Pinup

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There are MANY different kinds of pinup – some are synonymous with others and others are a bit on the fringe.  But, the pinup world is so fabulously wide and open, you can find a niche – or 2 -where you find a fit.  Some genres within pinup include traditional, glamour girl, pretty girl, cheesecake, rockabilly, alternative, Hollywood Noir, nose art (plane art) and tiki to name just a few.

I am going to explain a few of the more common ones, but if you would like to read more about some of the other genres, The Pinup Podcast has a great overview of 20+ different kinds.   It’s a great reference for anyone new to the pinup world.


PINUP (can also be called  bombshell, classic or traditional)

I think most people think of pinup as any image of a woman scantily clad and vintage in feel.   It usually shows a full length view of a woman usually in a form revealing outfit, like a skimpy dress, a swimsuit or lingerie.   They have glamorous hair and makeup and have definite sex appeal.   Vintage styling and elements are used. There is some debate about whether TRUE pinup includes body modifications (like tattoos).  True traditionalists do not include it, but with the amount of models with tattoos now, I think tattoos are acceptable.


Glamour girl pinups historically are usually wearing an evening gown, a fancy dress, but modern pinups often go the opposite direction and wear very little.  They are shown in unique locations or just in a studio with a solid background.  Alberto Vargas is probably the most famous glamour girl artist.


This is probably what you think of when you think of pinup – but you may not know it.  This genre includes all those images of models in situations where they find themselves in a little “trouble” – over-exaggerated mishaps and facial expressions in seemingly innocent situations.  There is usually stockings and garters or other undergarments exposed in the girls’ “oops” situations.  Some of the most popular artists and images fit in here including, Gil Elvgren, Freeman Elliot, Harry Ekman and Art Frahm.


Rockabilly is a modern term – used to describe music, but it is one of the most popular looks for pinup today.  It begins with a 50’s look – swing skirts, winged eyeliner, and very often tattoos.  Rockabilly is my personal favorite look.  Below is an image of some of my favorite modern models, Cherry Dollface, Bernie Dexter and Jessica D.


Tiki is a  pinup genre based on tropical themes and became popular after World War II- think Polynesia and Hawaii. Lots of grass skirts, tropical flowers and coconut shells.

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