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Pinup Polly








Pinup Polly




Here Digger talks to Caroline Horrocks at recently-formed Pinup Polly. Caroline loves vintage and, having established a family, Caroline decided to create an online boutique that brings together some of the lesser-known vintage brands from around the world.

Many of these 40s and 50s designs are exclusive to Pinup Polly...



Digger: Hello Caroline. How are you?

Caroline: Iím okay thanks.

Digger: Can you please tell us your background?

Caroline: I donít have a lot of background really. Iím thirty now and met my husband when I was twenty-one and we decided to put his career first. So we moved around three or four times. As my husband was earning, we thought weíd have children while we were younger and then Iíll do it the other way around and have a career after.

Digger: I wish Iíd gone around the world when I was very young.

Caroline: Yes, thatís one thing I do kind of regret because my brother travelled several times round Ė heís slightly older than me. One dayÖ (Laughs) When they're grown up Iíll still be young and fit enough.

Digger: Yes, you will be. Fifty is the new forty and forty the new thirty so youíll be alright. So, it's a new business Caroline. Where did you get the name and whatís it all about?

Caroline: We started about three months ago, though I did originally start all the prep in May and the name just came out of nowhere at the pub.

Digger: Was it a two oíclock in the morning in the pub brainstorm light-bulb moment?!

Caroline: No, I always knew I wanted my own business. My father had his own business, my brother's got his own business and I wanted to do something. And they say you should do something youíre interested in. I was already selling a little bit of vintage fashion on eBay.

Digger: Did you do okay on that?

Caroline: Yes, but it's a lot of effort for a little reward when you're sourcing stuff and then selling it on eBay.

Digger: Do you wear vintage on a day-to-day basis Caroline?

Caroline: Yes I do. I have a fifties dress on now...

Digger: Did you see the programme on BBC 4 - it was about David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton in New York? Thatís worth seeing, if only for the vintage look and clothes that Shrimpton wears. It was called Weíll Take Manhattan and was about them going there for a Vogue photo shoot in the days just before The Beatles broke through and British music and popular culture became the centre of the world.

Caroline: Cool. Iíll have to take a look at that.

Digger: Please... go on Caroline.

Caroline: ... So I was searching for the name and for some stock and said to my husband ďI know what Iíll call it, Iíll call it Pinup Polly.Ē And actually I really liked that having said it on a whim. I found out no-one else had the name. I found that, as I was approaching people, it was a name that everyone remembered.

Digger: Are people expecting it to be a bit risquť as a result of the name?

Caroline: I think my original worry was that people would think I was a pinup model with that name but at least it sticks in the memory. I was at the bank and said who I was and they said ďOh yes, I remember the name. We were talking about the name in the office.Ē So thatís a good sign.

Digger: Itís alliteration when the words start with the same letter. Very useful foe the memory.

Caroline: It is. Pinup Polly.

Digger: A good way to remember things. Weíre very simple animals, aren'tí we? (Both laugh)

Caroline: Yes, weíre all trademarked up and everything now.

Digger: So tell us more about the vintage-inspired clothes and accessories you offer.

Caroline: The problem with vintage fashion is that thereís less and less of it and itís very expensive now and it doesnít last very long. I bought a lot of my own dresses and the zips go, you get holes in them and you canít really wash them properly Ė everything has to be dry cleaned.

Digger: Somebody mentioned to me the other day that ladies used to get a lot of wear out of them so some are quite threadbare to start with.

Caroline: Yes, they probably would only have had five or six outfits which they would have accessorised. So with my own dress sense I was looking towards reproduction fifties fashion. I came across loads of companies and thatís where it started really because there are loads of great companies out there worldwide. There are a few very well-known companies that you can buy on other sites in the UK but I guess I was trying to find our USP Ė more smaller brands, a lot of them run by women with small companies and getting those into one shop. And theyíre all made with limited quantities and I think the cut and the fabrics are great. Thatís how it started.

Digger: You mentioned the USPs there. Thatís how youíre trying to stand out, by bringing together the smaller brands, not all the obvious names and trying to source from the UK if you can?

Caroline: Yes. A lot of them are in the States or Australia, Sweden. They are quite worldwide because obviously in America itís such a big thing out there Ė Rockabilly fashion, so a lot are from the USA. But thereís a lot from Europe too. In Berlin thereís a big Rockabilly scene as well. As itís becoming more and more fashionable more are popping up.

Digger: The retro thingís quite big in Germany as well, although their interest in stuff is mainly between the wars. Why are vintage and retro such a big thing generally do you think?



Caroline: We put an advert in the vintage section in Vogue a couple of months back and they have just put an ad in for us again for free and thereís a big fifties special in there next month. I think itís because itís classic isnít it? Itís created to flatter the female figure and looks great and thatís why I think it keeps coming back again and again.

Digger: Are there any issues with the modern female figure and trying to squeeze it into older clothes?

Caroline: The waist sizes back then were tiny and thatís why reproduction vintage has an advantage. And also the heights Ė I have an old chart used for models from the fifties and the highest it stops at is five foot six, which surprises me.

Digger: And youíre probably taller than that.

Caroline: Yes, Iím five foot seven and I would say a modern UK ten or twelve would be a sixteen in vintage terms.

Digger: Wow.

Caroline: That just goes to show Ė I guess rationing in this country was maybe why the waist was slightly smaller. Not a lot of good nutrition in the forties, I suppose.

Digger: Iím a fatty and have been one since I was about twenty. I was only slim in my teens when I discovered girls but now I am the same as 40% of the other people who are overweight Ė I used to be unusual but now everybodyís got bigger.

Caroline: Yes, itís the diet basically.

Digger: I do exercise and cut down but canít seem to shift more than a few pounds.

Caroline: I hate exercise Ė my husband got up and went for a fifteen mile run this morning. Heís doing 45 miles in March.

Digger: Heís got all those pasties to work off. (Both laugh)

Caroline: I was thinking when I was dropping my little boy off to school this morning. He must have different genes because I was absolutely freezing and didnít want to get out the car Ė there must be something different with him because you would never get me running up a massive hill in the cold.

Digger: These runners claim they warm up with exercise but I wouldnít do. Thank God weíre all different anyway. So what about your retro and vintage passions personally apart from the clothes Caroline?

Caroline: I like the Christian Dior new look Ė the big white skirts and the petticoats rather than the wiggle dresses. Iím much more of a full-skirted girl and I like all the lingerie as well because it all nips you in Ė the corsets and things. You donít have to worry too much about what you eat.

Digger: I was talking to a lady the other day who told me that corsets for men are a big thing now.

Caroline: Ah! They used to be. You could get them for your back.

Digger: This was for people who are using them for waist training.

Caroline: Oh yes, I see. I know Next launched some Shapewear tops and fashion things.

Digger: I just wonder where all the bulges end up going.

Caroline: My mum always says that ĖďThe trouble is it just spills out somewhere else.Ē Itís got to go somewhere!

Digger: Just like when you squeeze a squeezy ball? What do the forties and fifties mean to you Caroline?

Caroline: I think the femininity and the idealism Ė weíre talking about fifties Americana. My Nan passed away last year Ė she was in her nineties but she said ďWe didnít have all this in Britain in the fifties. We couldnít afford it and didnít have any money, but there was that escapism watching all the films and a big night out with all the glamorous stars with us wanting to emulate them.Ē I think definitely thereís an idealism and also it was slightly conservative as well with the fashions for the older generation which we donít have today. And it was the youth as well, the teenagers.

Digger: 'Yoof!'

Caroline: (Laughs) Yes, yoof. It was the first time you didnít dress like your parents. My mum was a child/teenager in the fifties and she said there was a rebellion against what your mum and dad wore.

Digger: Thatís true Ė you used to see young people dressed in a version of what their parents were wearing and they looked forty or fifty when they were only in their teens or twenties. Suddenly that all changed.

Caroline: Yes. When my children were born I was looking at some of the vintage fifties clothes and was shocked by the trousers for the little boys and so on. I guess itís because I have an hourglass shape, which is why I love the fifties, because my mumís only five feet tall and her youth was in the sixties and she is tiny. She had a 22Ē waist, she looked like Twiggy and she could get away with wearing things like that but I donít get away with things like that at all. But also I think the sixties is such a striking look, isnít it? It makes you stand out.

Digger: I like the decades through from the twenties right through to the sixties Ė I think theyíve all got a discernible look and even with the austerity of the forties, they still did a lot with it.

Caroline: Yes, the forties look is beautiful with all the hats and everything. Some of the hats Iíve seen I think ďOoh, Iíd like to wear thatĒ and then I think maybe Iíd stand out too much!

Digger: Until the late sixties we were aspiring towards America Ė we just didnít have all the stuff. We saw their kids driving cars, colour TVs in all rooms and we couldnít believe what we saw in the films and TV from the USA. Weíve caught up now but it was definitely aspirational then. Who are your typical customers?

Caroline: My typical customer is actually north of the country. Iíve been quite surprised, but they really like dressing up.

Digger: How could you have known that? Strange isnít it?

Caroline: It is strange. When I did some market research I did think of Chester and Newcastle where women do like to dress up.

Digger: Liverpool and Yorkshire are both big for vintage as well.

Caroline: Yes, we had some customers from Merseyside and that was surprising. But when I thought about it I wasnít too surprised because my brother went to university in Newcastle and Iíve seen how they like to get dressed up.

Digger: No jokes about the north being fifty years behind here! That north/south divide thing doesnít seem relevant anymore. What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of what you are doing?

Caroline: I think working for myself Ė having small children thatís good. And itís nice meeting people at vintage fairs. Maybe next year weíll do some of the bigger festivals. I think Goodwoodís a good one.



Digger: Itís in Northamptonshire this year, just down the road from me. Twinwood is a good one to go to too. They are very into the look and image there and they all love to dress up in forties and fifties and to dance. So what of the future Caroline?

Caroline: Just to grow the business and in an ideal world Iíd love to have a shop but I donít think itís really worth it at the moment. The high street costs are just so expensive, especially in Exeter. Itís not like Bath or Bristol, where youíve got all the nice little lanes with shops in. I think the cheapest shop in Exeter is about £30,000 a year which is off the beaten track so I donít know. Just growing it and getting a lot more brands in and travelling around the country more and getting out there, I think.

Digger: Thatís important. Premises are a nice to have but such an overhead for a start-up. The Internet does give you a low-cost option.

Caroline: For a shop you have the rates and the rent and then you need all the stock Ė a lot more to kit the shop out and to sell. Iím quite happy at the moment just having it online and seeing what happens.

Digger: Itís a good way to do it and youíve not just got the UK market, youíll start to attract people from overseas as well. Sounds like you have things pretty well mapped out Caroline. The best of British to you.

Caroline: Thanks David. 



Accessories, Dresses, Lingerie, Jewellery

Pin Up Polly Limited is a bijou British company that stocks chic, glamorous pin up, vintage inspired and vintage reproduction dresses, lingerie and accessories.

Our stock has been carefully chosen from small international and UK based companies and independent designers whose talent and passion are evident in their unique products. Some of these are exclusive to Pin Up Polly.
Pin Up Polly brings the glamour of vintage styling to the modern woman with classic, timeless pieces that echo the fashions of the 1940ís and 1950ís and will enhance your wardrobe.

Possibly you are looking for a unique knock-out dress for a special occasion, a fabulous hat and handbag for a wedding, or maybe a day at the races. Or if, like us, you love to recreate that retro 1950ís ďMad MenĒ look on a daily basis then Pin Up Polly is the boutique for you.

Or call us on 07703721047









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