Ah, Bettie Page. The queen of pin-ups. Nearly anyone in the vintage scene has heard of the dark haired beauty who raised eyebrows in the 1950s with her scantily clad and fetish photos. She’s become a pop icon, with songs mentioning her and even a few written about her. She’s been immortalized in photographs, graphic work and illustrations (most notably by Olivia) and most recently in a clothing line.
For sometime Bettie Page Clothing was only available at the first Bettie Page store which opened in, where else? Vegas, baby! As well as various “alternative” shops. I bought my first Bettie Page piece at a roller derby store! However, many of the specialty shops only carried a handful of items, instead of the whole collection. Which left you to purchase on-line. But in recent years, the company has increased its brick-and-mortar presence across the country. The latest shop? My current city, Portland!
I recently went in and immediately fell in love. Pink walls. Leopard print. Pictures of Bettie herself. Not to mention racks upon racks of vintage inspired garments! What’s not to love?
I was able to chat with the store manager, Gwen, a fellow feisty redhead. “It’s an awesome company. I love shopping here and I love working here even more,” says Gwen. When asked what she loves about the clothing itself, Gwen responded with “It’s the most flattering! It’s feminine, sexy, but not vulgar.” She also notes that the line is not just for the rockabilly crowd, “Retro [fashion] has a great modesty to it, it translates to the workplace to dinner with your mother-in-law.” Gwen emphasized that the clothing is about embracing your body and your femininity. “The dresses are designed by a woman, Tatyana, and it shows.” The dress are all about curves and Gwen says “we’re very body positive here. It’s okay to be sexy.”
While most of my wardrobe is real vintage and I rarely buy new, I understand that vintage inspired has its place in the vintage fashion world. First of all, new stuff is available in a range of sizes, offering up the answer to the gals who complain that they can never find vintage in their size. The Bettie Page line offers sizes XXS to 4X, so you’re bound to find your size. “I love the range,” says Gwen of the sizing, “We offer a lot of the hard-to-fit sizes, from real petite to the plus size women.” Of the plus-sizes, Gwen mentioned how in many stores, the plus size garments are pushed into almost of corner of shame that offer very little options in both style and in being body positive, “People come in asking for our ‘Plus Size Corner’ and I have to say ‘It’s all over.'”
Additionally, some items are just too difficult to find vintage, such as blouses and most often of all, pants! So this is where lines such as Bettie Page come in quite handy. Furthermore, I find that vintage repro is perfect for traveling and events that run risk of major party fouls. Because, let’s face it, if you are forced to lose or ruin a dress, you’d much rather it be a new dress that can be easily replaced than a unique, one-of-a-kind vintage garment!
What makes shopping at a Bettie Page store different than shopping on-line? Gwen explains that it’s just “trying it on!” Everyone is shaped differently, and some of us may have a little more in some areas and maybe a little less in others, and these things “are not accounted for in a size chart.” An important thing to note is that the sizing of the garments can vary from garment to garment. Some garments are made of fabric that include a lot of stretch, while others include no stretch at all, but the garments feel well made, and are comfortable. Also, there is just the experience! What gal doesn’t want to stand in front of a three-way mirror in a shop of pink walls, pin-ups and leopard print? “There’s a couch of the men to sit on and look at their ladies, and they love it!” And how true is that? You can’t exactly get your man’s opinion on something on you from the internet! Also you don’t have a wonderful staff doting on you! That size not working out for you? Let one of the lovely sales staff help you out and pick up the next size up or down for you! “We’re here for them so they can look fabulous.”
As for myself, I bought this adorable jumper! A swimsuit for my trip to Palm Springs in a few weeks, and two of their bow belts! And Portland store bonus: They have cute Bettie Page Clothing reusable totes!
The Portland Bettie Page Clothing store is located at 818 SW Broadway in the heart of downtown Portland, less than a block from Pioneer Courthouse Square.
“Made In…” Disclosure
Bettie Page garments are made in China.
December 2014 UPDATE: After a legal battle Bettie Page Clothing designer Tatyana Khomyakova parted ways with the company owning rights to Page’s name and image in 2014, and all Bettie Page Clothing Boutiques became Tatyana Boutiques. Their items continue to be made in China. But recently the Bettie Page estate decided to continue their clothing line with Bettie Page Clothing, with all items made in the USA, though of imported fabrics. I have yet to see any of the new Bettie Page clothing items in rockabilly/alternative stores, or order any items on-line.