Phew, these heat waves are certainly a fab excuse to get all my summer clothes out – I thought they’d stay hidden until the end of July! I’m keeping cool with a trusty fan (thwoorp) and plenty of water. The best thing about summer for me is that around 70% of my wardrobe is tropical/tiki themed, and although I’m comfortable wearing this style all year round, it’s particularly encouraged now! What’s even better is that I’m able to add to my collection, as both the high street and independent brands produce clothing, accessories and home wears themed with tropical beaches in mind. You can’t walk down a British high street at this time of year without seeing something patterned with pineapples, palm leaves or florals, and this is all to trick you into focusing on cocktails, sun and sand (instead of our overcast skies and warm lager!).
What is tiki? Well, it now has two meanings. Tiki Gods mainly come from Polynesian mythology. They are commonly depicted in statues, carved from wood or stone and are mostly from Central Eastern Polynesia. The word Tiki has now been adopted to describe anything that is themed or associated with the customs and objects from the tropical islands of the South Pacific. The imagery of Tiki Statues, hibiscus flowers, palm trees and the sea has always enchanted me. It’s a life-long dream of mine to go island hopping around Polynesia and witness what’s left of the culture myself.
Modern pin-up culture is of course heavily influenced by the mid-20th century, and there are many variations on vintage pin-up looks and styles. My personal favourites are the tiki-influenced looks, and what I have most of in my collection. I know there may be some of you who are worried this can come across as cultural appropriation, but instead try and think of it as an extension of a lost culture, and what it has become to this day. There is no mockery of the culture, and no inappropriate usage of sacred or traditional dress.
Speaking of dress, I’ve got one to show you! In this blog post, I’m modelling the stunning Summer Fern Lyra for you, from the Lady Voluptuous S/S18 range. This dress has Patti Cakes written all over it – minty hues, hibiscus flowers, tropical foliage and is one of the most comfortable plus-size pinup dresses, the Lyra. You may be no stranger to Lyra, as she’s a firm favourite with many vintage loving plus-size bloggers including George(who helped create it!), Hayley and Alex.
Lyra has a full circle skirt, a cross over bust cut perfectly so that it doesn’t expose even the most busty of ladies, a sash to tighten and cinch the waist, and is available in 3/4 sleeves and short flared angel sleeves. At the moment, only the short sleeved Lyras are being offered, but I’m sure the longer sleeves will be back for A/W18. The material chosen for Lyra is incredible – it never creases, drapes beautifully, feels slinky and washes well. No matter the pattern, the material has great stretch and doesn’t become transparent (which is why Lyra doesn’t need to be lined!).
I always wear a size 22/24 in Lyra, and I have to say it’s bang on. You can tighten the sash to fit a 22, but there’s enough room for a 24 in the cut, not including the stretch in the material. I chose to team my Lyra with my mint green petticoat (from America) as it’s yet to get an outing and was too perfect a match to leave in my wardrobe! I’ve happily worn my Lyra without a petticoat too, and the fabric is just heavy enough to give it a beautiful swing when you walk or dance. There’s no mistaking it’s a full circle, and the excess material drapes over your curves beautifully without clinging.
I chose to shoot my Lyra with one of my favourite photographers, Olivia J Photography, and we managed to get some private time in Lola Lo, a tiki themed chain bar which has a location on the Deansgate Locks, Manchester. I think you’ll agree she did a stunning job with these images and I would fully recommend her as a photographer. She’s adorable too! As I had a fab location and a fab photographer booked, I decided to bring my other Lyra dress (in a now sold-out fabric, sorry!) and shoot a different colourway. I’ve worn this dress to a summer wedding as well as a night out, and always get compliments over the brightly coloured orchids.
So how do you begin a tiki pin-up look? I like to work from top to bottom. Vintage styled hair takes time, patience, and practice practice practice! I’m by no means a pro, and I probably wouldn’t charge to do someone else’s hair in a pinup style, but I’m comfortable enough with my own to style for an event or shoot. If you want to know the tips and tricks, I’d heartily recommend visiting a vintage inspired salon such as The Vintage Beauty Parlour, Le Keux or I Love Lucie. You can also attend vintage hair workshops run by pinup pros such as Miss Victory Violet or Ewa Baberska. Failing that, there’s a world of knowledge on Youtube with pin-ups of all hair lengths showing you how they style their own!
Now, for me, a tiki pinup is not complete without a flower or more. Whether this is worn as a brooch, or in the hair, or on a hat, this completes the look. My absolute favourite hair flowers are by Lady Luck’s Boutique, and I also collect them from shops such as Shazam, Miss Bella’s Blooms and Diablo Jo’s. You best believe I have *almost* every colour to match every outfit, but I’ll always continue to collect my precious hair flowers, as they double up as a display in my bedroom! For the Summer Fern Lyra, I wore my white triple white lily clip, then a double orchid from Lady Luck’s Boutique.
Next we have jewellery. I’ll admit, I have a bit of a problem knowing when something is ‘too much’, but in all honesty a little flamboyance suits the tiki pinup look! I have a vast selection of tiki inspired jewellery which takes the form of pineapples and watermelons, palm leaves and other tropical plants, bamboo shapes and even a cheeky pair of parrots. I ain’t a wallflower, lets just leave it at that. A lot of my tiki jewellery has been lucky finds on the high street, but when I’m shopping for a new piece I always check out Dolly Cool, Lady Luck’s Boutique, and Rosie May’s. For my other Lyra, I finally got a chance to wear these beautiful bead and lily hoops from Kira Don Jewel which I snapped up at London Edge in February!
Again, pin-up makeup is a case of time, patience, and practice practice practice. Wear what you are comfortable with, whether that’s a full face or just a touch of lip-gloss. My recommendation is that you match your lipstick to whichever hue of red, pink or orange is most prominent in the pattern of your clothing. This subtle match will bring the outfit to life and co-ordinate your look like a pro! With my Summer Fern dress, I chose to wear a deep pink to match the centers of the beautiful plumeria flowers that scatter the fabric. I wore the NYX Full Throttle lipstick in Locked, one of my favourite long-wear formulas. With the orchid patterned Lyra, I went all-out and matched the orange details with my Urban Decay lipstick in Bang.
Now, if you’re like me and need everything ‘just in case’ to hand, you’ll carry a handbag. To go with this look, I had my new cream and woven straw cross body bag from Forever 21 (available in store). It’s plain enough for my non-vintage style outfits, but when worn with a tiki ensemble it works. To match my bag, I wore some cream heels and added a little extra: if you want to take your matching to the next level, add some smaller hair flower clips to your shoes or bag!
I don’t see heels as a ‘necessity’ when it comes to Vintage styling, and you can often find a cute pair of sandals or low cork wedges works just as well as a pair of killer stilettos. Wear what you feel is a good mix of comfort and glamour. I know the saying is ‘beauty is pain’, but I’m a firm believer that if it makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s not worth it!
If you’re looking for a pin-up dress that’s plus-size friendly, look no further than Lady Voluptuous. This is the plus-size section of the Lady V London website, and all items are available from a UK size 14 to 28, some up to a UK 32. Not only did they create Lyra, but they also have other popular designs like Ursula and Vivien. The Lady V Standard range also goes up to a 22, and the sizes are very roomy! I’ve recently purchased this delicious Elsie dress in a 22 and honestly could have sized down to a 20 but alas, this one has been popular and is sold out in most sizes!
Huge thanks to Lola Lo Manchester for letting me run around your bar before opening hours, and I can’t recommend Olivia enough for bloggers, campaigns, weddings and functions. Thank you to Lady V for creating the perfect Lyra dress for me, and kindly gifting it for this review.
Now, all I need to do is save up enough to own and run my very own Tiki Bar/Burlesque club and I’ll be living my dreams!
Are you already in love with Lyra? Or have my tiki wonderland pictures inspired you?
Let me know in the comments!