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Norma Jean Vintage: When Hawaiian Charm Meets Old Hollywood Glamour

When you think of Viva Las Vegas, you think of rock 'n roll, pinup pageants, and lots of Hawaiian style dresses - And you'd be right to. Since it's around that time of year again I wanted to introduce you to Sandra - A designer popular for her tropical/pinup inspired designs that are often worn to the fun-filled event. I spoke to her to get to know more about and her designs so you'll be able to rock 'n roll in style!

Norma Jean Vintage, Online pinup fashion store, Viva Las Vegas, Tiki pinup dresses, Hawaiian pinup,
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your life and how it lead you to start your shop?

A: “That’s a great question… If you were to look at the first and last half of my life you would think it was of two completely different people. The most popular comment at my 10-year high school reunion was, “Sandra’s wearing a dress!

I attended college on a softball scholarship and was a member of the 1995 National Championship Team. At that competitive level, I had no choice but to focus all of my attention on playing so that’s what I did until I graduated. Once I got out of that mindset, I started caring more about fashion and as time went on my clothing took on more and more of a 1950s style. I truly began to love the 1950s era when I was a kid because all my favorite TV Shows were dated at that time. I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, etc.

Through professional jobs I’ve had in the past, I would wear my designs and that’s actually how I ended up starting my own company. I got so many compliments on what I was wearing and too many people told me I should open my own shop that I finally stopped ignoring them.”

Norma Jean Vintage, Online pinup fashion store, Viva Las Vegas, Tiki pinup dresses, Hawaiian pinup,
Q: How did you get into pinup fashion and culture?
A: " I really don’t watch current television. Pretty much everything I watch dates back to the 1950s-1980s range. When I was in my mid to late 20s and I began to sew more and more, I started making clothing inspired by the 1950s. The styles are elegant and classy but at the same time sexy because the style accentuates the female form."

Q: How did you start designing?
A: "My mother taught me how to sew when I was a kid and as time went on I grew more and more experienced. When I first liked the 1950s style there weren’t very many reproduction patterns out there so I started modifying patterns to have different styles. The more I did that, the more I became interested in clothing design. I also like being the only person on earth wearing that style and fabric so knowing how to sew and creating unique designs are the only way that’s possible."

Q: Which era inspires you the most and why?
A: "1950s without a doubt. I love everything about that era. I’ve watched so much 1950s television that I came to believe that I might have been born in the wrong era. My favorite designer is Jardin des Modes and his pattern company was Modes Royale. Patterns made for home sewing that were sold in the most upscale department stores. I have a copy of all of his pattern catalogs from the 1950s and whenever I need inspiration I look through those books."

Norma Jean Vintage, Online pinup fashion store, Viva Las Vegas, Tiki pinup dresses, Hawaiian pinup,
Q: Are you an active pinup community in real life? if so how have they treated you so far?
A: "I take an active role in building relationships with my customers. We arrange to meet when we attend VLV or Tiki Oasis so I guess I would say they have treated me well so far. I have many ask for a bunch of business cards so they can pass them out to friends or at a Rockabilly event. They also share them through social media and I haven’t really done any marketing yet so my business is all word of mouth and searches on Etsy. I feel blessed in that I’ve come across some ladies who have wanted to interview (your blog ) and review my clothing or shops and models who want to collaborate with me and it makes my job very fulfilling. Lance Lapinsky and the Lovers wore my dresses while playing at VLV 20 and they mentioned my name at the end of their show which completely made my year!"

Q: Do you wear pinup fashion often and if so do you wear your own designs?
A: "I don’t have a formal job anymore and work alone all day so I don’t dress like a pin up when I’m working, but I try to every time I go out and when I’ve had formal jobs almost my entire wardrobe were clothing I made myself. Other than casual wear when I’m at home or working, all I own are my own designs."

Q: What do you most recommend buying from your shop?
A: "EVERYTHING!!! I’m not really sure. I’ve had all the designs purchased at one point and those who have left a review say very positive things. I get a lot of requests for matching women’s and menswear so I would recommend that along with some of my more popular designs. I allow customization with fabrics, style, and personalized measurements so that everyone who chooses can have a one of a kind outfit too. I pride myself on offering that option."