Ashlyn Coco of ‘The Pink Collar Life’ Teaches Us How To Cop Her Retro Style

Whether you try to channel Marilyn Monroe every day or just a couple of times a season, you have to admit there’s just something about retro style.

Ashlyn Coco, cofounder of the Pink Collar Life blog, lives her life in dreamy, vintage-inspired clothes and accessories day in and day out. We asked her our burning questions about how every girl can look like a 60s bombshell.

Photo by Tom Stratton

What’s one secret to wearing a retro look without looking old-fashioned in a bad way?

For me, less is more. If you’re going to pack on the polka dots, pearls and poodle skirts this can look very out-dated and costume-y. There are styles that I tend to gravitate towards [to not look old-fashioned]. I like the bad-girl, juvenile-delinquent look and the blonde bombshell look of the 1950s. A [typical] juvenile delinquent look would consist of high-waisted, skin-tight, Capri pants, skyscraper Spring-o-later heels and a fitted top.

[And] for that sexy Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield look: a high-waisted, fitted pencil skirt or a dress [paired] with a low cut top or a bullet bra underneath. Personally, these are my favorite [looks] but I still love the more conservative – and sometimes cliché – “I Love Lucy” looks.

I always choose to show either bosom or gams, never both. For example, I always opt for a dress that comes to mid-calf but is extra fitted in the waist (to showcase curves) and has a low-cut in the décolletage for some cleavage. If I’m showing off the gams, Betty Grable style, they [the shorts / skirt] will be short but have a classic high-waist to drawing attention to the hourglass of the female form. [And] since the legs are exposed I would go with a fitted, 3/4 sleeve, full-coverage top or sweater. To keep it sexy [I would] wear a bullet bra underneath to emphasize [my] sweater puppies.

Photo by Tom Stratton

If you had to choose between winged eyeliner and red lipstick for the rest of your life, which would you pick and why?

This question had my mind running a million miles a minute in a frantic state of confusion but as soon as I really thought about the pros and cons I was able to reach a decision.

Although I feel naked without red lipstick, it is not as versatile as winged liner. Sure, red lipstick allows me to create and define any shape of lip but it’s the eyes that people are looking at. As the saying goes, “the eyes are a window to the soul.” Winged liner allows me to paint a cat-like eye shape which can completely change the look of my face.

Also, winged liner can create the ultimate 1960s, sex-bomb look with pale or pink lips. Brigitte Bardot anyone?

What’s your favorite iconic Marilyn Monroe look and why?

Now this question has me in a tizzy! I connect with Marilyn Monroe on so many levels and have devoted so much time trying to perfect her way of dress. Her fashion and makeup looks are something I base many purchase decisions on. I usually just ask myself, “Would Marilyn wear this?” My favorite looks of hers are the simple ones but it is anything but simple trying to comprehend how iconic her style was.

Similar to me, Marilyn loved over-the-top, gleaming gold gowns and furs but [she] also loved a simple, cotton summer dress or jeans. What made her style so iconic was her balance of studio showpieces mixed with casual, effortless outfits put together by Norma Jeane herself. There are too many [outfits] to count and so many that I adore. Her clothing was always perfectly tailored to her curves and never old-fashioned looking. An over-the-top, glam, iconic Marilyn style that really sticks out is the gold lamé dress in “How to Marry a Millionaire.” [Also] Marilyn’s red bathing suit and Lucite, ribbon ankle-wrap platforms in the same film.

I loved Marilyn in the 1950s. She was extra platinum blonde and her makeup was softer. In the 1960s I loved the Pucci blouses, paired with white Capris and pointed-toe pumps. Marilyn aged so well and her end of life photos are absolutely breathtaking. She never finished the film “Something’s Gotta Give,” but the set photos and clips I’ve seen show the most beautiful Marilyn. She had a softer lip color, a loose bouffant hairstyle and heavier liner. The Marilyn in 1962 was just so raw and so real and I loved that.

Photo by Tom Stratton

Where’d you get the blog name “The Pink Collar Life”?

“The Pink Collar Life” was something I thought of when [I was] trying to describe the content of my blog as well as my way of going about life. I never wanted to work a boring job and dabbled in anything and everything creative, including female dominated industries such as fashion design and cosmetology (enter the term Pink Collar”).

Pink Collar is a phrase derived after WWII referring to industries dominated by women. From beauticians, to couture dressmakers, to flight attendants, to diner waitresses – the Pink Collar boom made women more than just homemakers, giving them independence. This notion was something I truly lived by and I wanted to share with others who also viewed their lives through rose-colored lenses.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

I know my look is “painted pin-up” but surprisingly it doesn’t take as long as one would think.

On my casual days off I wear light concealer, a flick of eyeliner, and mascara. I usually don’t do a full pin-curl set either, unless I’m going to a shoot or attending an event. [Normally I just do] a quick run through with the curling iron to add some curls and I’m good to go. Times like this I can be ready in 15 minutes.

For a full, painted face it takes no longer than 30 minutes for makeup. When I’m getting fully in face I plan the morning, or evening, around my hair. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to set my pin curls and 5 to 10 minutes for the brush-out and sculpting. I set my hair first and by the time my makeup is finished I take out the pin-curls and complete my hair styling. I think it’s safe to say that I can be fully glam in less than two hours. I don’t bother much with fancy contouring and elaborate tricks and [I] prefer to keep it simple with the essentials: winged liner, pink blush, false lashes, and red lips.

Photos by Ashlyn Coco and Tara MiSioux

Do you ever leave the house without makeup? Why or why not?

For the sake of others, I try to add at least a little makeup before leaving the house. I’m Irish and Italian so I have extremely red skin – I always do a dab of concealer to hide that.

Unfortunately, I’m not #blessed with strong brow game so I try to fill those in as they are on the thin side. Being platinum blonde, I can easily look washed-out without all the color and variation of makeup so even if I’m in a pinch and [I] can’t put a thing on, I’ll just throw on some classic cat-eye sunglasses to hide my undone face.

But sometimes I just have no shame. It depends on my mood.

What’s one new trend you’re excited to try out this Spring/Summer?

I’m sometimes stuck in the 1950s and don’t pay much attention to new trends but rather focus on old ones. In the vintage community there are some resurgences and revivals of old trends that I get stuck on. For example, I’m quite obsessed with cropped peasant tops for summer.

As far as new trends go I pay attention to fitness and beauty items through Instagram or through friends. I’m always looking for the next long lasting red lipstick, a good health detox and maybe even a new cocktail recipe – quite the paradox, I know.

Do you work out or are you just #blessed?

Oh boy! In all honesty, I never could keep to a strict diet and fitness regimen. I was quite #blessed for many years but once I hit my mid-20s I noticed [that] I couldn’t get away with as much debauchery and gluttony anymore. My Italian genetics do give me those curves but I need to be careful to maintain them.

I am absolutely addicted to sweets and fries so it has been difficult limiting those. I recently started being consistent with my workout routine which usually consists of Jillian Michaels, at home videos on YouTube or a run with a girlfriend. I stick to a shake every morning, drinks lots of water and eat high protein and low calorie/low carb foods during the day.

Unfortunately alcohol does a number on your weight so as strange as it sounds I’ve been sticking to water with gin and lemon.

You never have roots! What’s your secret?

Thank goodness this beauty school drop-out has enough knowledge to keep the hair on point. My natural hair is a dirty blonde so it isn’t too hard to lift it to platinum. I do my roots religiously at the three-week mark and thankfully they don’t come in too dark as I’m still blonde after all.

If I wait too long and the roots grow longer, then the farther away the hair is from the scalp’s heat zone, the easier it is to bleach and reach that perfect white blonde. Maintaining the roots is ideal for achieving an even, platinum look. Also, I use a purple shampoo which acts as a toner and cuts out any yellow. Being a solid color, my hair is actually very easy to maintain as the dye is applied directly to the scalp with no fussy foils or other colors to mix.

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