Von Teese is well known for her fascination with 1940s cinema and classic retro style. This began at a young age and was fostered by her mother, who would buy clothes for her daughter to dress up in. Her mother was a fan of old, Golden-era Hollywood films, and it was from her that Von Teese developed a fascination with the actresses of that day, especially Betty Grable.
She was classically trained as a ballet dancer from an early age, and danced solo at age thirteen for a local ballet company. Though she originally wanted to be a ballerina, Von Teese states that "By 15 I was as good as I’d ever be." She was later to incorporate this element into her burlesque shows, where she frequently goes en pointe.
Von Teese has appeared on a number of best-dressed lists and frequents the front row of fashion shows, particularly Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs, labels she is often seen wearing.