Rockabilly is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mash-up of old-timey rock music, hillbilly and country western aesthetics, fifties fashion, and a dash of Punk rock style! If it sounds like a mouthful to you, you’re not alone! The style and lifestyle is a vortex of retro fashion and modern features. It’s best to start at the beginning and work our way up to today, where rockabilly fashion is still worn and adapted into the mainstream.
It all started with music, as it does with most alternative subcultures. Rockabilly was one of the earliest rock subcultures, with their sound beginning in the early 1950s. The music itself is a blend of rock & roll, blues, and a western hillbilly flavor. Johnny Cash, with his strong rhythms, twangy guitar, and deep vocals, is a fantastic example.
The 1970s saw the official start of the Rockabilly resurgence, with a sound that is much more akin to the current style we know today. This includes Punk artists such as The Cramps, who fused traditional rock & roll with horror elements to create what is now known as Psychobilly. It was quick and harsh, with recordings from drive-in horror movies.
Since the 1990s, there has been an increase in the popularity of neo-Rockabilly in mainstream music. These are bands that have been influenced by The Cramps or Elvis Presley. There are many examples of modern Rockabilly, Gothabilly, and Psychobilly bands out there. Take a look at Eddie and the Flatheads or Tiger Army.
Although Rockabilly began as a musical genre, it would not be as popular or well-known without its distinctive appearance!
Rockabilly fashion basics for men and women complement the internationally recognizable Rosy the Riveter style as well as James Dean’s iconic greaser look. There are some other things you could incorporate into your own Rockabilly style however.
We’re very familiar with the greaser look. With a leather jacket in hand, a sleeked back pompadoor, and hotrods on his mind, he’s a Jon Travolta Grease type. But what about the Sandys? The greaser girl was much more than a pair of tight cigarette pants and an off-the-shoulder crop top. Greaser girls wore fifties poodle skirts and classic retro dresses, which they paired with their boyfriend’s varsity jacket or a biker jacket. Take the Cry Baby girls for example.
While we adore a well-slicked back pompadour, you can experiment with these great pinup hairstyles!
Betty Bangs are ideal if you don’t want to worry about curling and pinning your hair in a style. If you don’t want to commit to the chop, opt for a simple clip-on fringe that takes less than a minute to apply.
The fashion in Cry Baby was spot on, especially with Johnny Depp’s look. Did you know the loose lock of hair falling over his face wasn’t merely a stylistic touch? It’s a style dubbed the devil lock that Misfits bassist Jerry Only developed in the 1970s.
Ddon’t forget the victory roll in classic pinup fashion! It requires a bit more effort than the other styles, but it’s definitely worth it to get that picture-perfect Rockabilly hair do!
Believe it or not, the Wild West has had a long history in fashion; you simply may not have realized it.
Consider winklepickers (those pointy-toed boots), bollo ties, fringe, wing-tipped belts, and collar chains. All of these have been extremely fashionable in recent years, and they can all be traced back to Western fashion.
Finally, we have a rockabilly fashion look that is reserved for photoshoots and current pinup style models. That is hillbilly, trash-couture, and kitsch fashion. You’ve seen it before! Imagine campervans, denim shorts with vintage knotted shirts and platform heels, and a pair of vintage rollers tied in a bandana!
This cartoonish design may appear unwearable in ordinary situations, but with a little refining, you could absolutely rock it. Put on some Daisy Dukes with ripped stockings. Fishnets with cowboy boots are a great way to get the look without going overboard.
These are easy accessories that can be found in most places. All you need to do is accessorize with a retro hairstyle, a bandana draped around your neck, and the proper red lipstick!