Kay is a college student and small business owner who doubles as a freelance writer. They particularly enjoy writing about video games.
Rockabilly fashion is one of the most interesting for its use of bold, rich colors, and old school style. Though it's not often you'll see a lady dressed up on the streets like this in this day and age, the rockabilly genre of music, along with its style, is making a bit of a comeback thanks to the ever-changing music scene and the growing trend of modernized 50s and 60s fashion.
If you're a lover of rockabilly music and have always wanted the chance to try out the style that comes along with it, here's a guide to help you get started.
Tops and Blouses
You've got lots of options when it comes to picking out tops for your outfits, from tank tops to halter tops to tied-up button-down blouses and more. Stripes and polka dots are the favored patterns, along with solid colors. Red, white, black, and the occasional other color are what you should go for.
Dresses, Skirts, and Pants
Dresses are one of the most worn pieces of clothing in rockabilly fashion, and there's a huge emphasis put on them! They're always loud and bold, even if they're not bright in color. Most rockabilly dresses are slim fitting and stop a little bit below the knee, but there are always variations with many being frilly and with a bit of a flare. Black, red, and white seem to be the most sought after dress colors, and polka dots are a much-loved pattern.
If you're not much of a dress person, you can always go with skirts instead. Slim, black pencil skirts are what you want to be looking for. If you're feeling extra bold, try red! Can't really handle dresses or skirts? Purchase some skintight, black capri pants. These will go with every top that you've got!
Heels, heels, and more heels! There are so many different styles you can choose from when it comes to heels, but try to stick with the colors listed above — red, white, and black — which might as well be considered the official colors of rockabilly style.
3 and 4-inch heels are the most worn in terms of heel size. If you're not too good with heels, you can go old school with a pair of saddle shoes, but these are more of a 50s style thing rather than rockabilly. It's okay to mix things up though, so go ahead!
Hair and Hair Accessories
Black seems to be the chosen hair color when it comes to rockabilly style as it's the one hair color you'll see the most. Since most people aren't born with naturally jet black hair, they dye it. Brown hair is seen quite often as well, with blonde and red being seen the least.
There are tons of different hairstyles to choose from, so doing a Google search for "rockabilly hairstyles" will give you a lot of great examples in the images. Don't worry if you're looking for a short hairstyle. They've got those too!
One thing to take notice of is that most rockabilly hairstyles for women will have parts of the hair curled, pinned up, and often include hair accessories such as flowers or little bows.
Makeup is bright, bold, and a big staple in rockabilly fashion. A shade of bright or deep red lipstick slapped on thick is a great place to start, along with a little bit of eyeliner and enough foundation to give you that porcelain doll look. Don't forget to apply some blush to give your cheeks a rosy pink color, and don't be afraid to play with eye shadow and mascara!
Tattoos are sort of a hit or miss with the rockabilly style since it overlaps with other similar styles. If you're going for a more punk rock look, which most people who are interested in rockabilly style are, then tattoos are a great addition. Some people are more interested in a mix of rockabilly and the pin-up style, which isn't really influenced by tattoos much. Either way, remember that they're a lifelong commitment!
The best kinds of tattoos would be old school Sailor Jerry stuff: cards, cherries, margarita glasses, roses, skulls, etc. Do a Google search to find some great examples.
There are a handful of styles that are similar to that of rockabilly . . . in fact, so similar that it's not unusual for them to get mixed up or considered the same style all together since there are usually little to almost no noticeable differences. These styles include:
- Psychobilly: Essentially the same as rockabilly style, but darker with an added horror factor. Skulls, ghosts, spiders, etc.
- 1950s Rock and Roll: Since rockabilly stems from original rock and roll, it's obvious the styles will be similar. 1950s rock and roll style is a lot more bright and colorful.
- 50s Pin-Up: Usually mixed in with rockabilly style for more formal occasions as it's already essentially the same thing.
Food for Thought
Interestingly, while a rude girl may be considered a rockabilly chick, a rude boy is in no way a rockabilly dude.
One of the most confusing styles to label, it depends on who you ask what the rude girl style consists of. Originally, a rude girl was the female version of a rude boy, a juvenile delinquent in Jamaica. During the 2-Tone ska revival, rude boy/girl became a term to refer to anyone who is a fan or part of the genre. Since 2-Tone ska has close ties with the skinhead subculture, the style is usually associated with it as well. It should be noted that the skinhead subculture was not based on racism, and in this context, the skinhead clothing style is what influences rockabilly style.
When people say rude-girl style, they may either be referring to the female skinhead style or to the rockabilly style with a bit of ska influence, or maybe even both . . . think of it as a bridge between the rockabilly and skinhead style. If you take the time to read up on the different subcultures, it'll make a lot more sense.
Krystal from Los Angeles on May 28, 2012:
How fun! I want to nab one of this looks to shake things up! They are very popular right now in Los Angeles. Voting up :)
SmartAndFun from Texas on May 28, 2012:
Great article on a fun subject! I love rokabilly music and I love this style, although I'm too old to wear it. Great job!