Kitty went to school for fashion design and merchandising. She loves to design, sew, and create fashion inspired by the past.
What Does it Mean to Be Rockabilly?
So maybe you know what the modern Rockabilly style looks like, with the endless supply of hot rods and sailor-like tattoos, big greasy hair and leather jackets...but what does the term Rockabilly really mean? Rockabilly is a term that combines two words - Rock and Hillbilly. The reason these are combined stems from one of the first forms of rock that emerged on the music scene in the fifties. This type of rock music was a little bit rock 'n roll and also had a bit of a country 'twang.
Different types of music influenced the new racy, edgy sounds of Rockabilly music in the fifties; Rockabilly music has its roots in Rhythm & Blues and also Swing music. As a matter of fact, many of the Rockabilly bands today that emulate the rockabilly music from the past combine even more types of influential music into their sounds...now including punk rock, jazz and pop!
Two of the very first Rockabilly wonders were Elvis Presley and Wanda Jackson. Everyone knows who Elvis Presley is, and hopefully has heard his classic, rockin' fifties songs such as Hounddog and Jailhouse Rock. Have you heard of Wanda Jackson? She is notoriously known as the Queen of Rockabilly with hits such as Fujiyama Mama and What in the World's Come Over You. Other big names attributing to the roots of Rockabilly music are Carl Perkins, Janis Martin and Johnny Cash. There is much to be read on the beginnings of Rockabilly music...just do some diggin'!
In order to be a truly Rockabilly at heart, you need to be submerged in the Rockabilly spirit and know what it truly means to be Rockabilly. Dive into the rockabilly roots and a deep love will grow in your heart and mind for the culture, which will lead you on your way to true 'billy-dom. Once you have an expansive knowledge of what it means to be Rockabilly, then you can traverse over to the Psychobilly side...the darker side of Rockabilly!
The Rockabilly & Psychobilly 'Do
To be a true rockin' rockabilly or psychobilly lady, you have to have the wicked locks to match the attitude, right? So let us examine the basics of some of the classic rockabilly do's on the scene today.
First - the timeless and ever notorious Bettie Page bangs. Masuimi Max is shown sporting this cute rockabilly look to the right. To snag this rockabilly hairstyle, all you need is some black hair dye, a pair of scissors, and a rat tail comb to achieve this look. And of course, if you do not want to attempt the hair cutting yourself, you can always take a picture to a hairdresser and have your hair professionally cut.
Second, throw a bandana around those locks for a more casual and tougher psychobilly do. You can wear bandanas on your head in a variety of ways. Check out Rosie The Riveter's bandana to the right. She wears it rolled up and tied around her head, with the ends tied in a knot on the top of her head. You can also form the bandana into a triangular shape and make more of an Aunt Jemima type wrap around your head...pile all of your locks into the bandana and maybe leave your pompadour or bangs popping out the front of the bandana. Below, I have posted an awesome tutorial on youtube on how to use a bandana in your hair.
Third, do not forget the all-important use of a glamorous flower pin! By adding a rose, carnation or hibiscus to your curly up-do or with your hair down, your everyday hairstyle can be instantly transformed into a sexy pin-up rockabilly look! The Pin-up style is just another part of the female Rockabilly style and particularly encompasses an even more retro style from the forties.
We cannot talk about Rockabilly hair without mentioning how the pompadour can be achieved in various ways. You can do a pomp using your bangs, if your bangs are longer. A pomp can be done using the entire supply of hair, as well...check out Bernie Dexter's front Pomp pictured to the right. Here the entire head of hair was brushed to the front of her head, twisted at the back, pomped and sprayed to high hell...which would be a perfect psychobilly look to achieve!
Last but not least, for the brave of home-hairstylists, victory rolls. Victory rolls are a style mainly worn in the forties, but many modern rockabilly and pin-up ladies love to wear their hair in this style. Check out the lovely picture of the infamous Miss Dita Von Teese that I have posted to the right. This is another rockabilly look that you can find tutorials for on youtube, although I did not post a video below. These rolls are difficult to do at first, but with practice and time you can really master the skill. I will be honest and say that I have not quite mastered this technique yet, but I hope to do so eventually, as this particular rockabilly hairstyle is my favorite. It is classy and can be worn to any rockabilly event...concerts, hot rod shows, even shopping.
Just remember...hair spray and pomade do wonders! Also, another great investment is a set of hot hair rollers...roll all of your hair into curls and then pin them to each side of your head...add a flower to one side and VOILA! You will be turning all of those 'billy cats' heads!
Watch a Pin-up Hair Tutorial w/ Flower Pin
The Rockabilly & Psychobilly Threads
So...now you know your rockabilly roots and you have the good-lookin' locks. How about the threads? Well, let me give you some tips.
Cigarette pants and capri pants, as pictured to the right, are sexy and really give off that rockabilly vibe. High-waisted are best, as this style is reminiscent of the forties and fifties and that is what Rockabilly is all about! Pair your cigarette or slender capri pants with a polka dot halter top from pinupgirlclothing or a tough rockabilly t-shirt from lucky13apparel. Top off this rockabilly look with a wide, shiny black belt and a pair of wedges or pin-up style sling-backs...depending on your mood and the event you are attending.
Skinny jeans...yes, they are everywhere! You can find them at Target, Walmart, Forever21, ebay, and almost any other fashionable store you walk into. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this gives you access to a key staple in the rockabilly lady's wardrobe. Skinny jeans are similar to cigarette pants in that they are tight-fitting and show off a lady's curves...and remember, the rockabilly culture is all about a lady's voluptuous curves! Isn't it nice to live in a world where stick-thin, emaciated girls aren't the sexiest ones around? If you look to the right, there is a very curvy rockabilly dollie showing off her hips in a pair of sinfully delicious red skinny jeans for sale at pinupgirlclothing.com.
Do you want to go for the retro forties pin-up look within the rockabilly style? Stick to form-fitting wiggle dresses, sailor-style clothing, and sexy pin-up style heels. Some really wonderful websites to shop for those pin-up wardrobe staples are www.modcloth.com, www.bettiepageclothing.com and www.babygirlboutique.com. Another site you will not want to pass over is www.mybabyjo.com. All of these retro-fashionable websites sell delicious pin-up style dresses and shoes. And of course, www.pinupgirlclothing.com is a main source for these rockabilly goodies, as always. Check out this hot little sailor inspired, wiggle dress number to the right...for sale now at modcloth.com. The only thing with modcloth is, if you wait too long to snag that dress that you have been drooling over, it might go out of stock quickly and then you will have to wait until they re-stock that item. So do not wait to purchase from this site!
If you are not into the frilly, girly end of the rockabilly spectrum and you would like to go for an edgier, more hardcore 'billy style...plaid always works well. Forever21 has quite a few plaid and western style shirts for less than twenty bones! You cannot beat a deal like that. Wear a pair of cuffed skinny jeans and a belt with a gargantuous belt buckle...top it off with that Rosie the Riveter bandana look in your hair and you will be one HOTT tough 'billy Mama. This particular look especially reminds me of one of those tough yet super sexy 'billy gals out in California that work on hot rods in garages alongside sweaty 'billy guys. If I was one of those cats, I would say..."please work on my hot rod every day"! No pun intended.
Still not tough enough for you? Okay, you must want to be more of a psychobilly chick. Psychobilly chicks are a lot of 'billy and a bit horror flick...and maybe a smidgeon of punk, too. Etsy.com has a whole gaggle of psychobilly tops for women...everything from leopard-printed Jack Daniels' shirts (pictured here) to Texas Chainsaw Massacre tube tops. Mix these psychobilly tops with your skinny jeans or capri pants...add some bone barrettes to your hair and you will be a SCREAM at the next Rockabilly Weekender in Las Vegas!
The New 'Billy Tunes
We have covered education, hairstyles, and threads in the Rockabilly network...but now you would like some more modern rockabilly music to grace the memory left in that neon pink-polka dotted ipod? Obviously you have already downloaded tunes from the likes of Cash, Presley, Janis Martin, and Wanda Jackson. Good.
Let us move on to the new and enticing world of modern Rockabilly music.
If you are looking for more of a poppy-feeling 'billy band, try out the Horrorpops. My favorite songs of theirs include Walk Like a Zombie, Hit 'n Run, and Thelma and Louise. The lead singer is adorable and gives off a psychobilly vibe but has that classic rockabilly/madonna pop sounding voice...kind of a lower resonating voice but she definitely gets the ear-job done. Check out one of their performance videos below.
Into the sort-of-gothic, horror-flick reminiscent psychobilly sounds? Nekromantix is the go-to band for every note straight out of the rotting-corpse crypt. Some of their best creepy songs are Alice in Psycholand, Curse of the Coffin, and Drugshock. They are touring in the summer of 2011 and going to many states including Arizona, Missouri, California, Nevada, and Florida. This would be a concert that you would never forget.
You will also want to check out the notorious Stray Cats, Collins Kids, The Chop Tops and Greaseballs.
Watch the Horrorpops Perform Walk Like a Zombie
The Rockabilly Rod
When I say "the rod", what pops into your mind? Okay...I do not mean that ! I am talking about cars here ladies. Get your minds out of the gutter...or leave them there...it does not matter to me!
The world of Rockabilly is not just about the music and the looks...classic cars are incorporated into the mix just as much as music or style. The classics are known to many rockabillies as "hot rods" and some of the less-shiny and re-made classics are called "rat rods". A good example of a rat rod - when one cat asks the other cat, "when is your rod going to be done?" and the response is, "what are you talkin' bout? it is done!"
If you need to educate yourself on the different cars of the forties and fifties, check out these sites: www.hotrod.com and www.roadsters.com. They have wonderful pictures and historical write-ups on a variety of hot rods from the fifties and other decades. Oh, mama...looking at those hot rods makes me want to jump into the computer screen and into the front seat!
Rat rods can be a little less expensive, if you are on a tighter budget...and they give off a tougher 'vibe. Do a google search on where to buy rat rods and all sorts of sites pop up.
If you cannot afford to find the right rod to match your new 'billy lifestyle, never fear! You can always attend the hot rod and classic car shows in your community or hometown and fantasize about which car will be yours in the future!
© 2011 Kitty Fields
KateEmilie from Swadlincote on November 02, 2017:
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 10, 2013:
Too sweet! Thanks, epigramman. Blessings!
epigramman on June 09, 2013:
Well one of my favorite bands of all time are The Cramps.
And they are basically the founding fathers and mothers (lol) of psycho-billy music (if you are not excluding Donny and Marie Osmond)
but if a psychobilly gal ended up at my front door she would have to love J.S. Bach, Hank Williams Sr. and Bob Marley too.
lake erie time 11:44pm canada and a good evening to you Miss Kitty ....purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
and yes Tir na Nog, I have that sign on my front deck outside - it means heaven, paradise, nirvana or Kitty's hubs
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 09, 2013:
Awesome! Glad you like them. :)
Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on June 09, 2013:
Great hub! I have voted up and useful, as well as pinning!!!! Will be trying the hairstyles soon too! Can't wait!
HorrorMomma on July 08, 2012:
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on April 26, 2012:
Charlotte - No problem! If you'd like to quote my article, you may do so...please just put a reference back to my website - kittythedreamer.hubpages.com. If you'd like to do a phone interview, I think I'd be up for that too. How long do you think it would take?
charlottewestmin on April 26, 2012:
i really enjoyed reading your article. i love the rockabilly fashion and music. im currently doing a university project on rockabilly and Psychobilly and was wondering if you would be able to do a phone interview or if i could use your explanations on how to become a Rockabilly or Psychobilly Girl.
Charlotte on April 26, 2012:
I really enjoyed reading your article i no you wrote this a while ago but i have a strong passion for rockabilly , i am currently working on a university project looking in to everything you have said and was wondering if i could quote your article or if you were able to do a phone interview just explaining about the fashion of both rockabilly and Psychobilly.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on February 24, 2012:
Angela - Some suggestions - incorporate gingham fabrics into your centerpieces or maybe gingham or checkered tablecloths. Checker-boarded patterns or cherry patterns. Polka dots in lighter colors such as pale blue or pink. A lot of 1950s themed party items will work perfectly for rockabilly themed parties, as well. Just try to keep the cheesy party items out. Does your daughter realize that Dia De Los Muertos is actually a huge part of the rockabilly community? Maybe you could tell her that. ;) Tattoos, skulls, and big hair are all rockabilly key items. Hopefully this helps, sweetie. Good luck and have fun with this theme...sounds like a blast to me!
angelagonzalez on February 24, 2012:
I really need some advice. My daughter wants to have a rockabilly 18th bday party. I have no clue on what to do for centerpieces and what colors to incorperate with her theme. I was thinking red, white and black but she doesn't want it to look like "dia de los muertos" so if you have any ideas for me please let me know. asap thanks
Kay-C on February 04, 2012:
also check out Imelda May- her voice is amazing! and she's not too bad looking either ;)
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on November 08, 2011:
We will, psycho...thanks!
Psycho on November 08, 2011:
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 20, 2011:
Sun-Girl from Nigeria on June 18, 2011:
Colorful and attractive pics you actually shared in here which i enjoyed reading from.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 15, 2011:
Yes, you may! I'll take that recommendation, friend!
epigramman on June 15, 2011:
....well with great taste like that you rock my world too and may I recommend Imelda May on a lovely DVD featuring the great Jeff Beck on guitar - live from NYC.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 15, 2011:
I'm actually a big fan of Imelda May - I have her entire album on my ipod! As for The Cramps, I already love them too brother! :) Thanks for the music tips! You rock.
epigramman on June 15, 2011:
...two of my favorite sub-genres of music are featured here - I believe there is a new singer out there by the name of Imelda May who fashions this look and one of my favorite bands of all time who practically invented the idea of psychobilly music is THE CRAMPS (and probably the stunted reason why I've never fully grown up -lol)
Check out THE CRAMPS, and their heroes, LINK WRAY and HASIL ADKINS on You Tube if you can - it will be an experience, lol, you'll never forget!
Fluffy77 from Enterprise, OR on May 06, 2011:
I just love the hair style tips! Full of great tips, thanks!
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on March 05, 2011:
hi, ultracutebot! so glad you enjoyed it. yes, both amazing bands...horrorpops are my absolute favorite, though. :)
ultracutebot from cybertron on March 04, 2011:
Awesome article, very informative! I love the Nekromantix and the Horrorpops too :)
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on March 01, 2011:
Hi, Bettemachete! thanks for stopping by and I'm very glad you enjoyed it. The rockabilly and psychobilly scenes and styles are an obsession of mine, and have been for a very long time now!
BetteMachete on February 28, 2011:
I really dig your article, its very complete and highly detailed. Voted it up, as well as voted it as being "useful." It really is! Nice work.