Fashion Update: Rockabilly

What started in the 1950s with the merging of rock-and-roll and country (or “hillbilly”) music by artists like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash gave rise to a rebellious way of life and a fashion sense known as rockabilly that’s still in vogue today. As the popularity of vintage clothing continues to rise, designers are offering up new fashions that give off a retro 50s-and-60s vibe.

Modern rockabilly style harkens back to an era when people dressed up every day, a time when women didn’t leave the house without hose and make-up and men wore jackets to work. Today, the rockabilly look has taken on an edge. It’s glamorous, outrageous and, most importantly, fun. Here’s how you, too, can rock today’s trendy rockabilly look.

Tops and Bottoms Rockabilly clothing can be difficult to describe, but you’ll know it when you see it. Think bombshell. Go for a bold and sexy look with polka-dotted halter tops or tie-at-the waist blouses paired with tight black capri pants or a pair of cropped, cuffed, tight-fitting jeans. Bust out of a slinky sweater worn with a slim-fitting skirt, and don’t forget to add a pair of heels. For the summer months, form-fitting retro shorts or a saucy little sailor suit might be in order. Dresses are a staple of rockabilly wardrobes, and a must-have for anyone who wants to pull off this look. Choose sexy, form-fitting, vintage-look dresses in bold colors like red or hot pink and patterns like black-and-white polka dots. The bolder, the better. Stripes, checks, gingham…rockabilly chicks get noticed. Dresses with bigger, flared skirts can be rockabilly, too. Look for one with an off-the-shoulder or halter top. If it shows off a tattoo or ten, even better.

It doesn’t take much to dress up your already-dressy rockabilly clothing. Try a retro hairstyle with a big hair bow or flirty flower pinned into it. A sexy pair of three-to-four-inch heels is a must, and look for belts or scarves in rockabilly-favored patterns like polka dots or leopard prints. Cover up with prim little cardigans or shrugs, and try adding a string of pearls, short gloves and a little hat to your outfits. Make your solid, basic pieces a little more rockabilly with retro-style brooches or patches in the shapes of dice, cherries or bows. And no self-respecting rockabilly chick would go out in public without some dark eyeliner and bright red lipstick to finish off her look. For the Men Rockabilly clothing isn’t just for women. Men can pull off this cool look, too, with leather or two-toned jackets and jeans with big cuffs. Retro-style short-sleeved button-down shirts with stripes or patterns on them or vintage bowling and work shirts also fit this look. Or try some crisply pressed slacks, and don’t forget a pair of penny loafers, canvas sneakers or spiffy oxfords. Retro everything is in right now, and clothing is no exception.


The rockabilly look is everywhere—the streets, the office, even on celebrities like Gwen Stefani. Let your inner rock-and-roll rebel shine through with rockabilly clothing, and remember that the original rockabillies just wanted to express themselves and have fun! Experiment and glam it up a bit to totally own this look.

About the author: Stephanie Anderson handles brand management for the popular retro/vintage and rockabilly clothing brand, Stop Staring! She enjoys Broadway musicals, freelance writing, and trying to convince all of her co-workers to cheer on USC football.

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