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Petticoats, pompadours and Victory Rolls are hallmarks of rockabellas and rockabillys. Are you a fan of this energetic and dynamic era? Well, welcome to the EMP Rockabilly Shop where we'll take you on a trip back to the 50s. No worries if you're new to the scene, you've come to the right place. We have all the relevant information for you to get to know rockabilly fashion like the back of your hand. Get on down to the EMP Rockabilly Shop to discover new outfits for glamourous girls and casual chaps.
"Rockabilly" is closely associated with the term "Hillbilly", used to describe people who dwell in rural, mountainous areas in the United States. It is also combined with "Rock n Roll", which was popular music in the 1950s. The revival of the rockabilly scene in the 1980s helped this term to develop, and followers of the scene referred to themselves as "rockabillys" (for men) and "rockabellas" (for women).
What is rockabilly?
The term "Rockabilly" is used to describe a 1950s style of music, it's closely related to country music and rock and roll, hence the contraction of the latter and "Hillbilly". Unique fashion and a special attitude towards life are still markers of the term "rockabilly".
Why does rockabilly exist?
The rockabilly musical movement was born in Memphis, Tennessee. The record label "Sun Records" was owned by a man called Sam Phillips, who knew a lot about the Blues. It was a time in which America was still strongly involved in Apartheid, and in which it was unusual for a label to sign contracts with both white and black artists. But it didn't matter for Sam Phillips.
A protest movement was formed in the 1940s by "rebellious" youth in opposition to the moral preferences of the older generation. This emerging youth culture took huge interest in Sam Phillips who'd signed none other than Mr Elvis Presley himself. In 1954, Sam achieved the best of both worlds with a blend of the best of black music and the best of white music.
This new style of music became a quickly-spreading phenomenon and Sam Phillips was looking to bring more musicians on board, including Johnny Cash, who further influenced the style. More and more musicians joined the rockabilly genre, but there was a lack of success outside of the USA due to the music's strong local flavour. Many artists moved away from the genre in the late 1950s, more enticed by genres such as country music. Even Elvis Presley changed styles and subsequently became the King of Rock and Roll and a musical breakthrough all over the world.
What is rockabilly fashion?
It's not just rockabilly music that's back on trend, 50s fashion is back too! Whilst rockabellas rock the scene with bold and colourful make up such as red lipstick and strong eye liner, rockabillys have their combs at the ready to rework their pompadour hair style. Eye-catching motifs such as dice, cherries, pin-up girls, swallows, playing cards or stars are all typical of 50s and 60s fashion. Skulls are also popular motifs on rockabilly clothing.
Rockabilly dresses , pencil skirts, high waisted trousers and shorts as well as halter dresses are a must-have for rockabellas who want to emphasise the female silhouette. Popular motifs include polka dots, leopard print, stripes and sailor style.
White t-shirts, cuffed jeans in bold blue as well as a powerful pompadour are must-haves for rockabilly men, perfectly complemented with suspenders and casual leather jackets.
Rockabilly shoes are also necessary for any fan of this style. Perforated lace-up shoes with a small heel for the guys, and open toes to go with beautiful 50s dresses for the dolls. Rockabellas can effortlessly combine 60s dresses with platform creepers or colourfully printed boots.
As you can see, there's much more than just petticoats and beautiful pin up dresses for real rockabellas! Make it a white wedding with a hoop skirt and bow. The rockabilly wedding dress shows rockabilly clothing at its best, it's also highly transformable and perfect to suit any woman's shape.
Rockabilly is more than fashion, it's a lifestyle too
In addition to the melodic music and the diverse fashion of the 50s and 60s, Rockabilly is also characterised by its particular attitude towards life. It's not just displayed visually, for many fans it's also a lifestyle. 60s dresses, rockabilly shoes, rock n roll dresses and rockabilly men's clothing are all visual representations of the style, but there's more to it than rockabilly clothing.
Political and societal outlook are both decisive factors, but music is and will always be the most important element for rockabillys and rockabellas. Many supporters and fans of the style are also passionate about country and rock n roll music, which has enabled a strong link between the genres to be established over the years. The rockabilly scene is made up of many generations of fans and it remains as popular with millennials as it is with rockabellas and rockabillys who experienced the era first-hand.