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What is Rockabilly?

Lorraine Paton Fashion Pencil Dress Rockabilly Swing Skirt

I get asked all the time, “what is rockabilly?? And why do you love it?”.

According to good ol’ Wikipedia, “Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating back to the early 1950s . The term “rockabilly” is a portmanteau of “rock,” (from “rock ‘n’ roll”), and “hillbilly”, the latter a reference to the country music (often called “hillbilly music” in the 1940s and 1950s) that contributed strongly to the style. Other important influences on rockabilly include Western Swing, Boogie Woogie, Jump Blues and Electric Blues. Although there are notable exceptions, its origins lie primarily in Southern USA.”.

Rockabilly is generally considered to have been popular just from the early 1950’s to early 1960’s, though once its influence reached the mainstream it’s safe to say that it never truly went away. Several rockabilly revivals have taken place within the music industry over the years, most notably in the 80’s with the popularity of the Stray Cats and more recently with the fabulous Imelda May.

So, I hear you ask, “what does rockabilly have to do with fashion?” and “what is the rockabilly ‘look’?”. There are two main ‘looks’ within rockabilly style. There was the “wholesome pinup girl” and the “rebellious bad girl” type, easily defined by which side of the tracks you came from. The rockabilly look for the “good kids” was clean cut – cuffed jeans and simple shirts, sweaters and jackets were the order of the day for the guys and for the gals, full skirt dresses with petticoats, flat shoes and ponytails.   The “rebels” took it further. Two tone shirts and jackets for the guys and novelty prints started to make a statement. The gals opted for figure hugging pencil skirts and tight sweaters teamed with stiletto heels inspired by the glamorous movie vixens of the day.

Let’s not forget though that not all clothing from the 50s and early 60s is considered rockabilly.

Here at Retro Lil you can fashion yourself on either side of the tracks!! Go the wholesome route with our swing skirts, tops and cardigans or bring out your rebel with one of our gorgeous pencil dresses or capris.

Get the Doris Day lookGet the Rita Hayworth Look



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