Sassy, sexy, and loaded with style, rockabilly dresses offer a nostalgic glamour.
About Rockabilly Clothing
The term rockabilly originated in the 1950s and refers to one of the early forms of rock and roll - a mixture of rock, country, and sprinkled with influences of western swing and blues. Some of the world's music legends and thousands of artists recorded songs in the rockabilly style. Like many music movements, rockabilly developed a following that extended not only to the music, but also included styles of clothing and hair. A revival of rockabilly music and subculture in the 1970s has continued to contemporary times, and there are many retailers offering rockabilly clothing. Both true vintage and vintage inspired items are widely available.
Bowling shirts, western casual shirts, plain t-shirts and rockabilly band t-shirts, cuffed skinny jeans - these are some of the mainstays of rockabilly clothing - but the rockabilly dress is in a class by itself as an icon of '50s women's fashion.
Styles of Rockabilly Dresses
The 1950s pin up girls were sultry, sexy, glamorous -- and not afraid to show it. The rockabilly dress reflects this pin up girl style with shapes that accentuate a woman's curves and flatter her figure. Although there are some prevalent vintage patterns and prints - such as the cherry print, polka dots, and gingham -- there is also a wide variety of other prints, and solid colors (or solid colors with accents) available. Let's take a look at some of the most popular rockabilly dress styles.
The Rockabilly Halter Dress
The rockabilly halter dress is classic style. The dress attaches behind the neck, leaving the back exposed and typically has a defined waist and medium full, full, or circle skirt of knee, calf, or tea length. Day dresses may have thin to medium halter straps, while evening halter dresses often have a halter bodice. Predominant halter styles for these rockabilly dresses include v-neck, bandeau, and sweetheart neck lines. A perfect for dress for summer, tastefully sexy, and stylish, these dresses are versatile and lovely on almost any body type.
The Rockabilly Swing Dress
Rockabilly swing dresses are characterized by their circle skirts, and may have bateau, wide scoop, button-front with sleeves, or halter necklines. Designed to be both fashionable and functional, with full skirts for swing dancing, these dresses minimize the appearance of the waist. These dresses are typically knee length.
The Rockabilly Wrap Dress
The wrap dress may have a full, circle, or straight skirt, but is characterized by the bodice style of one side being wrapped diagonally across the body. This creates a flattering v-neck, and is a slightly more giving style that helps minimize waist flaws. True wraps adhere to the other side of the dress and often have fuller skirts, while faux wraps only mimic the look and are often the choice for straight dresses.
The Rockabilly Pencil Dress
The pencil dress, also known as a wiggle dress, is a rockabilly with a glamorous style. The sleek, sophisticated look is created in a dress with a fitted bodice and a slim, pencil style skirt. This is a more daring style because it fits the body more closely in the legs and hips than other rockabilly dress styles. Necklines may be wrap style, sweetheart, square, or even strapless.
Rockabilly Hawaiian Dresses
The rockabilly Hawaiian, or tiki style dress is often a wrap or halter style dress. These dresses are characterized by their large, colorful Hawaiian prints, such as hibiscus flowers, other florals, and palm trees or leaves.
Dress Accents and Details
The design might take center stage, but the accents and details of rockabilly dresses make the look. Special touches you might see include:
- Silk flowers
- Skinny belts
- Vertical lave panels
- Faux petticoat edging
- Ruching in waist or bust
- Bows at shoulders, bust, or waist
Prints and Colors
Strong yet feminine, red and pink shades are popular for rockabilly styles of dresses. Other popular colors include navy, black, black and white combinations, blues, and greens. Common prints include leopard, polka dot, cherry print, large roses or floral patterns, and plaid.
Where to Buy
There are many retailers specializing in vintage rockabilly or reproduction rockabilly skirts and dresses. A few places to look for inspiration include:
Pair your rockabilly retro dress with a pair of tall rockabilly heels, Mary Janes, or saddle shoes, for a unique and statement-making style!