Rockabilly, a term originally used to refer to rock-and-roll country music in the 1940s and '50s, now refers to a music and lifestyle subculture (most popular on the West Coast of the United States) that has overlapped with other vintage enthusiast groups. The archetypal 1940s rockabilly hair is worn by women of all ages in these groups, as well as by costumers and swing dancers. The rockabilly hairstyle that is most worn is the Middy, which was originally considered a compromise between the desire for beauty and the need to be practical in wartime. Today, the style has been adapted to reflect the desires of the revivalist culture. To set your own hair into a woman's rockabilly style, complete the following instructions.
Get the proper haircut. The hair is usually cut into layers that are 4 inches long all around, except for just in front of the ear, where it is cut 3 inches long. Variations on this cut may include longer hair in the back (up to 10 inches long), but the front must remain only 3 inches. If desired, part the front of the hair at the side, from the ears to the crown.
Roll your hair, wet, into thick rollers for big curls. Let the hair dry completely before removing the rollers. For small curls--which are called pincurls and are usually only used on the back of the hair--separate the hair into small sections. Individually gel each section, wind it around your finger and pin the flattened curl to your head. Remove the pins when dry. If you naturally have very curly hair, you may be able to skip this step.
Tease up the inside of the front curls, so they rise away from the part and create volume.
Create a roll of hair in the front. Wrap the front hair around the handle of a hairbrush, with the ends of the hair tucked inside. Remove the hairbrush and bobby pin the hair at the front and back of the roll.
Spray the front of the hair and make sure the pins are not visible.
Decide what style you would like to use on the sides and back of the hair. Both rolls and loose pincurls are acceptable, and can be done on different lengths of hair for different looks. You may wish to play around with these different patterns of curls (called "sets") to test out what looks best on you. Look for pictures of style options online or consult the links in Resources.
Set the back of the hair in the desired pattern. Spray the set with hairspray and let dry.