Rockabilly is a style dating back to the 1940s. However, hairstyles from the 1950s and 1960s have also become part of the rockabilly scene, which is influenced by vintage clothing, classic cars and music (bands like Social Distortion and The Specials). Popular TV shows like Mad Men have pushed rockabilly into the spotlight once again, and while the style is usually not easily achieved because of curls and maintenance, there are a few styles anyone can perfect.
Half-up with Volume
Because rockabilly style almost always consists of curls, it also consists of volume. The hair also needed to be kept out of the way, because housewives of the mid-1900s had to look beautiful and still be able to do the dishes, clean the house and take care of the children. Gwen Stefani knows that a half-up do with a teased crown gives the front of the style height (somewhat like a male pompadour), while the bottom half is curled, feminine and flowing. To pull this look off, tease the front half of hair layer by layer until height is achieved. Use a large-barrel curling iron or blow-dry with a round brush and spray curls with hairspray for the bottom half.
Short, Curly and Sweet
One of the more simple rockabilly styles, worn here by singer Katy Perry, is a simple curly bob. Again, hair is given more volume with curls, with the most effort on getting big, round curls near the bottom of the style to push hair out. Again, hair is swooped to the side, out of the eyes and face and height is given at the top, above the forehead. If your hair is naturally curly, simply scrunch with mousse, part on the side and let hair air-dry. Once it’s dry, comb the front up and over and gain height. Spray with hairspray for holding power. If your hair is straight, curls can be achieved with a curling iron or overnight curlers.
Rockabilly style is best suited for medium length to shoulder-length hair, and it’s because curls were such a main feature of the style. Here, we see that Scarlett Johansson combined short and sweet with the half-up style. The ringlet curls work for medium-length straight hair because the hair shortens so when curled. The entire head should be curled before hair is pulled back in order to use the natural volume the curls create at the crown when hair is pulled back. Again, we see the curl side-swooped out of the eyes.
Long Hair and Straight
Although more traditional rockabilly styles tend to work better with medium or shorter lengths of hair, long hair can work. And, believe it or not, straight hair can also pull off rockabilly for today’s sense of the word. A not-so-traditional ponytail can fit in well with the current rockabilly scene simply by following the other rules of the traditional vintage look. Height is added by teasing the front of the crown in layers until desired height is achieved. This is a combination of female and male rockabilly styles, as the front here looks more like a male pompadour. Hair is usually pulled back very tightly and again, hair is kept out of the face. A long ponytail, short ponytail, straight ponytail or curled ponytail all work with this look. It all depends on your personal tastes.
Very clean, controlled waves is one rockabilly style adaptable for very short to medium-length hair. On very short hair, the waves should be very flat against the scalp. Often, this look will resemble a 1920s flapper look, but can also be considered rockabilly. With shoulder-length hair, as seen on Nicole Richie, waves should be very smooth and pressed-looking. To achieve this style, use a leave-in conditioner and a hair serum through hair while hair is damp. To perfect the look, big wave plates are available for some straightening irons.
Rockabilly style has evolved quite a bit over the decades, but traditionally, only natural colors fit the look. Platinum blonde was probably the most wild color, however, these days the rockabilly scene is not made-up of purely traditional styles. Some rockabilly girls mix the old style with punk or ska looks, which may include other colors mixed into the style. Sometimes, you’ll see the tips dyed a different color, or the entire ponytail of a style dyed a different color. All of these colors can now be considered part of the current rockabilly look, but natural colors are still more predominant in the culture.
References and ResourcesRetro-hairstyles
Katy Perry's Fashion Love
Hairstyle Design Rockabilly styles