Over the past year, many of the latest trends within men’s fashion and grooming seem to have taken inspiration from old Rock ‘n’ Roll & Rockabilly eras. We have seen the popularity of gingham rise in both a formal and casual context, leather jackets have returned to prominence due to biker type looks dominating the runways, and THE major hairstyle for men across the country right now is either the The Quiff and/or big hair in general. After seeing the recent spring/summer 2012 runway previews, it seems like the Rockabilly influence is going to crest early next year, with many looks incorporating key pieces from the sub culture.
Firstly though, what is Rockabilly? Well, it is typically identified as one of the earliest forms of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which dates back to around the 1950s. The word literally is an amalgamation of ‘Rock’ and ‘Hilbilly’ – referencing the cross between Rock ‘n’ Roll and country style music that influenced its development into its own sub-genre. Although it launched with much fanfare and inspired a generation of fans – namely due to charismatic front men such as Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins – its popularity seemed to die out by the end of the 50s. However, towards the 70s it was back with a bang with the 1968 Elvis comeback, and a new generation of great acts through the 70s/80s like the Everly Brothers and The Stray Cats forced the Rockabilly movement worldwide, where its popularity has continued to the present day.
For many Rockabilly is more than just the music – it is a way of life. The music, the cars, the fashion and the attitude are all part of the appeal, which is why it would be sacrilege to any who actually ‘lives it’ for me to tell you how to ‘copy the look’. But this doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate certain aspects of the style and its influences into our modern wardrobes. As previously mentioned, Rockabilly is going to play a major part of all new trends next year, so let’s get you up to scratch well in advance with a two-parter: today focusing on key pieces and style considerations, and tomorrow showing you how to incorporate it into modern day outfits through a dedicated look book.
Of course, you would of all seen pictures of popular artists such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, Travolta in Grease and the like, so this section is dedicated to a collection of images I have found that embody the whole Rockabilly lifestyle. This should hopefully set the mood for the rest of the piece, as we break down the building blocks of the look:
We have already seen how the Rockabilly look is more than just the clothes. You need the ‘attitude’. The effortless cool that these guys exude is all part of the persona; rock solid confidence is probably a by-product of feeling like you ‘belong’ and it being more of a lifestyle choice than simply getting dressed in the morning. Believing in the concept and knowing exactly who you are is always going to take your looks to the next level, and this is a key trait that all of you should be looking to develop – if you haven’t already.
Tattoos are another widely accepted mark of Rockabilly style. Usually the guys will have multiple full colour tattoos, which only adds to the whole ‘attitude’ and overall edgy style they have developed through the generations. This does not mean I want you to run out and get yourself a full sleeve in order to be ‘cool’ – like I said, this is a lifestyle choice and these tattoos represent who the men are as individuals; their life, loves and choices.
The hair is a major part of Rockabilly infused style, and probably a reason it is so sought after right now within the industry. The big hair and slick quiffs ooze effortless cool, and it is no wonder that it has become one of the biggest movements in men’s hair in recent times. With this new hairstyle prominent on men countrywide (you only have to look around your local city on a night out to see its increasing popularity) we can only assume that the premium design houses are capitalising on the movement by sending other Rockabilly inspired looks and clothing down the runways.
With the hairstyle showing no sign of slowing down, Robert has already broke down The Quiff, and shown you how to bring it bag up to date for 2011/2012. Below you will find a new collection of men’s hairstyles that have all been inspired by the Rockabilly era. Maybe one of these will become your own signature look for 2012?
So now we come onto the key pieces of clothing that embody Rockabilly style. These are the items you should probably have in your wardrobe if you want to pull off an inspired look – whilst they are also going to become even more fashion relevant with the turn of the season and the influx of new inspired trends.
The leather jacket has always been a men’s staple piece, but the black leather jacket is iconic within Rockabilly. Think Elvis, Travolta in Grease and even Fonzie in the TV show Happy Days – they all had that effortless ‘cool’ with just a hint of attitude and toughness that is personified in the black leather jacket.
Although the tougher biker style jackets are the on trend choice right now, there are plenty of style available on the market and probably never a better time to invest with all the upcoming sales.
Sticking with the Rock ‘n’ Roll influence, skinny jeans have always been a key piece in recent times in order to hit any type of indie or rock look. As there was no real ‘skinny’ fit back then, most stuck to slim and well cut jeans in dark washes that again just serve to reinforce the whole edgy attitude that seemed to ooze from them naturally.
The shirts have always been a major consideration and identifier within Rockabilly style. The 2 key shirts you would need in your wardrobe are bowling shirts and gingham/plaid patterned versions. These have always stood out in any photos I have seen of Rockabilly trends/outfits and they are normally buttoned to the top – without the tie.
Western shirts were another type that seemed to gain popularity within the sub-culture, as the Country influence pushed denim versions to the forefront. Of course, this fits in with current day fashion, as denim shirts have steadily become a staple piece for your wardrobe – whether in chambray or traditional denim.
An everyday essential turned into something iconic within the Rockabilly era. Plain white t-shirts and vests are something we take for granted these days, but they formed a major part of every look when layered underneath the black leather jacket. Just as relevant today, these are the building blocks of any successful wardrobe and make great layering or simple ‘throw on’ pieces that define effortless cool.
There are 3 major styles when it comes to Rockabilly footwear. The first has become a slight underground trend this year and comes in the form of the ‘Creeper’ style shoe. These are typified by their thick crepe soles, and were adopted early by our very own ‘Teddy Boys’ – who were inspired by many of the same influences that are present within Rockabilly.
Of course, with the look revolving around tough and edgy, the black leather boots were also essential. Biker, military and worker versions are all suitable and most of you will already own a pair of these in your wardrobe.
Finally, brogues (or ‘wing tips’) were another popular shoe style for smarter looks, and so you can probably now see just how much of an effect the Rockabilly lifestyle has had on many key styles and trends we have seen over the past couple of years.
In terms of accessories, two really stick out for me. Firstly, braces were often worn in two distinct ways – either with a gingham type shirt buttoned up to the top, or over a simple white vest with some dark jeans. Both looks are iconic and should you adopt them today, they would still make you stand out from the crowd. Braces are an accessory that many men tend to shy away from, but they are not hard to wear and can become a signature piece for you.
The other accessory that was often sported came in the form of the flat cap. Most likely inspired by the Southern Country lifestyle, it was a piece of headwear worn by many ranch workers and so ties in nicely with the denim western shirt. Of course, with the heritage trend becoming a major player this autumn/winter, this is an accessory you will get use out of not only this season, but moving into next year as well.
Hopefully this brief guide will of provided you with an insight into the Rockabilly style of the 50s that has become so relevant again and even ‘fashion forward’ for 2011. Many of the current popular pieces within your wardrobe have roots within the sub-culture, with its influence only setting to grow in 2012.
Of course, Rockabilly is a lifestyle choice and in order to really nail the look you have to be passionate and believe in who you are and what you represent as a person. Having a little attitude, being confident in yourself and dressing in order to represent what inspires you are all personality traits that we should look to take away from the men who embody Rockabilly.
Stay tuned for tomorrow when we aim to bring this look bang up to date and see how we can incorporate aspects of the Rockabilly style into our own current looks in order to produce some of that highly desired effortless cool.
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