Yesterday we introduced many of you to the Rockabilly lifestyle and inspired by fashion. Today, we are going to be looking at how we can incorporate elements of this style into modern day looks. As we pointed out yesterday, Rockabilly is more than just the clothes; it is the attitude, persona and an intrinsic love or devotion to the whole lifestyle.
With this in mind, this look book is not going to be a step by step guide to ‘get the look’ or ‘dress like a Rockabilly’ – instead we will look to integrate small touches and key items into your current everyday looks.
Modernising The Look
You can create a contemporary Rockabilly look by keeping in mind the key identifiers that set the sub-culture apart from the others. The first thing you notice is the hair. Big hair is the order of the day; with modern slick back quiffs, sheep’s tail fringes and generally volume created by blow drying being the ‘go-to’ styles.
Of course, these are all right on trend right now within the industry, so experiment with big and messy hair or chic and slick styles to see what works best for you. If in doubt, book an appointment with your stylist and get a professional opinion on what will work best for your particular hair type. Robert has already broken down how to get the quiff before, but here are some key styling products that have been thoroughly recommended for all hair types:
Of course, texture and material plays a large part in achieving a Rockabilly look. Leather and denim are the fabrics of choice, with roots within the Rock ‘n’ Roll and Western/Country music scenes respectively. These are also very tough and durable materials, which lend themselves well to the hard and edgy look of the Rockabilly sub culture. We have often said that a leather or denim jacket can toughen up even the most formal of looks instantly, and that the clashing of styles creates an essence of effortless cool that is so prominent within Rockabilly style.
Other than textures, the other key considerations are accessories and footwear. Rockabilly fashion was often kept simple – white tees and vests paired with dark slim jeans and a jacket layered over the top – so accessorising is important in order to ram home the look and give it an edge. Obviously the hair styles and penchant for colourful tattoos are two major accessories that come as a reflection of you and your personality, however there are multiple modern accessories that will also help to get the look.
Braces, flat caps, reader style glasses/wayfarer sunglasses, masculine metal jewellery and traditional Rock ‘n’ Roll accessories all work well within this look in order to toughen it up or provide some of that easy and effortless style that they are known for. Like I say, Rockabilly fashion isn’t complicated – many of the key pieces are wardrobe staples for us now – but it is the attitude, rock solid confidence and the finishing touches that set you apart. Something that should be each and every readers mantra for dressing on a daily basis, come to think about it.
The great thing about the accessories mentioned above is that many males will still not wear them regularly. I do not often see braces, flat caps or chunky metal jewellery adorning the outfits of men where I live, and I would assume it be the same throughout the country – bar the major fashion cities.
Finally, footwear is another true hallmark of the Rockabilly style, and one that would also set you apart today. Creeper shoes are the obvious choice here, and have become an underground footwear trend over the past 3 months. You will either love them or hate them – but you can’t deny they definitely create a statement. They are a great addition to modern day looks if you want to channel your inner Rockabilly, and you can combine them with trousers and a polo neck (shown below) and still hit the essence of Rockabilly style – they are that iconic within the sub culture.
The Modern Rockabilly Inspired Lookbook
The New Rockabilly Lookbook
I will now attempt to create a variety of looks that integrate the basic principles of Rockabilly style into modern trends and/or outfits. Remember that it isn’t as simple as throwing these clothes on and you will suddenly become Elvis Presley – you need to truly be invested and passionate about the whole concept, otherwise it will come off incongruent and ‘forced’.
- John Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Sweater
- Allsaints Mast Biker Jacket
- Allsaints Ignition Trouser
- Topman Arthur 2 Coloured Brogue
So we start with a look that has been one of the key combinations for men’s fashion this autumn/winter – the slim cut trousers and a polo neck. The black and burgundy colour combination is one of my favourites from the season, whilst the extremely slim cut of the trousers sticks to the basic Rockabilly principles. This is a true modern sartorial combination, so we clash styles and toughen it up with a black leather biker jacket. As you know, leather is a key texture, and will give this smart look some edge.
As we mentioned previously, the footwear is KEY – so these two tone brogues are the perfect finishing touch. Remember that edgy black leather boots, brogues and creepers are the ‘go-to’, and two tone versions definitely have that old school Rock ‘n’ Roll feel. However, plain black or two tone creeper shoes would also work perfectly in this look.
As for accessories, I stayed away as I wanted to keep the look stripped back and refined – but you can easily integrate jewellery or the like in order to individualise your outfit.
- Allsaints Foreman Jacket
- Vintage Renewal Denim Shirt
- Topman Paisley Necktie
- Allsaints Foreman Trouser
- Reiss Dart Reversible Belt
- Grenson William Brown Grain Shoes
Sticking with the smart/formal theme, I wanted to try and show you how we can even integrate a touch of Rockabilly into a suit. Double breasted is right on trend for both 2011 and 2012, whilst the imposing frame and powerful look it creates makes me automatically associate it with the tough and edgy look of the Rockabilly.
This time we integrate another key material in the form of the denim shirt. This particular version comes in a Western style and is actually a vintage effort by Urban Outfitters – perfect for what we are trying to achieve. The light blue tone contrasts against the dark navy backdrop of the suit, and this is a suit and shirt colour combination many of you will already utilise on a daily basis.
The way we give it that touch of Rockabilly comes from the necktie. This red version is the perfect complimentary colour to the blue tones that make up the outfit, making it stand out immediately. I actually wanted to utilise an unstructured bowtie in this look (as shown in our DIY article here) in order to subtly show the unconventional nature of the Rockabilly and rebelliousness against traditional ‘rules’ – one of the primary reasons Teddy Boys adopted the creeper shoes for themselves.
However, you can either tie the necktie underneath your collar in order to create a make shift version, or open up the top button and tie it directly on your neck – either way shows some of that ‘Southern Country’ influence that is so important within Rockabilly culture.
Finish with simple brown brogues and a belt in order to compliment the navy base tones.
- Reiss Herald Casual Slim Fit Shirt White
- Topman Turquoise Stone Bolo Tie
- Pretty Green Indigo Western Denim Jacket
- Topman Charcoal Donegal Peg Leg Trousers
- Thin Brown Leather Belt
- Belstaff Chocolate Strap Barkmaster Biker Boots
With this outfit I wanted to show you how to use one of my favourite pieces within menswear at the moment – the wool trousers. I have already broken down how versatile they are and how they can be utilised within a whole variety of looks – so let’s give them a contemporary Rockabilly twist. First we start with a plain white shirt, as it is the perfect neutral base for us to build the outfit around, and you should all have one in your wardrobe.
We then throw on a tough dark denim jacket in order to give this formal look a bit of an edge, with it having the added bonus of contrasting against the softer wool textured trousers.
The next two pieces are what root this look firmly in Rockabilly. First we have the brown biker style boots that add an edge and some toughness to the look, whilst also being smart enough so they don’t look out of place. Next we have a true Cowboy inspired accessory, in the form of the bolo tie. This bolo tie not only nails the Rockabilly look but it is a real statement piece that you will not see anyone else wearing. The sky blue coordinates perfectly against the navy jacket, whilst the white shirt provides the perfect backdrop in order to really let it stand out.
- Allsaints Tonic Vest
- Allsaints Gridd Crew
- Nudie Long John Black Skinny Jeans
- Topman Peter 2 Black Boots
Here we move into a more casual outfit that could be utilised every day. ‘Fetish Wear’ is going to be a major trend come spring/summer 2012 – think mesh, see through and transparency – but for many it is just too much. However, this edgy style definitely suits a Rockabilly inspired look, so we create a more socially acceptable take by layering the iconic Rockabilly white vest underneath this sheer piece of knitwear. Oversized and slouchy is the order of the day – reinforcing that effortless appraoch to dressing.
Toughen it all up with some skinny black jeans and leather military boots and you have a look that creates a statement on its own without needing to over accessorise. Tattoos are optional but for those that already have them, they would look great showcased through the sheer knit.
- Topman White Rib Vest
- Diesel Rombee 88z Denim Jeans
- Topman Brown Flat Cap
- Topman Black Tweed Braces
- Allsaints Alpine Boot
- Topman Mesh Wallet Chain
I have seen this look so many times while researching Rockabilly for this article – and I LOVE it. A pair of skinny/slim dark indigo jeans and a white vest is such a simple combination, you would think there is no way you could make yourself stand out. However, through the utilising of the right accessories, it becomes a real statement look.
The key here are the braces. It makes this look unconventional – but it also just seems to work. Here we picked a tweed set, as not only would the grey look great contrasting against the white vest, it also creates some texture that has been THE major trend of 2011, and looks set to continue into spring/summer next year as well. Of course, we follow this up with another key Rockabilly accessory – the flat cap. Again, we pick a wool version in a brown/grey mix, reinforcing our underlying emphasis on texture.
As we have subtly introduced a touch of heritage into this outfit, I have gone for some tough brown hiking style boots. These are edgy enough to channel the essence of the Rockabilly but they also bring the look right up to date by hitting the trend of the moment.
We finish with a gold mesh wallet chain – highlighted by John yesterday as an accessory that Rockabillies were particularly fond of.
- Tues Night Band Practice Leaper Oxidized Black T-shirt
- Gap 1969 Denim-washed Grey Skinny Fit
- Topman Stud Wallet Chain
- Topman Brothel Creeper Lace Black Shoes
This is another simply everyday look that will work well as we move towards spring/summer. The faded dark black sleeveless tee oozes rock/indie style, and you could quite easily substitute it for any black or white graphic/sleeveless t-shirt. If you go for a full t-shirt, trying nonchalantly rolling your sleeves up in order to create that ‘effortless’ aesthetic and natural ‘cool’.
Grey skinny jeans contrast against the darker black t-shirt, whilst creeper shoes and a wallet chain embody the Rockabilly style. This really is a simple outfit that you can make your own through choice of prints and accessories. You could quite easily add masculine neck chains to this look, or even a leather cuff on your wrist. Whatever accessories you add, just make sure they represent YOU.
- Gitman Vintage Plaid Cotton Oxford Shirt
- Gant Rugger Chino
- Topman Butler Brogue
- Topman Navy Soho Retro Readers
- Baracuta G9 Slim Fit Harrington Jacket Made In England
- Polo Ralph Lauren Canvas Stud Cuff
Our final look utilises another one of the key items in the Rockabilly wardrobe – the gingham/check shirt. We bring it bang up to date by utilising a plaid version, which is on trend for 2011 and going forward into 2012 as well. In this look it is more about how you wear it – buttoned right to the top with the sleeves rolled up. This allows us to add the leather cuff, which has always been a stereotypical rock accessory, and gives this traditionally smart-casual look a bit of toughness.
We drop the skinny jeans for this look and instead bring it up to date with a pair of skinny navy chinos. These pick out one of the minor colours in the plaid shirt, whilst also coordinating beautifully with the brown brogues.
John also pointed out yesterday that Rockabillies actually prefer the Harrington jacket over a leather jacket, which is why I have included the iconic beige/natural colour way from Baracuta – home of the original Harrington jacket.
Reader glasses finish off this outfit, which actually ends up channelling a mix of both ‘Mods’ and ‘Rockabilly’ in one contemporary styled look.