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"Rockabilly" is a term used to define a genre of music that combines rock and roll and country music, which originated in the early 1950s. Rockabilly clothing evokes a time when clothing was modest and playful. Vintage clothing and retro-inspired pieces that contribute to the rockabilly look add distinct wardrobe flair. Rockabilly relies heavily on 1950s clothing shapes and styles, usually with updated prints and fabrics.
Women's rockabilly clothing items run the gamut from pristine and prim to wild and daring. Some women pursuing a rockabilly image choose to dress in pin-up girl style as an homage to models of the era, such as Bettie Page. Leopard print, playful sailor costumes, bold stripes, capri pants and pencil skirts all fit into the rockabilly style. While clothing may be form-fitting, it usually doesn't involve extra-low necklines or extra-high hemlines, making it a fairly modest choice when compared to other fashion styles.
As is the case with the fashion world over all, less variety exists among men's rockabilly clothing. Men's styles commonly resemble greaser clothing, specifically fashions featured on the male lead character Danny Zuko in the movie Grease. Leather jackets, T-shirts and jeans are all standard wardrobe pieces. Regardless of the clothing choice, items should be clean and tailored.
Others in the rockabilly subculture prefer a more innocent approach to their clothing with poodle skirts, polka dots and cashmere cardigans in light colors and feminine fabrics. As with women's clothing items, some men's items are more tailored, such as button-down short-sleeved shirts, bowling shirts with plaid or ticking and pressed slacks with loafers. Accessories such as pearls, gloves and hats are welcome additions to rockabilly outfits.
Rockabilly clothing can be mixed and matched with other clothing styles to suit personal tastes. Psychobilly is both a music genre and fashion style that mixes rockabilly aesthetics with punk overtones, and gothabilly is a fusion of goth and rockabilly. Both of these fashion subgenres embrace the basic shapes and styles prominent in rockabilly clothing but with a darker, edgier feeling imparted through fabric choices, such as velvet or lace, and prints that may include skulls, flames or Sailor Jerry style tattoo art.
One doesn't need to listen to rockabilly music or embrace a rockabilly lifestyle in order to dress in rockabilly clothing. Some individuals prefer to wear the clothing simply because they like the look of it. Others delight in incorporating rockabilly accessories or individual clothing pieces into their everyday wardrobe for an offbeat, eclectic look.