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There have been few styles throughout history that are as iconic and long-lasting as rockabilly.

For proof, look no further than Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, James Dean, and Buddy Holly.

1. Leather jacket

The cornerstone of the rockabilly look is a perfectly-fitting black leather jacket.

It can be a bomber, a biker jacket, or just a classic fitted version, so long as it’s black and leather.

Your jacket should look like you basically live in it, so you don’t want one that looks brand new — even if it is.

You want to give the impression that you just grab the jacket on the way out the door every day without even thinking about it, so look for distressing and other worn-looking details.

A man wearing a leather jacket and white t-shirt and sitting on a motorcycle

A close-up of a man in a rockabilly-style leather jacket

The idea with a lived-in leather jacket is that it can be worn with absolutely anything.

To make sure that you’ll actually want to wear it all the time, make sure yours fits perfectly and also has some functionality.

Look for inner compartments and zippered pockets. We love the simple, slightly faded simplicity of this classic Lucky Brand jacket.

While it’s a bit more of an investment, this Allsaints Mazo Slim Fit biker style may just be the leather jacket of your dreams.

2. Cuffed jeans

Once you’ve settled on a leather jacket, the next piece to the puzzle is the perfect pair of jeans.

If you check out any old movie from the late ’50s or ’60s, you’ll see that all the guys in jeans have something in common: They’re wearing them with a large cuff folded up at the ends.

This was a major style element at the start of rockabilly’s popularity and it’s still a mainstay today.

Even if you’re just wearing jeans and a solid-colored t-shirt, the oversized cuff gives your outfit interesting depth.

A group of people dressed in the rockabilly style with cuffed jeans

A man dressed in classic rockabilly style wearing oversized cuffs in his jeans

It’s super simple to make the rockabilly cuffed jeans look your own.

Find a pair of jeans you love and get them in a relaxed fit and a length that’s several inches too long so that you have plenty of room to fold in the cuff.

You can never go wrong with a pair of Levi’s 550s, but the tongue-in-cheek details on these Cult of Individuality Rockabilly Straight jeans are pretty awesome, too.

3. Bowling shirt

Elvis was often seen wearing bowling shirts, sometimes also called work shirts, as part of his more casual outfits, making them extremely popular.

The soft knit shirts are something of a hybrid; they’re part polo shirt, part loungewear, and somehow also part dressier button-down.

While bowling shirts are often two-toned or feature unique stitching details, there are no rules that say they have to be. 

A Woman And Man Dressed In Full Rockabilly Outfits At An Outdoor Event
A Man Wearing A Bowling Shirt Posing In Front Of An Old Chevrolet Pickup

Topman always nails the retro-but-still-modern look and we love the half-zipper detail on this shirt.

If you prefer the button-down look, check out this Dickies version with chest pockets.

To nail the bowling shirt look, keep the rest of your outfit simple. Think (cuffed) jeans, simple shoes, and maybe your leather jacket.

4. Brogues

Sometimes also referred to as Oxfords or wingtips, men’s brogues are synonymous with 1950s men’s fashion.

The classic footwear is elegant, classy, and retro but also timeless.

Solid-colored brogues are the most popular today, but there’s nothing that says you can’t have fun with them.

These fashionable shoes come in different materials and colors, pairing tweed with leather, white with black, and countless other combinations.

Four different men's brogue shoes in various colors

The feet of someone wearing a worn-in pair of brogues and cuffed jeans

When it comes to a pair of brogues, there are two routes you can take.

You can get a practical pair that you’ll be able to wear to work and on date nights, like the Aviator from Thursday Boot Co., which is one of our favorite men’s boot brands.

The other option is to go with a two-toned, blue plaid and brown pair like these Carltons from Vintage Foundry Co.

5. Low boots

If wingtips aren’t your cup of tea, you have another choice when it comes to rockabilly footwear: Boots. In early rockabilly fashions, boots were almost always pointy-toed, but that is not necessarily always the case today.

They are almost always black and chunky with a low heel and minimal, if any, hardware.

Much like leather jackets, you don’t want your boots to look brand new even when they actually are, so look for worn-in details.

A Low Heeled Rockabilly Style Boot Worn With Cuffed Jeans


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The biggest thing to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a pair of rockabilly-style boots is that they need to be comfortable.

They should look worn in ideally because you actually wear them, so make sure they fit really, really well.

You can truly never go wrong with a pair of smooth, no-fuss Dr. Martens, but we also kind of love the unexpected details on these Dingo Chopper cowboy boots.

6. Pompadour

If you really want to go all-in on the rockabilly style, consider switching up your hairstyle.

Pompadours go hand-in-hand with rockabilly, plus they’re timeless and low maintenance.

You can choose to go fully traditional with a longer cut and slick back all of your hair, or opt for a more modern cut with shaved sides and a smaller pomp on top. Either way, the style won’t be falling out of fashion any time soon.

A man with a pompadour hairstyle sitting down and looking out a window

A Slicked Back Pompadour Hairstyle Shown From The Back

7. A note on tattoos

While colorful tattoo sleeves have become extremely common in modern rockabilly fashion, they were not one of the original style components in the 1950s and ’60s. 

Rather than the other way around, tattoo art actually heavily influences rockabilly style overall today, with its vibrant colors, distinct fonts, and symbols that include cherries and anchors

If you love the look of tattoos, by all means, get one or 20, but it’s worth noting that they weren’t unique to rockabilly. In fact, while Elvis was painted with tattoos for movie roles, it is reported that he didn’t have any tattoos at all himself.

A young man with sleeve tattoos wearing sunglasses and a bow tie

A pair of man's crossed arms that are covered in tattoos

It all started with the music

Like so many other subcultures, rockabilly originated with music. It’s a style in which rock n’ roll meets “hillbilly” country-western and rhythm and blues — hence the name, “rockabilly.” Bill Haley and His Comets released “Rock Around the Clock” in 1954 and it’s still one of those songs that literally just about everyone knows.

That was one of the first true rockabilly songs and it established the genre as one that would be sticking around.

Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley were some of the earliest pioneers of both rockabilly music and style in the 1950s, which makes perfect sense: They were each a little bit rock n’ roll, a little bit country, and a whole lot of trendy without even trying. 

Elvis was often photographed in classic suits paired with embellished cowboy boots, large sunglasses, and bolo ties. While that’s a bit over the top for today’s version of rockabilly, it’s a perfect representation of what the style is all about.

Rockabilly uses classic, retro fashion elements as a base and then builds on the style by incorporating modern pieces.

Today, rockabilly continues to draw inspiration from the 1950s and ’60s “greaser” culture as well as rock n’ roll, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Tattoo art, pin-up, swing, Old Hollywood glamour, and classic vintage clothing all play their parts also.

Though it’s changed some over the past 60 years, rockabilly remains unique, iconic, and full of personality.

The post Rockabilly Style – Dress Rockabilly With These 7 Essentials appeared first on Next Luxury.