10 Items For A Modern Pinup & Rockabilly Wardrobe

Rockabilly & pinup, vintage 1950’s vogue, Victorian vogue… three fascinating styles that can be worn in a modern wardrobe. So what are some of the essentials for putting together a daily wear wardrobe of each style? I thought I’d compile a starter list for each, based on what I can see from the different themes.

Today it’s Modern Pinup & Rockabilly, which  is showcased most beautifully at the annual Viva Las Vegas Pin Up Contest.
I’ve attached a photo of Chinese Le Palais Vintage designer Miss Winny with American Pinup Girl Clothing creative director and Deadly Dames designer Micheline Pitt because because they’re two strong powerful and mind-bogglingly beautiful women who both have brilliant business minds and incredible personal style, as you can see on their delightful instagrams.


Of course Victorian Vogue is my favourite area to write about with Vintage 1950’s Vogue secondary and then pinup & rockabilly next. Despite not being my personal style, I wanted to include this third rockabilly list because there are so many important elements of overlap between the three, especially in the historical inspiration that joins them, as I write about in my blog post on How 1950’s Vogue, Pinup Style & Gibson Girls Shape Our Fashion Today.
My love of burlesque also overlaps with pinup and the edgy rebellion and free spirit of rockabilly, so it’s relevant there too.
Although I am not a rockabilly or pinup style girl, I thought it was far too important and definitely too fun to miss.

Modern Pinup & Rockabilly
Inspirations : Pin up girls, Swing, ‘We Can Do It’ poster, rebellion, freedom, early rock’n’roll.

While not entirely rockabilly, Lana Del Rey is an interesting modern pinup take on elements of this genre, and Kelly Osbourne has some moments in pretty rockabilly fashion too.

From Wikipedia : “Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of Western musical styles such as country with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered “classic” rock and roll.

“We Can Do It!” is an American wartime propaganda poster produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943 for Westinghouse Electric as an inspirational image to boost worker morale.
  1. Victory Rolls & Pin Curls
    As with the Vintage Vogue essentials of the same era, pin curls are essential to know how to do in order to really rock this look, but with softer curls and Victory Rolls in the hair, a hairstyle inspired by fighter plane acrobatic victory manoeuvres to show support for World War II soldiers returning home. Often away from the face with bold hair accessories like flowers or bows.

  2. Head Scarves & Accessories 
    The head scarf is a main rockabilly style staple. Used to hold back the hair, as a tie, or to cover setting pin curls, it is often bold and eye-catching in daring patterns or prints. Flowers and fascinators are also options, usually worn mid to back of the head instead of low over the face.

  3. A Bikini
    Definitely a pinup staple in halter or strapless, high waist and low cut thigh. Polka dots, mismatched top and bottom, twist or button elements and youthfully feminine patterns like cherries or floral print is popular.

  4. Pencil skirt/dress
    Wiggle wiggle, it’s a wiggle dress! Overlapping heavily with vintage vogue here, the pencil dress is a beautiful item that is a must have for any wardrobe, whatever your era of style! The main difference between this and the vintage vogue style is the pattern – rockabilly and pinup style sometimes celebrates small polka dots, comic prints, floral patterns, houndstooth or other patterns.

  5. Swing skirt/dress
    The two-piece style is celebrated to a tee with a swinging circle skirt that can be worn with or without a full petticoat. The dress option is a lovely staple, but the skirt can be more versatile. Often in block colours or full patterns like polka dots, comic print, flowers, cherries, checks or stripes. Most outfits are belted stwo-pieces or dresses with a belted waist. Which brings me to my next point.

  6. Belts 
    A lovely simple belt or two. They can be buckled or plain, slim or wide, but they should be a subtle accent instead of the main attraction. Their role is to cinch in the waist to accentuate the fullness of the skirt.

  7. Retro Petticoat
    Full and frilly, one of these is going to make your retro look pop, whether you’re wearing a circle skirt or dress. Available in many colours so you can mix and match or power clash, whatever you so desire. This is a must for creating the swinging fullness of skirt that this style is all about!

  8. Short Sleeved Blouse or Retro Halter Top
    The necklines vary but common shapes including high, round, square and lapel collared are great for this style. Sleeves are short, capped, halter style or occasionally long. Rockabilly queen, gothic goddess and creative director of Pinup Girl ClothingMicheline Pitt is a beautiful example of modern rockabilly & pinup style.

  9. Short Shorts
    Perfect for summer days, the high waisted short shorts flatter long legs and are quite distinctly retro. Patterned or buttoned, they are easy to wear in hot weather and are as comfortable as they are pretty.

  10. Tattoos
    Fake or real, tattoos have more recently been part of the pinup and rockabilly culture, and the style and ink seem to go hand in hand, with women adorning their bodies with colourful art from all around the world. Many rockabilly style loving women don’t have tattoos, but if you’d like to wear them for fun then there are many beautiful temporary options available.

    And those are my top ten wardrobe items for adding rockabilly and pinup elements to a daily wardrobe. If you have any additional suggestions for other readers to enjoy, please leave them in the comments below.

    Next up – my exploration of Vintage 1950’s Vogue.
    Inspired by Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and other iconic women, with Christian Dior’s New Look, billowing 3/4 length skirts, hats, pearls and capri trousers, amongst other delights…

    And thereafter, my accessible modern take on inspirations from Victorian Vogue styles with everyday fashion elements of long skirts, full sleeved blouses, corseted waists, long sleeved tops and wide brimmed hats… seen echoed in modern designs of Alice & Olivia, Karen Millen, Alexander McQueen and of course in Downton Abbey and many Vogue magazines!

    Both of those will include more corsetry themes, so if you love the silhouettes of corsets or are new to corseting then you may find some inspiration in those posts. Thanks for reading!

RG Raven blog signature
Fabulously eccentric actress, TV host, curvaceous model and founder of Hong Kong ’s first luxury corset brand, Pearls & Arsenic.
 I love sharing my passion for all things elegant, beautiful & inspiring. My Dearest Beloved and I live with a fluffy Angora rabbit named Lord Pemberly III, who is a ridiculous snob, and his dwarf-lop bunny brother, The Earl of Tillington.  Find me on IG @RavenTao or FB : Raven Tao ❤

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Raven Tao

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