I didn’t always plan on being tattooed. I grew up as a ‘black sheep’ with very different and unique ideals about life. I have always been headstrong and opinionated and because of this, was bound to stray from the path of the white picket fence… Once I turned 18, I started getting tattoos and never looked back. Here I am today, female, fun and full of ink… And I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
Let me be clear, being female and having tattoos does not mean that I am a Rockabilly chick – Why? Because that takes work. Work, time, effort and creativity. Am I worthy? Perhaps, but I have some work to do before I get there and live this lifestyle that I have fallen so deeply in love with. I curtsy to all the women (and men) living this era, the effort that it takes with hair and make up and the beauty that you exude when out on the town… I have the most respect for the dolls out daily in their dresses with hair in perfect curl and red lipstick on point, in fact, I’m envious.
If unsure about what Rockabilly is, here are a few pages with some information to better educate you on the style and era :
Wikipedia – Rockabilly
How to be a Rockabilly Dollie
Pin up vs Rockabilly
Here begins the road to Rockabilly.
After following a few Pin Up and Rockabilly enthusiasts via social media in the past year, I developed an interest in the clothing, make up, hair and overall attitude of the era. I kept an eye out on trends, accessories and hair color for an overall picture of what Rockabilly was about, though never acting on transitioning to a Rockabilly girl myself. Me? Shevy? The rocker chick that doesn’t even wear dresses, ever? How absurd. Or so I believed.
Last year, we were invited to attend a Rockabilly themed anniversary party which I thought was a great opportunity to try out the Rockabilly style. I donned red skinnies, pumps, a vest and checkered shirt with some red in my hair and make up to match. I spent weeks figuring out my outfit, calling on all contacts for help and making the best go of it I possibly could. The end result, a Rockabilly / Psychobilly hybrid which I absolutely loved! I felt… Comfortable.
My interest was peaked. I really enjoyed ‘dressing up’ and realized that I wanted this to be more than a dress up. I could do this, as a way life, couldn’t I? Sadly not, life got in the way and before I knew it, a new year was upon us. Then, my dad announced the dates and theme for his 50th birthday party (Theme – Glam) and I knew that the 50’s were waiting to be channeled by no one but me.
The first step, finding a dress. For followers of my blog, you’ll know that my dress search became almost, well, hopeless. Basically, the dress I ordered months ago was stolen at customs (Full Story – Time for a rockabilly rant) and the second dress that my husband drove to Sasolburg and back to collect didn’t end up fitting. A desperate cry for help via social media (Thank you The Tattooed Lady) led me to find this little gem of a shop in Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria called Retrospective. Mondi was amazing, the day before the party I’d already been in contact and on the day of, we arrived to fitting rooms ready with dresses in my size and the hope that I’d be walking away with a dress. Third time lucky. I decided on a Hell Bunny dress (Aztec) with a white petticoat and the first smile about my outfit in days. While not the original nautical style dress I’d planned on, the colors still matched and I think everything worked really well (Red, Blue and White).
Prior to the dress debacle, I’d planned accessories and shoes for the outfit. I ordered nautical inspired accessories from Miss Happ, a beautiful cameo necklace, anchor earrings, a hair clip and shoe clips – the perfect addition to the ensemble. I bought a pair of cheap and cheerful pumps from PnP in white and paired them with my beautiful shoe clips, the shoes were a gorgeous finishing touch. I wasn’t done, a little white cardigan from Mr Price finished it off and my clothing was finally sorted. Thankfully, my Aztec dress matched all the awesome accessories, shoes and cardigan purchased long before I even had it. Was I throwing myself into this? I think so!
After all this effort on my clothes, shoes and accessories, there was no way I could let my hair, make up and nails slip. The nails were easy, a blue press on to match the outfit but hair and make up? I was in for quite the challenge.
Nails – Check. Make up? I spent a while researching, chatting to friends following video tutorials and googling. Everything led me to red lips, winged liner, pail foundation and understated blush. I ended up with a tutorial for ideas and a steady hand for the liner, best cat’s eyes I’ve ever done!
Last but not least, hair! Oh my word, Rockabilly dolls do it with style. I wish I had longer hair and a more lenient job to pull off the colored bangs and Dita waves but alas, my pixie style meant for a little bit of a personal twist. After hours of googling (again) I came across a video tutorial which led my husband being ordered to the shop to buy a curling iron (which I didn’t previously own) and hours of frustration and irritation. After two hours, the end result really did look good and was well worth the effort, how would I do this daily?
After all of this, my outfit was complete. I was happy. I ordered my photographer husband to take some photos of me (proud moment) with my vintage scooter – yes, it’s mine – and off to the party we went.
What a journey to get here… The frustrations, complications, challenges and expenses involved were many, but the satisfaction with the end result far outweighed all of this. Many girls dream of growing up to be princesses, I wasn’t one of them. In fact, I grew up not knowing what I wanted to be. Now that I’ve grown up, I realize that one girls princess is another girls Rockabilly doll or pin up and perhaps I’ve stumbled on the girly girl I’m supposed to be instead of the ‘mature’ woman I’m expected to be. I spent my life refusing to fit in, moving against the masses. Now I find myself longing to fit in with a group of like minded people who don’t fit into the masses and are happy with that. I bought my first Rockabilly dress and I can guarantee you, it won’t be the last. I look forward to buying more trinkets and accessories, learning different ways to style my hair and play around with this gorgeous style. Suddenly, I find myself caring about how I look (not that I didn’t before, but more so now) and paying more attention to the style I portray. The most rewarding aspect? The positive attention I’ve received after posting a few of the photos, the compliments I received at the party and the amount of people that have told me the look suits me and I do pull it off, well. I know that I must be on the right track…
So, you may ask, do I actually know anything about the 50’s? I do, in fact, Marilyn Monroe is a favorite of mine but in all honesty, I don’t know enough and so I will continue to learn through my journey. I’m a traveller and the road is paved with Elvis and lipstick and beauties of decades past. I know where I want to be, I know who I am, I know where I’m going and I like it.
P.S. The final product… Dress, Make up, Hair, Nails, Shoes, Scooter and all.