Psychobilly is a style of dress that is derived from the music genre of which it draws its namesake.
The fashion trend, much like the genre, takes most of its influence from the Rockabilly and Rock and Roll styles of the 50s, as well as the styles born out of the more recent Punk oriented movements of the 70s.
It is a trend that has only fairly recently witnessed relatively widespread mainstream appeal, although the popularity of the style has been well and truly bustling for as long as 25 years in the underground scene.
Practitioners of the trend are often dubbed “psychos”, and possess a style that is a combination of many elements from a wide range of different pools of interest, which all culminates in a uniquely notable style.
Two bands in particular come to mind with regards to the founders of the style, The Meteors, and The Cramps, both of which have stamped their lasting legacy on the influential movement.
It was a perfect combination of Rockabilly and Punk, with various other influencing elements being infused along the way, throughout the hybrid's development. The common grounds of rebelliousness, devilish charms, and youthful vigilance, drew the styles together in a dance that has continued to endure even the harsh tests of time.
Where to begin
To take up the style of Psychobilly, you need know only one thing before you do so: be prepared to mold things together that you never thought even possible. This sense of freedom in clothing choice is daunting for some, but for others, it's what draws them to the style. This means mohawks with long army overcoats, and tattoos poking out of every direction the body will allow them. One day you'll wear military trousers, and the other day you'll wear tighter than tight jeans that have been bleached with the souls of a thousand bleach containers. It's a mix mash, but it's a psycho's dream.
Doc Martens are a frequent sight in the scene, of which, can almost be regarded as an ornament rather than a clothing choice, as the aim is to make it be known that these godlike specimens are being rocked in full force. Also, if you haven't got the memo by now, if you haven't got tattoos, get them, and that's all there is to say about that subject.
The perfect baby of the skinhead and the pompadour gives us? Well, it's either one or the other, because somewhere in between would be a short back and sides, and we don't want that, that isle is way down there by the business shoes. Either way, you'll be able to grease that scalp up, it just depends whether it's to make a hairstyle stay in tact, or to keep a bald head feeling silky smooth and without flakiness.
Biker jackets, pilot jackets, band logos and quiffs, are all apart of the concoction known as Psychobilly. Also, cool dresses are awesome with this style. Everything you see in the Rockabilly movement, is all game in Psychobilly, only they're almost always given some much needed punk flare.
Large hairdos reminiscent of greaser culture feature streaks and colored tips, and leather jackets are stamped with the approval of band memorabilia (often home-made, in true punk fashion). It's a quirky mix, but it's a mix worthy of mentioning in the realm of fashion, as often times, somehow, the looks mesh together to create an outcome that beats even the best each side has to offer.
How to pull Psychobilly off
For guys, it's easy: dress like Ritchie Valens attending a Punk gig. For the ladies, it's slightly more intricate, although in many ways, the end result is all the more glorious. In the subculture the gals are called “betties”, which pays homage to a certain pin-up doll from the 50s. These ladies place a great deal of emphasis on their hair, much like the lads do, although they also keep a keen eye on how the colors in their outfit match.
Leggings and skirts are a combination that is almost always warn, with little exception (although the exceptions do exist!). Doc Martens are shared across the board, but so too are creepers.
Many of the other items worn above the waist are also shared across the sexes, but an emphasis is placed heavily on modifying clothing to fit personal preferences. Rips here, cuts there, and band insignias everywhere. It's outlandish, even preposterous, and downright psycho, but it's mesmerizing all the same.
Betties in the movement, but also the guys as well, take many of their inspirations from those B-grade horror movies of the 80s, and try to dress as closely to those comically “acting” characters as possible.
There's also a large interest in the hot-rod scene, where you get this kind of image of a Billy Idol looking guy sprawled out over a 40s muscle car with a pompadour instead of a Bart Simpson cut. It's hilarious, but it's way more fashionable when it comes to life, I promise.
The key to pulling it off is feeling what you're wearing, which is why when people go out of their way to demonstrate how “these kids are dressing” by adopting the clothing sense themselves, they look weird and out of place. Modify your own clothes, take inspirations from people that actually dress that way, and incorporate things into your style that you've come up with. It's the best way, but in many ways, it's also the only way.