How To Style Rockabilly Hair

Now that your hair is curled and dyed, it’s time to style it! At Grease Girl, we love spending time in the garage most – but a few minutes in front of the mirror won’t hurt anyone either…in fact, it can be lots of fun!

Some beginning advice

If this is your first time trying vintage or rockabilly styles for your hair – be a little patient and think outside the box! When I first started styling my hair this way it took a little extra time and effort – but once you’ve got the hang of it, it should be a cinch!

When creating a hairstyle, I usually spongecurl my hair and then see where it seems to want to go. At times if I’m going for a certain look, I’ve learned which way to curl my hair to get the look I’m wanting. But…it doesn’t always work out exactly as planned! Which is why I said “think outside the box!” Having a little creativity when doing a vintage hairstyle helps. If the curls aren’t going how I want them to go – change your gameplan!

Styling Options

There are a few basic styling items to have up your sleeve. Once you’ve mastered these – you can combine them into lots of combinations to create an endless variety of looks!

A pompadour is a pouf of the hair up at the forehead.
A segment of hair rolled up and secured, used in numerous ways.
A twist of hair secured with bobby pins - a simple element that can add that extra something to a hairstyle.
Usually a small segment (an inch or two) of hair that is rolled, beginning with the ends, into a circle and pinned next to the head.

Continue for details, pictures, and further down accessories to have up your sleeve!


A pompadour is a pouf of the hair up at the forehead. Pompadours can be little or big. There are a variety of ways to create a pompadour. The easiest is to use a little hairspray at the root of your hair – then give it a little twist and bobby pin. For more of a greaser look, a good amount of pomade is put through the hair and then combed up into place. Hopefully I’ll get around to making some fun hair videos…but until then, all the help you should need can be found on YouTube.


There are a variety of things that can be considered a roll. There are the side rolls which some people call victory rolls. Just like pompadours these can be large or small. If I’m making a roll in my hair, its usually from a segment of hair just above my ear to about mid-forehead. In a roll, all of the ends are tucked inside.

Another roll, would be the hair rolled forward, forming bangs almost. Sometimes this is called a barrel roll. It took me quite awhile before I could pull this off on cue, and for my fine-stranded hair, I’ve found extra-long boby pins to be the key as well as some pomade and hairspray.


Just a twist of hair secured with bobby pins. This little flourish can make a big difference in the simplest of styles. A simple low ponytail can be transformed by twisting a couple small sections of hair over each other a bit and bobby pinning just above where you rubber-band it. Or twist the sides and do braids…the options are nearly endless.


Usually a small segment (an inch or two) of hair that is rolled, beginning with the ends, into a circle and pinned next to the head. Originally, this is how you curled your hair – by making a ton of these and sleeping or setting them. But, pincurls are great fillers to ad into a rockabilly/retro hairstyle. You can do a style that uses just one of these as an accent or combine a few of them for a more dramatic look. Pincurls can be placed parallel to the head, or any which way you want. I often to a couple of pincurls in my bang area and create a simple hairstyle with just that and a ponytail or bun.

Combine for the perfect vintage hairstyle

By combining a pompadour with a roll or pincurl or two you can create endless different styles! You can pull just one side up or both front sides. You can leave the back down or pulled up someway. Even very simple styles such as a ponytail or single braid can be given a more rockabilly look with just a couple of bobby pins.

Still have questions about sponge rolling your hair? Our sponge roller tutorial page will help you out!

Add Accessories

Flower clips, bandannas, ribbons, and bows are all good things to keep nearby to add to your retro hairstyle. Sometimes I build a hairstyle around the accessory I want to use – other times the accessory is an afterthought or used to help fill in a “hole”. Start building your stash – don’t have to go out and buy all this stuff at once, you’ll probably find certain things work for you and others don’t! Some people can pull off the huge flowers, others just make it look awkward. Find out what works for you by trying it out!

Flower Clips

By far my favorite hair accessory (even though I couldn’t live without bandannas!) It is always so lovely seeing someone wearing a flower in their hair, it brightens my day! My favorite flowers are attached to a good firm pronged clip and can slide right in wherever I feel they fit. Try wearing them at your temples, near your ear, or towards the back of your head.

I’ve seen flowers in makeup stores that cost $10-15. I wouldn’t spend that much on a hair flower unless it was absolutely incredible! Most of my hair flowers I buy in the Downtown LA fashion district for $1 a piece. Don’t worry if you don’t live nearby – there are plenty of other options. Crafty gals might hit the craft store (although I have to admit this can be hit and miss and sometimes you actually end up spending more money this way!) Another place to find great flowers is on, just search for “rockabilly hair flower”.


I like to wash my bandannas before using so they’re not so stiff. Usually when I use a classic cotton bandanna, I start from a folded triangle and fold it over two more times leaving about a 4″ band. From there I kinda stuff my hair in the back of it, or do large pincurls if I feel like spending more time, and tye it up at the top. The little ends can either stay sticking out to from a pointy bow or you can tuck them in for a sleeker look. You can also use the bandanna more as a headband if you fold it smaller. I find that the cotton bandanna get a little bulky for this use, so I keep vintage scarves around for when I want to do this.

Ribbons & Bows

I love tying a ribbon around my head, creating a headband. While I like to make a little bow in top, some people may prefer to leave the ends hidden in the back. 1″ ribbons are my favorite, although 2″ can be used for a more dramatic look. I usually use satin ribbons, but also have a leopard-print velvet that I love – velvet stays put in your hair really well. When I use a ribbon around my head, I secure it by each ear with short bobby pins.

I also have some ribbons that I’ve made into permanent bows and attached to a bobby pin or clip. These are as quick and simple to use as flowers. Or cute little bows can be made out of fabric and affixed to a clip, I love to wear these in pairs above a couple of ponytails or braids.

The best place to find ribbons is at the fabric store of course! You’ll also found pre-made bow clips on if you’re interested.

More Resources

Vintage Hairstyle Books

Back in the day, there was only one newly written book around that I knew of that gave tips on 1940s hair, but a recent look on Amazon revealed a number of different ones available. I can’t vouch for any of those, since I’ve never thumbed through them…but the one that helped me some as I was beginning to experiment with my hair is titled “1940s Authentic Hairstyles: Tips and Tricks For Creating Authentic 1940s Hairstyles” by Streamline Press.

Vintage Stylists on You Tube

There are a ton of beauty tips to be found on You Tube. Rather then waste hours looking for something that’s worth your time, here’s a couple of my favorite.

Iris on ILoveGerardo – I stumbled upon a video of Iris’ years ago. She has tons of videos and a wide range of look – from 20s/30s styles all the way to modern, but she definitely focuses on retro stuff.

Lisa Fremont Street – She’s specifically targeting women with thin hair – she has tons of great stuff.

Enough of this…back to the girly garage!!!