The Fab Four’s Fab Fashion: The Beatles’ Mark on the Fashion World
Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ last performance in the US: they performed at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29th, 2016 before returning to London. Having appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, their breakout performance, only two years prior, The Beatles left their mark on the country not just with their music but with their fashion choices and style. From their early tailored look to their long hair and psychedelic patterns, The Beatles embodied the pivotal period of the 60’s through and through.
The Early Days
When The Beatles emerged onto the scene, they stood out by blending in — they performed in matching collarless tailored suits inspired by Pierre Cardin’s contemporary designs. Their matching outfits and haircuts reminded audiences that the group was a true team with a uniform. Of course, it wouldn’t be long before they were setting the trend instead of following it. The style would become the norm for up-and-coming bands and trickle into the basic style choices of their fans.
The boys’ moptop hairdos, known (by total coincidence) as “The Arthur”, rapidly caught on across the country after their Ed Sullivan show performance. Their boots, already popular in the UK, also took hold, when their manager commissioned custom shoes for the boys, adding a cuban heel to a simple leather chelsea boot — now known as “Beatles Boots”.
As seen on the cover of the 1967 Sgt Pepper album, the boys soon became inspired by the style of other successful bands, and moved toward a decidedly more hippie look. All four band members grew out their hair, and incorporated elements of paisley and Nehru jackets into their wardrobe. And then there were John Lennon’s glasses, perhaps the band’s most iconic fashion contribution. Built to address his nearsightedness, Lennon’s teashade glasses were round and thin-rimmed, and debuted as part of his look in the film How I wont the War.
Once The Beatles split, the fashion attention shifted over to John Lennon and Yoko Ono as a couple. For their wedding, Yoko sported a tiered crepe mini, kneesocks, sneakers, and a floppy sunhat. Often seen in neutral colors and white, the pair were famous for their bed-ins where they’d wear pale pjs as part their silent protest against the Vietnam War. After Lennon’s death, Yoko continued to be viewed as a style icon thanks to her distinctive looks and signature derby hat. In 2012, she also released a limited-edition fashion line in partnership with Opening Ceremony inspired by her late husband.
The Beatles have had an ongoing influence on the style of today, particularly due to the distinct nature of 60’s fashion and its staying power. From Prada to Paul Smith, the decade has always been a large source of inspiration for contemporary designers thanks to its vibrance and variety. Beyond the runway, its easy to find remnants of the band in the current mainstream style, whether it be in the form of a teashade pair of sunglasses or collarless jacket, The Beatles made their mark not just with their music but also with their clothes they wore over the course of their success.