“Love, love me do,
You know I love you ,
I'll always be true,
So please, love me do…”
The Fab Four seduced the youth market when they serenaded the world with their first single, “Love Me Do.” There wasn’t a girl alive who didn’t fall head over heels in love with John, Paul, George or Ringo (or all four), and there wasn’t a boy around who didn’t want to be a Beatle. But the catchy tunes of the Beatles’ music were only a small part of the Beatlemania that swept the globe.
These four mop-top lads from Liverpool, England, not only changed the course of music forever, but they influenced 60's fashion as they traveled from rocker to mod to psychedelic princes, and even hippies. Their chameleon looks were copied by kids all over the world, as the Beatles influenced each changing style during the decade.
The Beatles are most famous for their debut look as mop-topped mods with matching slim-cut suits, pointy-toed Chelsea heeled boots, and fringe-cut hair. The pretty boys seemed harmless enough in their clean-cut image, but the parents knew what the kids were doing. After all, they’d been through this whole routine with Elvis, and they knew the power of rock n’ roll. These boys were obviously just wolves in a very stylish sheep’s clothing.
The boys actually started as scruffy rockers in jeans and leather jackets, but when Brian Epstein took over as manager, he cleaned up their image. They cut their hair into the sleek mop-tops and traded in their grubby clothes for narrow, tailored suits. Designer Piere Cardin outfitted them in sleek space-age collarless suits that were unlike anything seen before. Their debut look garnered so much attention, the media dubbed the crazed copycat fandemonium “Beatlemania.”
Boys grew their hair out from the respectable above the ears style, shaping it in an ear-grazing fringe cut. Those who were too fearful of the shaggy style could buy a Beatles wig, for a removable mop-top look. American boys, notorious for their t-shirts and jeans, tried on tailored suits with slim legs, completing the look with their Beatles’ boots. In their 1964 movie, A Hard Day’s Night, John Lennon wore a fisherman’s cap from Mary Quants’ boutique, Bazaar, and that chapeau became the most popular headwear of the decade.
The band relaxed a little with 1965’s Rubber Soul album, replacing shirts with turtlenecks, and the matchy-matchy outfits were traded for a more individualistic and natural style. Hair was longer and heading in the hippie direction during the following years, and the clothes would lose their strict tailoring.
1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band revealed a whole new world of Beatles: the boys joined the Peacock Revolution, dressing in day-glo psychedelic band uniforms, their clean-shaven faces sporting mustaches. The Yellow Submarine look continued on the flamboyant path, and the boys embraced the dandified style of Edwardian ruffles and velvet suits. But within a few years, the style would calm down, and earth tones set in.
As the Beatles’ recording career began to wind down with 1969’s Abbey Road, the boys matured and mellowed. The look was earth-bound hippie, and clothes took a decidedly natural turn with bellbottomed denim, western-style shirts, and wide rawhide belts. Hair was long, and faces sported scruffy sideburns or beards. It was a far cry from the Fab Four’s clean-cut days only six years earlier.
After 1970, the Beatles split the scene, and each nurtured his own individualistic style in a series of successful solo endeavors. The Fab Four was no more, and the Beatlemaniacs were left on their own for their fashion inspiration (and remember, the most exciting fashion derived from the years following their breakup was polyester plaid flares...coincidence? We think not).
The 60's followed the boys’ evolution from mod to hippie, but nothing was more memorable as their fresh-faced debut look. Yes, their music was loud and noisy, and that was parent-irritating enough, but my goodness, what about those shaggy hairdos that touch the ears, and for heaven’s sake, what kind of bizarre clothes are they wearing? While that first Beatles look seems tame by today’s standards, the Beatles style was utterly shocking back then.
“You say you want a revolution…”