Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Beatles Style Guide: Part Three 1963 - 1964

Part three of our series exploring The Beatles style from 1961 to 1970, compiled and written by our guest blogger, Harrison. In this instalment the Beatles embrace their suited look. You can also create your very own Beatles inspired look with this guide.

'63 - '64
The Toppermost Of the Poppermost

The Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. 1964.

"So we got suits and ties and stuff and we went on like that. We gained a whole new audience and lost all the people who wanted us in leather."
- Paul McCartney 

In 1963, The Beatles were headed to the toppermost of the poppermost. Although there is debate over which single was their first U.K. number one hit, From Me To You went to the top of the charts in May. The group's first number one hit in America was I Want To Hold Your Hand. It entered the charts in January of 1964, and in the first week of February, just before their arrival, the song jumped to number one. 

The Beatles look evolved with their growing success and popularity. They no longer wore their round neck collarless suits. Their stage suits were always a variation of the traditional English Chesterfield, however, in early 1964 the lads had a special suit designed for them by Douglas Millings. The winged velvet collar suit was made for their debut American television performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th, 1964. They joined the club of their musical idols, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, who'd previously performed on the programme. The former sent them a telegram prior to their performance to congratulate them.  

The black suits they wore on Ed Sullivan were mohair, four button jackets with three button cuffs. They had no outer pockets, but the fully lined inside had double breast pockets. The double vent back allowed them to move more freely when they performed and also made running from fans easier. They continued to wear narrow ankle drainpipe trousers. The slacks also had tab adjustments on the waistband to make the drainies smaller at the waist and eliminating the need for a belt.

The dress shirts the Beatles wore were simple, classic white shirts that could be paired with any colour suit they wore. They would order them in bulk from made-to-measure shirt company, Esquires of Glasgow for their tours. The shirts were designed with specifics design requests from the boys and this was the beginning of the higher and longer collars of their dress shirts. 

They remained clean shaven, but grew out their mop-tops. Although their shaggy hair and trimmed sideboards were still relatively short compared to how they would style their hair in the late 60s, American audiences thought they looked strange and comical in their matching tight suits, heeled boots and long hair.

The Beatles in a scene from "A Hard Day's Night".
The Beatles also wore their winged velvet collar suits in silver grey for their first feature length film, A Hard Day's Night. They wore their Chelsea Boots, also known as "Beatle boots". They fit tightly and had a more pointed toe than a traditional riding Chelsea boot, and a centre seam stitch from ankle to toe. They were ankle high with either zippers or elastic on the sides to easily slip them on and were a staple of the band's uniformed look.

In the Autumn of 1961, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were shopping at Anello & Davide, a trendy London theatrical footwear company. Chelsea boots caught their eyes and they had four pairs custom made with the addition of a Cuban heel to go with their suits. 

George Harrison's "Beatle boots".

The "Beatle boot" was quite popular during the 1960s, especially with bands. Their popularity waned in the intervening years before coming into fashion again in the 2000s. The resurgence of the retro mod look has made this boot a must have item. 

The Beatles boots, 1964
 Photograph by Lynn Goldsmith

Get the Look:

The Suit:

The Madcap England Fab 4 Button Mohair Suit Jacket in silver is similar to the suits the Beatles wore in the earlier half of the 1960s. This slim fit four button jacket in a mohair tonic fabric is reminiscent to the suits the Beatles wore in A Hard Day's Night. The retro velvet black colour gives this blazer a unique sixties mod look.

The Madcap England Mod Tonic Trousers  in silver can be paired with the Fab 4 Button Mod Mohair Suit Jacket. This slim fit straight cut slacks is a stylish fitted retro look.

Shop Mod Suits & Tailoring

The Dress Shirt:

The Albin mod button down shirt by Merc comes in black or white. This retro style shirt goes well with a mod suit to give it a sixties feel. The forward point collar steps up this dress shirt and elevates the entire look.

Shop Mens Formal & Dress Shirts

The Knitted Tie:

This retro sixties silk knitted square end tie is the perfect retro accessory to complete a retro mod suit look.

Shop Ties

The Boots:

The 'Arthur' Base London mod stacked heel Chelsea boots come in a smooth waxy leather giving them a polished look. These retro looking boots with the stacked heel are similar to the "Beatle boots" and the gusset detailing on the sides give these Chelsea boots some added flair.

Shop Chelsea Boots

Next Time:
Beatles Style 1964 - 1965