How The Beatles Influenced Fashion in the ‘60s and ‘70s – The Hippie Shake
Skip to content


How The Beatles Influenced Fashion in the ‘60s and ‘70s

16 Jun 2023
Written by Miranda Kanowsky

It is no secret that The Beatles changed the world. Originating over six decades ago, they are still considered by many to be the greatest rock band of all time, with every single member still being a household name. But how did The Beatles' sound affect their style? And how did that style affect the world? From their historic Ed Sullivan suits and pudding bowl haircuts to colourful psychedelic outfits complimented with long hair, it is no question that The Beatles impacted the world with their fashion choices in addition to their music.

When The Beatles began their career in the 1960s, the band seemed to have little interest in exploring their choices when it came to fashion. Their manager Brian Epstein had to convince them to start dressing more professionally onstage, which led the band to establish their first signature look in the early 1960s. They explored a variety of suits, primarily ranging in minor details such as varied shades of grey and black, collared versus collarless, and different fabric materials. After their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, The Beatles had created a clear image for themselves in public. For a while, the band stuck to traditional English Chesterfield suits, exploring the different variations of the model. These suits were black with a velvet winged collar giving The Beatles a certain fancy and chic appearance. Their one subtle symbol of rebellion was their hair, cut in a shaggy, mop-top fashion. This offset their dapper suits by giving them a playful appearance, reminding us that they are still young and do not wish to be taken too seriously. This caused the band to mostly appeal to the younger generation, thus beginning the rebellion of rock n’ roll music and the fashion changes that came with it.

In 1965, there was a gradual shift beginning in rock n’ roll music, allowing many new subgenres to make their way into the industry. These included folk rock, psychedelic rock, funk, baroque pop, and more. It was the year of exploring new things, and The Beatles were always willing to change and grow with the times. One huge factor in this sudden shift was the introduction of hallucinogenic drugs, specifically LSD. This drug was all the rage, as it was known to expand one’s mind and take you on an amazing and eye-opening trip. All the rockstars were using it, and by the end of the year, all four Beatles had tried it. This caused the band to see and experience life in a whole new way, causing them to make some innovative and risky choices regarding their sound as well as their fashion choices. Although the band denounced LSD in 1967, the impact it had on their art was unlike anything people had ever seen before.

The band soon became fascinated with spirituality, causing them to incorporate more psychedelic sounds into their music including distortion, feedback, and certain elements used in Indian music. The albums these elements are most prominent in are Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, were both released in 1967 just a few months apart. In addition to the new sound, these albums featured a whole new side of fashion to The Beatles, a very drastic contrast to their time dressing identically to each other in the early 1960s. The band became very spiritual and withdrawn, wearing bright shades of all colours of the rainbow while also growing out long beards and hair. They became captivated by the fashion of India and began incorporating brocade coats and embellished tunics in their everyday wear. Adding richly coloured accessories to these looks was also popularized, with endless amounts of florals and patterns being incorporated into any outfit through scarves, vests, jewellery, headbands, and more.

With the cultural phenomenon of the British Invasion in the mid-1960s, The Beatles were now reaching wider audiences than ever before, causing their music and fashion to open the public’s eyes to the counterculture movement and have that much bigger of an impact. The band’s albums during the late 1960s helped shape the hippie fashion trends of the era. There was a new carefree touch to the fashion world that was before seen as over-the-top or unpolished. The world’s youth embraced this new level of freedom and explored the vast choices in what they could wear. When the year 1969 came around, hippie fashion was at an all-time high. Each Beatle had found a comfortable sweet spot in their style, which still stayed loyal to the hippie trends, but in a unique way. Casual day suits and jean jackets with touches of floral and paisley print accessories became the new stylish and sophisticated look for The Beatles. With the release of Abbey Road in 1969, it became clear that this sense of style was officially ingrained into society and was here to stay for the long haul. These fashion trends soon made their way into the 1970s and continued to evolve in both the music industry and the general public.

The Beatle's evolution of music and fashion can easily be seen in their movies. From matching suits and duller colours in Hard Day’s Night and Help! to bright and psychedelic fits (both live-action and animated) in Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine, it is no question that The Beatles had an inspiring transformation in just five years that most bands take at least 15 to 20 years to go through. They created a sense of rebellion and revolution through their music and fashion, causing them to be one of the most influential bands of all time. They knew just how and when to change with each passing year, making every album feel just as fresh and groundbreaking as the one before. Even after The Beatles broke up in 1970, each member continued to stay in touch with their hippie morals, creating their sound, fashion, and lifestyles throughout adulthood. We can still see this today with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, both in their 80s and still managing to spread peace and love every day. The Beatles were innovative artists in more ways than one, introducing the world to new outlets of rebellion through their music, style, and carefree lifestyles. Their impact on the world still lives today, and for that, we should all be truly thankful. As Ringo Starr would say (but with several more emojis), Peace and Love!

Follow Miranda on Instagram! @faroutmir

Prev Post
Next Post

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Choose Options

Recently Viewed

Edit Option
this is just a warning
Shopping Cart
0 items