The Story Behind The Beatles' Matching Suits

The Beatles need no introduction; considering how frequently they're cited as one of the greatest — if not the greatest — rock band of all time, it's hard to believe that a single person has ever lived without hearing at least one of their countless iconic songs.

However, there's something else that makes the Beatles so unique in the annals of rock 'n' roll history: their fashion. Their seminal 1964 appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show" was met with an overwhelmingly positive response from young fans, even when critics were less taken with the Fab Four. A Newsweek critic described the band as follows: "Visually, they are a nightmare: tight, dandified, Edwardian/Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Musically, they are a near-disaster: guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody." Little did they know that the band's looks would become almost as famous as their music.

How their legendary look came to be

During their early years, the Beatles' look was typified by the British "mod" style that was popular in the first half of the 1960s which, according to The Rake, included mop top haircuts, fashionable suits, and Chelsea boots. The man behind the look was Brian Epstein, who was hired to be the band's manager in 1961. He was the one responsible for pushing the band away from the more rebellious rock 'n' roll look that characterized American bands, and in the direction of a more refined appearance. According to BBC, Epstein stated in a 1964 interview, "I first encouraged them to get out of leather jackets. And after a short time I wouldn't even allow them to appear in jeans. After that, I got them to wear sweaters on stage and eventually, very reluctantly, suits."

Before the Beatles really took off, they had a rougher image that Epstein wanted to smooth out to make them easier to present to potential record labels, according to National Museums Liverpool. Like all famous styles, it took a bit of trial and error before their final look was settled on. Early versions of the band's appearance featured fairly standard single-breasted suits before they eventually evolved into the more singular collarless suits inspired by those produced by French designer Pierre Cardin.

The Beatles' look evolves

One of the greatest aspects of the Beatles is how their music developed and matured, moving from the more British pop-rock of their early records into the more sophisticated style that typified their later work. Of course, as their music evolved, so too did their fashion. According to National Museums Liverpool, by 1967 the band had fully moved away from the clean-cut uniform appearance into a more individualistic look, with each member sporting a singular image. This was no doubt a part of the Beatles' foray into the psychedelic sound that was popular in the Flower Power generation.

National Museums Liverpool states that some of the accessories that the band wore during this era included various types of jackets,, facial hair, and of course, John Lennon's round spectacles. At this point in their career, the Beatles were so popular and established that they no longer needed to make themselves presentable to stuffy record labels, and had more freedom to more authentically express themselves, fitting right in with a youth-oriented movement that celebrated letting one's freak flag fly.