Sunday, February 9, 2014

Style Over 50: The Beatles’ Influence

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. To celebrate, CBS is airing “The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute to The Beatles” at 8 p.m. EST. I plan to watch because, well, once a Beatles fan, always a Beatles fan. In fact, it’s safe to say no other cultural icons have had a greater influence on my taste in music or taste in fashion than the Beatles.

I didn't see the Beatles' original performance on Ed Sullivan. It was past my bedtime. My Beatles initiation came a little later when I was allowed to go with my older sister and her friends to a matinee showing (50 cents back then!) of “A Hard Day’s Night.” I was smitten with the fab four after that. I collected every album as soon as it was released and followed the gossip about the band in teen magazines. I discovered Ringo didn’t like Donald Duck and George had a weakness for Eartha Kit---among other things.

It was only after the band broke up, though, that I realized the lads' influence on my fashion sense. One of my earliest fashion memories is of the new Easter bonnets my sisters and I got every year. For church and dressy occasions, my sisters and I always wore hats and white gloves—no exceptions. Once, when I was home on a college break, years after the Beatles stopped playing together, I asked my mother, “When did we stop wearing hats and white gloves?” My mother didn’t skip a beat before replying matter-of-factly: “When the Beatles arrived. They changed everything.”

Obviously, they changed hair styles. They also made sneakers fashionable for every day. I remember seeing a photo of Paul McCartney wearing a pink man-tailor shirt in the late 60s. At that time, my father wore a dark suit and tie with a white man-tailored shirt to work every day and church every Sunday. Paul’s pink man-tailor shirt seemed revolutionary. For a while, I sewed skirts from Indian import bedspreads, and I slung a mirror bag over my shoulder. I don’t think I would have known anything about Indian imports, if the Beatles hadn’t gone to India.

Today, I’m still wearing collarless jackets…

jackets for women over 50

And I'm mad about ankle boots…

boots for women over 50

Perhaps, though, the thing I admired most about the Beatles’ style was the way it was constantly changing. As their music evolved, so did their haircuts and wardrobe. I've always loved the idea of evolving, reinventing one’s self inside and out. I like to think it is something I got from the Beatles. I would love to know:

How did the Beatles Influence Your Style—Then and Now?