Whether or not Ringo Starr has ever really gotten the respect he deserves as a drummer, this much is beyond debate: He’s definitely never gotten his due as a dresser. While John, Paul, and George experimented with pharmaceuticals, Eastern mysticism, and majorette-wear, the man born Richard Starkey kept a steady and unerring sartorial backbeat, and by the time the Beatles split up in 1970, he’d come into his own as a dude who could wear the living hell out of a double-breasted suit (not to mention anything cut from fur or crushed velvet). Via repeated rock-star entrances into the world’s airports, he became a symbol of seventies-era London’s independent-minded extravagance—and a constant reminder that the rules of style are made to be broken. All of which makes Sir Ringo one of recent history’s most fearless style trailblazers. Check out the photographic evolution below and we think you’ll agree…
Empire Theatre, Liverpool, 1963
A young, baby-faced Ringo walks the streets of Liverpool on a typically gray, English day in a slim black suit and topcoat, cigarette in hand. In other words: channeling Ian Curtis a decade before Joy Division hit The Haçienda stage.
At first glance, a classic Beatles look. Upon closer inspection, a rarely seen button-down club collar. Or, as it’s known on J.M.Barrie’s home turf, a Peter Pan collar. If you’re taking the stage dressed exactly like three other guys you better pay attention to the little things.
Once again, Ringo’s smart shirt-and-tie pairings are on full display. Sign of things to come? Goodbye plain, white shirts. Bonus points for the oversized, chunky black scarf.
10 Downing Street, London, 1965
It takes a stylish guy to make the four-button suit—these days more closely associated with NBA draft day than Swinging London—look cool. But the pinky ring and Castro-shaming stogie help.
On the set of Help!, 1965
The Chelsea boots are a sure sign that the times are a-changing, as are the sideburns. Ringo may still be a man in black but color, and a little bit of social upheaval, is right around the corner.
With fianceé Maureen Cox, 1965
What’s the perfect accessory to a tie-less, horizontal-striped shirt? A brunette on your arm, of course.
What came first, the acid or the mustache? In Starr’s case, it’s probably too close to call.
Queen Charlotte Hospital, London, 1967
At the birth of his second child, Ringo gets all Yellow Submarine in the glasses a certain bandmate would end up getting all the credit for championing.
Two years before Dennis Hopper hit the highway in Easy Rider, Ringo does his best hippie-meets-General McArthur with the cigarette holder.
Magical Mystery Tour, 1967
In Charlie Rose-sized lapels, Ringo channels Prohibition-era gangsters in a pinstripe, double-breasted suit. A carnation in the boutonniere is the kiss of death… in a good way.
On the eve of a new decade, Ringo’s collar grows to ’70s proportions.
With boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, on the set of Candy, Rome, 1968
Ringo goes Jil Sander circa 2008, with just a bit more collar heft.
With Peter Sellers, London, 1969
Ringo sees Dr. Strangelove’s shearling with a fur that gives Namath a serious run for his money.
Sorry Chilean miners, Ringo rocked it first. (Okay, not really.)
At Heathrow Airport with wife Maureen, 1971
A proto-Posh-and-Becks moment. Leather trousers and fur thigh-high boots are easier to pull off with Maureen Cox on your side… and without post-9/11 airport security.
Ringo nails the formal velvet bow tie and wide peak lapel. The hand-tied imperfections and mussed-up bedhead give the whole look a disheveled irreverence.
Ringo deftly pulls off the multi-patterned look in an advert for Savile Row tailor-to-the-rock-stars Tommy Nutter.
Ringo again goes to the velvet well. This time head-to-toe, paired with two gold chains and the highest collar we’ve ever seen. Goth Willy Wonka? Nope, ’70s talk-show guest. Somewhere—probably Montauk—Dick Cavett is smiling.
With girlfriend Nancy Andrews, Paul, and Linda McCartney, New York City, 1977
Accidentally bumping into some friends on the streets of Manhattan. Beatles—they’re just like us… if your friends happen to be in Wings. Pop that collar, Ringo.
With girlfriend Barbara Bach, London, 1980
Starr welcomes the ’80s by slimming down on the proportions and growing out the salt-and-pepper beard. A Bond girl on your arm helps ease the transition into a new decade.
From Bond girl to Bond villain, Ringo does ominous with the feline accessory and double pinkie rings, but softens his evil side with (a lot) of red velvet.