Style / June 2017

Style Heroes: 1960s Michael Caine

An exercise in minimalist tailoring and how to work a muted colour palette, Michael Caine’s 1960s style was sober, effortless and eternally cool.

Sir Michael's famous boxing pose, in which he sports a mid-grey double-breasted birdseye suit and pinky ring, 1965. Photo by Stephan C Archetti/Getty Images

Michael Caine in the 1960s was a force to be reckoned with. A poster boy for British cool and the swinging sixties, he was a new genre of movie star and one that would transform the industry. In a similar manner to The Beatles and their regional Liverpudlian accents, Caine’s working class Cockney accent garnered him plenty of attention both in the UK - where privately educated Received Pronunciation was considered the norm at the time - and the US, where he was worshipped for his effortless charm and resulting sex appeal. This important decade in Caine’s life though was also his most stylish.

The early ‘60s gave birth to a sub-cultural movement that would define a generation, one which allowed its followers to transcend their social standing through the music they listened to, the cafes they hung out at, and the clothes they wore; Modernism. Whilst Caine wasn’t strictly a mod, his 1960s style was clearly influenced by the early scene and regardless, for many, Caine represented all that mod was about. He was from a poor working class background yet successful, he was young, cool, clean-cut. He was international. He was a man of the people too: “I kept my cockney accent in order to let other working class boys know that if I made it they could do it too." And of course, he had the garb.

If you were previously unsure about the credentials of the button-down shirt, you only have to look at images of Caine from the ‘60s to become converted. He almost exclusively wore button-downs throughout the decade, all of which had admirable three-finger collar rolls that worked beautifully whether left open or paired with one of his customary dark, slim knitted ties. The latter combination was of course popular with young mods during the early to mid ‘60s, who had actually appropriated the look from 1950s jazz icons such as Miles Davis Jr as well as Ivy-League college students, but that’s a story for another time. When Caine wasn’t wearing a shirt, he often favoured dark merino roll-neck jumpers, which he wore artfully under his tailoring.

Tags

Contributor

Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is a former staffer at The Rake.