The Nehru jacket, with its stand-up mandarin collar, a long row of buttons and hip-long length has been synonymous with the first Prime Minister of India. Although it gained this name only in the 1960s, the iconic jacket has been known by Jawaharlal Nehru’s name ever since. But this stylish jacket is not just a fashion statement in India. In fact, it has gained international fame, thanks to The Beatles and Time Magazine!
In January 2012, the Nehru jacket was listed at number 7 of the top 10 political statements by the Time magazine.
“Hardly reminiscent of Gandhi’s famous homespun clothing, the Nehru jacket is a descendant of the northern Indian achkan, a closed-neck, coat-like garment usually considered court dress for Indian nobility.
Indeed, it was when the jacket was marketed to Western audiences that it took the ‘Nehru’ title, the charismatic Prime Minister having popularised its style in public appearances during his tenure in government,” noted the publication.
But nearly 50 years before this recognition, the ‘fab four’ who made up The Beatles had worn this “Band Gale Ka Coat” (close-collared coat) at their concert. At their performance at the Shea Stadium in New York, the quartet chose to wear pale-blue jackets with prominent breast pockets. The concert was on August 15, 1965, and India was celebrating its 18th Independence Day. Nehru had passed away the previous year due to a heart attack.
According to Decades.com, an entertainment website,
“You can thank the Beatles for helping to bring Nehru jackets to the scene in the 1960s.
The band started sporting the jackets when they became students of Eastern spirituality. [Nehru] was a fashion icon and the thigh length closed collar jacket was his signature look. Although the Nehru jacket eventually went out of style, it never really went away and continues to show up on runways and celebrities from time to time.”
Even before the rockstars brought this jacket into pop culture, it was sported by Dr No, the antagonist of a James Bond film by the same name, and has also been making several comebacks in movies and on stage ever since. Whether it was Dr Evil from the Austin Powers series or Johnny Carson, an American television host, the stylish thigh-length jacket has been showing up on various platforms through the years.
So, aside from his political legacy, Chacha Nehru has also left behind a significant legacy when it comes to fashion. As far as The Beatles go, sometimes all you need is a Nehru jacket and it all comes together, finally.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)