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STYLE AND CULTURE

STYLE LESSONS FROM PEAKY BLINDERS

By Sam Parker, 12 November 2017

Not since Mad Men has a show had as much influence over the way men dress as Peaky Blinders, the BBC’s gangster drama set on the streets of post-war Birmingham. Reviving interest in three-piece suits, flat caps and chain smoking (OK, hopefully not that last one), the tale of Tommy Shelby and his family has given British men a bit of traditional tailoring swagger again. As we eagerly await the fourth season, here’s a breakdown of the style lessons you can learn from the show.

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: BBC

Have a signature item

In Peaky Blinders, the gang’s signature style item is a flat cap with razorblades sewn into the peak (all the better to slash their enemies during a dust up). For the record: we don’t advocate any accessory that could get you arrested. But having a signature item is an excellent way of developing a look of your own. 

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: The Urban Spotter

Fond of brogues? Buy a few pairs in different shades. Look particularly good in hoodies? Build a wardrobe of them. Cravats or silk ties? Sure, if you’ve got the minerals for it. The point is to find what you love, and be that guy.

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: BBC

Embrace the air tie

Wearing a suit and shirt without a tie is hardly a bold style choice in 2017 – and that’s just the problem. These days it has an unpleasant whiff of politician-trying-to-be-a-regular-guy about it. A cooler, more contemporary way to dress down a suit is the ‘air tie’, which is to say buttoning your shirt up to the top even though you’re not wearing one.

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: The Urban Spotter

The Peaky Blinders wear detachable collars, but you can achieve the same look with a formal, grandad or even Oxford shirt (for a modern advocate of this, see the always-on-point Ryan Gosling).

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: BBC

Accessorise sparingly

Thomas Shelby generally wears a three-piece suit with an overcoat and one simple accessory that ties the look together beautifully: a pocket watch with a visible brass chain. His brother Arthur, on the other hand, opts for a bow-tie and very subtle pocket square (folded straight, rather peaked or puffed). 

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: The Urban Spotter

The key with accessories, always, is that less is more: attempt all three at once and you would start to look fussy and affected. Which is no good at all during a bar brawl.

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: BBC

Find a haircut that suits your face

Rarely has a haircut suited a man so well as Cillian Murphy and the much-imitated ‘Peaky Blinders cut’. Shorn rough at the sides with length on top, the reason it works so well is that it accentuates the man’s enviable bone structure – it wouldn’t suit a fuller or more rounded face nearly as well.
Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: The Urban Spotter

The lesson? Find a decent barber and talk about what style and grade of hair best suits what God gave you. After all, having the wrong hairstyle will mean you look bad whatever you wear.
Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: BBC

Learn to use colour

A colour pop is, unsurprisingly, a pop of colour. The idea is to take a monochrome outfit of navy, browns and greys then add a small touch of brightness with your socks, pocket square or – like Michael Gray – tie. 

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: The Urban Spotter

Tommy Shelby, for instance, often wears a Bengal-stripe shirt in blue or purple under his three-piece (for Arthur, it’s the aforementioned bow-tie). But you don’t need to be into tailoring to do this: a subtle graphic print T-shirt, bright hoodie or coloured kicks can do the same thing for your weekend look.

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: BBC

Pick a pattern

While the Peaky Blinders palette is resolutely muted – dark green is about as flamboyant a shade as you’ll see on Tommy – the show is a good reminder that experimenting with pattern and cloth is an easy and less showy way to mix things up a bit.
Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: The Urban Spotter

Look closely and you’ll spot vintage stripes, glen checks, herringbone and houndstooth patterns in (usually) Donegal tweed. There’s more to life than plain cotton, so branch out a little – especially when it comes to heftier pieces like outerwear.

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: BBC

Remember the classics are classic for a reason

Peaky Blinders may have revived an interest in narrow-fit tailoring, waistcoats and flat caps but, really, the core of what the gang wear has never gone out of fashion. 

Peaky Blinders series 4 Style Lessons

Picture: The Urban Spotter

Proper suits, long woollen overcoats and sturdy work boots: men have looked the dog’s bollocks in this stuff since time immemorial. So while experimenting and trying out trends is all well and good, don’t forget to build a strong rota of the basics. It’s what the Blinders would want.

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