How to Dress Like A Peaky Blinder: A Modern-Day Style Guide
Every man wants to be a bit more Tommy Shelby, the notorious and charismatic gang lord of the Peaky Blinders. Not the wanton criminality and cut-throat violence, you understand, nor the penchant for self-destruction and colourful language.
No, here we are purely talking sartorial style because when it comes to dapper dressing, Tommy Shelby – played with brooding magnificence by Cillian Murphy – undoubtedly knows the cut of his cloth.
Peaky Blinders first hit our screens in 2013, introducing us to the dangerously intoxicating world of the Shelby clan and its assorted associates. Set initially in the aftermath of World War I, this BBC period drama is based loosely on the exploits of the real-life Peaky Blinders, a 19th century Birmingham gang whose name arose from their alarming habit of sewing razor blades into their renown flat caps. Allegedly.
As the fifth series of Peaky Blinders heads our way later this year, we celebrate its influence on contemporary fashion, and in particular on menswear.
Peaky Blinder’s Style
The work-a-day Shelby look is typified by an almost military take on urban tailoring in durable woollens, serges and tweeds, combining three-piece suits, sturdy boots, oversized coats and of course those caps.
Versatile layering is key, with long dark coats worn over matching jackets and waistcoats. Shirts tend to be white, perhaps bibbed, with starched collars either added or not.
Tommy likes to wear a white shirt and collar buttoned but with no tie, popularising the so-called ‘air tie’ style recently opted for by male celebs on the red carpet (Ryan Gosling and Timothée Chalamet have been working it well). Some vintage shops will stock genuine white shirts from the 1930s and earlier, often in surprisingly good condition, while authentic-looking vintage-style lace-up boots are widely available on the high street.
But Peaky Blinders style is not really about reviving vintage looks and wearing head to toe. It’s about taking inspiration from the sartorial smartness of the early decades of the 20th century and reinventing it to bring a well-crafted and distinctively British touch to modern-day dressing.
Iconic and instantly recognisable, Peaky Blinders has reminded us that British men from all walks of life have, in past times, been decidedly discerning peacocks and enjoyed dressing in a way that both reflected and respected their profession, standing, tribe or gang, while allowing them also to add individual style details to personalise their look.
Small wonder, then, that in celebrating distinctive, wearable, timeless British tailoring, Peaky Blinders dress code has proved to be such a style inspiration for current menswear. While we don’t suggest you go for a replica period ensemble, these are a few Cordings pieces to bring a touch of Shelby style.
Peaky Blinder’s Hat
Start at the top. With its distinctive curved peak, this captures the Peaky Blinders cap style perfectly and comes in four shades of tweed, blue, charcoal grey, green grey and brown. Please note that we do not recommend inserting razor blades into it.
If a cap is not for you, a great alternative is a trilby, as worn by Romany hitman Aberama Gold, played by the fabulous Aidan Gillen. Try the Olive Crushable Trilby Hat, £59
Peaky Blinder’s Waistcoat & Shirt
We can imagine Arthur Shelby wearing this, open over a collarless shirt as he sits in his scullery servicing his Webley handgun. For smart Peaky waistcoat style, wear buttoned and layered over a collared shirt and narrow dark tie, with a dark wool tailored jacket over.
Accessorise with a gold fob watch and chain for a flash of Shelby bling.
The Three-Piece Suit: Elland Lightweight Jacket, £445; waistcoat, £175; trousers, £195
Peaky Blinder’s Suit
This 12oz Yorkshire tweed three-piece features a jacket with an extra ticket pocket, pleat-front trousers and a waistcoat with four welt pockets and pocket watch buttonhole, a style favoured by Tommy Shelby.
In a subtle barleycorn and overcheck weave, it’s a modern take on Peaky style, and lightweight enough for summer.
The Dark Overcoat: Navy Harry Moleskin Coat, £395
Peaky Blinder’s Coat
A Peaky Blinders coat has to look smart enough to command respect and be suitable for funerals, but also durable enough to withstand shoot-outs and unexpected brawls. Designed to layer over a jacket in sturdy covert cloth with velvet collar options, this ticks all the boxes.
The Braces: Mid Blue Striped Ribbon Braces, £80
Peaky Blinder Braces
Although often concealed under waistcoats, braces were a necessary accessory to tailored trousers back in the earlier decades of the last century. Today, worn with a simple white shirt and wool or moleskin trousers, they hint at modern off-duty Peaky Blinder style.
The Cufflinks: Silver Shotgun Cartridge Cufflinks, £225
Peaky Blinder Cufflinks
The Slim Dark Tie: Heavy Silk Knitted Tie, £50
Peaky Blinder Ties
Tommy Shelby and most of the Shelby clan prefer to play it simple with ties, usually choosing dark tones, narrow widths and simple knots. Sleek and with a vintage-style edge, this silk knitted tie is an ideal addition to contemporary working and smart attire. Add a gold or silver bar tie pin for Peaky polish.
Peaky Blinder’s Women
And finally, the Peaky Blinders Women. When it comes to Peaky Blinders style (or indeed anything pertaining to the gang), it would be unwise to overlook the ladies. In particular, Tommy’s impeccably dressed aunt, Polly Gray, played by the British national treasure Helen McCrory, deserves a mention.
Visit our shoppable links below for more Peaky Blinder’s outfit advice for the ladies:
Wine Velor Felt Hat with Detachable Feathers, £149