Since it first aired in 2013, Peaky Blinders has gained a cult following. However, most significantly, it has had an undeniable influence on men’s wardrobes over recent years.
Shortly before the series first aired, I started dressing in an eerily similar way. In fact, one of my first Instagram posts was a hommage to the series! Surprisingly, though, it wasn’t actually my biggest influence. In fact, most of my inspiration came from a little-known French TV Series, Les Brigades du Tigre!
Therefore, using my own experiences and 7 years of trial and error, I’ll be providing a full guide on how to dress like Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his Peaky Blinders. Let’s break it down using the following considerations:
- What Hats Do The Peaky Blinders Wear?
- Where To Buy A Peaky Blinders Suit
- What Shirts Do The Peaky Blinders Wear?
- What Tie To Wear For A Peaky Blinders Look
- Peaky Blinders Shoes
- Accessories To Complete The Peaky Blinders Look
You can use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all.
Before we begin, I’d just like to highlight one important element that can sometimes be overlooked when people are seeking to mimic this style. For the look to feel complete, it must strive for authenticity.
However, authenticity doesn’t necessarily imply that the clothes were worn on the set or are vintage garments from the era. Instead, it suggests that the wearer has an eye for the right details and understands how the clothes are supposed to be worn.
For instance, there are certain contemporary cuts and fabrics that look great in their own right. Yet, they don’t quite work when combined with a vintage-inspired Peaky Blinders look.
Still, we are in the 21st Century so this doesn’t mean you have to wear baggy clothes or heavy tweeds. What I am suggesting is that you carefully consider to what extent modern garments will contrast with the style and whether it still works.
Therefore, be mindful of this when selecting the garments but have fun nonetheless!
Finally, my apologies but you’re going to see a lot of photos of my ugly mug so I can best describe to you the way I wear these styles. Some of these photos are quite old too as I dug deep into my Instagram feed.
What Hats Do The Peaky Blinders Wear?
One of the most iconic aspect of the Peaky Blinders, which carries their namesake, is their distinctive headgear! Historically, Birmingham’s ruffians would wear just about any flat cap of the time. After all, they weren’t exactly wealthy and wore what they could find.
In the series, though, they all tend to wear what are generally referred to as Newsboy Caps. However, Newsboy Caps can have lots of different names depending on the retailer and where you live.
For instance, a Newsboy Cap can also be referred to as:
- Bakerboy Cap
- Gatsby Cap
- Eight-Piece Cap
- Eight-Panel Cap
Nevertheless, the more popular Newsboy name tends to carry the most weight. Its name derives from their association with the cheeky urchins who used to sell papers on street corners but it wasn’t exclusively worn by children.
Furthermore, it was particularly popular for golfers and was often worn by higher social classes during other leisurely activities in the countryside.
In all cases, the cap is crafted using eight triangular panels of woollen tweed that are stitched together. A decorative button is usually sewn to the top and the cap features a separate peak at the front.
To best replicate the Peaky Blinders look, you’ll want to opt for a very slightly oversized cap. Meanwhile, modern caps tend to have larger peaks whereas the ones in the series are usually quite small and buried under the fabric at the top.
Where To Buy Peaky Blinder Hats
Due to their popularity, there are so many places to find caps that it’s impossible to list them all. Places like Islay Woollen Mill have some pretty authentic caps but there are plenty of traditional makers like Bates in London or Lock & Co.
There are even some pretty nice specimens by Stetson, which are available on Amazon! Another decent-looking brand on Amazon is Biddy Murphy. Otherwise, The Well Dress Head on Etsy is run by Keith in Australia and retails his handmade early 20th-Century reproduction caps.
Likewise, the tweed material can vary with numerous patterns and colours. If you want to be loyal to the Peaky Blinder style, opt for sombre colours. As for the pattern, the characters often wear herringbone or Donegal flecked tweed.
Where To Buy A Peaky Blinders Suit
In both the series and the period, suits used to be made from thick and heavy woollen yarns. As the mechanical process has greatly advanced since then, suits have been more refined and considerably lighter.
While this is great for a business professional setting, it’s challenging when trying to get the Peaky Blinders look. When I first started, I used to only buy vintage suits. This was relatively easy a few years ago as I was of a regular size and vintage clothing was still quite cheap.
Fast-forward ten years and vintage clothing has become both a fashionable and luxury commodity! Much of the stock from yesteryear has dwindled and now most vintage clothes are from the 1960s or much later.
Today, the best fabric would be tweed and there are plenty of retailers that offer great three-piece suits in this style. However, the cuts are usually quite contemporary or the patterns aren’t quite what you want.
One of the easiest options is to now buy a made-to-measure suit, which you can customise into the right style. Sounds expensive, right? Not necessarily! We’ve reviewed numerous brands like Indochino, which offer full-custom suits for as little as $300!
Black Lapel is an excellent made-to-measure brand too. While more expensive, their fabrics and the quality are more premium so you don’t lose on value for money.
We also have exclusive discount codes for both brands if you choose to get your suit from them:
- 10% Indochino Discount With “BESPOKEUNIT” (minimum $399 order)
- $50 Black Lapel Discount With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT“
Both brands have a rich variety of suitable heavy fabrics and tweeds that can be used to create an authentic Peaky Blinders suit.
Peaky Blinder Suit Details
As mentioned above, the suits worn by the Peaky Blinders have certain distinctive details that set them apart. We’ve already talked about the fabrics but what about the rest?
Firstly, the jackets are relatively standard specimens of British tailoring. They have two buttons and two vents at the rear. Meanwhile, they feature somewhat wide notch lapels. On some occasions, characters will wear high-lapel three-button jackets but this is quite rare in the show even if it’s more authentic for the period.
As for the waistcoat, Tommy Shelby would wear a vest with notch lapels in earlier seasons. This could be considered somewhat anachronistic as lapels on waistcoats was more popular during the late-19th Century and pre-War Belle Époque eras.
However, it was occasionally present in post-war men’s fashion as can be seen in the show. In later seasons, Shelby and his crew forego lapels on their waistcoats altogether as they enter the 1920s. Similarly, the bottom of the waistcoat can be tipped or straight.
Finally, the trousers have a high rise, which means that they sit at the waist rather than on the hips. As for the cut, it’s generous but not as baggy as the those worn by the working class during the period. Similarly, the front is usually plain without any pleats.
One important detail is that you can’t see any shirt between the trousers and the waistcoat. This is still a golden rule in modern tailoring but is something that’s often overlooked.
Today, trousers tend to be worn low on the hips. Therefore, when you wear a waistcoat, it’s too high and you can see the shirt in-between. Be mindful of this when buying a suit and make sure that the leg and rise are long enough so you can properly wear a waistcoat.
What Is The Peaky Blinder Shirt Style?
This is probably my favourite topic and between Peaky Blinders and Les Brigades du Tigre, it launched my passion for the elusive stiff collar!
After the cap, the shirts are probably the most distinctive feature in Peaky Blinders and the collars in particular. We’re often asked where you can buy Peaky Blinder shirts. However, the answer is actually a little more complicated than that!
If you look closely, the shirt and its collar are actually two separate garments. This was a popular trait from the mid-19th Century until about the 1920s. In those days, shirts and collars were made separately because the collar would be the first part to wear down and need replacing.
Rather than throw away the shirt, the collar would be replaced but it was an arduous task. Therefore, it became popular to buy them separately and the collar would be attached using metal fasteners.
Similarly, gentlemen would wear several shirts during the day as they often got changed into different outfits. Rather than unnecessarily wash the shirt, they just changed the collar each day.
Consequently, the collar was laundered differently. It was often heavily starched until it became rock hard and had a slight sheen, which almost resembles cardboard. This has earned them the name “stiff collars” rather than the often used “detachable collar”.
When brands like Van Heusen developed convenient fused cotton turndown collars, detachable collars were eventually phased out. Until Peaky Blinders came along, they were only occasionally seen in modern times with ceremonial outfits or white tie.
Where To Buy Peaky Blinder Style Shirts
As I was a little too early, it was a struggle finding the right shirts and collars to wear to emulate the Peaky Blinders style. Yet, I got quite lucky too because there wasn’t yet a demand for the garments!
In fact, I was able to pick up about a dozen vintage stiff collars in my size for a measly 50 pence each! Nevertheless, let’s talk about the shirts first.
Where To Buy Collarless Tunic Shirts
Thanks to barristers and vicars, collarless shirts are still very much in production as their collars are attached the same way. These are referred to as tunics and have a low Mao-style collar with holes at the front and the back.
However, few retailers stock them due to the low demand. Maybe we can work together to change this!
Having worked there before, I found that TM Lewin have a relatively sporadic stock of tunic shirts. Usually, they’re white, which is fine because that’s what the Peaky Blinders wear.
However, I also like sky blue or Bengal striped tunics as they offer some contrast against the shirt. Sadly, TM Lewin’s future is uncertain given the closure of their UK stores. Consequently, who knows whether they will be continuing this style?
Furthermore, tunic shirts for detachable collars are a rarity and I have yet to find them in other well-known shirtmakers. I excepted the Hawes & Curtis or even Turnbull & Asser to produce them but if they do, they’re not available on their respective websites.
Although Brooks Brothers created one to celebrate its 200th anniversary, it’s a limited edition and they cost $250 each.
Meanwhile, the collars are even harder to find. Since they sell like hot cakes in the vintage market, you might want to buy new ones.
Where To Buy Stiff Collars
Darcy Clothing is a brand that I really like using who stock a variety of stiff collars in different styles. They also have machine washable collars so you don’t have to get them professionally laundered as I’ll explain later.
Interestingly, it turns out that Darcy Clothing actually supplied the Peaky Blinders production with their collars so you’d be going the whole distance here. In the earlier seasons, they wore the “Arundel” club-style collar. Meanwhile, characters switched to the Prince of Wales “Albany” later on in the series.
Similarly, their tunic shirts are authentic replicas of the period but I preferred TM Lewin’s modern ones as they have double “French” cuffs for cufflinks. After all, the Peaky Blinders do begin to wear cufflinks in later seasons and I like the added hardware that it offers.
You can also check out Australia-based Rhyce at RJW Shirts who sells custom stiff collars too. His styles are a little more eccentric but they’re particularly unique.
With regards to the collar style, there’s plenty to choose from. The most iconic is a rounded Club-style collar. However, you could instead go for a subtle Prince of Wales pointed collar too.
What You Should Know About Stiff Collars
When buying a stiff collar, you’ll need it to be a half-inch larger than your typical collar size. This is because it wraps around the fabric of the tunic so you’ll need more space for it to fit properly.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll also need to get non-machine washable stiff collars professionally laundered. As it’s a unique specialist process, few laundries still do this.
However, Barker Group has an excellent mail service that I often use. If you use the previous link, you’ll also benefit from a £40 complimentary laundry collection. Ask for the Toastmaster service for extra shine!
Finally, you’ll need collar studs to be able to fasten one to the shirt tunic. Again, Darcy Clothing offer the best value here and sell a box of four pairs of brass studs for £10. You’ll need a few as they can easily get lost!
That said, collar studs are quite cheap in vintage shops as they’re not very popular and most people don’t know what they are. I like to occasionally grab a few for a couple of pennies so I can have different colours to go with my cufflinks or pocket watch.
What Tie To Wear For A Peaky Blinders Look
Firstly, you may recall that in earlier seasons, the Peaky Blinders didn’t wear ties at all! I used to do this myself for a while as I loved how it highlighted the brass stud on the stiff collar.
However, I’ve since stopped doing that after a night in Nottingham where I was greeted with screams of “BY THE ORDER OF THE PEAKY BLINDERS” as I walked down the street. Still, it’s a good look but there are times that I don’t want to attract too much attention.
If you prefer to wear a tie, there are several ways of going about it.
Firstly, the tie needs to be thin. Not only is this more authentic for both the period and the show but stiff collars are small and can’t handle wide ties and knots. You’ll want to also do a very simple single knot, tie it tight, and then shape it into a little trapezium.
While I have a few modern ties, I often return to my vintages ones as they tend to look the part. Modern prints are best avoided as they cause too much contrast but simple patterns and some paisleys can work quite well. The Tie Bar has a few excellent skinny ties that work well.
How To Tie A Tie With A Stiff Collar
If you only have thicker ties, there’s an easy way around this. Simply make a knot from a thinner section so the tie is really long then tuck it into your trousers. It sounds weird but they often did this at the time. In any case, nobody will see because you’re wearing a waistcoat.
Finally, be aware that tying a tie with a stiff collar is a frustratingly complicated process. You can’t turn up a stiff collar or it will get damaged so you’ll have to slip the tie through the collar and use a mirror to check that it isn’t protruding underneath at the back.
Similarly, stiff collars are narrow so it’s difficult to pull the tie when tightening it. You’ll see what I mean when you try! What I do is place the tie into the collar at the right length before I attach it to the shirt. Afterwards, I tie it very close to the collar so I don’t have to pull too much to tighten it.
Finally, a nice touch is to not pull the tie all the way up to the top of the collar. This would be sloppy with a regular shirt, but if well-placed, you can have the tie knot slightly under the collar stud to show off the metal.
Peaky Blinders Shoes
Let’s talk now about footwear. Admittedly, we don’t see many close-ups of shoes in the show so it’s a small detail. However, shoes complete an outfit for whatever look you’re trying to achieve so it’s still very important!
From what I saw, the Peaky Blinders would often wear Blucher-style boots. Indeed, Derby shoes, which are common today, initially started as a boot style during this period. These have experienced a resurgence and they’re quite easy to find.
We’re particularly fond of the Italian-made Hugo boots made by Ace Marks. However, you could instead go for Nolan boots by Beckett Simonon. You also get 20% off Beckett Simonon when you use our code “BU20“.
Alternatively, brogue boots are a great style and work beautifully with the Peaky Blinders look. To make it really authentic, we recommend checking out our guide to the best English shoemakers and finding something through these brands.
Otherwise, you could opt for some classic brogues or Oxford shoes for a clean, streamlined look. Both Ace Marks and Beckett Simonon linked above offer some beautiful specimens.
Whatever you choose, opt for either dark brown or black. Cognac could work too if it’s paired well with the suit’s fabric. And, finally, make sure that they’re well-shined! A Peaky Blinder wouldn’t let his shoes scuff!
Accessories To Complete The Peaky Blinders Look
Finally, you might want to consider a few accessories to really bring the entire Peaky Blinders outfit together. Of course, we already discussed caps and ties so we’ll focus on hardware like watches, tie bars and cufflinks.
First of all, if you’re wearing a waistcoat, you shouldn’t really wear a tie bar. I realise that it’s tempting to make your Peaky Blinders outfit extra dapper yet it is a sartorial redundancy.
After all, tie bars were originally a practical accessory designed to keep the tie in place in the absence of a waistcoat. By wearing a waistcoat, you no longer need that tool to do the job. Therefore, it looks like wearing a belt with suspenders.
Speaking of which, we highly recommend wearing braces rather than a belt with a three-piece suit. A belt will add bulk to your waist as it would be underneath the vest. If the trousers sag under the weight and you can see the belt, it’s similar to the visible shirt issue that I described above.
Therefore, we’d recommend wearing braces instead. We’ve got lots of guides on how to wear these as well as the best brands if you check out our suspenders resources.
Also, I’m quite liberal with my pocket square as you can see in the photos. If you want to emulate the style of the show, use a simple horizontal TV fold that shows no more than a quarter of an inch of fabric.
Finally, if your shirt has double cuffs like the ones that I wear, try to opt for a metal colour that matches the watch and any metallic accessories that you own!
Peaky Blinder Watches
Now let’s talk about the watch! A key ingredient to the Peaky Blinder look is an Albert chain on the waistcoat that usually features a fob that dangles at the top.
Traditionally, this should hold a pocket watch in the waistcoat pocket. Ideally, a vintage mechanical pocket watch would be the best choice.
If you like to thrift, you can occasionally pick up them up in working condition for under $100 at flea markets or on eBay. I bought all of mine few for between 30€ and 50€ myself and they all work perfectly!
What I prefer about older pocket watches is that they don’t just tell the time but they also tell a story. Another benefit is that the chain will likely be made of Stirling silver and it’ll be easier to fix a fob onto the chain.
With regards to fobs, these are very hard to find new unless you’re willing to spend a fair bit at an antique shop. However, I’ve found that pendants for necklaces are a great alternative and you can then really have fun in adding your own personal touch.
If you wear it without a fob, remember to keep the fastener well hidden by tucking it inside the waistcoat as it might look untidy otherwise. Similarly, if you can’t find an Albert chain, a plain albeit thick silver or gold necklace works well and people wouldn’t know the difference.
What New Pocket Watches To Buy
Nevertheless, if you prefer to buy a new watch, there are a number of decent options out there. Rather than just grab some cheap quartz tat, remember that I’m trying to advise you on authentic options!
For instance, the Tissot Savonette can be picked up on Amazon for under $200. However, this is the quartz version. You can instead get the mechanical Tissot Bridgeport, which is a much nicer Swiss watch but it’ll cost you over $600. If you plan on wearing it a lot, this is an excellent investment.
Conversely, if you don’t have the means to buy a pocket watch, you can use the chain for something else. For example, if you’re a cigar smoker, you can attach a cigar cutter. Winston Churchill used to this so you’d be following the greats. Alternatively, it could carry a small pocket knife or a compass.
Finally, be sure not to wear an Albert chain with a wristwatch even if the chain has something else connected to it. Like wearing a tie bar with a waistcoat, it enters belts-and-braces territory.
Peaky Blinders & Cigars
As mentioned in the comments below by one of our readers, the Peaky Blinders become renowned cigar smokers in later seasons.
At Bespoke Unit, we’re passionate cigar enthusiasts and have created a vast resource for both newcomers and veteran smokers alike. You can head to our cigar homepage to discover everything that we offer!
If you’ve always wanted to try a cigar, we have a few primers to help you get started:
To help you choose the right cigars for your first smoke, we also have a guide to the best cigars for beginners!
Bringing It All Together
Now that you have learned all about how I used Peaky Blinders for my own wardrobe, I hope that you’ll be able to easily integrate it into yours. Before you do, there are just a few parting thoughts that I’d like to add in conclusion.
Firstly, the key to making a Peaky Blinders outfit work besides authenticity as I mentioned earlier is coordination. When assembling clothing from different brands and outlets, take note of the colours, textures, and patterns to make sure that it’s nicely coordinated.
As you start to expand your wardrobe, you’ll be able to add a greater variety. However, when starting, use the capsule wardrobe approach and work from a core outfit to grow from there.
Lastly, I’d like to touch on using a style as inspiration but not getting too bogged down in blinded loyalty. You may have noticed in a number of the photos above that I played around with the Peaky Blinders style but added a significant personal touch.
Feel free to switch things up a bit with different headgear, jackets, and ties to create your own identity. Eventually, what started as a style inspired by a TV show will evolve into your own.
Now that you have read our very detailed article on how to dress like a Peaky Blinder, why don’t you check out some similar resources?
Brillant page Charles-Philippe.
I know you cover cigars well on this site, so a link for some people there might be helpful too! As I see the Peaky boys smoking them on the show. Maybe even a page on cigars that would be good to smoke as a Peaky.
Keep the pages coming!
Of course! What a missed opportunity! I’ll add that first thing in the morning. Thanks!
Thanks for putting this together! As I was quickly viewing this page, I clicked on your link to your resources on braces/suspenders. You mention Albert Thurston in the text and that they continue to make braces today, but you don’t list them as one of the brands. I don’t understand why. Their selection is outstanding and can be made-to-order. They are very nice and deliver quickly. Also, they make braces for several of the “brands” you’ve listed. You may want to think about giving Albert Thurston proper recognition.
Thanks for the feedback! Indeed, Albert Thurston is absent from that guide. Let me look into it and I’ll sort it out first thing in the morning!
All the best,
Thanks, CP! Most importantly, thank you for all your outstanding work!
Thanks, Lukacs! Much appreciated!
All the best,
Dear Charles Philippe,
It really warms my heart to see someone of the younger generation so passionate about stiff collars. I have been facinated by them for 70 years, and started wearing them at the age of 21 in 1958. In those days all stylish young men wore stiff collars, and I never ever thought that they would go out of fashion. Now, thamks to guys like you, there seems to be a new interest in them. There is a thriving Facebook group called Stiff Detachable Collars with guys thst share our passion for them. I am sure that they would welcome you, and all of those great photo’s in your collection.. It could do with some new blood, as I seem to be contributing most of the photo’s lately.
I’m delighted that you enjoyed the article and I appreciate your kind words. Funnily enough, I’ve been a member of that group for years! However, I’m not very active on Facebook so that’s probably why you haven’t seen me around. I’ll try to visit it more often.
I was especially happy to see your posts of Jean-Claude Bouillon in Les Brigades du Tigre. That show doesn’t nearly get enough love.
All the best,
Great to hear from you, and thank you for your message in the Facebook Group.
I will only disagree with you on one issue. One thing that drives me crazy about TV shows like “Downton Abbey” and other shows with period costumes and stiff collars. That is when the tie is loose so that the front stud is on show. If you look at old films or early TV series like “Upstairs, Downstairs”, the tie was always firm;y in place. A far more effective way to display your gleaming front stud is when your tie is tighly knotted, and the stud is visable beneath the tie. I know tastes change with different generations, but I have always felt strongly about getting it exactly right. Apart from that one small thing, I can only applaud and thank you for keeping the wearing of stiff collars very much alive..