How To Pull Off The Peaky Blinders Look
Just to be clear from the start: I'm not advocating basing your sense of style on the wardrobe of a popular TV show. The reason being if you try to directly mimic a TV character you run the risk of looking like you're heading to a fancy dress party rather than making a style statement. With that being said, a TV show or movie can offer up enough inspiration that the world of men's fashion starts to take notice and that certainly did happen in 2013 with the arrival of Tommy Shelby and the Peaky Blinders. In truth, the twenties military-esque look typified by heavy fabrics, oversized coats and flat caps had been a style stable long before Cillian Murphy started to portray a well-dressed ganglord. In men's fashion speak this is called heritage clothing and it's literally been around for decades. However, due to its current lease of life being directly linked to the rise of a popular work of on-screen fiction, nowadays you will almost exclusively hear this look referred to as ‘the Peaky Blinders look'.
Because it's been around a long time, this look is pretty much safe and always stylish, especially in the colder months when heavier fabrics come into their own. There are still some rules to follow because the heritage/Peaky Blinders look in its entirety – the flat cap and all the trimmings – is a bit much for 2019, but with a few tweaks and a bit of know-how, you can avoid looking like one of your granddad's friends and look every bit the distinguished modern man.
When it comes to your outerwear, the coat should be long, lapeled and heavy enough to withstand the depths of an Irish winter/spring/autumn... summer? Heritage wool coats are obviously practical in the colder months, but they will also add some life to an outfit. The versatility of heritage wool overcoats is also a huge plus point. Herringbone tweed will look great with a navy suit during the week and on the weekend it will work well with a chunky crew neck jumper, jeans and Chelsea boots. Tommy Shelby and the lads typically layer their overcoats with matching tweed waistcoats, a combo that's perfectly fine for a post WW1 period drama, but in 2019 may well look a little fancy dress. Try an interesting knit or a scarf for a safe bet layered look.
The Flat Cap
There's no item of clothing that will invite more Peaky Blinders comparisons than a flat cap or baker boy cap. More distinguished than a baseball cap, yet not as formal as a trilby, flat caps and baker boy caps work well as part of a rugged yet refined, outdoorsy look. The trick to wearing a heritage cap is making sure it's not matched with too many other heritage or overly formal pieces. Leave the flat cap and wax jacket look to Prince Charles and instead try wearing your heritage headwear with a leather bomber or a camel overcoat with some slim chinos and Chelsea boots.
An essential element of any heritage look is a pair of solid, stylish and well-worn leather Chelsea or Jodhpur boots. To give the classic Chelsea boot a contemporary spin, wear them with raw denim rolled up to the top of the boot and a full zip sweater layered with a long camel or herringbone coat. Jodphur boots are a great pairing with cropped trousers. A beige suede pair worn with black jeans, a neutral knit and a shearling coat is textured heaven.
Heritage suiting is all about swerving the skinny and getting old school with classic wool tailoring. A two-tone herringbone wool blazer is a perfect contemporary heritage piece that will keep you warm and on trend without looking like a college professor. A biscuit colour works brilliantly with blues while also complementing softer tones like white and grey. A heritage blazer works especially well with a pair of chinos or casual trousers and either a shirt or a roll neck. If you want to go full wool suit then pay close attention to the cut as they tend to be on the bigger side. Make friends with your local tailor but remember to err on the slimmer side and forget the word "skinny".
Second only to the flat cat in being the most recognisable aspect of the ‘Peaky Blinders look' is the penny collar shirt. Featuring a smaller, rounder collar than a normal button up shirt, a penny collar acts as a solid middle ground between the granddad collar and the traditional collar. For me, this is running the risk of crossing into ‘cos-play' territory so my advice is to tread very carefully but if you really want to go for it then style yours in a crisp white and button it all the way up.
If you want to get the full heritage look then your 2019 (or 1919) trousers should be wide legged and tapered to a crop at the ankle in fabrics like wool or tweed. The wide leg adds shape and silhouette to the trousers while the tapering will give them a tailored look that offsets the loose fit. Match them with a long overcoat, a roll neck and leather Chelsea boots to really nail the heritage vibe.