Tommy Shelby-chic: A Peaky Blinders style guide
The year is 1922 and a gang of men, known only as the ‘Peaky Blinders’, plague the streets of inner-city Birmingham in their flat caps, penny-collared shirts and wool overcoats. Fast forward to 2018 and five years since the very first episode graced our screens, the nation is awash with copycat Tommys, Arthurs, Alfies – and more than a handful of Pollys.
It would appear that ‘Tommy Shelby-chic’ is here to stay and, with the unquestionably dapper and functional fit of the looks worn on the show, this is a still a style worth embracing. Unlike our brooding protagonist, though, a three-piece suit in herringbone tweed isn’t the only option if you’re looking to adopt the look for yourself.
Mike Lane, bespoke tailor with Suit the City, is based in the West Country. Here, he shares his top tips on how to execute the trend – without looking like you’ve stepped straight out of the Shelby parlour.
Inject your own personality
There is so much history behind a lot of the traditional tweeds and fabrics but getting the fit right is paramount. Layering complimentary colours and textures is a wonderful way to reference the look favoured by Tommy and the gang but inject your own personal sense of style too. At Suit the City, for instance, I often suggest that clients go for a brighter colour of accent accessories or linings when it comes to choosing their country wear, as this gives the look a sense of personality. It’s also about embracing a fit that you’re already familiar with. Without these elements, a bespoke suit becomes much more about what’s on trend for that season, and not about the wearer.
More often than not, less is more
If there is one thing that Tommy does well, it’s layering. Rather than creating a look that includes the shirt, the waistcoat, the jacket, the overcoat, the wool trousers – I could go on – take the elements of the style that you’re most comfortable with. If you wear a suit to the office, then give yourself the weekend off! Start with a clean white shirt, add a tweed waistcoat, tapered trousers and finish the look with smart, tan brogues. For that sense of style, add matching socks, tie and a pocket square.
If you’re usually a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, this is the perfect opportunity to invest in a two-piece suit. If chosen well, this will see you through from season to season and can be worn to all manner of events. Opting for a traditional Scottish or English tweed will offer the nod to this trend and assures longevity. Trust me, if the fit is right, you’ll be reaching this out of your wardrobe for years to come.
Keep it casual
Admittedly, Tommy and the gang are always suited and booted, but pay close attention to the details – these cool Brits aren’t about the stiff upper lip. They wear the look with confidence and in comfort, so relax and don’t assume that a suit and tie is the only option available to you. For a summer event – such as a country wedding, a day at the races or a few whiskies down the Garrison – a smart, neutral pair of well fitted chinos are just as appropriate as a suit and tie. Pair with a penny collared shirt, a fitted waistcoat and black boots. For those true Tommy fans, add a gold pocket watch and the ever-so Peaky flat cap.
Emulate, don’t recreate
During my time as a tailor, I’ve created bespoke garments for all manner of clients and this modern take on traditional country wear is a look that I’m often asked about. Whether or not this infamous television show has anything to do with it, I understand why men – and some women too – are keen to emulate the style. It’s classic but with a surprisingly contemporary edge and is relatively simple to convert into the modern man’s working wardrobe. In short, this style is about making it your own, adopting elements of the entire look into your capsule wardrobe. After all, there can only be one Tommy Shelby.
If you’re interested in recreating the look for yourself, Suit the City work with a number of skilled tailors, based throughout the UK. For your one-stop shop, look no further than Kunal Chauhan, based in London and Hertfordshire. Kunal offers consultations from male grooming salon, 18Fourteen, where the Peaky Blinders transformation can be completed from top to toe. Mike can also offer a suited and booted styling service, for the patrons of Bath and Exeter. Offering consultations from shoe boutique, the Brogue Trader, clients can meet with Mike to discuss their tailoring needs.
For more information, visit suitthecity.com.