In 2013, the hit TV series Peaky Blinders hit TV screens and a media legend was born. People couldn’t get enough of the gritty, early 20th-century gangster plot, the powerful acting from the likes of Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Tom Hardy and Helen McCrory and, of course, the sartorially stunning period costumes and haircuts.
The so-called ‘Peaky Blinders’ haircut has quickly become a style of choice amongst modern men, with hairdressers frequently asked for what is otherwise known as a texturised crop. The cut keeps the back and sides of the head short and cropped, while leaving the top longer to be styled in a sweeping fringe, held in place with a slick of wax or gel. This style is sported on the show by head gangster, Tommy Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy.
However, Tommy is not the only character to have a Peaky Blinders hairstyle that is being replicated in hairdressers and barbers’ salons. Take a look at a few more styles from the series to see what takes your fancy.
As already mentioned, this iconic Cillian Murphy haircut shouts ‘turn of the 20th Century’ style from every angle. The top section should be around two or three inches long to give you enough flexibility to style your hair as your mood dictates, sweeping it across the forehead and fixing with wax, pomade or spray for true Peaky Blinders finesse. The style especially suits men with more defined face shapes and strong features, as well as anyone concerned about thinning hair or receding hairlines, as the extra length on top sweeping across and down towards the face can hide a multitude of sins.
Elder brother, Arthur Shelby holds his own in the early 1900s gangster style stakes with a slick back undercut hairstyle with the back and sides completely shaved and the top left even longer than the texturised crop so that it can be fully combed back. You should ask for a disconnected undercut with the top kept long if you want to get as close as possible to this style and use a slightly thicker wax or pomade toad a light sheen and hold the slicked back hair in place all day. Good for a more mature look that can be teamed with a moustache for the full, 1920s gangster effect.
John Shelby is Tommy’s third-youngest brother and an active part of the gangster clan. His character sports a more severe version of the main Peaky Blinders hairstyle with a much shorter undercut and less length on top. His hair is combed back and slicked down to within an inch of its life to produce a clean, slick style that needs little to no maintenance during the day. Use less product to avoid too much of a shine and keep a comb about your person for smoothing down on the go.
Michael Grey is Tommy’s cousin and son of the matriarch figure of the series, Elizabeth ‘Polly’ Grey. One of the gang’s main money men, he holds significant power in the hierarchy. To show you mean business, copy Michael’s no-nonsense side parting; a style that works well with many hair lengths, colours and styles. A side parting like this was a common sight in the 1920s and ‘30s, showing that its appeal endured for a long time. Cutting the parting in with a cut-throat razor will add to its sharpness and style, while feathering the back and sides with scissors rather than clippers will add to the overall effect.
Next on the Peaky Blinders haircuts list is Alfie Solomon, a recurring character who is the leader of a rival Jewish gang. His look centres around his flowing auburn beard, cut in what is known as a lumberjack style. Achieving this look takes some time, as you will need to carefully trim your beard as it grows in, so that it follows the right shape and direction instead of becoming too bushy. Snip away rogue hairs and keep the top of your beard line solid and strong. Team this with the ‘short back and sides and brushed back, but longer on top’ haircut for the full-blown, Peaky Blinders magic.
Finally, Isiah Jesus lives up to his name as the son of a Caribbean street preacher and the one who introduces Tommy Shelby to gangster life. Yet another short, no-nonsense 1900s hairstyle can be found on this character, who featured in the first four seasons of the show, keeping his naturally curly hair cut close to the scalp for easier maintenance during his life on the streets. This look suits almost any face shape, as well as any hair or skin colour, making it extremely versatile and easy to style on the go.
The best way to emulate the stylish gangsters you see in Peaky Blinders is to ask a barber or hairdresser to do the honours. If, however, you would like to try copying it at home, you will need a good quality hair shaver and beard trimmer with settings to enable you to achieve the right lengths. Sit in front of one mirror, with another behind you for a fuller view all round your head. Start in the middle of your hair and shave a small section at a time with a steady hand. Work your way round slowly, going in the direction of the contours of your face to avoid cutting yourself.
Use a precision trimmer to sharpen any partings or to trim away any rogue hairs around the ears or temples. Repeat every few weeks to keep the look sharp and fresh. Team with a flat cap, tailored waistcoat and crisp, white shirt for the full Peaky Blinders gangster look. Keep the colours dark and understated, adding a pop of interest with a slightly more colourful tie and a resolutely confident swagger.