There is absolutely no doubt that, as far as sartorial influence goes, Mad Men was one of the most influential shows ever put to the small screen. Therefore, when it ended, it was difficult to imagine we were going to see another such feat again. Until Peaky Blinders came on. But the interesting thing is that, beyond the clothes, what impressed people even more has been the so-called ‘Peaky Blinders haircut.’
Yes, male grooming has changed radically since Cillian Murphy and the gang first appeared on screen with that undercut. And that is exactly what we’re going to detail in this piece. What the Peaky Blinders haircut really means, how you can get it, how the cast of the show feels about it, and what products you have to use to style it.
The Peaky Blinders Haircut and the Cast
Of course, we cannot possibly talk about the Peaky Blinders haircut without also saying a thing or two about the men who wore it for the first time. The cast of the show itself.
Peaky Blinders is a BBC drama that follows a gangster family which runs a crime racket in Birmingham after the First World War. Even though this superb drama can be considered the most stylish thing you can watch on TV ever since Mad Men has ended, that doesn’t mean the actors themselves felt the same way.
In fact, sources very close to the production say that the producers spent about a week trying to convince the actors to get what we now call the famous Peaky Blinders haircut. Seeing as it’s a period haircut, the men were a bit reluctant to get it.
However, Iddo Goldberg, the actor who embodies Freddie Thorne was the first to take the plunge. The rest of the cast followed suit. And it was a good thing that they did!
The person behind the Peaky Blinders haircut is makeup and hair designer Laura Schiavo. She says that one of her major influences in creating the Peaky Blinders haircut was a look she found in a book called Crooks Like Us written by Peter Doyle. The book is, in fact, a compilation that has portraits from the 1920s of criminals. However, the hairstylist also found inspiration in military haircuts from some earlier eras.
The Peaky Blinders haircut was a little hard to take
Hair and makeup stylist Laura Schiavo has confessed to being a little baffled to how well her ideas have fared. In fact, she states that when they first got it, the actors in the main cast used to wear hats to cover it up because they were ashamed to be seen in public with such a weird and outdated haircut. They don’t anymore, however. The hairstyle spread like wildfire and you can see almost everyone wearing the Peaky Blinders haircut right now.
The stylist believes the main appeal of this haircut resides within its harsh sides and back that are meant to display your bone structure or highlight your beard, in case you have one and are proud of it. And we’re sure you are! But its beauty can also lie in the striking contrast between those sharp lines and the top of the hairstyle, which can be medium to long.
What Is the Peaky Blinders Haircut?
In order to understand the Peaky Blinders haircut, it’s important to contextualize it a little. Therefore, even if you have watched the show or you haven’t, here’s how the story goes. No spoilers, don’t worry!
The first time we see Thomas Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, the mob boss on the show, he has just come back to Birmingham. But the place he came back from is super important. He has returned from the trenches as the show is set right after World War One. Therefore, it makes sense that his haircut reflects the one he would have worn all throughout his years as a soldier.
As a consequence, he has a disconnected haircut, with an almost bald fade on the sides and in the back. This is very reminiscent of a buzz cut or an induction cut that all soldiers would have worn under their helmets and to ward off lice in the trenches. Not only that, but Thomas Selby’s hairstyle is also very sharp and unblended. He is a rough man and his hairstyle is there to prove it. But there’s more. His haircut is also reminiscent of those worn by hooligans in the late 1890s. Here is how we meet the Peaky Blinders haircut.
The top of the Peaky Blinders haircut
When it comes to the lower half of the haircut, most of the characters on the show are quite similar and wear their hair in the same way. But the top half is a completely different story. A few of the men wear a side part with their Peaky Blinders haircut. Others have a quiff, a French crop with a lot of texture added to it while others opted for slicked back hair. We could venture the opinion that this high versatility might be one of the main reasons why the Peaky Blinders haircut is so well loved by men all over the world.
But there are other interesting facts to mention about the haircut. For example, Laura Schiavo, the woman behind the Peaky Blinders haircut has stated that one of the reasons why she created the look with a bald fade is so that it could appeal more to the idea of ‘gang mentality.’ In other words so that all the boys could look and feel as if they belonged to the same gang.
When they put on their hats, you could only see bare skin underneath. It was only when they removed those hats the character and its nature would start to show up. The different hairstyles they have are able to tell you a lot about the character itself.
But the idea of only being able to see skin and no hair at all under a hat might have historical significance as well. At that point in time, real life criminals and ‘hooligans’ did wear this type of haircut so that it would be very difficult for people to identify them in case they were every caught.
How to Ask for the Peaky Blinders Hairstyle
When watching the show, you will notice that different characters wear different hairstyles. Therefore, there is no ‘Peaky Blinders haircut’ so to say. It’s actually a bald fade with different tops, as we’ve shown above. Take your time and study them all. Try to decide which one would look better on you depending on what type of face you have. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to ask your stylist. He or she will be able to give you some suggestions.
Still, if you’re curious how to ask for the haircut itself, you can say Peaky Blinders haircut. Seeing as the TV show is so popular, your stylist probably already knows what you’re talking about. If he or she doesn’t, what you will need is a disconnected undercut and no fade. Otherwise, you can just show your stylist a picture of your favorite character and you’re sure to get what you want!
How to choose what Peaky Blinders to go for
Speaking of your favorite character that really is the first thing you need to decide on. Arthur Selby, for example, is one of the most violent characters on the show. Portrayed by Paul Anderson, he also has one of the most extreme undercuts which needs to match the violence of his nature. If this is the Peaky Blinders haircut for you, then you will need to start with very straight and fine hair.
Ideally, your hair should be like this naturally. However, if you don’t have natural straight hair, then you can always straighten it. But please be aware that you will have to do this every day. Leave a long section of hair in the top half of the haircut. It will have to be worn slicked back.
Now let’s talk about Tommy Shelby, the main character of the show. Seeing as he is, or at least he is trying to be, the face of an enterprise that claims to be legitimate, Tommy also has a crop, but his is a little softer. He also pushes it more over his face and sweeps it over to one side, possibly in an attempt at an Ivy League cut that would make him look more trustworthy and more elegant. Although underneath he is still a criminal and a hooligan, thanks to his Peaky Blinders haircut.
You can also go for the Peaky Blinders haircut that John Shelby wears, the younger brother. The actor, Joe Cole has a straight part that divides his hair into slick and short curtains.
Styling Tips for the Peaky Blinders Cut
Of course, when it comes to styling, the first thing you need to take into account is what type of hair you have. For example, if you have straight or fine hair, you will need to comb it away from the face. For that you can use some pomade or wax.
If you’re afraid of those pesky comb marks that stand between you and perfect sleekness, apply some Tangle Teezer. Regarding pomade, make sure you use the water based kind. If the pomade is based on Vaseline, it can prove extremely difficult to clean out of your hair. Apart from that, it might actually cause you to break out around your hairline, giving you what we call ‘pomade acne.’
If you have frizzy hair, use a little light oil that will help it stay sleek in all types of weather. Receding and fine hair will benefit from a little extra texture that will bulk it up so that you can achieve the Peaky Blinders haircut especially on top. Texture can be added with the help of some sea salt spray, clay or fiber.
However, afterward you will need to use a special cleanser or shampoo in case the heavier product refuses to come off your locks. These products will prevent buildup and will keep your hair and scalp squeaky clean.
Depending on the finish you want, you can choose different styling products. For example, Arthur and John have a shiny or glossy finish to their Peaky Blinders haircut. Therefore, you will need pomade that can create the same type of finish. On the other hand, Tommy has a matte finish to his, so you should use a product such as clay on your own hair.
The Peaky Blinders Made Simple
- The Tom Shelby – ask your barber for number three sides with an undercut. The top is textured and medium length, styled into a side fringe.
- The Arthur Shelby – ask your barber for a number one on the sides and a disconnected undercut. The top is medium and slicked back.
- The John Selby – the sides of this Peaky Blinders haircut are shaved down to a zero while the top is also cut very short. But his still has a little bit of length so that you can push it to the side.
- The Michael Gray – this type of Peaky Blinders haircut is more formal than the others. It’s a side part and its cut has to taper very gently for a super low fade into those longer waves you can see on top of his head.
- The Alfie Solomons – this Peaky Blinders haircut is all about the beard. The character of Alfie Solomons is played by Tom Hardy who looks extremely haggard and rough in the series. He has a rugged beard that you will need to replicate.
What about you?
Let us know in the comment section below who is your favorite character on the show! Based on that you will be able to choose your favorite Peaky Blinders haircut. Now how about we take a break and binge watch a few episodes of this incredible series? Tom Shelby and the boys approve!